Before I finished this article I thought long and hard about a title; a snappy headline to grab roving and distracted reader eyeballs and pull them into an insightful piece about how Apple confounds critics.
For example, I thought about this as a headline: ‘What Apple Knows About Customers That Customers And Critics Don’t Know.” That’s a good one, certainly more descriptive, but it was too long so I went with the murder meme. Either way, Apple knows more about its customers than Apple watchers.
Warm & Fuzzy
What Apple has been doing to customers for decades is representative of a Jekyll and Hyde approach; something of a split personality disorder which makes those of us who follow Apple, use Apple’s products, and occasionally criticize Apple for what we see as obvious offenses, the outliers while Apple’s executives laugh all the way to the bank every financial quarter.
Split personality disorder? Yes.
As the slow-footed tortoise in the fable, Apple coasts along on its laurels year after year while competitors– the technology hares– whiz by with new features, new hardware, lower prices, only to fall into a deep sleep, a slumber which seldom yields profits. Yes, Apple knows how to make money as a tortoise while competitors hop madly forward with fancier products With more features that yield financial squat for their makers.
Then, every now and again, the tortoise sheds the shell, slaps on a pair of Nike’s, and runs a few rings around the sleeping hoard of hares, to take the technology lead yet again. We’ve seen this happen time and again with the Mac, but also iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and the most recent, Watch and AirPods, both awaiting a noisy competitor with more features, better hardware, and a lower price.
Yep. Split personality disorder.
What we’ve been missing in this adventure of good vs. evil has been staring us in the face the whole time. Apple may slow walk new technology. Apple may leap into future technology years ahead of competitors (iPhone, Touch ID, Face ID are recent examples among many). But along the way Apple dispenses invisible warm and fuzzies which add up to a layer of protection that keeps customers happy and satisfied and standing in line for more. Warm and fuzzy? Yes, the feeling you get when opening up a new Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, or whatever, knowing it will perform well, integrate well, and make you feel good about both the purchase and the ownership.
Apple taps into good emotions better than Microsoft, Samsung, Google, Lenovo, Dell, HP or any other technology company. Competitors may be viewed as the presenters of bad emotions at worst, or no emotions at best, but few technology gadget makers are as good at creating the comfortable warm and fuzzy feelings that Apple brings to more than a billion customers.
That relationship between product and user, between company and customer, allows Apple to slow walk new technology, to slide behind competitors with more features, to ignore competition entirely until it is time to leap into action, leapfrog everyone, and bring yet another round of emotional beverages to a growing customer base eager for the next great thing, but willing to show patience because, well, this is just how Apple works.
Apple gets away with murder but such a premise should not be a surprise because we see the same thing happen all around us with politicians, celebrities, family members and next door neighbors. Humans seem willing to forgive and forget in abundance. We’re willing to forgive Apple for not upgrading the Mac as frequently as the iPhone because the Mac still feels better and works better than a laundry list of bullet points which should tell us the hardware is out of date.
Who cares? We’re in love.