What set Apple apart from other technology companies that are no longer around? I could sum it up in a key word I’ve used many times and be done with it. There’s just more to ‘differentiation‘ than meets the eye or the ear. Here’s what I mean.
Think Different, Indeed
Apple’s original founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, were both the epitome of the Think Different class personified by Apple’s ad campaign of the late 1990s.
Think Different carried with it an implied ability to go beyond the bounds of normalcy, to push envelopes, to test and extend beyond boundaries.
My view of product marketing is rather simple. Marketing itself is everything a company does to deliver goods or services to a customer or user.
The key to success, though, lies in differentiation and must appeal to customers who are willing to pay for that differentiation.
How did Windows PCs differ from Macs back in the day?
Generally speaking, they cost less, were more customizable, and ran more applications. How then, did the more expensive Mac, with fewer options and applications, not only survive, but prosper?
During the second coming of Steve Jobs, from 1998 forward, the Mac took on a different life; it used higher quality but standard components (including a shift to Intel CPUs).
Quite often, apps for the Mac were best of breed. Apple further differentiated the Mac with iTunes and iPod, then iLife’s suite of Mac-only apps– iPhoto, Garageband, iMovie and others– all for mainstream Mac users.
At the other end of the scale, professionals were given special treatment– Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, the highly expansive (and expensive) Mac Pro.
In other words, Apple differentiated the Mac from the world of plastic, nameless, personality deprived Windows PCs by a sweet combination of hardware and software differences.
Today, the Mac is highly revered and very profitable, despite falling sales of traditional PCs in the post-PC era, and the rebirth of the netbook in the form of cheaper Google Chromebooks.
While Google and PC makers personify cheap, Apple personifies quality and durability, and unmatched capability in both hardware and software.
That focus on differentiation has carried over to the iPod, iPhone, iTunes, App Stores, Apple TV, and the iPad. Apple is successful because the company differentiates products better than competitors.