Fixing Apple Magic Mouse Ergonomics
Apple haters, cherish the moment while you can.
Apple haters, cherish the moment while you can.
Steve Jobs: CEO of the Decade
Fortune Magazine just named Steve Jobs CEO of the Decade for his impact on computing, movies, music and cell phones. What the article doesn’t do, however, is get to the heart of what sets Steve Jobs apart from his peers: Holistic Thinking.
Yet for all his hanging out with copywriters and industrial designers and musicians — and despite his anticorporate attire — make no mistake: Jobs is all about business. He may not pay attention to customer research, but he works slavishly to make products customers will buy.
He’s a visionary, but he’s grounded in reality too, closely monitoring Apple’s various operational and market metrics. He isn’t motivated by money, says friend Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500). Rather, Jobs is understandably driven by a visceral ardor for Apple, his first love (to which he returned after being spurned — proof that you can go home again) and the vehicle through which he can be both an arbiter of cool and a force for changing the world.
Few corporate CEOs see the world as anything other than a giant piggy bank to smash for their own short-term enjoyment. Steve Jobs is no saint, but he is unique in that he sees the world as one in which he, his shareholders and his customers all have a stake. Steve Jobs’ desire to change the world may come from a selfish place that seeks to impose his vision of the world onto others, but his vision is one in which others are benefiting by his actions rather than suffering as a result of them. This is a key difference between Steve Jobs and most other CEOs.
Steve Jobs is innovative because he wants to positively impact the lives of his customers. He aims to profit as a result of improving people’s experiences with the brands he oversees. He understands the concept of karma — he’s traveled to India as a seeker of spiritual enlightenment, after all. He’s a bohemian executive — a rarity on Wall Street, and a shame at that.
Wealth can be extracted or it can be nurtured. There are many who extract, yet few who nurture. Holistic thinking draws upon the nurturing force that respects the interconnectedness of things while striving to profit and build wealth in a sustainable manner.
Neither Steve Jobs nor Apple are perfect — there is no such thing as perfect, but there sure is such a thing as far from perfect, and much of corporate America can be said to be very far from perfect. Steve Jobs stands out not because he is perfect, but because his approach resonates much more with our conception of what a CEO ought to embody as an iconic representation of the vision behind a brand.
The fact that so few corporations stand for anything in this world makes it all the more reason Apple and Steve Jobs get (and deserve) so much attention. If you want to change the world, you first have to stand for something genuine that isn’t just about you. And if you don’t want to change the world, please resign from your leadership position.
The Apple Store Does Not Register
I had the most fantastically futuristic and fundamentally transformative customer experience at my local Apple retail store today.
I went in to purchase the latest version of OS X, Snow Leopard, along with a few accessories for my MacBook Pro.
When I was finished speaking with the helpful assistant who accompanied me on much of my journey, I kindly bid him farewell and turned to the front of the store, looking for the cash registers — you know, those black IBM boxes (well, more like iMacs at Apple stores) you usually see on your way out of such retail establishments.
To my surprise, not one IBM cash register machine or aluminum iMac with a little receipt printer was anywhere in sight. I was in shock that I hadn’t taken notice of the missing machines upon entering the store, but in honesty when I walked in I couldn’t notice much because I was quickly greeted by four Apple sales staff (yes, simultaneously) who were eager to assist me…
Feeling somewhat out of place and no longer on the planet Earth, I turned to the back of the store hoping to find the registers there. You would not believe the feeling of relief I felt upon seeing the wide counter toward the back — what an odd place to check out of a store, I thought. But no — wait…that’s the Genius Bar, not a checkout counter. Now I really felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
Completely baffled, I walked up to yet another Apple retail store employee and told him that I’d like to check out…”I’m ready to buy this stuff…” to which he reached into his back pocket and withdrew a micro-register complete with credit card scanner. Yes, I’m getting old and I no longer know what planet I’m on at this moment.
