On October 5 news spread like wildfire across the internet that Steve Jobs, co-founder and long-time CEO of Apple, Inc. had passed away after a 7+ year battle with pancreatic cancer. The news coverage of his death as well as the huge outpouring of tributes and honors from all quarters spoke to the tremendous influence this man and his company has had on our modern, technological world.
He has been variously described as a genius, a visionary, a secular prophet (see the Wall Street Journal), a “P. T. Barnum” marketeer, a tyrant… or all the above! He is compared to Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford all rolled into one. He and his company did not invent the personal computer, portable music player, laptop, cell phone or tablet computer. But they managed to re-think and redesign each of them in such a way that they became objects of great desire, and turned Apple, Inc. into one of the most valuable companies in the entire world.
I am no stranger to the attraction of the Apple brand. One of my first computers was an Apple II clone, followed by the original Macintosh. Over the years I have had Powerbooks, iMacs, Mac Minis, iPods, Touches, and now iPads. Like millions of others, I have found their products generally easier to use and more functional than competing products, even though costing a premium over others.
How did Jobs and Apple reach this pinnacle of success. What is/was so unique about their approach, marketing, design, philosophy, or “secret sauce” which other very competent and capable companies seems to have missed? Certainly the suggestions I am about to make are not original with me but can be widely found in books, articles and internet sources. Nevertheless, these principles ring so true with my experience that I cannot but help seeing a correlation between the “good news of Apple” and its products, and the “Greatest News of Jesus Christ.” Here are a few of those principles:
- “Think Different” – long a slogan at Apple, they chose to lead, not follow, and create more than imitate. They seem to constantly re-think what is important and needed in a product rather than what is simply the cheapest or quickest way to get it to market.
- “Give People What They Don’t Yet Know They Want” – a sense of what people really wanted in a device or technology to improve and enrich their daily lives.
- “Keep Focused on the Most Important Thing” – for Apple and Steve Jobs that was innovative products that opened up new markets in technology, and not diversifying into many areas that would dilute their resources and passion.
- “Make It Your Purpose to Change the World” – Apple was not committed to addressing world hunger, world peace, illiteracy or the cure for cancer. But they were committed to changing the world of computers and personal technology devices.
- “Make Your Happy Users Your Evangelists” – owners of Apple products often exhibit a zeal and even fanaticism scarcely seen in owners of any other company’s products. Happy customers and users are the number one advertisers and recruiters of new “converts.”
- “Keep it Simple & Get it Right” – Steve Jobs is usually credited with seeing how to take very complex, technical concepts and turning them into easy to use, beautiful products which non-techies are not afraid to line up to buy and use.
- “Provide an Immersive, Wholistic Experience” – Their products interconnect in such a way that when someone buys one product they soon feel compelled to buy another and another to extend their enjoyment. Mac computers communicate with the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and iTunes – and they in turn link to each other. Apple stores (350+) around the world give customers and users a place to visit, buy, learn, and socialize.
- “The Customer Is Number One” – Apple’s customer service is legendary, for years ranking the highest in their industry. Going out of their way to satisfy their customers produces repeat customers as well as “evangelists” (as noted above).
Now think of each of these philosophies in regard to the Kingdom of God, the Gospel, and our mission in this world. If you would like to hear a recent lesson I delivered on The Gospel According to Apple, Inc., you can click this link to hear the audio.