It’s interesting, Apple claims to have served billion application’s to it’s iPod Touch/iPhone customers, in just 9 months. That’s huge! and surely a successful business concept. Considering that several Apps on the Store are for sales, ranging from $0.99 to $9.99. And of course there are the expensive ones selling around $14 – $20+. That’s definitely a lot of Revenue, both for Apple and the developers. So what is it that makes Apple so successful? Why is it, that this one company does so well doing, what they are doing, while others just keep fumbling – even after trying to imitate the same idea?
Apple definitely has the edge when it comes down to innovation (Disclaimer: I personally use the iPhone, and just can’t get over the possibilities of the product. I am sure even Apple, might have surprised itself, with the possibilities of it’s own product).
These are a few things , In my opinion. where Apple has got the equation correct. And what other business can do a little bit of learning from.
1. Innovation - Allow innovation within the organization, you will be shocked to discover the creative pool within your own company.
2. Encourage Creativity – following up on the above point, Creativity will give you the edge over competition.
3. Research and Development – While several businesses shy away from R&D, there is a great ROI hidden from Research and Development, you just have to know how to get it right.
4. Invest in Usability – Again several companies don’t invest in usability testing of their products, which render’s a probably ‘great’ idea to just another ‘good’ idea.
5. Invest in your EMPLOYEE - while this might seem absurd to some, but it’s as important as coming out with a successful product. When an employee is looked after well (I mean monetarily and Emotionally), they will stretch to the extremes of their talents to develop your business. And I think that is the most simplest but most powerful formula for any successful business.
6. Marketing – There are the marketing gurus (MBA’s and IIM) who think no end of themselves, but none of that helps when it comes down to the reality of the market, and surely there isn’t ‘One’ formula that will get it right for you all the time (which you probably used in the last organization and got you lot of compliments).
7. Know your product well – If Apple didn’t know what their iPhone/iPod well, they probably would have never been able to dig into this goldmine. And make sure each and every employee understands your products.
8. Know your Target audience And then target it well – If your a mobile company and think everybody using a mobile is your target audience, you probably should go burn your B-school degrees right now. Apple, understands this well, they know what group of the market will appreciate their product (and in turn be employed for them for free! talking about and showing-off the product everywhere they go) and won’t mind paying a premium for it. This in turn will inspire the other market groups to have a desire to ‘want’, which will ensure that they convert their ‘want’ to a ‘need’ and when they finally buy this product, while they don’t feel bad about the huge hole in the pocket they just created! (A very nice way of working through the psyche of a ‘save money’ customer), eventually the target audience doesn’t seem so niche as they initially had projected it. Either, it’s pure ‘Luck’ (which, I really doubt) or it’s a ‘master piece’ strategy. And it’s simple. (Also, not to forget they have a really great product there – but that’s isn’t all you need to have a successful business – you need a good plan).
9. Price your product correctly - Based on the above point, it’s important to price your product correctly. While, you might wonder, was it a smart thing for Apple to set the price of the iPhone at a premium. Had they set the set the price lower, they would have had a large customer base. Think again, if you had to choose between short term growth or long term dominance, what would you choose? Also, when you create a product that the owners will be proud of, you can be assured of a loyal customer base. And, if you see every other individual showing of the same phone, your sure to get turned off. So probably you will cut down a few million customers with the high price, but then these guys will spend on accessories – be it hardware or software – There you have another successful business venture – The Apple Store.
10. Lastly, Involve your (potential & current) Customers & Communities – Several companies are realizing, how important it is to involve the customer in further developing, improving and extending the product. They are the ones who will use your product and decide it’s fate, so why not let them have a say in the product life cycle and the direction it should go, the Internet is full of examples. Bottom-line, let your customers help your business to grow.