How to Rock the Competition Like Apple's iPhone

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Scenario: "Dude, we're going to add more features and lower the prices on our phones. We'll destroy mutha-@^^%^& Apple! Yay!" So that Silicon Valley dude over in Cupertino finally announced the much-anticipated Apple iPhone. Woohoo. Yay. Yoohay. Yadday. Kayay. And yes, you hear all the pundits, "experts", bloggers, analysts, consultants, scholars, media peeps, yadda, yadda, telling you why the iPhone rocks.

  • "It comes equipped with Bluetooth 2.0," they scream.
  • "It supports push-email!" they exclaim.
  • "It uses an crazy Intel processor," they note.
  • "It employs a 2.0-megapixel camera," they say.

And of course -- in the pessimistic camp -- similar types of folks scream, "It'll totally never succeed!":

  • "It's a 2G, not 3G!" they cringe.
  • "It's too bulky. People don't want that!" they snicker.
  • "The battery barely lasts for a smart-phone," they yap.
  • "It's way too expensive," they smirk.

But awesome fellas and ladies, listen up: Apple's iPhone could incorporate a cow detector, and it'd still rock -- and magazines headlines would still scream: "Cow Detector: Brilliant!" Its impending success has nothing to do with features. It has everything to do with building a brand that connects with your customers' soul.

Our Prediction on Apple's Competitors

Here's what we predict in the coming months: Unless they get their acts together, Apple's competition (Palm, RIM, Motorola, Nokia, et. al.) will start pitching overused publicity campaigns detailing how superior their features are:

  1. "We pack more features into our phones!"
  2. "We have more hard drive space!"
  3. "We get you more bang for your buck!"

Then they'll start displaying feature-by-feature comparisions, and all that mumbo-jumbo -- trying to excite you on their product features. So what happens next? They fade into mutha-@^^%^& oblivion. Here's why:

Competing on "Our Products Are Better!" Sucks

Two reasons:

  1. People don't buy rationally; people buy on emotions, then justify their purchases on rationale:

    "I bought the Ferrari because of its V12 and 600 Horsepowers. Yay!" Or: "I bought a Rolex because its durability will last long! Yay!" Better alternatives exist at much lower prices; but hey, if your subconscious is wanting luxury, you just "gotta have it!"
  2. Your competitors with bigger resources will match your successful features, anyway.

    The minute the "biggies" see your features becoming a success, they'll latch onto your ideas. That's how Google Calendar demolished the Web 2.0 upstarts like 30boxes, Airset, Kiko, etc. And, that's how Apple's going to destroy Palm, RIM, T-Mobile, etc.

How to Compete Against the Biggies

Whatever fabulous business you're doing, you're probably competing against the biggies in one form or another. Here's two criteria we use when we're going against those big sons-of-@^^%^&!:

First: "Where can we beat them?"

Business books scream: "Be persistent! Don't give up!" True, but not totally true. Sometimes, it just makes sense to surrender if you know you can't possibly beat some competitor in five years. So instead of fighting bulls head-on, start chipping them on the sides. Know where you suck, and where you rock. For instance, if you're competing against Apple's iPhone, you know you don't have Apple's:

  1. Brand recognition that compels people to buy.
  2. Marketing power to tap the general-consumer market.
  3. Evangelists to quickly spread your product.

But since you're a badass and know a little-thing-or-two about the education industry, you start constructing a smart-phone with the teacher in mind. "It's an overlooked target market by Apple, and one riped for opportunity," you say.

  1. "We'll build a cohesive system that helps teachers keep attendance, track grades, and run reports."
  2. "We'll incorporate software that lets teachers communicate quickly with administrators, staff, and parents with two touches."
  3. "We'll provide the phone with lesson material options so they'll bring their best to every lesson."
  4. "We'll build teacher-support communities to help them thrive."

Watch your badass soar higher than a mutha-@^^%^& eagle as you start connecting to your customers' souls. (And, if you're gunning for the general masses, remember: you have to first build your initial audience. They'll get you that domino effect you're seeking.


Second: "Are we tapping our passions?"

Peep this:

  1. Sam Walton's Walmart and discount retailing.
  2. Howard Schultz's Starbucks and community.
  3. Hewlett & Packard and technological contributions.
  4. And, of course: Steve Jobs and innovation.

Passion transforms businesses into brands -- and keeps those brands thriving for eternity. If you're latching onto "the-next-big-thing," you'll drop out the moment that "thing" becomes less hot. (All "hot" opportunities eventually fizzle.) Steve Jobs didn't look at the smart-phone industry and think: "Hey, that sucka's hot!" No, he's entering a maturing industry. The kicker -- he's tapping the same passions he used for the Apple I in the 70s, the Macintosh in the 80s, the iMacs in the 90s, and the MacBooks in the new millenium: Innovation. Passion's like a muscle. The more you work on it, the more you strengthen it, and the more ass you'll kick with it -- no matter when you enter a market. And most important: That passion trickles over to your customers' souls.

@^^% features. Go where you passionately rock.


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Posted on January 10

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