Apple to the Core

Today is the day Apple kicks off its much anticipated product launch event, which will be live streamed starting at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. It is an important event for the company, even more so because it signals the beginning of what is next under CEO Tim Cook and a new management team.

It takes time to execute on ideas, especially when they are innovative. Horace Didieu captured the Cook doctrine in a post# a couple of years ago. The hardest of those principles to do in complex times is also the most rewarding in the long run:

We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.

What Apple will likely be announcing today

Apple iOS8The product line up may include the new, larger iPhone, provisionally labeled 6 by industry pundits, something wearable, potentially tied to payments, significant iOS improvements, and HomeKit as well as HealthKit devices.

Ben Thompson provides a good break down of why, what, and how of wearables and payments#:

More broadly, this is the answer to the question of why build a wearable at all. It’s easy to see a future where a wearable is the center of an entire ecosystem of devices and services; what’s hard is seeing how on earth we get from here to there. Unless, of course, customers give the device critical mass simply because something is made by Apple (even though they’ll tell themselves they buy it for their health).

To move the needle on adoption, which is critical for any commercial venture to work, both end users and channel providers need to be on board; the roadmap must be sustainable over time.

Apple recently announced it has reached an agreement with American Express to collaborate on its new iPhone payment system#. An unidentified person familiar with the situation said Apple was in talks with Visa and Mastercard# as well.

The partnership with Nordstrom# would move the process along — and make fashion sense. If you follow the wearable side of the news, you probably also saw that Apple has invited top fashion editors and bloggers# as well:

Apple has also hired a number of fashion industry experts in the past year, which include former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve who works on "special projects" and directly reports to CEO Tim Cook. Last October, the company also hired former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who is currently Apple's Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores.

We are seeing a convergence between technology and the retail industry and Apple has been giving us front row seats to what is next. As I said last October when Tim Cook made the announcement that Burberry's Agenla Ahrendts was to head Apple retail operations, it will be fascinating to see the kind of positive human energy Ahrendts will bring to life at Apple.

Jean-Louis Gassée has some background on Apple and payment systems#. The money quote, you pardon the pun:

One can’t imagine Apple even thinking of storing and lending money, of trying to “capture a fraction of the flow”. If the company does introduce a near field payment system, it won’t be as an attempt to make money in itself, it will simply be another extension of the Apple ecosystem, another way to make iDevices more attractive.

The payoff may well be in line with Apple core principle as put forth by Cook of participating only in markets where they can make a significant contribution — just like it did with the iPod (a 1,000 songs in your pocket), the iTunes store (buy music a-la-carte), and the iPhone (the first experience of its kind).

Apple the company has long had a strong product excellence focus, which in turn continues to inspire both the developer community and its customers. The company relationship with the media has long been the subject of fascination. At WWDC 1997, Steve Jobs answered a developer question about the press:

The press is going to have a lag time. And the best thing we can do about the press is to embrace them, do the best we can to educate them about the strategy. But we need to keep our eye on the prize.

And that is turning out some great products, communicating directly with our customers the best we can. Getting the community of people that are going to make this stuff successful like yourselves in the loop, so you know everything and is marching forward, one foot in front of the other.

The press will take care of itself. It's like the stock price. The press and the stock price will take care of themselves. By the end of this year, it's going to look quite different.

Three years ago this past August, Jobs passed the baton to Tim Cook. Under his leadership we are also seeing a more open organization. 9 to 5 Mac has an in depth look at Apple's mastery of the media# that is worth your time — whether you are a business executive, entrepreneur, or a public relations pro.

Apple Team[image via David Muir, showing him on set with Tim Cook, Craig Federighi, and Bud Tribble]

At a time where the details — both in analysis, and in execution — seem to be ever elusive for organizations, including the media, I for one appreciate the attention Apple pays to them. Details are the difference makers in an experience.


[top image Getty Images/Justin Sullivan]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.