23 May 2014

What do you look for when you invest in a piece of technology; a new phone or computer, for example? Does Apple dropping a place in the latest ‘Brandz’ survey – a measure of brand value worldwide – suggest that popularity is no longer all about the name?

Whilst my own computer is a MacBook, I’ve started to feel frustrated with it. There are little things on it that just don’t work quite as well as they used to. To me, it signals a behavioural change in the boardroom. Are the imperfections slipping through because people are trying to get a product to market for a deadline? If you look back to when Steve Jobs was at the helm, I think it’s fair to say that he would have been obsessive enough to filter out the little things that weren’t quite right, no matter what.

apple_coreDon’t get me wrong, what Apple has achieved and what it continues to do, is immense, but I can’t help but feeling that they’re turning into a shadow of what they used to be. People might think that technology is all about brand, but it’s about what makes life simple too. That’s what’s been at the heart of our products since day one. I’m not saying we’re the finished article, but if customers have frustrations, you have to be willing to listen and to go back and fix them.

I would argue that making things easier is why Facebook has been so successful. What Mark Zuckerberg and his team have done is incredibly complex, but at the heart of it is simplicity – making the sharing of photos easier than any other platform. I think it’s also important for Apple to not underestimate the up and coming tech organisations that will inevitably attract the best talent. Is Apple even all that appealing for people any longer now that it’s a bigger, more corporate business?

Ultimately, I think it’s all too easy to lose sight of what your customers want and why they want it. ‘Simple’, as Jobs himself said, can be harder than complex, but can move mountains.

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