"But wait…" I stopped the employee, "you mean to tell me that you all have one of those in your back pockets, all of you wearing that light blue shirt?” His reply was a jovial, “yep.”
"So, you mean to tell me that when I said goodbye to the person who was helping me, because I wanted to leave him to go to the REGISTER to pay, I didn’t have to say goodbye to him? I could have just asked HIM to ring me up right there?" His reply was a jovial, "yep."
At this point I was going to prove myself hip to Apple’s little game — just wait until he prints the receipt, I thought. He can’t possibly print it from that little device — it’s got no paper….it’s not a printer….so wherever he prints that receipt from, THAT is the register….THAT is where I’ll claim — in my mind — the missing area for my precious checkout spot.
"So, don’t tell me that little thing is going to print my receipt," I joked — knowing full well I was close to final victory over this … this….deception. "Nope," he replied, "it’s going to be emailed to you — can I have your email address?" And to this, all I could do was LOL, and follow up by asking him a number of inquisitive retail sales and procedural questions — all of which he happily answered.
As an aging consumer with lifelong expectations of looking for those IBM registers on the way out, the experiential reality of a register-free shopping environment proved to definitely be more of a perceptual challenge than I might have conceived it to be had I merely toyed with it as a concept in my mind. Would I trust Apple to not literally hand me a printed receipt but email it to me instead? [It did arrive in my email as promised] Sure, but would I trust Wal-Mart or another brand? This is definitely an interesting case to contemplate on many levels, mostly having to do with perceptions related to customer experience — with a branding component.
Apple.com : Beautifully Frustrating
I visited Apple.com to locate my nearest retail store today, navigating to where I logically expected this information to exist.
From the home page, I clicked Store and that’s when I was struck by the most beautiful yet frustrating customer experience I’ve encountered in a while. All I wanted to do was get information about Apple retail stores, yet this information was nowhere to be found at http://store.apple.com/.
I know, I know. It’s my fault. Maybe it’s there and I just didn’t know where to look, or I didn’t look correctly. It’s always the user’s fault.
At this point, I stopped thinking like a customer and started thinking like an engineer.
Obviously! DUH!!! You’re looking for the retail store but instead clicked Store which obviously means Apple’s online store (silly consumer). Don’t you know that when you go to Apple’s home page, all you have to do is scroll all the way to the bottom where a text link will take you to information about Apple’s retail stores?
Silly, silly consumers with their experiential expectations.
Am I going to be pushed around by this type of rigid thinking? No way. The customer expectation when clicking Store (no matter what Apple’s information architects may like to think) is that they will be taken to a place that will provide them information applicable to both online and offline shopping related to Apple’s products.
The above images represent a before (what’s there now) and after (my suggestion) in order to very simply address this problem and dramatically improve the customer experience in the most contextually relevant and easy to implement fashion.
Designing the customer experience requires thinking like a customer while abandoning rigid thinking.
Before the divisive “I’m a Mac” & “You’re a PeeWee” commercials, Apple inspired thinking around an idea of pushing the human race forward. It wasn’t about selling a product (I’m a Mac) or dissing another (You’re a PeeWee). It was about stirring the soul and connecting with the emotional center of our very beings — that which inherently knows its true potential yet wishes (maybe secretly, but definitely sincerely) for motivation to help ignite the passion necessary to strive for it.
This type of communication goes beyond commercial. It goes beyond simply peddling a product and moves into the realm of espousing an ideology much more powerful than a sales pitch.
It was, of course, only a start — because the campaign could have definitely lived far longer (and could have even continued today). A number of key human beings were profiled in that minute-long spot. What if a mini documentary (think full-blown web site with well-researched documentation accompanying it) were created for each of those figures — and continued over time as a campaign chronicling magnificent human achievement beyond the initial 17 personalities:
(Commercial ends with an image of a young Shaan Sahota, opening her eyes)
Full commercial text (via Apple Internet Archive page: http://bit.ly/QKaHk)
Here’s to the crazy ones.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Here’s to thinking different.