How will Apple deal with astounding success?

“I laugh every time I read about a new ‘iPod killer’ thingamajig in the news… Every time these wannabes put out another press release on Business Wire, I think about all the profits their advertising agencies will be making, launching the new players around the world. And now Microsoft is getting into the game with Zune,” Angus Wong writes for About This Particular Macintosh (ATPM).

Wong writes, “But aping the iPod is not the biggest game in town. I’m seeing people trying to replicate Apple’s success in hardware design and operating system design. These are, by and large, the same people who were clueless about the original iMac. (‘Why would anyone want a computer in a specific color?’) Now we see Dell and other PC OEMs burn midnight oil churning out ‘cool looking’ PCs from third-world factories. Meanwhile, Microsoft is ‘improving’ the user experience with Vista, which as usual tries to look like the Mac OS on the surface. Us experienced users will know that beauty is more than pixel-deep and, like almost all of Microsoft’s applications, once you start trying to use the damned thing, you’ll likely trip on the crazy arrangement of functions, icons, and ‘features’ that seemingly only Microsoft can so badly mangle. I continue to be surprised that a company with the resources and talent that Microsoft has is able to produce such lousy products. Even startups, or solitary shareware authors (not to mention unpaid open source gurus) produce far better software than the largest computer company on Earth.”

Wong writes, “I suspect the ‘cancer’ that pervades Microsoft is not that there aren’t intelligent people working within its organizational bowels. I’m sure Microsoft hires excellent people. So I can only conclude the problem lies with the design philosophy of the company. Looking back, this shouldn’t be surprising. A company that, instead of innovating, used strong arm tactics in the market to push its wares, probably finds it easier to just add a feature to a product in the quickest way possible, than to think carefully how best to add that feature, so as not to slow down release. Revenue is generated through upgrades, so the more versions people buy, the better it is for the bottom line.”

Wong writes, “I bring this up because I see Apple headed that way. Not in the same godawful execution as Microsoft, but because I foresee astounding success with Apple. True character is revealed in how you live your life after you win the lottery. Google’s tried to articulate a ‘no-evil’ stance which has already been compromised. Linux tries hard, and is still trying. Now it’s time to see how our favorite computer company faces up to its destiny.”

Full article here.
Well, so far, with the iPod, Apple has handled success very well (stock option irregularities excluded). They have continued to push the envelope in terms of useful features and miniature device sizes. The difference between a 3G iPod and a 5G iPod is quite remarkable as are the differences between successive Mac OS X versions. It will be extremely interesting to see how Apple faces up to its destiny. Do you think Apple will Think Different™?

23 Comments

  1. The author forgot Microsoft’s buying of other companies for things it does not own, such as iView, Bungie, etc. Microsoft does use strong arm tacits, but it also just buys other companies.

    The other problem with Microsoft is that is continues to try to support software 10+ years old. Talk to a Window’s user. They don’t understand why they can’t run a program they bought in 1994 on their current computer. There is the problem. If you want to get your operating system into the modern era, you have to dump the old stuff at some point. Apple realized this with OS 9 to OS X transition. Yeah, it was painful, but look at where we are now.

  2. From the Urban Dictionary:

    1.ipod killer

    A term that cannot be properly defined because the term does not really exist.

    Clem: Yo, check this new mp3 player out. It’s definitely the new iPod killer.
    Karl: Yeah, that must be the reason why there is no such thing and 80% of mp3 users are iPod you stupid mother [bleep].

  3. I work at Apple’s Austin offices and I can tell you it’s as farked up there as any corporation is. Same corporate bullshit politics as everywhere. Cold and impersonal. They do not think different, except for not having a dress code.

    I’ll be leaving to start my own business in 2 months. Goodbye Apple!

  4. I too heard from an aquaintance I met in a bar a few years back (he worked in the Cupertino offices,) that Apple is not as “different,” as people may think. The Cupertino headquarters are a completely corporate environment. They don’t necessarily treat employees poorly, but they aren’t a “great” company to work for either.. They have average benefits, average pay and expect a lot of overtime.

  5. Tom, as a past employer of 27 in the electronics repair (communciations) and Linux software development fields, I’d suggest you have an attitude check done right away. It’s quite possible that the problem isn’t Apple, but you.

    You can find out by trying to get your old job back in six months. If the problem was Apple, they’ll take you back. On the other hand, if the problem was you…

  6. A MOMENT ON MICROSOFT AND ZUNE – THE BIG PROBLEM

    The biggest issue with Microsoft’s Zune and approach to the market is that MS is zigging when the market will be zagging…

    The next year is the last big iPod year. After that the market is destinted to divert it’s energy into cell phones, and home entertainment hubs.

    How better to decide when to change the markets direction than Apple?

    First:
    Zune will launch around the same time Apple launches entirely new iPod nano’s (and a modest iPod video storage update), but more than likely, an iPod/Phone gadet, that will catch the market by surprize.

    This new Apple phone and Virtual Carrier service is quite likely to become “the gift” this Christmas (considering the PS III will be out of many’s price point reach).

    Recap of the first move:
    MS will be blowing major dollars in an attempt to get some traction in the MP3 space by eating it’s own (Napster and the rest), while Apple will have changed the game by focusing the consumer market the market to it’s dazling new phone. Reality distortion field need not apply.

    Secondly:
    Just when MS thinks it can redouble it’s efforts for Zune in an open and quite marketing post-Christmas season, MWSF ’07 will see the launch of the iPod video (the “real” iPod video). Zune will not be able to match this device in price point or feature set, or desire by the consumer – period.

    Recap of the second move:
    MS is hit again by a new iPod video at MWSF, that may sport 720p for TV hookup and playback – A HD movie catalog and HD DVD player in your pocket! Yes, it downsamples for stnd TV’s.

    Third:
    While MS continues to blow through it’s marketing budget faster that one could burn money with a truck loaded with gas, momentum will have been all but lost for Zune. The Zune/MS media license world will be flounding – big time.

    Come the fall ’07 Apple will deliver it’s new “eMac” (entertainment Mac) which should fall right into the 150+ million iPod/iPhone/Mac users living rooms quite seamlessly.

  7. I’m sure Microsoft hires excellent people.

    Indeed, and many now work for Apple. Looks like excellent people can’t stay long time in that corporate model. After a while you wonder in how many more ways your talent could be wasted at Microsoft and you go elsewhere.

    Been there, done that.

    Cheers

  8. People have to realise that the only iPod “killer” can be Apple itself. This applies to pretty much any product that has captured a market the way the iPod has.

    Look at Winblows. We have to be honest that it is being killed by Micro$oft. OSX is the best thing since sliced bread but if M$ had manged to keep Winblows on track OSX market share would just have continued to steadily decline.

    Apple lost all the market share they did years ago by themselves and not because anyone came up with a better product.

    Sony are now trying to replicate this by killing PS with absurd pricing.

    The onus is on Apple to keep the iPod fresh and exciting.

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