In my last post I talked about why Apple is not a hardware or software innovator. This time I will talk about why they are a catalyst.
When you look at the fan base that Apple has created over the years, you would have to say that they are nothing short of fanatics. And I’m pretty sure many of them would be happy to be called that too. If Apple does nothing else right, you can’t deny they have done this right. When you create fans that are this excited about your products they not only buy your products they evangelize them for you. Let’s look at how they were able to do this.
As you read in my previous post, I don’t believe that Apple is really a hardware or software innovator. Their operating system is based on Unix which they did not create, their hardware is technically not that innovative in the grand scheme of things. What they do do well is make things sexy. The sleek designs. Hold a Blackberry in one hand and an iPhone in the other and the iPhone will feel innately sexier. They weren’t the first mp3 player on the market, but they made the first one that people “had to have”. And they certainly weren’t the first smart phone on the market. What Apple has done is create great marketing campaigns around their products. The commercials for the iPod with it’s white earbuds on bright color backgrounds and black figures listening to music, highlighted the product without having to say a word. Their packaging is even sexy. Plus the white earbuds, set it apart from anything else on the market. Instantly iPod owners could recognize another with the earbuds making them feel like an elite group.
What first made the iPod a catalyst was iTunes. An easy to use free software where people could download their favorite music and artists could promote their new music with things like “new music Tuesdays.” Then what really made the iPod touch and the iPhone a huge success was the Apple AppStore. This created a platform for thousands (+) of developers to create applications for the devices and to sell them. This way Apple brings innovation to their products, which makes people want to buy their products because of all the cool new features and they are saving money on development as well as making money on every app that is sold. Not only that, developers are excited about Apple products because they can create an app to promote their product or simply make an app for itself and make money in the process as well.
By becoming a catalyst (an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action | Merriam-Webster) Apple has created a position for itself where their products sit in the middle and enable the reaction/interaction of their customers: consumers and developers.
In the end it’s a WIN – WIN and well… WIN situation.