The Apple Epiphany

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Early last week, immediately after the iPhone 4S release, I wrote this post. In it, I wrote about what I thought the next, next iPhone should have (we’re looking at the iPhone 5, 4G, whatever). Most of the things I wrote I stand by. I think a curved glass screen would be great if they stuck with the high resolution at the same time. Also, they are obviously going to do 4G eventually – they aren’t going to be on 3G forever. I don’t know when, but I would love it if it was the next phone. I’m not saying it will be, or that I’m predicting it will be, just that I would like it. Most of the things I listed are natural evolutions of the current products. HD on the iPad? Eventually. Faster processors? Duh. More RAM? Of course. All of that makes perfect sense.

One thing that I wrote about in that post was what the public reaction to the iPhone was going to be, and this is where I messed up. In a brief moment, I wrote something that an analyst would write. A prediction of how the public would react to a phone that not only hadn’t been released, but which I had never even held. Sure, I’ve been using iOS 5 for months, but that doesn’t mean I should be predicting public reaction to an as-of-yet-unreleased phone, and certainly not what Apple’s quarterly results will look like.

After writing this, I thought about what I’d written for a little while. Then I decided that what I wrote wasn’t correct. Instead of deleting or editing the post, I decided that I was going to write a follow-up post about it. Why? Because in thinking about it, I had what every analyst, blogger, and technology enthusiast should have before writing or even talking about Apple, their culture, and their products. I had what I’m going to call the Apple Epiphany.

I came to the realization that Steve Jobs created a new culture at Apple. It isn’t just a company, whose sole purpose is to create and accrue wealth for employees and shareholders. Steve Jobs turned Apple into a new way of thinking on a corporate level. In addition, he changed the purpose of Apple from being about profits to about products. The people Steve answered to stopped being shareholders, and instead became the users.

Through this lens, the entire perspective changes. When Apple releases an iPhone, for example, the iPhone 4S, it isn’t to make money. Of course, that is a side-effect. What the new phone truly does is create a better experience for the user. The new iPhone isn’t about profits, but is instead about products. So when Apple decides to not put 4G in a phone, or not to make it a tear-drop shape, or do any number of things, it is because of one reason: it will not improve the user experience.

This is not an insignificant point. In fact, Apple may be sacrificing some advertising muscle to maintain an excellent user experience. From a photographic viewpoint a tear-dropped shaped phone would look nice. Apple could do one of their arrays of phones and display the new form factor. It would look very nice and impress people with how it looks. When they go to the Apple Store and pick up the phone, they will feel something off, of course. They might still buy the phone, and in fact probably would, but it wouldn’t be perfect. That’s what Apple is all about.

Do not sacrifice the user experience for anything. I’m not talking about what Steve Jobs is about, because Apple is bigger than Steve. Steve had his own life philosophy that spanned a number of fields of study. But when it comes to Apple, all of their decisions and all of their ‘stumbles’ and ‘mistakes’ can be attributed to a singular type of reasoning: Do not sacrifice the user experience for anything.

It just so happens that along the way they became the most valuable company in the world.

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