Over the past week I’ve been quite busy writing a Product Strategy for a mining consultancy who today has a very specific niche offering here in Australia. The company is for me personally a fun place to be in, despite the weirdness of working for the mining industry (if you’re going to innovative UX, trust me, mining companies have the investment and vision to allow it).
The reason I like this gig and the work that we do is we are essentially focused on a market or idea around what the mining industry should look like from a geological standpoint over the next x-years. Loads of data that need user experience driven solutions to help unravel it.
I won’t go into details about what specifically the above means (as with this company, I actually have an NDA this time 🙂 ), suffice to say we are focused and in the course of writing this strategy combined with the constant RSS feeds over the last 72hrs about Steve Jobs that it hit me what makes Apple such a powerful force today.
They are focused.
Looking at Apple’s website, you see they are in a number of products but the more you look at each individual product and how they relate to one another it’s clear there is a coherent strategy in place. There is still a case of multiple threads flowing at once yet they are still interconnected at some point.
I look at the iPhone and then look at the Macbook’s on offer and one can sit back and easily assume that the iPhone is an extension of the Macbook that the idea is to get you into the iPhone ownership whilst then bait you into the desktop solution there after – it just works right?
Everything in Apple orbits the iPhone, its realistically today the center of all products that Apple produce’s gravity, it’s clear to me personally they are focused on a strategy – how well the retain custody of this vision or strategy with the passing of Steve Jobs is yet to be written, suffice to say they have one of the best foundations to build from.
I observe often just how focused Apple.com has become as a website, every line of text, every picture right down to the consistency in design seems to say “we have an idea, wouldn’t it be cool…”
To put it in perspective on the influence, I watched a colleague of mine – better to not name him – design Microsoft.com/web (which imho kills on all Microsoft.com sites). I watched him sit down and do everything in his power to avoid opening Apple.com and it’s not because he hates Apple or drinks the Microsoft kool aid, quite the opposite he’s at heart a pure designer – one of the best I know – he avoided opening it because he wanted to beat it because he appeared to want to put Microsoft’s best foot forward and not have a site like Apple overshadow it.
He had a lot of fools in his way, but he navigated the mess with class and kept a strategic focus on a simple principle – user experience first around the products he managed.
My point is this, Apple and Microsoft are opposite from one another, we all get that but if one thing about writing my 8th Product Strategy and living by the a sense of “focus on the user experience and work your way back” has taught me, that at times you just need the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc of this corporate focused discipline we call the software industry to just do what they do best and stop crowding them with bullshit and have a point or focus.
Microsoft, Adobe and even Google just seem to have this scatter shot approached to product strategy & marketing.
Personally, it’s quite frustrating to just watch given their huge amount of potential they have? We should have 10 Steve Jobs personas in our industry with the same level of UX focus for a brand? That’s what people are probably the most down about in his passing – who’s going to lead us now?