What is it about Apple that makes it the most watched company on planet earth? Alright, the premise is arguable. So, name another company that is scrutinized, hounded, criticized, mocked, and beloved as much as Apple.
Yeah, I hear the same crickets. Any company that has 800-million customers and that does not play by the same standardized rules as traditional technology companies is bound to attract attention. Remember the ‘Think Different‘ ad campaign? That’s Apple all the way. ‘I’m a PC, I’m a Mac?‘ True Apple; the most watched company on earth. Why?
Of Magic And Mirrors
There is something about Apple– products, company, history– that brings out the emotions; and those range from absolute cult-like adoration to pure unadulterated hate. Why the extreme? What is it that Apple does differently? Is there another company, technology or otherwise, that receives such extreme emotion?
History – Apple has a fabled, storied, and highly interesting history as one of the first PC success stories. The company started in a garage by two kinda sorta mostly friends (a friendship that didn’t last long); one with technology brilliance, the other a naturalized marketing pitch man.
The story couldn’t be fiction. Co-founder leaves company. Other co-founder pushed out of company, and like a 20th century Moses wandered in the technology and entertainment wilderness for years, only to return and bring the company back from the brink to become the most valuable, loved, and hated company. Ever.
Products – Apple has always designed, built, and promoted itself and its products in the premium range, giving customers lesser functionality for a higher price, and that captured the ire of PC traditionalists who preferred more capability, and lower prices. See? Hate.
Yet, it is Apple that has run off a string of products successes unheard of in the entire industry. The Mac, once bedridden with an anemic 2-percent of the PC industry’s marketshare, now commands half the industry’s profits. Then, Apple Store, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, Apple TV, iPhone, App Store, iPad, and now Watch. Apple revolutionized how people buy entertainment, applications, and products.
Attitude – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had an attitude, a hubris-bordering-on-psychotic arrogance, and much of that same ‘we do things our way’ remains. Apple adopts industry standards where useful, but often grabs technology, features, and functions and rolls them up into a package that is often greater than the sum of the parts. In general, customers love Apple’s products; the seamless, durable, high quality hardware, matched by software that integrates functionality across multiple devices. Nobody does that better; many have tried.
Haters And Lovers – Apple’s customers tend to love the company’s products and software far beyond those of traditional gadget makers. Likewise, critics pound on the company for falling behind competitors in some areas, and decry the company’s focus on the premium end of every market. On either side of that fence is an element unlike what is found in most technology companies. Love and hate. Apple gets both, and fortunately for the stock price, revenue, and profits, more of the former than the latter.
Apple’s storied history has spawned hundreds of websites which follow the company’s every move, analyze every detail, including those that don’t exist, won’t exist ever, or exist for reasons unfathomable to those who are blinded by the light, not attracted to it. More words have been written about Apple products that will never be than most products being shipped by competitors today.
Apple is special. There’s not really another company on earth quite like it, though the company’s success has spawned many wannabe successors. For me, it’s the best of both worlds. I get to use products I love to use, and watch a company that is so interesting and unpredictable that even fiction wouldn’t do it justice.