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Steve Jobs has successfully CEO’d the hell out of what is arguably the most remarkable company the world has seen over the course of the last three decades, let alone ever. I won’t spend the time going into everything Apple has accomplished in this millennium but I don’t think I need to. Ask ten people a question like “Name the first music player/tablet/phone that you can think of” and I would guess 8 times out of 10 those people will answer “ipod/ipad/iphone” almost immediately. In short, Apple’s market penetration and name recognition is off the charts and by far one of the hottest companies around right now.
With the news of Steve Jobs’ stepping down from the CEO position at Apple, people freaked out to say the least, and the East Coast earthquake became the second biggest thing this week that rocked the world (pun undeniably intended). Already there are countless reports on the magic of Steve Jobs and what his resignation means to Apple, as well as the tech industry. Will Apple change as a company? Will their incredible devices and innovation slow down or stop altogether? Should I update my iPod software now before the world ends?
People can, and will, worry about what will happen to an incredible company when the person who has always been the face of that company decides to step down as the leader. What people need to understand is that Steve Jobs is going nowhere. His title has changed from CEO to Chairman. If you believe he won’t make important decisions or provide input on what Apple does in the years ahead, well you’re kidding yourself.
I’m not worried at all about Apple. What I am intrigued by is what I believe to be the real impact of SJ’s resignation: the effect it has on competition and innovation. Steve Jobs is the man every entrepreneur wants to become: the man who co-founded and molded a juggernaut that became, briefly, the most valuable company on the planet. Steve Jobs is also the man who has caused a level of competition to emerge, in an already uber-competitive industry, that has resulted in some unbelievable innovations. Even with competitors releasing incredible products to compete with Apple, it’s still just barely a competition. The iPod has a virtual monopoly on the music player vertical, the iPad is the leader in the tablet market, and the iPhone is the hottest mobile device on the planet. When devices with incredible specs are released into the market the first question people ask themselves is “is this the iPod/iPhone/iPad killer?” And sometimes they don’t even have the guts to go that far, they simply say “this device can definitely compete with Apple’s device.” Thing is, the devices that may perform just as well as Apple’s version, and possible outperform it, don’t have Apple’s branding behind it. So they lose. And for the last decade or so, every single one has lost. Sure, the products still may sell well, but they don’t touch Apple.
As Steve Jobs removes himself from the driver’s seat of the Apple bandwagon, I can see the greatest impact being felt in the areas of innovation and competition. Steve Jobs has affected how we view our gadgets and gizmos whether we like it or not. I am sad to see him go.
As a result of today’s terrible quake on the East Coast, officials are becoming desperate and have implemented new safety procedures for individuals caught in a quake. Studies show that the new procedures are safer, and will result in fewer casualties and injuries during earthquakes registering up to 7.0 on the Richter Scale. A full explanation of the procedures can be found through the link below:
Just a month ago a campaign was introduced for the California Milk Processor Board that focused on milk reducing out with the symptoms of PMS. Nothing wrong with that right? WRONG. In order to provide the necessary humor that’s needed (or at least helpful) in getting something to go viral, the agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners decided to make men the “target” of the campaign. One thing that I’ve learned in life is that you never, EVER joke about PMS and what causes it, etc….when there are women around. However, this campaign is funny. I find it a stretch in terms of how it will help boost milk sales since there is no man in the history of ever that would go to his wife, girlfriend, mistress, or friend-that-is-a-girl with a carton of milk saying “Hey babe, I know you’re PMS-ing so drink this…it will help you, and everyone around you, get through the next few days alive. Naturally, women flipped and the reaction was strong enough that the campaign had to be pulled.
While I understand the reasons for pulling the campaign, this blog post by my father illustrates a great point that got me thinking: “You have to be evocative to be viral.” This is true in many cases. But what it got me thinking about is that it is next to impossible to be evocative in today’s world without having to pull down whatever it is you’re being evocative with. And herein lies my biggest issue. Well, two biggest issues.
