The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Forget An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away, An Apple A Year Keeps The Competitors In Fear …
October 14, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Obviously in the last week lots of things have been written about Apple … some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.

I’m not going to contribute any more because pretty much everything that could be said, has been said – and it’s been said much better than I could ever hope to do – however there is one thing the company does that I think rarely gets the credit it deserves, and that is their habit of launching one key new product or evolution per year.

Think about it, in a world where marketing seems to have adopted a view that capturing attention and market share can only be achieved through the continual launch or evolution of products, here is a company that shuns producing a constant stream of products in favour of focusing all their energies and attention on delivering one major product launch/evolution per year.

I’ve been trying to get definitive figures, however I heard LG launched 37 different phones in the last 18 months whereas Apple launched one.

37 to one!

Think about that for a second … it means that LG launched, on average, 2 new mobile phone products per month for the last 18 months.


Think about the cost to do that … it must be absolutely enormous … and that’s before you even take into account the huge marketing costs that have to go along with it. No wonder so much of LG’s advertising is just wallpaper, designed to make a lot of noise without ever saying much.

OK, so LG and Apple are very different companies focused on different audiences with very different financial requirements … however this ‘new news at all costs’ attitude seems outdated given todays ‘constantly connected’ World.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to keep in people’s consciousness and producing innovative, meaningful and valuable products/updates is a very important pillar to achieve that … however too many companies make the mistake of only focusing on what they think is innovative, meaningful and valuable rather than finding out what people really want – which will rarely ever come from a focus group – which is why so many of these companies ultimately are alienating their audience rather than attracting them.

By spending [for sake of argument] 11 months focused on producing something that is truly awesome, rather than constantly churning out average products with big marketing spend in an attempt to gain market share, Apple have been able to make things they, generally, are worthy of the [free] hype they generate and by having less inventory to promote, they make their ‘simple yet meaningful’ communication work much harder for its money than most other brands and that’s before you even get to the commercial value they achieve through their approach towards packaging and distribution.

Whatever you think of Apple … regardless of the mistakes they’ve made in their past … their lessons go well beyond just the creation of technology and if anyone wants to stand a chance of taking their place in the future, an appreciation of less is more is probably one of the best places they could start.

35 Comments so far
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That comparison to LG is amazing. As you point out they’re very different businesses with different revenue streams and audience segmentations, but I don’t know how different their mobile businesses would be.

Apple got a lot of things right, I wonder how many were planned and how many were the outcome of necessity or simply happy accidents?

Comment by Pete

As they say, the harder you try, the luckier you get.

The problem with brands like LG is they try hard, but without – as far as I can tell – a core vision or philosophy or set of values, so their products – as nice and clever and functional as they are – all feel very different and individual, with no uniting feel or value or approach.

What this means is people don’t feel as special owning one of those as they do an Apple product [at least in the categories where they compete] because LG doesn’t feel like a unified, quality and innovative brand, so they have to flood the market to try and gain share.

Comment by Rob

can this be said about amazon too?
launching 3 new tablets/eReaders

Comment by Jacob B

I just had dinner with a journo that interviewed the Amazon founder and he told me he is absolutely obsessed on basically taking over Steve Jobs mantle.

He told me he also spoke to tech guys working for him – including ex-Apple guys – and they think he has future changing ideas that inherently involve and include his core business [as his tablet readers demonstrate] but he hasn’t got the appreciation of craftsmanship because his business model is based on small margins versus large and so it’s more about practical delivery than overwhelming experience. At least for now.

I certainly think he’s more capable of developing ideas that drive big changes in how society does stuff than say, the CEO’s at Samsung, Motorola, LG etc could do.

Comment by Rob

Makes sense. It’s a shame they went back on what they said made the original kindles great. The new kindle has no keyboard, so you have to use the navigational button to select one letter at a time? I find that hard to believe. The kindle touch is missing the side buttons to turn the pages – I love the ease of turning the page without moving (hehe lazy bum). And the kindle fire – a tablet I guess, rather than an eReader. Bezos said the reason why Kindle will still do well alongside the ipad is that there are no games or internet to get distracted by – going against his own words a bit. Like you said he is shaking things up – Tim Ferriss’ 3rd book looks to be the first book to be published by Amazon.

Comment by Jacob B

This interesting question popped up on quora, especially about Bezos and his thinking. Plus a businessweek article which reflects the very same things you talk about here. I think Tim Cook got a similar reception when he delivered the keynote – he’s a brilliant marketing person but obviously not a ‘magician’ and charismatic person like Jobs used to be.

