When I started this blog, I expected to be writing about Google all the time. Today, though, it's Apple that deserves the most praise for competing on usability. Apple, whose personal computer market share is single digits, and whose Web presence is just as irrelevant, dominates consumer electronics.
They won the music game by changing it, basing their brand, marketing, and iPod product design on superior user experience. Now they seem poised to execute on the same formula for cell phones, with the launch of the iPhone.
The iPhone's unique design, compared to the weak usability of other mobile phones, is reason enough for most bloggers to praise it. Others noted:
- Jared Spool of UIE: "A one-word explanation of why experience design is important."
- AskTog: "[T]his is the most approachable full-featured phone I’ve ever seen."
- Eric Meyer: "Thanks Be To Jobs. The big day is finally here. That’s right: Ratatouille opens today."
Okay, Eric Meyer's post was a joke but regardless, Apple and Steve Jobs have come a very long way back. Remember, Apple was roadkill in the mid-nineties. At its nadir in the late 1990's, the Mac platform was irrelevant. The company established a new niche with OSX in 2001, but it was the launch of the iPod in the same year that really turned them around. Music player led to music store. Music sales led to video sales. Then came Apple Stores and Genius Bars. In all cases, Apple designed and marketed an unique, superior experience that was differentiated on form, not function.
These days no one can compete on their terms -- the Apple experience mystique is stronger than a contact high at Woodstock. So what does Apple's resurgence have to teach us? You, too, can aspire to be be a user experience force. Change the terms of the discussion. Raise expectations. Link your brand with user experience, and reap the benefits.