In the last few months everyone has been reflecting on Steve Jobs life and how he managed to change the world. I have also been doing my own reflecting on what made him so successful. I had been thinking about this before Steve Jobs passed away but have only now decided to put my thought down.
I have really studied this a lot and would like to share my though on one of Steve Jobs greatest skills.
Steve had this amazing ability to look and something really complicated and make it simple. This is probably one of the reason people are so loyal to Apple. All Apple product are very easy to use. But there is something so much deeper in the thought process that we often over look.
Besided being easy to use, Apple product are simple to buy. There are not hundreds of options and they are not very customizable. Some people really hate this which I can understand but Steve wasn't really worried about the one out of a hundred who knew what they wanted. Steve knew the most people really didn't know all the computer lingo and details. All they wanted was a computer that was easy to use and worked.
Steve dealt with this issue as soon as he arrive back at Apple. This is the list of product that Apple was selling at the time:
1400, 2400, 3400, 4400, 5400
5500, 6500, 7300, 7600, 8600
9600, 20th, e-mate, Newton, Pippin
Most of that makes no sense does it? And there were varients of each model. Steve couldn't figure the products out. He didn't even know which product to recommend to his friends.
So Steve went to his default setting of simplicity. Apple realsied that there were two types of customers: Personal Consumers and Pro users. There were also two types of computers: Desktop and Portable. So they created a table just like this below:
Apple then set out to create product that fitted into each box. It took just over a year for Apple to release these products which is impressive. This is what the table looked like after they had completed their product strategy:
This strategy has served Apple so well that they still use it today. Although they have gone into different markets with the iPod and the iPhone the strategy still remains the same. Although there are some slight deviation Apple will always be this simple.
I have create this table with Apples currect computer line and their iPod line. You will notice that I have added a column called "switchers", these are models that are cheap, powerful and entice people to start using Apple. There is almost a garentee that these buyerss will buy another Mac but it won't be the same model! I have included the iPad in this category as I feel this is how Apple views it.
You will notice in this next table I have put both iPod and iPhone together as I believe Apple are matching the product types together. I have call the one shuffle and the other Nano because there are lots of people talking about an iPhone Nano. I believe this is how Apple sees it, the iPhone 3Gs is the iPhone Nano. The reason there is no iPhone Shuffle is because Apple cannot keep a phone for 4 year before it becomes a shuffle. the question will still remain if Apple will release and iPhone shuffle. I don't believe they will until they can find a way to get passed sim cards, ie: your cell account is in the cloud so it doesn't matter what phone you used. Phones will then really become fashion accessories:
So what are your product and how can you make them simpler for people to understand and buy. Make the buying decision easy. Remember: keep it simple stupid!