This does sound a bit like taking on apple:

“When [companies] think about extending their business into some new area, the first question is “why should we do that—we don’t have any skills in that area.” That approach puts a finite lifetime on a company, because the world changes, and what used to be cutting-edge skills have turned into something your customers may not need anymore. A much more stable strategy is to start with “what do my customers need?””

Comment by Andreea Nastase

Ack, wrong account and looking all formal.

Comment by andrea

Or stealing from other companies ideas.

Comment by Pete

kick a man while hes fucking down why dont you pete. and hes not just down in the metaphorical sense of the word. hes 6 feet down in the earth. unless he was cremated. whatever, youre a sick fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

how fucking ironic you talk about appreciating “less is more” when every one of your fucking posts is about 180 paragraphs too fucking long.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, that did cross my mind.

Comment by Rob

funny you havent given jobs shit for saying people dont know what they want when thats the modern day equivalent of henry fords “faster horse” bollocks and we all know that makes you go red with fucking anger and write overfuckinglong responses and base whole fucking presentations and speeches on it.

i swear to fuck if he gave you a new ford every fucking year like baz gave you itoys, youd be saying that fucking old man henry was a fucking legend.

fucking sellout.

Comment by andy@cynic

I have given Jobs shit for that. I use the Henry Ford quote more because up until Steve Jobs died, his was the quote anti-insight bullshit merchants used to justify their ego approach to innovation.

Comment by Rob

But you’re right, a free car – even a Ford free car – would ensure my silence or praise. Probably silence, I don’t like their cars enough to celebrate them. Ha.

Comment by Rob

lg evolution timeline:

lucky goldstar
lifes good
load of fucking guff

lg are the proverbial fillers of kitchen fucking sinks. have you seen the shit they put in their phones? full of pointless wank that thrills you for 10 seconds and then makes you go, “when the fuck am i going to use that?” like that fucking “custom vibration” feature on the new apple software update. what a fucking load of wank. a company that used to create meaningful fucking magic has offered a customise your own fucking phone vibrate. jobs is spinning in his igrave.

Comment by andy@cynic

We were talking about that at work yesterday. I have to admit it’s a bit naff. If it came from a 3rd party you could accept it a bit more easily – but “tap your own vibration melody” from a company that has always been understated seems just plain weird.

I’ve still used it though.

Comment by Rob

ok so a fucking serious comment. brace yourselves.

jobs was not god.

he was a fucking amazing product identifier and developer, a product and packaging design genius and a brilliant commercial opportunist but he was not a fucking god.

sure his stuff made a big fucking impact on the planet but to compare him to edison or even henry fucking ford is a bit of a fucking joke. they created stuff that changed the basic fucking foundation of how people lived, he came up with stuff that mastered lifestyles and made it prettier, simpler, easier and more appealing and thats fucking wild but not to the point where the outpouring of grief that followed is anywhere fucking justified.

being sad is one thing. leaving flowers outside an apple store in fucking tulsa is another fucking thing altogether.

people like baz have a right to be fucking devastated but some fucker with an ipad 2 who is crying and posting fucking steve jobs quotes all over facebook for days on end should take a long and fucking good look at themselves.

sure be sad. sure be fucking sorry but maybe ask yourself why your grief is so exaggerated and over the fucking top? what are you compensating for? trust me, youre compensating for something and i say that without even being a fucking planner.

and all these companies that say they want to be like apple get on my fucking tits. if they want to be like jobs and co, get fucking on with it then.

sure jobs was the man, but doing a few fucking things really fucking well and packaging them to make them and you feel special isnt that fucking hard is it.

jobs talent was his ability to say when enough was enough. he didnt fucking throw in the kitchen sink because he could throw in the kitchen sink. he did what was essential but in a fucking awesome and super simple and easy way.

i like apple. i fucking have all their shit and i was sad when i heard jobs died. i thought he was an amazing fucker who made amazing kit but lets not forget he invented products to sell for fuckloads of money. he didnt cure cancer or create electricity or invent a concept called television. he was a genius but not a fucking god.

the end.

Comment by andy@cynic

I found the outpouring of grief strange too, but then I found how sad I felt when I heard the news strange as well. I was truly upset. Deep down inside. Not to the point where I bought flowers and walked down the street to drop them off at an apple store, but very affected. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, reasons related to more than just the quality of his products or speeches but with time comes clarity and he’ll be remembered for what he did rather than placing him in a hierarchy of what others did.

Comment by Pete

Your commentary on companies that say they want to be like Apple is wonderful by the way.

Comment by Pete

of course it fucking is.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well it is awfully similar to the point Robert is making in this post.

