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Management

The Experience is the Product. Even Steve Jobs has to be reminded.

By William Bakker | 01.10.08 | 6 Comments

Great story in Wired about the development of the iPhone and the impact on the wireless carriers. I like this part:

So that summer, while he publicly denied he would build an Apple phone, Jobs was working on his entry into the mobile phone industry. In an effort to bypass the carriers, he approached Motorola. It seemed like an easy fix: The handset maker had released the wildly popular RAZR, and Jobs knew Ed Zander, Motorola’s CEO at the time, from Zander’s days as an executive at Sun Microsystems. A deal would allow Apple to concentrate on developing the music software, while Motorola and the carrier, Cingular, could hash out the complicated hardware details.

Of course, Jobs’ plan assumed that Motorola would produce a successor worthy of the RAZR, but it soon became clear that wasn’t going to happen. The three companies dickered over pretty much everything — how songs would get into the phone, how much music could be stored there, even how each company’s name would be displayed. And when the first prototypes showed up at the end of 2004, there was another problem: The gadget itself was ugly.

Jobs unveiled the ROKR in September 2005 with his characteristic aplomb, describing it as “an iPod shuffle on your phone.” But Jobs likely knew he had a dud on his hands; consumers, for their part, hated it. The ROKR — which couldn’t download music directly and held only 100 songs — quickly came to represent everything that was wrong with the US wireless industry, the spawn of a mess of conflicting interests for whom the consumer was an afterthought. Wired summarized the disappointment on its November 2005 cover: “YOU CALL THIS THE PHONE OF THE FUTURE?”

On the outset it seemed to make so much sense. Two CEO’s had it all figured out. But when things that were completely irrelevant to the consumer started to impact the consumer experience of the product, it turned into a failure. Never forget that the experience is the product. Never compromise on it.

6 Comments

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