Mar 12

Jony Ive nails the Apple difference

The London Evening Standard published an interview with Jony Ive yesterday. It was filled with Jony-speak (and I mean that in a positive way), but one section in particular stood out.

Jony pointed out that what separates Apple from many of its competitors is its motivation. Apple has “a sincere, genuine appetite to do something that is better.”

He says that many are “interested in doing something different, or want to appear new.” They focus on “price, schedule or a bizarre marketing goal to appear different… with scant regard for people who use the product.”


I’ve long believed this to be true. I made a similar point in a 2010 article about Google taking this approach with Android — going out of its way to be “different” even if that wasn’t better.

It’s not hard to figure out why this happens.

Going up against products like iPhone and iPad is an enormous challenge. (And that’s an understatement.) CEOs, product designers and marketing groups are duty-bound to focus on differentiating their product from Apple’s. Otherwise, they’d just be selling an imitation.

The problem, of course, is that most really are selling an imitation. They wouldn’t be selling a product at all if iPhone or iPad hadn’t blazed the trail before them.

So it’s a juggling act — they’re compelled to be different, but not so different that they lose the interest of the customers they’re trying to attract.

Apple doesn’t bear this burden. It doesn’t have to worry about differentiating itself. It sets out to do one thing only, and that’s “make a better product.”

Motivation is the ultimate differentiator.