Comment by George

mine is much more fucking interesting than his pile of shit. and youre officially off my fucking christmas card list. but you have to send me one. stuffed with dollar fucking bills. big ones. not the shit you give your kids who are too fucking lovely to realise their old man is stiffing them out of what they could be earning. some things never fucking change do they.

Comment by andy@cynic

It was Princess Di all over again.

I agree with you Andy, I think Steve Jobs was an amazing and inspirational man … someone who did more to teach the world about the value and beauty of good design than pretty much anyone else in recent history. But this comparison to people like Edison and Newton and Tesla or Bell seems inappropriate … but by the same token, I was very saddened by his death – far more than I expected and I was well aware of his bad health.

Like Pete said, there’s probably a bunch of reasons for this, but one of them could be that we now live in a World where there are few heroes, and Jobs – with his “I’ll stand up for what I believe in whatever the cost” was possibly the closest we had to the guys we watched in films and TV shows when we were younger.

As I said lots of reasons – and as I said, I don’t think Jobs was a god – but he was brilliant and his drive and passion was an inspiration … even though many of us, me included, didn’t realise by how much.

Comment by Rob

stop with the fucking planning shit and just say im right for fucks sake. is that so fucking hard?

Comment by andy@cynic

I think Pete is right. I didn’t feel Steve Jobs was right, but he was a fucking important presence in my life – which is extraordinarily unusual for someone whose only connection is my buying their products. But, yes, I was emotionally affected when he died. Even though I was aware that he could be a complete bastard, a humiliating, power possessed, fuck. Hard to explain but it is something. It may have something to do with he fact that he didn’t have to look for approval. But, we gave it.
Wouldn’t that be nice.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

amazingly campbell used to bang on to clients about this. do good shit and you attract. do bad and you have to pay a fuck load of cash to chase. not that fucking difficult to grasp unless youre a fucking marketing director.

Comment by andy@cynic

Nice post. Good comments.

Comment by George


Comment by TOTOinTrouble (@TOTOinTrouble)

For me Steve was the right person in the right moment. Technology is popular. Cellphones are popular. Computers are popular. Camera are popular. So, he did it awesome in a time that everybody was available to see that. I mean, we are living in a technology moment. Technology is trendy. If Steve were someone who cure cancer I don’t think anybody would live him flowers.

Comment by Albert Einstein

That’s a great point about him seizing the moment, though that sort of undermines what he did a bit … let’s face it, he had to see the moment as well as the opportunity and then create something that brought it together, however I get your point … though I still think he is not as important to societies development as people like Edison, however amazing he was.

Comment by Rob

Great post Rob, and Andy’s comment (the serious one) adds great perspective on Jobs.
About Apple: Ford did not invent the car, but he gave us lots of black ones that ensured mainstream acceptance. He was a sad bugger and an egotist. Apple introduced (through the Apple // range and later the Mac) computing as a tool for the masses. I do not buy it that IBM did that. Their stuff at the time were just scaled down buildings in a box that needed a BOFH to make it work (for him and not you, btw, for those old enough to remember where the IT department came from). Apple continued to bring technology to us packaged in a way that makes it a pleasure to own and use in the way that was described above by Rob and Andy, and that will stand as the disruption that changed the way we integrate and absorb tech in our lives. Jobs knew how to wait for a technology suite to mature before bringing it to us, wrapped in a way that had us behave like kids at Christmas.
Will this keen sense of timing remain with Apple? If not, I hope some company with a charismatic leader takes over, because we all need idols it seems (even if we have to worship at the mirror).

Comment by stonetostars

History is littered with people who got famous for something they didn’t invent.


That should not devalue what they did … they still took a concept to a bigger, better, more mainstream and powerful place … however ignoring the people who developed the initial idea does them a huge disservice and I think that’s what bothers me a bit with all the ‘God Jobs’ stuff going on, they make it sound like he literally created computers, the internet, design and he didn’t … he mastered it and that’s very different to the people who made the seemingly impossible, possible.

Comment by Rob

Guy lines up at Apple store for seventeen days, even before they announced the new phone:

“Our first week, Apple was more than welcoming us to line up. But they were like, “There’s not a product; you guys could be waiting for almost nothing.” And we were like, “We know that something’s coming. We don’t care what it is.”

Comment by Jacob B

The ramifications of this are huge in other ways. It means the old phones become the budget range instead of having to launch a new ‘cheap’ one, which will reduce production costs drastically.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I also remember (not sure if it was you or an article, it’s all a blur in my head now) the point about Apple’s products from the last decade being able to fit on one table – like the ones they have in their stores.

Granted, it’s a bit of a big table – but it might just fit all their products, ever if you try –

Comment by andrea

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