Let’s face it, Apple succeeded where you may have failed because ATT handed over the parameters and then got out of the way. The more design decisions that are sacrificed based on ‘engineering challenges’, the more chances your cell phone is going to look and feel like a behemoth with a signal. Establish the priorities early on, and if you understand the user experience, then make your user experience team the king of the hill. Send your engineers back to the lab to ‘figure out how to make the experience work’.
Rip apart your old teams. Build new ones.
You walk into that room with your team of veterans, and you beam with pride. They’ve carried you through 9 different phone designs. Your strength is your weakness. Start from scratch, or send your team off to a creative lab (IDEO, Frog Design) to watch how they generate new ideas based on experience, not assumptions. Yes, there is a difference. Let’s face it. Every veteran gets ‘assumption crust’ along the way.
The more your Operations group splinters your concept to production vertical, the uglier your product may get.
My Motorola ROKR was small. But in that small area, Southwestern Bell managed to slap their logo onto the hardware and software more then 8 different ways. Why did this happen? Read above. The manufacturing designers and Carrier Designers worked separately. And I firmly believe that this ultra-corporate graffiti could have been avoided with a small, cross-disciplinary visual QA team with full rights to ‘can’ decisions on the final draft of the product.
The ROKR’s advertising campaign was solid. The iTunes commercials for it were a hit. The actual product was a different story. And let’s face it, if you’re in the business of selling phones internationally as a commodity low-price-point product, no one is going to pick up a new device with your name on it and see it as anything other than ‘more future junk’. I still own an iMac Bondi Blue. It still holds value to me. Why? At the end to the product’s lifecycle, Apple didn’t hawk it off to the lowest distribution bidders with a ‘get it now, it’s cheap’ campaign. It retains it’s luster because Apple, as a cohesive brand, never chunked it out to the commodity world. Sure, you may have a pc with the same old specs, but once the manufacturer started selling your unit at 100 Dollars, chances are you saw the writing on the wall. “No matter how slick the advertising/Story about this product is at the beginning, It’s all still a lie. This will be deemed junk by it’s parents.” Apple sold me the vision of what an iMac stood for. They never changed it. I bought that story. And as long as Apple continues to hold true to that story, I’ll continue believing it. This means what for you if you’re not in marketing? It means that if you’re in operations, you can’t look at the product in a different way than how marketing pitched it. If marketing pitches an experience, you can’t expect your target marketing to go easily when you decide to put your glut in inventory on the cheap at Best Buy to re-coup costs. Operations, sales, finance, everyone MUST buy into the story if you expect to build loyal followers.
If you market your product as an experience, don’t sell it like a commodity.
If your operations and finance teams have overcome you as priority points, and are pushing you to farm expensive pieces out, throw in the towel. Nothing kills a special experience faster than giving the development of your dowry to a cheap mail-order-bride. And that’s exactly what operations and finance is doing. They’re working off of a different guiding principle.
And that’s my rant for the evening, everyone. I hope this proves insightful In the end, my dedication comes not from the price-point I got, but from the experience Apple gives me. This isn’t unique, or impossible, but you have to start the story from within your organization. You have to build the iPhone killer, and your team, all of them, have to believe you’ve done something special. And for the love of god, hire experts who can guide you down that road of interpreting how your potential target market defines ‘experience’