Tag Archives: apple

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

Apple, Disney and Pixar: It’s the Products

Written in early 2006 shortly after Disney’s acquisition of Pixar in a $7.4 billion all-stock deal, BusinessWeek looks at the relationship between the Disney and Apple CEOs and where their relationship may lead.

Prescient in that it accurately predicted the Apple TV and the iPhone, the article also briefly looks at Jobs and his product-first mindset:

“The great thing about Steve is that he knows that great business comes from great product,” says Peter Schneider, the former chairman of Disney’s studio. “First you have to get the product right, whether it’s the iPod or an animated movie.” […]

Time and again since, Apple has eschewed calls to boost market share by making lower-end products or expanding into adjacent markets where the company wouldn’t be the leader. “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do,” Jobs often says. […] “Quality is more important than quantity, and in the end, it’s a better financial decision anyway.”

via @venturehacks

Apple’s Strategy of Rejecting ‘Social Media’

Apple’s ‘rejection’ of the practices pundits “always say you should do to succeed in the Internet economy” isn’t unique, but it does make for interesting reading:

Apple doesn’t blog; it doesn’t Tweet; it does little on Facebook; it doesn’t engage with its customer base. It doesn’t ask the “community” for feedback or rapidly iterate based on any such feedback or even respond to criticism.

It doesn’t give anything away for free, thank you very much—in fact, the company charges premium prices for just about everything. Its customer service is perfunctory. It engages in terribly consumer-unfriendly practices like making you buy a whole new device when the battery dies.

And marketing? […] For the most part, Apple advertising is old media all the way.

There are some important lessons for entrepreneurs in this strategy, says Jonathan Weber:

  • It’s the product, stupid! (“If in doubt, focus on the product.”)
  • Brand marketing still matters—a lot.
  • Engaging with your customers via the real-time Web is not, in fact, mandatory. (Don’t become influenced by “what the zeitgeist of the moment says you should be doing”.)
  • Continuously consider opportunity costs.

via @alexjmann

Apple’s Strategy: The Good and Bad

The four major issues with Apple’s current product line and strategy that are “stifling the industry, consumer choice and pricing”, according to Jason Calacanis:

  1. Destroying MP3 player innovation through anti-competitive practices.
  2. Monopolistic practices in telecommunications.
  3. Draconian App Store policies.
  4. Wanting to own almost every extension of the iPhone platform.

It’s tough to disagree with these points (or Jason’s reasoning) but a typical response could be:

The restrictions Apple places on its products are necessary to ensure the quality of the user experience, that Apple deserves to be paid for the innovations it has brought to the marketplace and the consumer freedom it has enabled to use things like the mobile internet, to make online music easy and fun to use etc.

Both of the above articles are anti-Apple (or at least anti-Apple strategy) and I agree with them both—but my stance is definitely that of pro-Apple (a recent development since owning an iPhone, swiftly followed by a Hackintosh).

The ROI I get with Apple products is positive despite these issues and as such I’m willing to pay a premium. This isn’t a financial ROI, but a time/enjoyment ROI. For an idea of what I mean, this short tirade against open source usability from an article looking at how to compete with open source software (via @zambonini) may help:

At a salaried job making $80k plus benefits your time is worth around $55/hour. […] And thus it is with the majority of open source software:

Open source software is free if your time is worth nothing.

[…] I’ve used mainstream image editors like Photoshop, Paint.NET and Gimp; some of my best friends are mainstream image editors. And when I saw Gimp I almost went blind. Children were weeping; fruit was bruising. The UI could kill small animals.

Are there exceptions in the open source world? Absolutely.

When an open source project gets enough talented people working on it, it can become a downright masterpiece.

In UI and UX terms the majority of open source applications are behind or on par with PC-based software. These are then both behind Mac-only applications. There are exceptions, of course, but they’re exactly that—exceptions.

Granted; there are unnecessary and debilitating restrictions on Apple products, and when these restrictions make product use cumbersome I’ll switch in a heartbeat. But it seems that these restrictions are part of a larger strategy: to build the best user experience.

This, from a TechCrunch article looking at Apple’s strategy:

“Our goal is not to build the most computers. It’s to build the best.”

That was Apple COO Tim Cook two days ago during Apple’s quarterly earnings call. Sure, it may sound like spin from an executive who doesn’t have a better answer as to why Apple isn’t competing in the low-end of the market, and thus, gaining market share. But it’s not.

You need look no further than numbers released today by NPD to understand Apple’s strategy. Its revenue share of the “premium” price market — that is, computers over $1,000 — is a staggering 91%.

Exporting Poor Work Environments

After a long time of successfully managing to avoid the blog, I eventually clicked this past week when I was sent Fake Steve Jobs’ reaction to the news that an employee of Foxconn, one of Apple’s Chinese ‘manufacturing partners’, committed suicide shortly after reporting a missing iPhone v4 prototype.

We can’t make these products in the United States. Nobody could afford to buy them if we did. And, frankly, the quality would be about half what we get out of China. […]

We all know that there’s no fucking way in the world we should have microwave ovens and refrigerators and TV sets and everything else at the prices we’re paying for them. There’s no way we get all this stuff and everything is done fair and square and everyone gets treated right. No way. And don’t be confused—what we’re talking about here is our way of life. Our standard of living. You want to “fix things in China,” well, it’s gonna cost you. Because everything you own, it’s all done on the backs of millions of poor people whose lives are so awful you can’t even begin to imagine them, people who will do anything to get a life that is a tiny bit better than the shitty one they were born into, people who get exploited and treated like shit and, in the worst of all cases, pay with their lives.

You know that, and I know that. Okay? Let’s just be honest here.

It reminds me somewhat of Jared Diamond’s Collapse, specifically where he discusses how “[China and Japan conserve their] own forests by exporting deforestation to other countries, several of which (including Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia) have already reached or are on the road to catastrophic deforestation” (emphasis mine).

Now, are first world countries like the U.S. and those of Western Europe not just exporting poor work environment standards to the second world countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and China (as a consequence of large-scale, inexpensive manufacturing that we no longer can/want to undertake)?