Apple Does It Again
An apple brought an end to Paradise, put Snow White to sleep and is probably, in the form of apple carts, one of the enduring images of the Great Depression. This economic downturn has its apple, too. And it may be the apple that shows the rest of the business community how to move forward out of stagnation.
Apple announces quarterly earnings today that shocked the world. The headline in the Wall Street Journal says it all:
Apple Shares Hover Near All-Time High After Strong Earnings
This from a consumer electronics company...in the middle of the worst economy of the electronic era...with negative savings rates in all but 6 of the 71 countries where it's products are sold...and consumer credit at an all-time low!
What Apple is showing us, time and again, is INNOVATION IS KING.
As a company, Apple had the lions share of the digital music device by early-2003, with it's iPod music player. That is good enough for most companies (see Sony Walkman for references), but not Apple. Since it's launch, the iPod has been reinvented several times, and for several reasons.
First, the device was improved to bring enhanced performance and additional storage. Then it was made smaller, for convenience. Then additional versions were developed for: Charity (red), Active Lifestyles (nano) and Entry-Level Access (shuffle).
Soon movie/ video-playing versions would come, to be followed by the current generation of iPod, Touch, which, along with the iPhone, is being viewed as the biggest gaming development platform in foreseeable future and the new Nano w/ camera.
All of this innovation is driven, not by the market, as capitalist like to say, but instead, by Apple anticipating the desires of current and potential customers. These subtle shifts have allowed Apple to remain the dominant force in this category, in all price-points and all demographics.
Pretty good for a device (iPod) has not celebrated it's 10th birthday, and will not do so until October 23rd...2011.
Yes, that would mean this company was bold enough to launch a new signature product in the Fall of 2001, after the September 11 attacks of that year on it's biggest market, the United States.
Developing a good thing from scratch affords you the confidence to have a reasonable idea of the success of the product. So you can quintuple that confidence when the product is being developed by the most innovative company in the world. Naysayers do not sway this company.
The Apple iTunes store (used to support their products) was announced to widespread doubt from the music industry. It took 5 years to sell 1 Billion songs and in the subsequent 3.5 years they have sold an additional 7.5 Billion songs.
The motion-picture industry said people like to see movies on large screens, so doubted Apple would be successful in selling movies in the iTunes store. They have since sold over 50 Million music videos, 3.7 Million feature-length movies and 200 Million television episodes.
The introduction of it's revolutionary phone device, the iPhone, have only strengthened the supremacy of the iTunes store. It took less than 25 months from it's initial launch to reach 2 Billion App downloads.
With the almost slam-dunk certainty of Apple launching an e-reading device in the next 6-12 months, iBooks will, no doubt, take the company to new, higher ground.
So perhaps others can pay attention to the company that does what everyone says is a bad idea. Because innovation and invention is the only way out of this mess. For as they say, "An Apple a day..."
(I refrained from the Pixar people being told nobody wanted to see animation that was not 2-D, because Steve Jobs owned the company, not Apple. but it bears mentioning that Pixar films average nearly $315 Million per release, by FAR the industry leader)
Video inspiration courtesy of Rocko: