updated 05:35 pm EDT, Thu June 7, 2007
Learn from Apple
A company that ostensibly (based on media speculation) was on its death knell ten years ago is now at the top of its game, owning certain market segments and looking to take others by storm. It is also on the verge of entering the S&P 100 index of leading companies. What's to learn from this stunning turnaround? According to the Economist: innovation from within, staying hungry and foolish (a famous Jobs quote), and pursuing simplicity.
With regard to innovation, Apple has great skill with sewing together its own ideas with technologies from outside, then pushing the combination forth with brilliant design. The article states "The idea for the iPod, for example, was originally dreamt up by a consultant whom Apple hired to run the project. It was assembled by combining off-the-shelf parts with in-house ingredients such as its distinctive, easily used system of controls. And it was designed to work closely with Apple's iTunes jukebox software, which was also bought in and then overhauled and improved. Apple is, in short, an orchestrator and integrator of technologies, unafraid to bring in ideas from outside but always adding its own twists."
The company has also a knack for designing products around the needs of the user, rather than the other way around. Instead of being first to market, Apple stealthily waits until competitors have tried their wares, then looks for faults and mistakes, capitalizing on them when its product ships.
Finally, the article says that Apple knows how to "fail wisely." For instance, even the Mac was the result of a failed project -- the Lisa. And the iPhone is the result of a failed venture with Motorola to produce a music phone. Mac OS X is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of NeXT, a largely failed venture.