Apple founder Steve Jobs was a perfectionist – and the company breathes the spirit of this perfectionism from every cell. The products come from a single source, consistency is part of Apple’s design philosophy. This includes the most consistent user experience possible – hardware and software development are controlled by Apple. The user can enter the Apple world completely – from smartphones to full-featured professional PCs, all device classes are offered. Apple applications like iWork are often offered on all platforms – iCloud synchronizes data across devices.
Experts praise above all the user experience of the products, i.e. the feeling that users have when using Apple products. In other words, it’s fun to use Apple devices.
Usability, i.e. the simple use of a device, is usually part of a good user experience – but far from sufficient. Apple succeeds in creating the most pleasant user experience possible from harmonious design, good user guidance and the cult around its own brand – the often underestimated pleasure principle and its status character make Apple products what they are. Incidentally, Apple does without market research. Apple founder Steve Jobs was sure that consumers didn’t know what they really wanted until the product existed – and he was right.
Perfectionism does not stop at the seemingly insignificant: the packaging of Apple products also has a noble effect due to their reduction to the essential.
2 Evolution instead of revolutions
In the 1980s and 1990s, Apple was the undisputed innovation leader in its industry: The first mass-produced PC with mouse operation and graphical user interface, the innovative Quicktime video system, the first laptop with TFT screen and the first electronic appointment calendar (PDA) called Newton.
However, the Silicon Valley company rarely succeeded in transforming the idea into a product suitable for mass production, with which the group also earned money. Apple’s innovative spirit led to near bankruptcy in 1997.
After co-founder Steve Jobs returned to the company as CEO, Apple radically changed its strategy, as two innovation researchers Thierry Rayna (Imperial College London) and Ludmila Striukova (University College London) found in a May 2009 study based on four case studies. Two of the case studies came from the period of radical innovation and two from the period after Job’s return, when minor improvements to existing products replaced the radical innovation approach.
Instead of fighting for innovation leadership through risky investments, existing products were now taken up and sold through chic Apple design and good marketing: neither the iPod was the first mp3 player on the market, nor the iPhone the first smartphone. Other manufacturers also led the way in tablets but did not succeed in helping the device class to breakthrough.
Today the time of iterations comes after the product launch: Each product is improved in cycles that vary over time. Even if the media like to crave new Apple “revolutions”, as rumors around the ever next iPhone have shown – Apple is also successful with the step-by-step improvements, as the iPhone S versions demonstrate.