My latest trip took me to an Apple Store, in this case in a mall across from a Microsoft Store that was mostly devoid of customers. That venture got me to thinking about how Apple is different than competing technology companies.
One way is obvious. Apple designs and builds the entire gadget; hardware and software. Wait. Doesn’t Microsoft do the same thing with Surface Pro. Kinda. Sorta. But certainly with less success. Doesn’t Google do the same thing with the Chromebook and Nexus line of smartphone and tablets? No, not really. Google farms out the hardware.
Clearly, Apple has one thing going for it that is massively different than all those other competitors.
The Apple TV Example
My first example will lead to the reason. Apple TV. What’s Apple doing with Apple TV? Already Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast do more for less. In fact, Apple hasn’t done diddly squat with Apple TV for years.
Despite news reports which say this company or that company is selling more of their TV solution than Apple, only Apple releases any numbers, and you’d think that for bragging rights alone a competitor would shout from the rooftops how they’re beating Apple in the marketplace.
Silence is golden.
Still, Apple TV has grown lame and long in the tooth. Why? Apple has the money and the engineering chops to build the best TV bargain on planet earth, so why all the silence? Why is Apple TV still so 1999?
In a word, it’s discipline. It’s not a lack of innovation, or engineering chops, or software development capability. Apple has all those in spades and enough money to buy the entire television industry.
Simply put, Apple doesn’t like to design and build what it doesn’t want to, and while Apple TV was ahead of the pack back in the day (like 36 months ago), it’s tired and dreary today (but not by much, which says something about the streaming TV industry).
Apple’s success is based upon discipline. The discipline needed to get a product right.
The dictionary definition of discipline does not really fit, which is why I chose the one in the image above.
discipline |ˈdisəplin| noun
1 the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience: a lack of proper parental and school discipline.
• the controlled behavior resulting from discipline: he was able to maintain discipline among his men.
Knowing exactly what you want is only a part of Apple’s product discipline. The company’s executives, designers, and engineers, seem also to know what they do not want, which is why Apple does not throw a line of products against the wall to see what sticks or resonates, with customers.
That’s what Samsung does. Google, too. And Amazon. Even Microsoft can be accused of trying to innovate, not by leveraging one resource or asset into a new one, but by buying its way into diversity. So far, in the mobile device era, the only companies with positive financial results to show for their efforts is Apple, and to a lesser and lessening extent, Samsung.
Google will need a massive string of successes in mobile to achieve a return on the investment. Amazon’s attempts to diversify have failed at every attempt, and poor Microsoft (not really ‘poor’ but somewhat pathetic) just can’t choose wisely enough to diversify away from Windows and Office, neither of which have an appreciable presence in the mobile device industry.
Not only does Apple have more cash on hand than Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Samsung combined, it has more discipline. Wherever an Apple product seems to be languishing on the vine, you can bet the company is working on something new and remarkably different. Discipline seems to be the distinction between success and failure.
The only question to ask now is this. What is Apple working on that we don’t know about?