Underwhelming Your Audience

This past week Apple took centre stage at their annual event where they release all new things iPhone.  This one day is the single most important day of the year for the most valuable company in the world.  In fact, you could even go so far as to say the hour-long opening keynote is the most important hour of the year for Apple.

You can’t really underestimate the importance of the iPhone to Apple – it currently represents about 60% of the company’s total direct revenue and slightly more when you factor in associated services.  That’s a huge number.

This year though, more so than any other, there’s been a sense of concern that the new iPhone 7 was going to be a bit dull and the beta reports about iOS 10 have been pretty scathing with respect to quality and features.

As Apple is very tight-lipped about what they’re going to show at these events, the rumour mills take over and this year’s rumour de jour was that Apple would remove the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and make available wireless headphones and Lightning port wired headphones.

The rumours of course were true.  Apple removed the headphone jack and replaced it with a new grill that one would think would be for stereo audio output… Except when people have taken apart the iPhone 7 the second audio grill connects to, wait for it, nothing.

You can’t get more minimalist than that.  Well done Jony Ive.

I’m an Apple fan, I love my iPhone 6+, I’m writing this on my iMac and spent a ridiculously long time today updating my old Macbook.  In total in a house of three people, we have two Macs, two MacBooks, three iPhones and three iPads.

Like I said, I like this company and their products.

Except I have no interest in buying an iPhone 7.  I look at it and I don’t see the point.  I’m not looking to film Avatar 2 on my phone, so I have no need for some camera with optical zoom.  The 3D Touch features weren’t enough to make me buy an iPhone 6S+ and they aren’t enough to get me to upgrade to a 7+.

I did upgrade my iPhone 6+ today to iOS 10 because the App Store stopped working and I pretty much had to upgrade to fix it.  My wife and son have been running it for a couple days and they like the messaging features, but I have no interest in sending confetti or fireworks text messages.

I just found the whole upgrade painful and unintuitive.  It didn’t give me clear indications of how far into the process it was and one point it shut down for a period of time where I thought it wasn’t coming back.  Then you get to the new home lock screen and they’ve actually managed to screw up its sole purpose – unlocking and locking the phone, it’s not unnecessarily more complicated.

If I had to sum up this entire iPhone 7 and iOS 10 launch for Apple, I would use the word, “underwhelming”.  On the surface, that might not seem like too harsh of a criticism, but stop and think for a second about what Apple is, they’re doyens of style with a flair for the dramatic.  When you call Apple’s biggest moment of the year, “underwhelming” you cut them right to the very core of what they are as a company.

I want my auto mechanic to be boring.  I want to be underwhelmed by my insurance company claims adjuster.  I would like to be indifferent about my accountant.

The company that makes my phone and the most important information device that I own?  I would prefer that they excite me and pique my interest in what they are doing.

Now let’s bring that back to your business.

You need to not be underwhelming.  You need to generate interest and attract your customers to you.  You need to exceed expectations.

To do that you need to be innovative and delivering exceptional value.  You need to make bold claims and blow your customers away with your delivery.

Unless of course, you’re an accountant.  Nobody wants a creative accountant that’s trying to innovate with their financial statements or tax returns.  If you’re an accountant, you have my permission to be boring.

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