“If you’re not a reviewer, chances are you won’t even bother
to look at the manual,” wrote Time
reviewer Lev Grossman.
That’s nothing less than a stunning comment about any cell phone, particularly
one that brings you phone, camera, Internet, wi-fi and, of course, an iPod
Unless you’re 16 years old or younger, you probably don’t
use 5 percent of the bells and whistles on your cell phone. You tried when the
phone was new, but there was no way you were going to master even one page of
the manual. And then you gave up.
Lev goes on to add, “It’s also the best phone that anybody
ever made.” Even though he says it sounds like a sales pitch, his overall
assessment of the Apple iPhone is simple: “This thing is a marvel.”
David Pogue, the New York Times
agrees. The iPhone is “the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of
electronics to come along in years.”
While the critics complain about the iPhone not having a
video camera (just stills), a battery that cannot be removed (the same as the
iPod) and, of course, the high price ($500 and $600), most of the criticisms
are not just minor, but mostly irrelevant.
Just as Apple touted its Mac as a “computer for the rest of
us,” the iPhone is the cell phone for those who hate cell phones. Almost
instantly, the iPhone became the standard by which consumers judged all other
cell phones, even though they had not held one in their hand. Overnight,
Blackberries seemed antiquated, and Treos were viewed as clunky and irrelevant.
Every cell phone on the market is being compared to the
iPhone. It’s the iPod all over again. In spite of Microsoft’s efforts, it can’t
move its Zune mp3 player beyond a 15 percent market share. No one ever said,
“I’ve just got to have Zune,” notwithstanding the fact that it receives very
Even as the iPhone introduction continues, we may be able to
uncover some interesting marketing and sales messages that can be used in all
Have a clear vision of where the
customer is going. Apple has always been a customer-focused technology company.
And the genius is Steve Jobs. He recognized that computers were so complicated
that people needed to be trained to use them. Thus, the Mac was born. Even
during the “wilderness years” when Jobs was away from the company, some of that
vision continued. But it wasn’t until he returned that his vision juiced the
It wasn’t just the incredibly brilliant design of the iPod
that sold 100 million copies. It was the vision of the music player plus the
music itself that made it work, all brought together by the iTunes software.
That’s what the customer wanted.
The iPhone is an extension of the vision. Jobs understands
that convergence is the key, that the customer wants everything in one handheld
unit – computer, music, video, messaging, Internet, and cell phone. The desktop
computer is in steady decline as laptops climb in sales, as smaller replaces
Will all communication and computing fit in the palm of our
hand? Undoubtedly. Will Apple deliver it? A survey might just suggest that
Apple rather than Microsoft has the upper hand, at least at this moment.
And, by the way, does anyone really believe that Dell’s pink
(or any other color) laptops are the answer to boosting sales? Consumers’ views
are colored by their experience with products and service.
Don’t do everything at once. No one
seems to understand the concept of the “never-ending roll-out.” Product
introductions are almost always one-time events that soon fade from memory.
It’s even a bit difficult to recall one without making an effort.
As everyone knows, the first iPhone announcement came in
January 2007, although rumors had been around for several years.
Then, just about 24 hours before the iPhone went on sale,
Jobs is reported to have said that the Mac computer coming out over the next
year will be “off the charts.” While most marketers would have said that it was
the wrong time to introduce another product, Jobs used it to ignite even more
Then, came more buzz when it was announced that the iPhone
would be available outside the United States. But that wasn’t all. The critics
labeled the iPhone a “consumer” product and a number of corporate IT people
said that iPhones were not on their agenda, raising the furor of countless
employees. Apple’s announcement of enterprise software created more excitement.
Here’s the point, employee demand will open corporate America’s door to the
iPhone and it won’t cost Apple a dime. To be sure, the rolling roll- out only
works if the product or service lives up to the buzz.
