When you think of an MP3 player, you think iPod. But did Apple invent the MP3? Absolutely not. Same goes for the smartphone market, which is dominated by the iPhone. They by no means conceptualised the idea, however their entry into the market certainly defined what one should be.
From an early age, we are fed a common lie; “the early bird catches the worm”, they say. True, there is a correlation between those who succeed and those who arrive at a solution before their peers. However, as proved time and time again by Apple, there is equal value in taking a step back and perfecting a product to exploit potential already in the market.
Who says so? Well, a one trillion dollar valuation should give you some indication of Apple’s success. However, behind the dollar signs there is a far deeper success story at play here. Apple has generated a cult-like customer loyalty that can be rivalled by very few brands, regardless of sector. Through the simple development of technology trends, Apple defines almost everything it touches, from the early MP3 players all the way through to the emerging smartwatch market.
Be better, not first
If you're not first, you have to be different. There is nothing less successful than an “us too” approach to business, or indeed anything. So how did Apple become the most valuable name in consumer electronics without being first? Allegations of plagiarism aside, Apple’s success is largely down to building its products with a core obsession in mind: the customer.
While the iPhone wasn’t the initial forerunner of the smartphone market, Apple demonstrated true creativity in its perfection of the device. Before its launch, the concept of a smartphone was something of a diamond in the rough. There had been sporadic adoption throughout Japan and Europe prior to the Apple takeover. However, the invention of iOS set a benchmark for streamlined user experience, which to this day continues to undergo constant development and reinvention. This operating system is often regarded as the pinnacle of usability and intuition. By becoming obsessed with this element of the device, Apple has struck the core of what truly creates customer loyalty - experience.
The road to $1 quadrillion
As Apple moves its product offering into the likes of cars, glasses, cloud and TV - we can expect the company to build upon these existing trends by redefining what we understand as great user experience.
There is a lesson in the way Apple goes about its business that applies to much more than the world of technology. Obsessing over the core customer touchpoint is something that the likes of Waitrose and Topshop have also embraced to bring success in the retail space, and customer-centricity is a trend that continues to generate results in all sectors.
From watches to glasses, it is difficult to predict which of the upcoming tech trends will dominate in the same way as the smartphone. What we can be sure of, is that user experience will drive the success of whatever steps forward to change the game.