Apple results. But will it last?

Apple published its latest financial results last week and they sold even more iPhones than ever before. If you take a moment to consider the numbers it's quite an incredible accomplishment. In the last quarter they sold over 74 million new iPhones.

They don't specify the breakdown of models, but I think it's safe to assume most of them were the latest iPhone 6 and 6 plus. Interestingly, the breakdown was different across markets. In the conference call Tim Cook suggested that the bigger screen 6 plus sold better in the Asian markets.

Remarkable achievement indeed.

But I'd like to suggest that perhaps the amazing interest in the iPhone is not because it's the best possible phone, but because it's the best one out there right now.

Let me explain what I mean.

I'm a geek and I love technology. But I'm not flippant about gadgets. I don't upgrade every time there's a new shiny toy. Hell, I kept my Nikon D700 and have no intention of upgrading my Fujifilm x100s even though the new model looks very cool. But my phone is different. It's the one gadget I get to play with. And because it costs me nothing to upgrade because I hand down my current model, I have always upgraded my iPhone. This is the first time I've regretted it.

I won't say anything about the big one because I don't own one. I can see the appeal for some but it's just not for me. It's the "normal" one the one I currently own and which infuriates me several times a day. Let's see why.

Holding it one handed is awkward. Trying to navigate it with one hand while walking is a recipe for disaster. I've almost dropped it too many times already. Stretching to tap the buttons at the top is infuriating. And that double-tap on the home button hack is the sort of thing we used to make fun of when Samsung did it.

Fitting it in jeans pocket is just bizarre. The iPhone is so big that it keeps moving inward, so I'm now walking around touching my crotch as I move it back into place.

The layout of the buttons is the exact opposite of user friendly. How often do you try to turn the volume up/down and the iPhone switches off? I can't imagine who thought it'd be a good idea to put those to buttons on opposite sides. And then there's the different layout from an iPad.

Running with an iPhone is weird. Granted, this won't affect the majority of people out there, but if you're a runner it's pretty annoying to have a huge phone jumping around.

When the 5s came out I wasn't convinced about the bigger 4 inch screen either.

I had no issues with the 3.5 inch screen of the previous models and it had never occurred to me that I would need a bigger screen. But I quickly got used to it. It didn't fit in my jeans pocket quite as well as the older ones, but I could live with that compromise. But that's the thing. It was a compromise.

I still think the original iPhone size was the perfect size. Here's hoping we see an iPhone 6s Mini in October 2015.

Fluff

Fluff is superficial restatement of the obvious combined with a generous sprinkling of buzzwords. Fluff masquerades as expertise, thought, and analysis… A hallmark of true expertise and insight is making a complex subject understandable. A hallmark of mediocrity and bad strategy is unnecessary complexity - a flurry of fluff masking an absence of substance
— Richard Rumelt, "Good Strategy, Bad Strategy"

The Second Test | Rands In Repose

This article by Michael Lopp of Rands in Repose is one of the most interesting and insightful things I've read in a while. This part in particular is spot on:

An unwatched successful business gets fat. The money pouring in means there’s far too much work, which means you go on a hiring spree. What was 15 folks rapidly becomes 50, and the experts start to show up. Experts are the folks who are allegedly really qualified to do a job. See, at 15 people everyone did a little bit of everything, but there is no time for that now because of the success. You think you need HR, Marketing, Sales, and Business Development.

Incorrect. What you need is people who get shit done.

Rands in Repose is one of the websites I subscribe to. I really enjoy the writing and the signal-to-noise ratio is definitely on the signal side.

Every 6 months or so I do a culling of my RSS feeds and Rands is one of the few sites that have always made the cut. Great stuff.

Selling Expectations | Macdrifter

Gabe Weatherhead:

This is how Apple beats their competitors. They don’t just make nice products for people that like Apple designs. They change expectations and then own every part of the process to fulfill the expectations. Just when Apple designs become the standard, they raise the bar and add a Retina display to their laptops. In two years, high density displays will be the new standard. Everyone else will be struggling to secure their supply chain while Apple is busy setting the next expectation.

Spot on. A lot to learn from their approach.

Interactive Marketers For Dummies (CEOs) | Forrester Blogs

George Colony in an article at Forrester Research titled Interactive Marketers For Dummies (CEOs):

If you want to figure out what's going on with your young, digital customers, head down to your marketing department and ask to talk to the Interactive Marketer. She will give you a full briefing on the emerging consumer and how your company is going to cleverly become top-of-mind with this demanding, fickle, and growing group.

One day, many CEO's are going to look back and ask themselves where it all went wrong. Technology is disrupting many industries and those that ignore the change will be left behind. Just look at Nokia, RIM, Borders, Blockbuster, and the music industry.

Consumers' behaviours are changing fast.

Businesses need to adapt and, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.

In most large, established corporations, the people that are closer to the customer are usually the Interactive Mangers and Social Media teams. The former need to keep up with technology and how it affects their customers; the latter monitor their customers through social media platforms and understand first hand what they're experiencing with respect to the brand. CEOs and senior executives would be smart to spend some time with them.

The Facebook Fallacy | Technology Review

Michael Wolff writing for Technology Review about the Facebook IPO:

The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command real attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact.

The whole article is worth a read.