Overcome customers’ reluctance to
making a change. Bambi Brannan, a Moderator at Mac 360 Forum, opened her June
28 commentary this way: “Apple’s iPhone marketing and promotion may go down in
history as text classic – Best. Campaign. Ever. You are witnessing history in
the making.” But that’s not all. Apple understands that most companies ignore
what’s so painfully obvious. We all have what seems to be an almost innate
reluctance to change, other than the 7 or 8 percent who are inveterate “early adopters.”
Apple Stores are the classroom. Just because we may hate our
cell phones doesn’t mean we’ll automatically shell out $500 or more for an
iPhone. Our experience with cell phones doesn’t allow us to jump so quickly.
Apple understands. Thus, the company announced just before
iDay, June 29, that beginning the next day all 164 stores would be offering
“free, in-depth workshops, so customers can get the most out of their new
iPhones. They will also have access to free iPhone support at the Genius Bar
and personal training through Apple’s new One to One program.” That’s right,
Genius Bar. You can walk in or schedule an appointment via the Internet and
take your computer or iPod in without charge and have an expert work on it for
Taking the fear out and putting customers at ease is a key
to the Apple experience. As something of a sidebar, going to an Apple store is
part of the experience. Whether as a new customer or a veteran with the
products, there is an interesting feeling of belonging, something that is found
in few other places. One person likened entering the store to going to church.
The next time you walk by an Apple store, think about that. The only sign is an
It’s all about emotion. No matter what
American automobile manufacturers do, they just can’t break loose from
discounting prices to increase sales. This is not totally accurate. If there is
an exception, it’s Chrysler’s Jeep. Its war winning, break-free, go anywhere
image lies deep within the American psyche.
A colleague who drives a Pontiac G6, a highly-rated,
American-made car, once commented that he aspires to own a Camry. Ironically,
it’s now the all-American car, the standard, a position once held by Ford and
Chevrolet, and made indelible by the 1970s advertising jingle of “baseball, hot
dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” Today, Camry carries that emotional cache.
As John Martellaro wrote in a recent edition of The
, “People who feel attracted to a devise have more of an
interest in learning about it.” So, one of Steve Jobs’ product evaluation
criteria, according to Don Norman, an interface expert who worked at Apple in
the 1990s, is a user experience document.
Whether it’s an iPod or a Mac computer, it’s the experience
that drives the product.
Some dismiss Apple customers as cultists, irrationally
devoted to the company and its products. That’s inaccurate, even though there’s
a fine book called The Cult of Mac
. As a Mac user since
1984, I freely admit to be passionate about Mac computers. And why not? They
are fun. In effect, Apple has never strayed from the task of creating a
pleasurable and satisfying experience for its customers that produces
excitement. This basic quality is expressed not only in Mac computers but is
the heart of the iPod and now the iPhone.
There’s more to the iPhone story, of course. Nothing is
perfect, even the iPhone. But reviewer Lev Grossman offered a few improvement
suggestions and then added, “Cold fusion would be great too, but you know what?
Nobody cares. Steve Jobs has said, repeatedly, that this is the best iPod that
Apple has ever made, and it is. It’s also the best phone that anybody has ever
More important, perhaps, is the observation that Apple has
sent every other smart phone manufacturer back to the drawing board. If that’s
true, then every consumer wins. If the iPhone did nothing more than make it
unnecessary to even include a manual, we can hope that designing for customers
creates winning products.
Among the thousands of comments that appeared online and in
the press during the iPhone launch week, two seemed to capture the moment: “The
iPhone is a society-changing, watershed moment that will alter the physical
universe as we know it. Pay attention.”
The second one is from San Francisco-based tech consultant
Daniel Eran Dilger who wrote, “The iPhone is simply the most incredible piece
of consumer hardware I’ve ever touched....
The iPhone simply embarrasses my own expertise, which I am usually loath to
If we can learn anything from all this, it’s that price is
no barrier to products and services that allow customers to do what they want,
perform intuitively, and are fun to use.