Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

So iPhone 5 has generated a record 2 million units of pre-orders within 24 hours, and which is nearly twice the quantity that was received for iPhone 4S. Apple shares climbed up beyond the $700 mark, and the company continues to get more and more valuable.

Image courtesy The Business Insider

And yet, when you see some of the reports and reviews that came up, after the iPhone 5 was revealed, it would have seemed like the iPhone 5 was not such a big deal after all! The Android and Samsung fans were particularly rejoicing as they felt that the iPhone was finally losing its way now. They saw a lot of joy in the bold Samsung ad with a feature by feature comparison that showed how Samsung would make a smarter choice.

Coming as it did after the US court judgement against Samsung, this seemed like a great challenge back to the “evil iPhone system”!

Many Android fans created their own versions of the ads, and included a price comparison as well.

You’d think that the iPhone has finally met it’s match, and will, for the first time, see a decline in sales.

Yet, surprise, surprise!

Where the iPhone 4S (which did not generate so much of “disappointment press” as the iphone 5 did) had clocked about 1 mn units of pre-orders in 24 hours, the new one went past the 2 mn mark!!

And riding on top of that news, the Apple stock blew past the $700 mark. And the company continued to get more valuable and sexier for investors.

And something else continued to happen.

The something else that I believe, is the core essence to the story here.

The BRANDS iPhone and Apple became more and more aspirational! More coveted.

“2 million people made it to that 24 hours list, but I didn’t! I have to be the most miserable person on earth..!”  would be the feeling for many who could not get a piece of the iPhone 5.

Let’s understand and appreciate that lifestyle products are not bought with a clinical eye on features.

When I sit in a Mercedes car, I do not feel “much” different. If I have to have a purely rational view about it, I would wonder why anyone should pay the 3-4 multiple of the price over a VW that I drive? It is not really that special!

And yet, what do people earn a lot of money for? So that they may go and buy a Mercedes some day (#justsaying).

We know when we started bootstrapping Social Wavelength, we went and bought regular Windows laptops and managed our work. But in a few months, when business picked up, and we had some cash flows to spare, we went and purchased the more expensive MacBooks, and felt good about it. That is what we had earned for. That we could not get the sexier Apple machines!

So’s the case with the iPhone.

You can’t replace a Harley Davidson by just building a ‘better bike’. These are not mere products, these are iconic brands. They have delivered happiness over the years. And it will take a lot to displace their stature.

I am not a mobile phone reviewer. I don’t get the nitty gritty of comparisons here. I have never used a Samsung phone ever. But I have no reason to leave my iPhone. It gives me sheer delight. Why should I consider migration? I migrated out of Windows machines, as there WERE pain points! Not here. Not in the Apple family of products.

When I was in the Bay area in June this year, I must have taken the 1 hour Caltrain ride to San Francisco, about 10 times at least. And I could see nearly 80% of the passengers busy with their mobile devices. And the most common devices visible out there, were the iPhone and the iPad. And the passengers were not necessarily folks who had sold their startups for a lot of money!! These were people doing jobs in the city, or students, and such.

Clearly the device to own, was one of those Apple ones – the iPad or the iPhone. And those are the kind of folks, contributing to the folklore of Apple. And which explains this phenomenal surge or pre-orders and the sky rocketing stock price of Apple.

I have seen enough of the tech world to know that nothing is permanent, and there will be a change of guard at some time. It may take a bad move from Apple to shoot itself in the foot, or some other inflexion point to knock them off their pedestal. However, none of those events are visible in the horizon.

Till then, Apple continues to rock on.. !!

How rare is it in India, to hear of some really good service received? I have to really scan my memory hard to remember any kind of service that really impressed me. And yes, then, I CAN mention 1 or 2 striking examples.

I was particularly impressed by the service at Olde Bangalore, in Bangalore.

At the Orange County Resort at Coorg.

If I rack my brain some more, I should come up with few other names.

But it’s hard.

Many other service providers where I don’t have a problem, are at best adequate. I would put my Citibank credit card (nowadays), HDFC Bank, Vodafone, Indigo Air, etc. all in that league. Adequate. Nothing outstanding about it. Adequately efficient. Nothing more. Sometimes a little less.

And then there are MANY that actually cause grief. Service providers that “just don’t get it”. Besides the usual suspects of government services, there are just far too many restaurants, stores and showrooms, health clubs, hotels, etc. that all fall into this league.

Let me give a specific example.

I was in the market sometime late last year, for a new vehicle. I was impressed by the VW Vento. Went to the showroom. Was given the initial information with a lot of enthusiasm.

Till the point at which I actually booked the vehicle, and made the initial payment (there was a 4-month wait for the vehicle, so balance was payable when the vehicle got ready). things were fine.

From the point of time that I actually made that booking amount to the VW Mumbai East dealer (at Bezzola Complex in Chembur), from a service point of view, it was all downhill.

Every single interaction has been painful, simply because they are not equipped to provide better service. And their attitude is one that “couldn’t care less”. This extended to their service station also. Within a week of purchase, there was a minor hiccup. The car was sent to the service garage. They took a whole day to attend to the small thing. And after paying upwards of Rs. 8 lakhs, a week back, for the car, they demanded Rs. 300 odd for some parts. When I protested that it did not make sense, they brought it down, but insisted on getting paid Rs. 48/- or so. That’s a dollar! After having paid upwards of USD 20,000 a week back.

No one at that garage had the authority to take a call, to let that dollar go. When I have paid so much, it is certainly not about that dollar. It is just that they made an issue about it.

For an otherwise great product, VW has obviously not been able to get service standards and policies in place, that can address such issues.

So is India a society that can possibly produce good products, but just does not have an approach to good service?

Since we have a lot of people, we have lot of service providers! On a typical small hop flight also, we may have 5-6 air hostesses or stewards on board. At a wedding party, we may have a whole host of waiters hovering around us. There will be enough help at a hotel. BUT there will not be a true service attitude. We try to compensate for quality, by quantity.

That does not work.

However what that has done is to bring down our fundamental expectations of service. When we get adequate service, we are happy. Because “at least it was not bad”. Both the recipient and the provider of the services, are settling down to “adequacy” and not more!

People will be willing to pay a price and get excellent service. A great product can get supremely enhanced, at nominal additional cost, by great service. If a VW showroom and garage can also exemplify the same attitude that the vehicle is trying to showcase (via its advertising), would it not be wonderful?

When at the Apple store in California, you don’t see a cash counter, but the store help pulls out the machine from his pocket and swipes your card, and you don’t need to wait in a queue, it is telling something more about the cool brand that Apple is. It’s that extra bit.

When you drive into a Hertz store at the airport to give the car back, before catching your flight, and all paperwork, payments etc. can be done in 3 mins, so you can comfortably catch your flight, even if you got late, that’s more loyalty for the brand.

When the Southwest Airlines human operator picks my call within 2-3 rings at most, and the one person can help me confidently with any and all kinds of queries that I may have, then I ask for Southwest by name, and don’t look for just ‘any airline’.

There are amazing examples of this kind, in the west (well, there are duds too – don’t get me started on American Airlines!!). We’d so love to have some emerge in India too. At this time, they’ll stand out as unique.

Like Orange County Resorts does. And where at time of checkout, I put a rating on their response card, of a 11/10. Yes, those are the rare gems in India.

Can others stand up to get counted now??