Gurbaksh Chahal | What We Can Learn From Apple Today
It’s been a long time coming. And whether or not you agree with the New York Times headline “Apple Is Back, Better Than Ever” there’s no doubt that Apple’s unveiling of new products yesterday has immense significance for our industry.
Much has already been said about the products themselves—in old-fashioned print, on TV and online. CNBC reported 2.4 million tweets, which had been running at the rate of 34,000 per minute!
I’ve heard and read expressions such as “ushering in of a new era,” “incredible,” “did not disappoint” and “biggest expansion since the death of Steve Jobs.”
So now we have a stylish smartwatch—the Apple Watch—the company’s first foray into a new product category (wearables) since the blockbuster iPad in 2010. (Or at least we will have it come next year!).
We have two new iPhones—out this month—meeting the demands of the “phablet” trend. As a point of reference the new iPhone 6 is just smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the 6 Plus just larger.
And then there’s Apple Pay (operational next month) giving consumers the power to make payments with the swipe of an iPhone or an Apple Watch and with greater security than credit cards.
So, what can we learn from the big Apple event and the Apple of today?
You don’t have to be first
Apple wasn’t the first company to make a splash into portable music players, but it was the first to own the category with the iPod and iTunes. And it’s not the first to step into the mobile payments space or wearables, either.
But Apple already has more than twice as many credit card accounts as Amazon and the Apple Watch, with seemingly impressive hardware and an easier software interface, has enjoyed reviews likening it to stunning luxury jewelry. Apple will surely make its mark in both of these categories. As Apple CEO Tim Cook says: it’s about getting things right, not getting things first. I like to think it’s about being the best, not being the first.
Launch with a bang
Steve Jobs was the master. And Apple today is continuing the tradition of unveiling new products with great fanfare. While Tim Cook’s style is not to dominate the entire presentation he couldn’t resist introducing Apple Watch with Jobs’s trademark tease, “one more thing.” Some traditions should continue. The event reached a finale not only with a live performance from U2 but also “one more thing”—the revelation that the band’s new album is available free for all iTunes customers until October 13th. Here’s a lesson for every entrepreneur: you can have the greatest products in the world but they’re worthless if you don’t shout their value from the rooftops.
Vision and execution
You need both vision and the ability to execute on that vision to make and build a great company. Jobs was undoubtedly a visionary; Cook has the reputation of being a genius at execution. For Apple—going forward—the jury is still out on “the vision thing,” but yesterday’s announcements could well put Apple back on track to be the tech trendsetter of all time. Apple is certainly operating at an unprecedented scale not only developing new hardware and software but also seamlessly tying it all together.
As the New York Times said, “Both the new watch and the payment system, Apple Pay, appear to be of a level of polish that suggests the company still possesses the capacity to invent new products and services that can define an entire industry.”
Better and better
Breaking into new categories is one way of making a goliath of a company even bigger. The other approach is to continue the strategy at which Apple has always excelled: And that’s making incremental improvements to the most popular products to always keep one step ahead of the competition. That’s what Apple is continuing to do by bringing out the two new iPhones—larger-size iPhones that are a response to consumer demand. Throughout my career I’ve always believed in and pursued “the better mousetrap” strategy as a way of building on success.
Do it in style
Whatever you create why not make it beautiful instead of ugly? Why not do it with a sense of flair and style? That’s always been the Apple way and it fulfills humanity’s ultimate desire. Let’s celebrate beauty. Apple has shown that you can combine high-tech with high fashion. Especially according to the reviews of the new watch. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!
The digital revolution is making unprecedented changes in our social and professional lives. And the ever-increasing pace of change is at a mind-boggling, never-seen-before velocity. Those of us in the internet world can be a powerful force enriching the existence of people across the planet. As Tim Cook stated, “It’s not just about making great products, but great products that enrich people’s lives.” I couldn’t agree more.
Steve Jobs and Apple were phenomenal pioneers that showed many of us the way. The commitment to excellence, the passion, the drive, the no-holds-barred attitude…such awesome examples for all entrepreneurs. And there’s still much to learn from the Apple of today as we saw yesterday.
Chairman & CEO, ProcureNet | Founder, Chahal Foundation | 3 Exits $400MM+ | 4X Entrepreneur | Author | Guest Lecturer |Hong Kong | Bay Area
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