Friday, July 4, 2008

Apple's customer experience

I just read an article about Apple that was confusing me because they for sure create a fantastic product experience, but they are probably the most un-collaborative (does this word exist?!) company in this arena. Apple is actually doing everything possible to not communicate with its customers. Their policy is to keep everything product related as secret as possible. Even different departments within the company do not know what the others are doing. That avoids that somebody gets the full picture of a new product and accompanied with strict prohibitions in the employees contracts about what they are allowed to talk and to whom, it allows Apple to gain a competitive advantage that is massive (expected three years for the iPhone). When products leave the labs at apple, they are extremely stable and have only few bugs (although they are found quickly and the example of the iPod battery shows that consumers are able to strike back...).
The buzz that is created by new apple products allows Steve Jobs to leave customers in the dark during the development process without harvesting the negative feedback that everybody would expect. While Google motto is "Don't be evil", it looks like Apple's is the opposite. The leadership methods of Apple are antipodal to the open and collaborative ones that are common in most of the Hi-Tec and Software companies these days.
Interesting enough - Apple is tremendously successful with this strategy, gaining more and more market space from companies like Microsoft that recently started to open up to it's customers. Is this just an exception or will this market - which seems to be a precursor for CRM 2.0 strategies - fall back into traditional ways of leadership and marketing?

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  1. Check out Steve's keynote from this year's worldwide developer's conference. The new apple is very collaborative. Tell me of another company that brings on 10+ partners and beta customers to be part of their product launch.

  2. is that the iPhone 2.0 software release announcement? I am pretty sure all of the partners had to sign NDAs to participate :)

    But you are right, Apple is definitely learning fast, as the Apple store for 3rd Party SW on the iPhone shows they accept the community demand for own apps on the iPhone. But still Apple will be in full charge of what is happening there (like iTunes)...

    I am curious how far Apple will go in terms of opening up :)