Category Archives: business

Apple’s Implementation of the Duration-of-Exposure Effect: Screens at 70Ëš

Hours after writ­ing about the dur­a­tion-of-expos­ure effect (whereby merely touch­ing an unowned object increases our attach­ment to it and how much we value it), a post came into my feed read­er point­ing out how Apple Inc. take advant­age of this effect in their “painstak­ingly cal­ib­rated” stores.

Car­mine Gallo, provid­ing a glimpse into his upcom­ing book, The Apple Exper­i­ence, explain­s how every aspect of an Apple Store is designed to foster “multi­s­ens­ory own­er­ship exper­i­ences”. This on the (very spe­cif­ic) tilt of laptop screens (from anoth­er great art­icle on the top­ic):

The note­book com­puters dis­played on the store’s tab­letops and coun­ters are set out, each day, to exactly the same angle. That angle being, pre­cisely, 70 degrees: not as rigid as a table-per­pen­dic­u­lar 90 degrees, but open enough – and, also, closed enough – for screens’ con­tent to remain vis­ible and invit­ing to would-be typers and tinker­ers.

The point […] is to get people to touch the devices. “The main reas­on note­book com­puters screens are slightly angled is to encour­age cus­tom­ers to adjust the screen to their ideal view­ing angle,” [Gallo] says – “in oth­er words, to touch the com­puter.”

A tact­ile exper­i­ence with an Apple product begets loy­alty to Apple products, the think­ing goes – which means that the store exists to imprint a brand impres­sion on vis­it­ors even more than it exists to extract money from them. “The own­er­ship exper­i­ence is more import­ant than a sale,” Gallo notes. Which means that the store – and every single detail cre­at­ing the exper­i­ence of it – are optim­ized for cus­tom­ers’ per­son­al indul­gence. Apple wants you to touch stuff, to play with it, to make it your own. Its note­book com­puters are tilted at just the right angle to beck­on you to their screens – and, more import­antly, to their key­boards.

When Apple do it right, they do it per­fectly.

via Kot­tke

Personal Pronouns as Relationship and Company Indicators

The per­son­al pro­nouns used by couples dur­ing “con­flict­ive mar­it­al inter­ac­tions” are reli­able indic­at­ors of rela­tion­ship qual­ity and mar­it­al sat­is­fac­tion, accord­ing to a study track­ing 154 couples over 23 years. The study showed that We-words’ (our, we, etc.) were indic­at­ive of a more pos­it­ive rela­tion­ship than ‘Me- and You-words’ (I, you, etc.) (doi).

Using We-ness lan­guage implies a shared iden­ti­fic­a­tion between spouses, even when the con­ver­sa­tion is focused on an area of con­flict. Con­sist­ent with this, We-ness was asso­ci­ated with more pos­it­ive and less neg­at­ive emo­tion beha­vi­ors and with lower car­di­ovas­cu­lar arous­al. In con­trast, Sep­ar­ate­ness lan­guage implies a great­er sense of inde­pend­ence and dis­tance in the rela­tion­ship. Com­pared with We-ness, Sep­ar­ate­ness was asso­ci­ated with a very dif­fer­ent set of mar­it­al qual­it­ies includ­ing more neg­at­ive emo­tion­al beha­vi­or and great­er mar­it­al dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

Sim­il­arly, the per­son­al pro­nouns used by CEOs in their annu­al share­hold­er let­ters provide a use­ful way of pre­dict­ing future com­pany performance. No doubt gleaned from the Ritten­house Rank­ings Candor Sur­vey, this is from Geoff Colvin’s book, Tal­ent is Over­rated:

Laura Ritten­house, an unusu­al type of fin­an­cial ana­lyst, counts the num­ber of times the word “I” occurs in annu­al let­ters to share­hold­ers from cor­por­ate CEOs, con­tend­ing that this and oth­er evid­ence in the let­ters helps pre­dict com­pany per­form­ance (basic find­ing: Ego­ma­ni­acs are bad news).

via Bark­ing Up the Wrong Tree (1 2)

Entrepreneurship and the Possibility of Real Failure

In 2007 Vini­cius Vacanti quit his highly-paid job in fin­ance to take on life as an entre­pren­eur. In a short post describ­ing his reas­ons for doing so, Vacanti says that most of us haven’t faced the pos­sib­il­ity of real fail­ure, and entre­pren­eur­ship is a way to test your lim­its by attempt­ing to cre­ate some­thing of real value:

A scary idea star­ted creep­ing into my thoughts: what if I could build some­thing? Wouldn’t I always won­der? Wouldn’t I regret it? Wouldn’t it eat away at me over the years?

