From what I can gather about Apple from online research, they have done very little consumer research in recent years. This goes from simple focus groups, or even using online social monitoring programs to see what consumers are talking about. Instead it seems Steve thinks he knows what is best for us. He does not see a reason to use social monitoring, because he knows more about what consumers want than they do.
Take the lack of a picture messaging and video capabilities on the iPhone. I am sure that people within Apple brought these feature ideas to Steve before the 1st gen iPhone ever hit beta development and Steve simply said no, I know best. Why picture messaging? I use email for that. Why video? The quality would not be that good, and the files will take up too much space, they don’t need that. Then after the iPhone came out, everyone wanted these features, and they would cost little to add to the phone, but two years later and we are still waiting. Why? Because Steve knows what is best for us, and really does not care what we think.
Sure there are exceptions to that rule. Most of the time it happens when a 3rd party comes forward with an idea that is successful, and then Apple copies it or acquires it. Case in point, the iPhone App Store. Remember the outrage after word came out that Apple would not allow you to install software on the device? It was amazing, in weeks someone had found a way unlock the phone and apps were made.
This lack of control must have made Jobs extremely mad. Mad enough to actually listen to others and develop the App Store, but this is by far the exception to the rule. The funny part is that when Apple does listen to their consumers (Ok, not really listen, more like respond to an outrage) they come out with some of their best products. I think Jobs says, fine they want something, well we are going to do it like no one has done before and blow their socks off.
Why don’t they simply listen to consumers at the beginning of the development process? Why don’t they simply ask for feedback, actually read their customer service forums? Why don’t they take these ideas, improve on them and make them world class?
In a way Apples consumers see more potential for the company than Jobs does. Why no DVR function in the Apple TV, why no Bluray support, why no docking station for the MB Pro? The list could go on and on. But to everyone on the outside, it just seems like Apple and Steve are being stubborn, and simply refuse to believe we know what we need.
Part III will look at how this is affecting thier customer service….