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Sunday, January 14, 2007

The New iPhone

In one of the most happening month for tech-crazy we had CES, Detroit Auto Show and MacWorld clamouring for attention. Amidst this innovation frenzy, Apple launched its new device, the iPhone. There is a lot to learn from the “history” Steve Jobs created at the MacWorld.
One set of learning is more about the technological aspect itself. While other, a more generic, is related to how good companies function. In both Apple showed remarkable insight, attention to detail and perseverance to do right things right.

A device to make history
I am deliberately calling it a device and not a phone. It has almost all the qualities of the device for the next digital revolution. And that it’s a phone is ancillary. To put in a full scale OS was a real clincher. This truly makes this device a platform device rather than a collection of camera, multi-media player, phone and contact-manager taped together. A platform device enables Apple to put in user’s hands a service pipe. Through this pipe Apple can supply unparalleled range of services. Apple has augmented pipe-features for this device featuring a carrier dependant pipe (EDGE) and a carrier-independent pipe (WiFi).

Intuitive Product Features
A lot of phones / multi-media devices currently function in two distinct areas, work or entertainment. However a person who works is the same one who needs to be entertained! I have never understood the reason for separate devices for each need. Apple however packs both features into their iPhone and even packs in two separate batteries for these functions.

Superior product design
Apple launched the iPhone with two memory variants 4GB and 8GB! That’s a lot of memory for a first product. Despite of this the weight of the product is quite manageable. This incorporates the learning from wide-screen Nokia phone and N‑Series. The initial demo of creating a wall-paper from a picture is also an example of smaller innovations packed into the iPhone design.

Better Interface
Apple equipped the iPhone with touch screen, no keypad! A very sensible idea indeed as most of the time PDAs are used as phones and do not need the full scale keypad. In fact when using the PDA as a phone the QWERTY keypad is a pain to use. If you have tried to use the small keys of Treo you will know what I mean. Using software innovatively, Apple has eliminated these disadvantages, giving us a QWERYT keypad when required. Further, the company who give us pointers highlighted using the ultimate pointer i.e. finger! I have no doubt Steve Jobs has made the screen smudge-proof.

Exceeding expectations
After a lot of anticipation of iPhone, when it finally came there was a fair chance that Apple might not deliver the hype really surrounding the product. Yet, Apple not only met but exceeded the user’s expectations from this product. Nothing new that’s something CFOs have to do regularly with Wall-Street analysts. But the key difference is that Apple shows this behaviour with customers! The Wall-Street analysts are automatically addressed.

Web augmenting customer communication
Being located in India, I was asleep when Steve Jobs was making history. So the first thing I did next morning was log onto Apple’s website. And there it was the iPhone page! Neatly displayed with all the details! Here is a company which knows that a lot of users will log in to their site on or after the MacWorld. Moreover here is a company that makes it “talks” to these visitors about its new products it is desperately trying to showcase. Try finding latest versions of Mustang.

In Sum
This was a perfect example of how a company should go about creating value! Give value to customers and demand value from them! This is precisely what management jargon “customer is king”, “customer first” etc. really mean. Compare this with Ford, GM and kin, which is addressing analysts rather than customers. The rest is mere detail!