Why Apple’s removal of the headphone jack is GENIUS!
There are two aspects I find fascinating about Apple’s decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone port….
The first is – Apple has always touted its user experience credentials. I wonder if this move truly considers the users experience. I mean we can look at at their historically bold moves such as removing floppy disks and CD drives and in doing so we can say they have done this before and got it right! But is this the same? After all, those technologies were on the way out when Apple made those decisions. The same can’t be said for Wireless headphones, which have some serious drawbacks from charging to reduced sound quality; so, while wired headphones can be frustrating getting all tangled up – they are still a great solution within the realms of our existing technology.
Will Apples move push the technology to improve rapidly? Time will tell. But for now we are going to see some people frustrated by having to buy a dongle to charge their phone and listen to music should they chose to do the two things at the same time! Which for me at least given my iPhone 6 battery lasts about 3 minutes these days is virtually a ritual.
So from that perspective, as a client, I question Apples decision and the cynic in me thinks it is really about me going out and having to buy dongles, new head phones and the likes of all the little purchases that no doubt make Apple a fortune.
But there is another side to this story that has little to do with user experience aside.
I once again credit Apple with being the PR powerhouse it is. Seriously since iPhone 4 virtually nothing of significance has changed and yet in the media this morning you would swear that the pope had died – there is that much coverage over iPhone7 and the death of the headphone jack! What blows my mind even more is that despite this phone having just been released its lack of revolution (headphone jacks aside) means the world has already begun speculation about the next iPhone… “Will Apple wow us on the 10th Anniversary of the original?” the media is touting!
What a strategy!
When you think beyond the iPhone, Apple has really played this strategy out across almost all their products successfully for a long long time. After wowing us with the original of “said Apple product” the rest is a steady evolution – filled with mass speculation and then not unexpected restraint and the occasional controversial exclusion. Its genius that offers longevity to their primary investment and the great lesson here for business, large and small alike, is you don’t need to wow the market every time.
You do, however, need to invest heavily in your brand – ensuring that it stands for something. Make sure that from time to time you step it up with innovation – it doesn’t have to be at an Apple level but do something that gets your tribe talking. Be planned in how and when you do that and in the mean time both your competition and your customers will be eager to see what comes next. After all that anticipation = engagement and when your audience is engaged – your brand, not your competition, are front of mind – Exactly where you want it to be.