1) Social media is great for creating conversation, but is easily exploited by people wanting to make an issue bigger than it is. Case in point: Nivea recently was forced to pull their “Re-civilized” advertisement because people viewed them as racist and offensive. This became a big deal. I can obviously see where people might get offended by this advertisement, but only because it’s easy to know how those people think. They will see a black man, then the word ‘re-civilize’, and see the unshaven head with the afro and immediately start an uproar. What they have to understand is that when they are crying racism because it’s a black man (they wouldn’t have made a sound if the exact same ad feature a white man) they are the ones distinguishing race here and making it a racial situation. I will go out on a limb here and say that there are African Americans working at Nivea, and that, if they had a problem with this they would have mentioned something. These advertisements go through an approval process that is pretty intense and the legal issues are examined…racism is definitely considered. I try to understand people who think that it’s racist, but I personally don’t think it is at all. When I look at it I see a man throwing out the unclean version of himself and choosing to be well groomed. That may be offensive to the un-groomed types, but I don’t see this as a black man throwing that version of himself out. That is my opinion. I see no racial issues here until people bring them up themselves.
This shouldn’t be a big deal. Nivea responded very well to the issue and pulled the ad and placed a prompt response thanking their customers for being concerned and giving them feedback. Great move on their part. But it was a move they wouldn’t have to make if it wasn’t for people making a huge deal out of something that should never have been a big deal to begin with. Social media allows people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice to voice their opinions, and it leads to a lot of wasted effort and extra money/time/stress that definitely isn’t needed.
2) If you try to make everyone happy, you will end up pissing them all off. There are too many beliefs, opinions, and idiots out there that it is impossible to make everyone happy at one time. The two campaigns I’ve described above are examples of things that may be slightly offensive to some, but won’t be for a lot of people. One great example of “trying to do too much” is Facebook in the early years (and some of the not-so-early years as well). Facebook tried their best to make all of their users happy, and still does, and how does that help them out? It doesn’t. They have a sub-70% user satisfaction rate…the lowest of all the social networks. They try to update too many features too quickly and it ends up making everyone mad because their are too many changes going on to keep track of. Google+ comes out with their group chat Hangouts and Facebook prematurely released their video chat feature and it’s relatively useless.
Google+ is in danger of hitting this point too. They release a super sexy social network after many failed attempts to join the social space, and they tried to make everyone happy. Grabbing aspects of Facebook (site design, news feed) and Twitter (great for real-time updates, lists (G+’s ‘circles)), Google released a social network that does everything, except entice users to use it. I’ve had issues with Google+’s ability to succeed since the beginning, and it looks like we’re out of the honeymoon phase and heading in that direction. Google needed to release something that made a difference in how people experienced social media, yet they released something that isn’t integrated into their other services (including search!), have actively told brands to not join yet, and have deleted accounts of users not using their real names/are underage (which blocks them from all other Google services as well, including Gmail for which you don’t need to specify age). They are making a mess of a situation in which they are trying to make everyone happy, and have only succeeded in making a majority of people either angry or indifferent.
One company that has done a great job of sticking to their guns? Apple. Apple consistently releases quality products to rave reviews, how do they do this? They start in a vertical, and perfect it. They started their success with iPods. For years they perfected the handheld mp3 player and that’s what they did. After owning that market, they brands slightly out by making a phone. It was one of their iPods with phone capabilities. After phones they’ve moved on to tablets. But what have they consistently done? They stick with one type of product and dedicate themselves to it and branch out once they have reached a high level of success. That’s a huge difference compared to other companies who try to do too much.
There will always be people unhappy with what happens, and there are people who are only happy when they can complain about being unhappy. If everyone in the country won the lottery today there would still be people complaining that they could have won MORE money if not everyone else had won, even though they are being given money for free. It is the nature of people to disagree, compete, debate, and argue. It is this that allows us to be creative and evolve and innovate. But along the way we have to understand that we can’t back out of what we do just to make people happy. Sometimes we have to take a risk and stick by it. Whether that’s altering an ad to make it less controversial rather than pulling it down, or simply defending your position, we have to grow. Otherwise, the ones holding us back will keep winning.