Learning from Apple’s Failures

What’s more important?  Taking your time to create the best products you can, or getting a bunch of things done so you can test them in the marketplace?

This question came up for me today when I received an email talking about finishing a bunch of projects quickly.  It’s a common theme among the “gurus” of Internet Marketing.

“Get it done, and get it out there.”

“Fail forward fast”

On one level, it makes sense.  Do as little as possible to test an idea, and then only if people respond to the idea do you finish the project and make it the best you can.

Except there’s a slight flaw with that logic.  Of course, this flaw may or may not make a significant difference in the long run, but it’s something to consider either way.

Apple is a company often used as an example of how to do excellent marketing of new products.  Have you ever seen Apple put out a product that wasn’t the best they could create?

I haven’t.

Every single product was designed and polished in ways that other companies rarely do.  And that’s one of the reasons why Apple is so successful.  People know that whatever they offer is going to be done well.  Few people need to wait to read the reviews of the new iPhone, iPad, or iWhatever.  If it’s Apple and new, it’s got to be great.

Right?  Well, if you like Apple products.

Personally, I find them a bit limiting, but I guess that’s part of “keeping it simple”.

Now, here’s where things get interesting.

Remember the Lisa computer?  Few do.  It was supposed to be the “executive” line, an order of magnitude more sophisticated than the Macintosh, which it followed.

The biggest failure in Apple history.

Unless you count the Newton.  That was Apple’s first handheld device, with advanced AI built in.  Steve Jobs called it the “scribble pad”.  I was so enamored by the advertising of it, I HAD to get my hands on one.  And then I tested one in the store.

For all its “intuitiveness”, I couldn’t figure out how to start a simple text document.  Wrong tool for the job, really.

The point with all this is that even Apple had a few failures along the way.  And almost no-one remembers the failures.  Because MOST of what Apple puts out succeeds.

The bottom line is this.

If you want to reach the level of success that Apple has, you really have to make sure that everything you produce (or at least most of it) is the best you can do.