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Category Archives: Innovation

The Real Impact Of Steve Jobs Stepping Down

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.

Social Vending: The Beginning

Recently my girlfriend mentioned that she had seen Coke’s newest vending machine in the Atlanta Airport. This machine has a touch screen that allows you to select your beverage rather than the traditional buttons. I first saw one at the World of Coke Museum here in Atlanta with which were also able to combine different flavors and products into one tasty (or very daring) combination.

Coke also started rolling out it’s “Happiness Machine,” a fake vending machine that would magically spit out pizzas, surfboards, frisbees, and tons of other cool things. Check out this vid for what the Happiness Machine is capable of:

I thought this campaign was fantastic. The smiles of everyone involved makes it worthwhile in itself, but since the video(s) went viral it garnered national attention.

Pepsi is looking to one-up Coke on this one, by creating a vending machine that lets you gift drinks to friends via social media. Now, I immediately assumed this meant Facebook and Twitter integration, but alas this is not the case. I agree with Mashable when they say this is “glaring omission.” Yes, even though they may be testing integration for the next step…I wish that they would have included it with these. As for now, you use a friend’s mobile number to send them a text with a code that can be redeemed for a free drink at any of these vending machines.

It’s a great idea, but the idea of going to a vending machine and having to take out my phone, look up a friend’s number, then type in a message on the machine is a relatively unattractive one…just imagine the lines at one of these things if they get popular. You can also add an optional video that the vending machine records for you, I’d love to have people lined up behind me making faces and inappropriate gestures while I’m trying to send a drink.

There are some problems with the idea, but all in all I think it’s fantastic. Once real social media (not just simple texting, which isn’t “social media” in my opinion) is integrated and you can post to people’s walls, or tweet videos, this will be an incredible idea that will undoubtedly be mimicked or one-upped in return by Coca-cola.

What do you think of social vending? Would you use the machine to it’s full potential or treat it like a normal vending machine? Post thoughts in the comments.