This weekend, New York Times published an article entitled “The Power of the Platform at Apple.”
According to author Steve Lohr, “The software and services that work on Apple’s hit products are accelerating its extraordinary expansion. Apple provides the underlying technology and marketplace: iTunes software and the iTunes Store for managing, downloading and buying music and media; iPhone and iPad software for creating applications; and the App Store for sampling and buying them.
“The combination of hardware, software and services is what corporate executives, economists and analysts call a platform. Successful technology platforms sustain and reinforce growth."
The platform as Lohr describes it, has clearly contributed to Apple’s success. But a platform alone is not a self-sustaining engine for growth. There’s another important element that Apple has going for it, and that element has to do with the Customer Experience.
If a company doesn't deliver a consistently great customer experience, the greatest platform in the world won’t drive success. But Apple has figured out a way to lock in the customer experience so that every time anyone uses an Apple product, they enjoy a remarkable experience.
For most organizations, delivering a consistently great customer experience is a challenge. It’s a challenge because the experience is mostly delivered away from the product; when a customer interacts with sales, service or support people on line, in person, or over the phone. This is a challenge because when the experience happens away from the product, it becomes "untethered" and requires different people to deliver the same experiences to different customers under different circumstances. With so many differences, it’s hard to consistently produce the same positive experience.
With Apple, it’s different. Apple doesn’t have to rely on humans interacting with humans to deliver a great experience. (Apple's retail stores extend the experience.) With Apple, the experience is almost guaranteed to be great every time, because most of the Apple customer experience is delivered through the use of the product; the product becomes the customer experience.
People get excited and delighted just by using their iPod, iPad or iPhone. Each product is the perfect melding of function and fashion. Apple designs its products to have a distinct visual appeal that you don’t expect from technology. But that’s just the beginning. The real experience happens when you use their products.
Apple has transformed the way technology works in the hands of its user, so that simply using the product is a fun and remarkable experience. Apple invests more in design, and because of this, there’s going to be more experience built into the product. By investing an extraordinary amount of resources in the product design process, Apple virtually guarantees great repeatable experiences, every time every customer uses any of its products.
Apple customers have come to expect great stuff – cool stuff, with every feature on every product.
So, while the platform makes Apple successful, it’s the customer experience that’s baked into every product that makes the platform successful. You can’t have a successful company, without a great customer experiences, can you?
Thanks to BlueDonkey.org, for enabling us to experience this fine image!