I was looking at the TV offerings from both Google and Apple (amongst others) the other day and it just struck me the difference in design philosophy of both companies and why I think Apple has a chance of success whereas Google doesn’t in this area.
Google has products made by engineers for engineers. Apple makes products for everyone else. Now I’m being a bit harsh on Google but if you want to see an example of difference in the design philosophy then look at the images below. In the image on the left is the Google TV remote control and on the right is the Apple TV remote control.
Which one do you think your mum and dad would find easier to use? No disrespect to Sony and Google, but did you guys think it was OK to launch with something akin to a laptop to control the telly? What was going through your heads?
By contrast, the Apple remote, in keeping the company’s design philosophy, only puts only the most essential things onto the remote. Apple focus on experiences and Google focuses on product and that’s the big difference. Apple understands the people who will use its product better than they understand themselves sometimes and it looks at the essence of what you are trying to achieve and it’ll keep removing features until there is literally nothing of value left to remove.
It’s the same design ethos that was applied to the iPod. MP3 players just before the iPod appeared were competing on features and functionality and they were getting increasingly complex. Apple came along and cut functionality back to the absolute basics of what it needed to be. The iPod itself wasn’t a great innovation in 2002 because others had already developed MP3 players, but what came along two years later completely transformed the music listening experience and accelerated iPod sales – what came along was iTunes. iTunes suddenly made it easy to find and download music to your device all at an affordable price. Apple changed the music listening experience, that until then was complex and fragmented, for the average consumer into an end to end customer experience. The graph below (from Wikipedia) shows the ramp up of iPod sales in 2005 when iTunes was launched.
Apple signed deals with all the major record labels and did what others had failed to do before, namely legally monetise music.
Another great example of innovation is the flip camcorder. Now most camcorders on the market require either a PHD in computing (or the mandatory 5 year old) to use them. They’re crammed with all sorts of features. Now I’m a photographer and consider myself pretty adept at using consumer electronics and photography stuff, but even I don’t use all the stuff they cram onto camcorders so what chance has the average person got?! So along comes Pure Digital Technologies, who release a flip cam that has just a couple of buttons on it. When Pure Digital were pitching the flip cam they used a slide with two images, one was a normal camcorder and another was the flip. The text underneath the normal camcorder said “Use this for special occasions”. Under the picture of the Flip the words were “Use this for everything else.” Brilliant! Simple and to the point.
Take note, innovation is more than just about more features and functionality, its about creating experiences and doing things simply. Think about your customers and give them what they want – no more!
Now for the record, I am NOT an Apple Fanboy……I am a fan of Google however, so I hope they learn the lessons of making things accessible and creating an experience for everyone and not just the engineers.