MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2008 (#38)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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148 MacDirectory CLOSER LOOK THINK DIFFERENT. AND PROSPER > A LOOK AT APPLE, FORWARD AND BACK In 1977, Apple ran an ad for the Apple II with the famous Leonardo DaVinci quote, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" as a tagline. It was an extremely apt description of what the two Steves, Wozniak and Jobs, were trying to achieve back in the day— redefining the user's computing experience to make it simpler, more intuitive, productive and fun. This founding company philosophy, emphasizing the user experience and the lifestyle that surrounds it, permeates all of Apple's successful products when one stops to think about it. It's not just about providing outstanding ergonomics and transparent interfaces, it's also about zeroing in on the specific activities for which customers use their Apple products. And, of course, it's also about the blend of form and function, making beautiful products that work beautifully. It is the careful attention to these considerations that is sustaining the company's post-iPod metamorphosis, from a PC company with quirky pro- ducts, limited market share, and a small but cult-like following, to the main- stream "lifestyle electronics" juggernaut that it is today. It created and nurtured the vision that made the technologically risky and implausible, but undeniably revolutionary iPhone possible. Moreover, it has provided an outstanding defense against the commoditization of the brand. Apple has kept alive its unmatched "desirability" factor that sustains product sales even during the current economic downturn when consumers are foregoing non-essential goods, i.e., upgrading, and simply making do with the gadgets they have in their tech stables. In addition, avoiding the ho- hum commodity existence that frequently afflicts firms in highly competitive markets allows Apple to enjoy healthier profit margins for their products, too. A Brief (and Well-Trodden) History When every other PC manufacturer was content for years to sell boxes at the lowest possible cost, Apple was taking risks—with colors, form factors, and features. They were building square computers—iMacs in snazzy colors with integrated monitors—and removing vestigial hardware such as floppy drives. Though Apple still had a fairly small PC market share, and these efforts were not terribly effective in steering customers away from the Wintel side of the computer store, they demonstrated that the company was thinking outside the beige box and was in pursuit of consumer-oriented, lifestyle-altering break-throughs when every other PC manufacturer was content to follow the herd. PC fans commonly scoffed at the superficiality of Apple's alleged innovativeness, which appeared skin- deep. However, some of its enhance- ments to the PC platform were still notable if not truly revolutionary. For example, though they did not invent Wi- Fi networking in 1999, Apple was the first to realize how essential it could be for their consumers, allowing them to fully un-tether their laptops and their WORDS BY JONATHAN CROSS

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