The importance of the user experience

Innovation for the sake of innovation has toppled many top businesses when they were at their peak, Dominic Kitchin says

Apple is renowned for innovation. What makes Apple different from the rest is that the innovation was designed on the basis of the user experience. Steve Jobs was famous for quoting: “Long ago, I used to design the technology, but now I realise I should understand the experience and then design the technology around it.”

Recently, Apple released the new MacBook, but I’m slightly disturbed by its features – and believe every business can learn from the mistake Apple appears to be making.

I’m concerned that the latest MacBook innovates simply for the sake of innovation. For example, one key feature of the previous MacBook was the magnetic charger, but now that’s gone. Why does this matter and what can we, as business owners, learn?

I believe there are two questions to ask: did they need to remove the magnetic charger? And if so, why?

It seems that the reason the magnetic charger was removed was simply because it was too big and Apple wanted to make the MacBook thinner. But why does the MacBook need to be thinner? Don’t we have the MacAir for that?

My concern is that Apple is simply innovating for the sake of it and not considering the user experience. And this leads us to the lessons we need to learn as business owners.

Innovation for the sake of innovation has toppled many top businesses when they were at their peak. Here three examples:

Example 1 – Coca-Cola and “the new Coke”

In 1985, Coca-Cola were trying to win the Coke/Pepsi wars. Their idea? Completely remove the much loved old Coca-Cola formula and replace it with their “New Coke”. There was a firestorm of protest – and within a few months Coca-Cola brought back the original formula, now called Coca-Cola Classic.

The biggest mistake Coca-Cola made was that they failed to understand what the drink meant to their customers. They focused on taste, smell, design and branding but what they failed to measure was that Coca-Cola meant far more to people than just its look or taste. Coca-Cola was an experience.

Coca-Cola learnt this lesson and you’ll notice that much of their marketing today is about the experience of drinking Coca-Cola.

Example 2 – Microsoft’s Windows Vista

We all have experienced the dreaded Windows Vista. It was released in response to Apple’s new operating system, known as OS.

Vista drove many would-be PC users to the iMac and MacBook laptops. Apple was smart enough to seize the moment with the amazing “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” adverts.

Microsoft is now starting to learn that customers look for an experience over features or ‘innovation’. For example, in a video heralding the release of Windows 10, the word “experience” is mentioned over 20 times. The proof will be in the pudding but this could be Microsoft’s time to ‘bounce back’ and hit Apple where it hurts.

Example 3Samsung and the Samsung Galaxy 6

The Galaxy 6 is still new but has Samsung made a mistake?

Previously, Samsung and its customers would often brag to Apple users about the ability to add hardware features to their smartphones – something you could not do with Apple products. Additional memory and replaceable batteries were all features that Samsung customers were proud of.

For some reason, Samsung has decided to erase these features from the new Samsung Galaxy 6 and create a static phone, like the Apple iPhone.

The problem is twofold:

1. Loyal Samsung customers are so upset with this move that many are now looking for other Android smartphones where they can add additional memory and replace the battery. 

2. Apple customers do not use smart phones because of their hardware features, they use it because of their software features. Many iPhone users stay with Apple because they love the simplicity and ease of use of the iPhone when compared to using an Android phone.

If this exodus continues, Samsung, having gained a top spot, will soon find itself losing market share – and loyal fans.

Many great companies have become average at the peak of their success. They decided to innovate for the sake of innovating – rather than think about the users’ experience. Every business owner, big or small, should learn from the mistakes of these giants. If they aren’t immune to ‘over innovation’ – then imagine what it could do to your business? Every time you consider launching a new product or tweaking an existing one – think about the end user.  What do they want? What is THEIR experience?

Will the MacBook herald the start of the decline of Apple? Time will tell – but in my opinion this could spell the beginning of the end. You saw it here first!


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