The Problem with Apple Leadership

The basic problem with Apple Computer is one of leadership. In particular, it is not the financial engineering, or the desire to keep everything secret, or even the slow rate of innovation, including buggy Apple TV, Itunes, and the virtually unusable iCloud. It is not the poor performance of the new versions of iOS. The problem is one of focus, which results in many of these poor experiences, and even more importantly deprives the customers and potential customers of delight that the company could so easily provide. In the short term this doesn't matter much, but in the long term this is a company killer.

I will list three examples that have easy, inexpensive fixes/enhancements, and would provide a multiple of delight, but these are largely overlooked by Apple that is led by Tim Cook.

Wither iPod Shuffle?

The iPod, that diminishing segment of Apple revenues. Just take a look specifically at the iPod Shuffle. Why has this not changed? The form factor and functionality has not budged since Steve Jobs was still alive. Nor has the price. Only the colors. How frivolous is that? Yes it is a declining product line because there has been no real innovation!

  • Quick fixes: Double the ram at the same price. Quadruple the ram at twice the price. Same ram at half the price.

What about the MacBook Air?

So we have a new version of the MacBook Air, and what did we get? 10% more battery life? Oh, and a discount - but only in some markets. This is the kind of frivolous thinking that shows how out of touch leadership is. As a MacBook air user, the biggest issue has to do with RAM. But RAM is cheap. Again, this is the iPod Shuffle problem.

  • Quick fixes: Double the minimum ram at the same price (8gb standard). Allow for an upgrade to 12gb or 16gb ram at an additional cost.

International Markets and Pricing

The issue of the MacBook Air is even worse when viewing this from the perspective of many International markets. There is in fact NO discount on the new version of the MacBook Air in the Thailand Apple stores and the Vietnam Apple stores. (I have not checked others, but this may be a trend internationally.) Apple strictly controls all pricing so we know exactly whom to blame. Apple. Why? What kind of good will is given up in markets where the prices for goods are higher than in the United States? We are not dealing with a greater cost issue.

  • Quick fixes: Set benchmark prices every month with International equivalents based on current exchange rates. This would send the message that International buyers are charged the same as US customers.

The Root of the Problem

We all know that Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. This is not necessarily bad, but it is very bad when we look at the costs and quick fixes that are easy to make and would not have a negative impact on the bottom line. How hard is it to set pricing, or include extra ram? About the easiest things that could be done at Apple.

How hard is it to focus on customer delight across the board, and not just customer delight that will bring in an extra billion? Not hard, but not important to Tim Cook. The problem is that Tim Cook does not see the connection between inexpensive, but not revenue producing customer delight and revenue producing customer delight. The delight with Apple is cummulative. People will put more of their wallet into Apple products if Apple were delighting customers across the board.

When Apple cheapens our experience, then our experience of Apple cheapens, it declines. And the willingness to buy additional Apple products, much less customer loyalty in general, declines.

This is the problem with Apple Computer under Tim Cook.