Desirable Innovations

The missing Steve Jobs innovation decade at Apple

Innovation occurs at the intersection of the possible and desirable. (you better quote me when you repeat that) While filtering a thread concerning Apple and the missing Steve Jobs decade, the subject of innovation erupted. Though an incomplete assessment, it seems plain enough that one man can (and did) guide the innovative soul of an enterprise. Though some people like to anoint Jobs as the patron saint of innovation, he simply saw what was desirable and beautiful, and what was technically possible. He then bred the two. Minor innovation occurs daily here in Silicon Valley. People who twiddle bits and assemble breadboards, and who carry on conversations with customers, continually find and build innovations of the lesser variety. Small improvements in what people do and how they do it constantly reduce business overhead, ease production, or make consumer gizmos more usable. Yet minor innovations are the product of very specific … Continue reading

Apple Brand Polishing

Apple is now the most valuable brand on the planet, with Google growing faster and likely to overtake them. Poor old Coca Cola has dropped to third while these upstarts reign. Interbrand recurrently measures the strength of various global brands. They recently released their latest report that knocked Coke off its thirteen year perch at number one. As the chart shows, Google began their assent in 2009 and Apple followed in 2011, all riding the wave of a highly wired and wireless global society. You may drink Coke, Pepsi or bottled water, but everybody sips while searching Google on their iPhones. Interbrand’s analysis is not the old school, completely financial estimate of customer good will that expresses a brand’s cumulative equity. If we used that measure, Coke would still command the lead with Coke $12B in customer good will, Google would have $10B worth, and Apple would trail with a … Continue reading

Brand Bonuses

“You can get better quality than we offer, but you can’t find a higher price than ours.” Oddly, that pitch works when not stated so bluntly. Known in marketing circles as the Mercedes Effect, it shows that people are willing to pay money for no added value aside from perception. Mercedes, Coach handbags, Apple computers and many other products have remarkably higher prices and margins than competing products of equal functional value. The difference is almost entirely because people want to own the brand and enhance their sense of self-worth by proxy. There are other reasons for cultivating cult brands aside from getting obscenely rich. Great brands, well-crafted and relentlessly enforced can: Create buyer/market/investor faith in the product/company/cause. Bias purchase decisions, thereby increasing the number of conversions per promotional dollar. Create a sense of mystic relevance (or as the authority on propaganda calls it, perceived hidden underground knowledge). Allow you … Continue reading

Innovation Insufficiency

Is owning 95% of a market enough? Taking in a number of market share estimates, Apple iPads have about 5% of the potential U.S. market for pads/slates/tablets (or as the wags at The Register prefer to call them, Fondle Slabs).  This is based on current P.C. market penetrations (north of 76% of households) and the estimated U.S. deployment of iPads.  Thus, the green field of the slab market is currently wide open. Which explains why several million Android slabs were introduced at CES last week. Market mechanics are based on many things, with technical innovation being a misleading indicator.  Apple has always been an innovator, but innovation in and of itself is insufficient.  Apple invented the PDA market with the Newton, which sold four or five units.  Pure innovation, but not only was it ahead of the market, it was also poorly marketed.  Alternately the iPad was very innovative and … Continue reading

Paranoia Pays

Steve Jobs needs to call Andy Grove ASAP. Groves, one of Intel’s founders, was very clear on the concept of paranoia in the tech biz.  Perhaps being Hungarian and thus too well acquainted with Soviet oppression, Andy learned paranoia at a young age.  But he refined his paranoiac inclinations being in the technology business, a war zone where corporate death comes quickly and painfully.  Like a battlefield where every soldier is out for himself, nobody and no company are safe from competition. Not even Apple. Wildly popular and cult-like, the iPhone and iPad made indelible marks in the consumer electronics space.  Though pads and smartphones existed before Jobs took on the job, Apple refined the product category and advanced the expectations of the market.  Combined brilliance in product design and marketing led to worldwide buzz, techno lust and a stock price that makes members of the House of Saud blink … Continue reading