Dec 09

Apple: not playing by the rules

Not likely to be found in the Apple reading room

Not likely to be found in the Apple reading room

I read an interesting blog post the other day about how Apple succeeds despite its failure to do the things considered necessary in this age of social media. I quote:

Apple doesn’t blog; it doesn’t Tweet; it does little on Facebook; it doesn’t engage with its customer base. It doesn’t ask the “community” for feedback or rapidly iterate based on any such feedback or even respond to criticism.

Curse that Apple. Why can’t it just follow the rules? Well, two reasons, really.

First, it doesn’t have to. A few million Apple followers are doing a fine job with the tweeting and blogging, thank you — sharing, analyzing and generally fanning the flames night and day. Social media is abuzz over what Apple is doing or might do, generating countless dollars’ worth of free PR. Without lifting a finger, Apple is crushingly more effective in social media than companies who pay teams of digital experts to ignite the chatter.

Second, as most creative thinkers will tell you with little provocation, screw the damn rules. Intelligence and common sense are far more valuable than the ability to leap from one trend to another.

As clients and agencies try to dream up new ways to match Apple’s success, they often forget one thing: this stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Apple’s success isn’t the result of tricky marketing schemes. It’s what happens when you dazzle the world for more than ten years running, with one amazing product after another — and rarely crack open your book of rules.

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  • Synthmeister

    Apple does have many rules it follows, they are just completely different from the conventional wisdom.

    1. Identify a product that everyone has but hates to use.

    2. Reinvent the product so that Apple (i.e. Steve Jobs) loves to use it.

    3. Don’t let any other company have control over any strategic part of your product. (Palm using iTunes for syncing the Pre, something Apple would NEVER do or allowing Flash on the iPhone)

    4. Make sure every product “fits” in the Apple universe/ecosystem and doesn’t distract. (i.e. Nokia with its multiple mobile OSes, or Microsoft with Win 7, WinMo 6.5, Zune OS and X-Box OS, all different.)

    5. Don’t worry about reaching 100% of the market with a million different product lines/variations, focus on the segment of the market that actually has money to spend and that appreciates quality, like Honda/Accura or Toyota/Lexus. Cover your bases, but only the one that are profitable.

    I could go on, but you get the picture.

    It also happens that Steve Jobs has an excellent sense of balancing simplicity and sophistication for Joe Average Consumer. Most other companies seem to lack that sense completely.

  • Kesey

    Lets not forget the Apple rule on not releasing information on upcoming products. Much of the free social media attention Apple gets comes from speculation as a result of this rule.

  • bryan Birch

    One rule: think different

  • one of the biggest problems with the way Apple does it and the way others do it is that if (and that’s a tall ask) all agree that Apple does and has done it better for years by following a rather simple marketing plan AND they agree to follow that plan as best as they can…

    well, then, they also have to agree that the last decade or so worth of effort was all a waste of time and the wrong people were at he helm, etc…

    if you think Ballmer is irritable NOW…

  • ken segall

    Good name. And good take on Apple.