Skip to main content

Does Apple's success stem from it's avoidance of the Starbuck's syndrome?

Much has been made of the open letter from Starbuck's Chairman Howard Schultz, bemoaning the loss of some features that gained Starbucks its immense popularity. I must agree with Schultz on many of his issues, but his letter also got me thinking about Apple Inc. and how it has survived all these years while pundits constantly predicted its doom.

I see similarities between Starbuck's, Microsoft and Apple. All 3 were small upstarts in their time, but 2 have grown into hulking behemoths, much like the Goliaths they set out to slay in their David pre-histories. Both Microsoft and Starbucks, though have suffered from the problem I call "knowing the difference between enough and all." They have lost the desire to serve their customers and instead concentrate on serving themselves. They turn their products into a commodity for everyone, instead of something special for a few. This is where I think Apple continues to succeed. They have never been able to grow too large, too fast. Instead, through hard times and self-imposed mistakes, they have been forced to remain small and hungry.

It may seem ludicrous to call a multi-billion dollar company small, but in comparison, Apple is just that, a small player in the marketplace. Yet, for better or worse, they aren't trying to be the computer for everyone. Instead, they are the computer for the select few who recognize and sympathize with the "The Apple Way." An Apple Macintosh or iPod isn't a device for everyone, nor should it ever become one, if Apple wants to continue to survive, if not thrive. They have a significant piece of the market, if not the largest, and this is where they should continue to focus their attention. It is by servicing the rabid, early adopters and committed users of their systems that Apple can guarantee a long future.

That said, recent cracks have begun showing in the Apple wall. Apple Stores are becoming a bit too ubiquitous, although they have been maintaining "cutting edge" sensibility that continues to set them apart. iPods are everywhere, and being marketed to everyone, even though they might not be the best match for everyone.

Apple needs to look hard at the Starbucks letter and see if there are any reflections of themselves to be found. They should heed closely the lesson that too much growth and becoming too big can actually lead to a downfall when the purposes for that growth are money and not the needs and wishes of their customers. I have seen Apple pass through very hard times and still survive. I deeply hope that success isn't the backhanded cause of its demise.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Elsewhere Online: AT&T's Spam Filter Gets A Bit Too Aggressive

This story from TechDirt lays out yet another reason I recommend that folks DON'T use the email provided to them by their ISP. My typical recommendation right now is to get a Gmail account instead. It also points out why I want to manage all my SPAM on my end, without pre-filtering from an ISP. I will gladly manage my spam if it helps to insure that I see as many of my "real" messages as possible. Again, Gmail's tools work pretty good in this regard. Having an alternative email account also insures you will keep the same email, even if you decide to leave your current ISP. Witness all the folks holding onto AOL accounts just to keep their AOL email address. Thank goodness at least that is free now. AT&T's Spam Filter Gets A Bit Too Aggressive You can certainly understand why ISPs offer spam filters. It's a service for users who don't want to be totally bombarded with spam. But what I've never understood is that these ISPs rarely give the us

On my iPhone…IFTTT (If This Then That) for iOS

IFTTT (If This Then That) for iOS IFTTT (If This Then That) for iOS My best description of IFTTT, both their main web site, and this new iOS app is "a scripting language for the We." It allows you to set up "recipes" that watch one particular service, like Feedly, Evernote, Gmail and more, and then take action on another service whenever a particular action occurs. I use this to automatically save my shared items from Feedly and elsewhere into an Evernote Notebook and also use it to post automatically post information on a variety of services. The iOS app adds to this functionality by allowing you to take various actions on your phone and triggering IFTTT actions whenever they occur. In the case of the iPhone, initiating actions can include adding new contacts to your iPhone, taking a new picture and more.  For more complete information on how IFFTT works, visit ifttt.com    From the iTunes App Store... " Put the internet to work for you. IFTTT lets y

Audio: Social Networks - LIVE from the Library Internet Seminar - November 8, 2007

This night we talked about social networks, the Writer's Guild Strike, traditional media and the future of new media. Listen to this seminar Links discussed in this seminar: MySpace - Add me as a friend in MySpace Facebook - Add me as a friend on Facebook LinkedIn - Connect to me on LinkedIn YouTube - Watch my videos on YouTube Ning.com Jott.com Garden Fork TV The Minimalist with Mark Bittman quarterlife Blogger.com Wordpress.com Mixergy.com The Wish Book Holiday Podcast Project