And, that’s when I real­ized that I didn’t actu­ally know if I was good enough because I hadn’t really failed in life (at least not pro­fes­sion­ally). Most people don’t really fail. We tend to take the job that we think we’ll suc­ceed in. We are hes­it­ant to reach. And, if we do reach and suc­ceed, then we don’t reach again.

The only way to know how good you might be at some­thing is to fail try­ing it.

And, that’s when I decided it was time to test my lim­its. It was time to really reach. It was time to quit my safe job and walk straight into almost cer­tain star­tup fail­ure.

There’s noth­ing mind-blow­ing here, admit­tedly – I just love how Vacanti phrased this.

Dark Patterns for Marketers, or: Practical Behavioural Economics

Tak­ing a sys­tem­at­ic approach to imple­ment­ing find­ings from beha­vi­our­al eco­nom­ics into a sales cycle can “unlock sig­ni­fic­ant value”, accord­ing to McKinsey’s Ned Welch. To help busi­ness do exactly that, Welch–in what, at times, reads a bit like a ‘dark pat­terns guide for marketers’–has writ­ten an art­icle look­ing at four prac­tic­al tech­niques from beha­vi­our­al eco­nom­ics that mar­keters should use to per­suade pur­chasers. The tech­niques:

  1. Make a product’s cost less pain­ful.
  2. Har­ness the power of a default option.
  3. Don’t over­whelm con­sumers with choice.
  4. Pos­i­tion your pre­ferred option care­fully.

There’s not much new here, but the sum­mar­ies are nice and suc­cinct. From item four, I found this bit of gro­cery store choice archi­tec­ture inter­est­ing:

Anoth­er way to pos­i­tion choices relates not to the products a com­pany offers but to the way it dis­plays them. Our research sug­gests, for instance, that ice cream shop­pers in gro­cery stores look at the brand first, fla­vor second, and price last. Organ­iz­ing super­mar­ket aisles accord­ing to way con­sumers prefer to buy spe­cif­ic products makes cus­tom­ers both hap­pi­er and less likely to base their pur­chase decisions on price—allowing retail­ers to sell high­er-priced, high­er-mar­gin products. (This explains why aisles are rarely organ­ized by price.) For ther­mo­stats, by con­trast, people gen­er­ally start with price, then func­tion, and finally brand. The mer­chand­ise lay­out should there­fore be quite dif­fer­ent.

via Nudge

(If you don’t have a McKin­sey account, you can read the art­icle here or here (PDF).)

Common Misconceptions About Publishing and Writing

After real­ising that “many people don’t have the first clue about how the pub­lish­ing busi­ness works — or even what it is”, the some­what pro­lif­ic sci­ence fic­tion writer Charlie Stross decided to do some­thing about it. The res­ult was a series titled Com­mon Mis­con­cep­tions About Pub­lish­ing.

This is admit­tedly only one author’s view­point and set of opin­ions, but Stross’ series of some­times lengthy but always insight­ful essays expose the innards of pub­lish­ing (at least, it seems to). Posts in the series include:

Some­thing that par­tic­u­larly struck me was this look at author income inequal­ity:

Research­ers [cal­cu­lated the] Gini coef­fi­cient for authors’ incomes — a meas­ure of income inequal­ity, where 0.0 means every­one takes an identic­al slice of the com­bined cake, and 1.0 indic­ates that a single indi­vidu­al takes all the cake and every­one else starves. Let me provide a yard­stick: the UK had a Gini coef­fi­cient of 0.36 in 2009, the widest ever gap between rich and poor — while the USA, at 0.408, had the most unequal income dis­tri­bu­tion in the entire developed world. The Gini coef­fi­cient among writers in the UK in 2004-05 was a whop­ping great 0.74. As the research­ers note:

Writ­ing is shown to be a very risky pro­fes­sion with medi­an earn­ings of less than one quarter of the typ­ic­al wage of a UK employ­ee. There is sig­ni­fic­ant inequal­ity with­in the pro­fes­sion, as indic­ated by very high Gini Coef­fi­cients. The top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income, while the bot­tom 50% earn less than 10% of total income.

This is the same Gini coef­fi­cient as Nam­i­bia in 1993 (the worst in the world at the time, accord­ing to the World Bank).

via The Browser