Over the Christmas holidays I did something that not only shocked myself, but will shock anyone who knows me. For the past eight or nine years we have enforced a strict rule of using only Apple products in many of my companies. PC’s are not allowed in any of my offices. I have largely done this because of efficiency, consistency of platform, and ease of use. As I walked into the AT&T store last week and asked to see the latest iPhone (as I was considering upgrading) the salesperson, knowing me said, “Rich, you’re not really going to like what I’m going to say, but I’ve got to say it anyways. Apple is falling behind.”
Hearing these words just added salt in my wound because the week prior I’d been in BestBuy looking at tablets and in looking at the specifications and usability I realized that not only was the iPad tablet falling behind but it was inferior to the competition.
As the sales rep pulled out his new Moto X phone and began showing me the crazy, unbelievable set of features I had to hang my head and admit that Apple had indeed resisted change. I’m not certain if Steve Job’s death was the cause of it or if Apple had become complacent through the years, but what I realized was this: If you resist change and ignore it all together you die. If you do as Apple has done and rely exclusively on marketing and only react to change you can survive, but in order to actually thrive you have to dramatically and aggressively enact change.
After seeing the differences I am now the proud new owner of a Moto X phone. This phone has built-in characteristics and features I’m not sure Apple has even thought about yet. If I twist my hand from side to side, a camera app pops up. I can actually talk to my phone and give commands and instructions without being anywhere near the phone. The usability and interface is cleaner. The power is far superior, and although there are some user adjustment issue’s making me adapt I have to say the technology is superior as much as it pains my heart to say so. I think that the very thing that brought Apple its success was its non-assuming feature set that allowed users to know it, use it, and love it. Apple falling away from that and resting on their laurels and relying instead on their big marketing niches and campaigns turned to be their demise. Apple is no longer enacting change. I hope they can correct it.
What lesson can we learn from this as business owners? Here are five:
1. Don’t get too comfortable
2. Be Steve Jobs and always demand and enact more change
3. Look for simple ways to add value and delight your customers
4. Always be the change agent, explore your options, and listen to your customers
5. Don’t become a marketing engine resting solely and totally on one brand or you will eventually fall off the map
This was an incredible shift for me to even be able to admit this and a powerful lesson on how technology and business in general can be disrupted and even the most loyal of loyal subjects can be shifted over as more value is presented. Again to quote my mentor, Ray Noorda, “Resist change and die. Adapt to change and survive. Create change and thrive.”