What Apple should do

by Colin Berkshire

I criticize Tim Cook CEO of Apple a lot. And, it is for good reason.

So let me share what I think Tim Cook’s Apple should be doing, to take a positive spin on things.

They need to hire a continuity expert. Their products increasingly are inconsistent, unpredictable, and erratic in their features and operation. You move items one way in one app and another way in another Apple app. There should be a clear and consistent and predictable way of doing the same tasks.

They need to get aggressive with their OS X line. Their OS X line seems to be limping along, nearly forgotten. It’s a great computer line. The hardware is advancing nicely, but the operating system seems forgotten. There are so many small improvements possible and they just don’t seem to care. They bolt things on and that’s “good enough.”

They need to get back to the basics and the average man. Apple under Tim Cook seems to think it is like Burberry. No discounts, excessively high-end products, and arrogance. But Apple’s success is from reasonably priced high-end-designed products. When the iPod came out the price was unbelievably low…and it had high end features. When the MacBook Air came out it seemed expensive until you realized that nobody—and I mean nobody—could make a similarly light device cheaper. When the iPad launched people thought it should cost $995 and it came in at half that price. No competition could make the product for the price Apple launched it at. Apple’s success has come from aggressive pricing, not from premium pricing.

They should not forget the entry level. Now, the cheapest iMac Mini that you can buy is $500. It has soldered-on non-expandable memory. Apple should introduce a $399 or $299 iMac that can become a “gateway drug” product to the iMac line. An iMac mini priced at $299 would cause a massive migration of PC users into the Apple fold. I believe there would be a tidal wave of conversions with a decent $299 iMac mini. And, the iMac mini shouldn’t be crippled with non-expandable memory. Make it a good first experience for new customers and they will buy into the entire Apple lineup.

Cosmetics aren’t everything. I know Jonny Ive thinks cosmetics are everything. But that is the world that he lives in. To me, the software is everything. I want bug free, reliable, consistent software that does the things I need. The cosmetics are important, but they aren’t everything.

The party has to be as good as the invitation. This is an old truism. Recently, Apple has over-hyped things. This doesn’t serve them well because it wrings enthusiasm out of people. When they describe an event as a “monster” event with “monster announcements” then the reality needs to be as good as the set expectations. Otherwise, everybody just leaves disappointed…when they could have left pleasantly surprised.

I like Tim Cook. But like so many operations people, he just wrings the life out of exciting things. He doesn’t seem to understand that the party needs to be better than the invitation. He seems to think that all Apple customers are high-end snobs. He is smart, but so are his customers. In some ways, he is actually insulting our intelligence.