Why iPhone Will Succeed: My Argument In Letter Form


[ June 5, 2007 ]

Let me try and summarize my position:

Your main point seems to be that Apple is making a major mistake by not building a device that surpasses (or even competes with) existing phones in the realm of functionality. You feel the market is about, more than anything else, features, and that if you don’t have a lot of them then your device will fail compared to those that do.

My point, which I feel is Apple’s direct strategy with this device, is that you can actually blow away the market without playing the features game. The concept being that it’s possible to actually win with fewer features as long as you do each of them extremely well.

This includes the stuff we normally don’t pay any attention to, such as: the size and shape of the device, the look and feel of it in your hand, how it feels to navigate the interface, and how the system looks and feels when you use the basic functions such as making and receiving phone calls.

In other words, their bet is that doing a few things beautifully is going to be beat out doing many more things in a “regular” way.

And I think, barring something seriously wrong with their device, that this strategy is going to succeed. I think this not based on emotion as you claim, but based on my observation that most people don’t use most of the features they have, and that aesthetics are very important for people.

You see how excited I am about the device, but you’re not giving me the credit for also simultaneously looking at the situation from a true marketing standpoint. To me it really comes down to doing a few things amazingly vs. doing more things in a standard way, and my analysis is that the former will win out. So while I am hyped up about the device, it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my logic.

And that logic tells me very clearly, as I’ve said numerous times, that there is every likelihood that I am dead wrong, and that the phone won’t be able to pull it off. And if it can’t it again becomes a game of features, at which point iPhone becomes a joke like the Apple Cube. All I ask of you is to consider that this (few great vs. many normal) is a real strategy and not just abject stupidity, and that if it succeeds it won’t be a matter of stupidity or luck.

So if they gamble on look and feel of fewer features and it doesn’t work, then their strategy was bad, but their failure wouldn’t be because they didn’t think, it would be because they thought extensively and were either dead wrong or couldn’t execute. And if they succeed, and the industry and consumers love the phone, it will not be because Apple made a major mistake but people are just too stupid to realize it. It will simply be because Apple guessed absolutely correctly that superior experiences for primary functions are better than inferior experiences on far more functions.

That is my opinion in a nutshell, my friend — that Apple isn’t rushing into anything without thinking here, but in fact that the whole thing is COMPLETELY calculated. They could be dead wrong and end up looking stupid, but that will constitute a deliberate bad move that failed rather than a drunken misstep.