When Apple announced record sales of $54.5 billion its stock plummeted. Wall Street was upset that despite selling 75 million iOS devices in a quarter, Apple did not blow industry expectations out of the water. Many are questioning if Apple has reached its peak of innovation and whether or not it still has a future without Steve Jobs. As rumors abound about the next iPhone, bloggers and naysayers are undoubtedly already prepared to point out its flaws and express their disappointments. Critics point to the iPhone 5, claiming since it did not radically change from its predecessor Apple is running out of steam while other smartphones are gaining momentum.
But Apple doesn’t create products based on what the competition is doing. It creates products to improve the lives of its customers, which is why Apple has been and will continue to be successful.
When asked about Apple’s fight for market share in the ever-growing smartphone industry, CEO Tim Cook stated that Apple’s goal is simply to make good products for its customers. While this customers’ needs first approach frustrates investors who only care about the bottom line, it works over the long-term. Apple’s products are inherently more user-friendly, thus more people are happy with their purchases and stay loyal to the brand. This vision is what has made Apple so prosperous, and they have accomplished it by using the jobs-to-be-done approach.
The jobs-to-be-done approach is about focusing on the goal (or job) a person wants to accomplish and creating a product to meet that goal rather than just creating a product and then trying to find a use for it, which is how most companies innovate. By using this method, Apple hones in on what is most necessary for their phones to be useful to consumers and improves upon those aspects instead of just adding a bunch of pointless new features or technologies.
Neither Jobs nor Apple invented the smartphone. What they did invent, however, was the fastest selling smartphone of all time. How? By focusing on the jobs customers wanted to achieve through their phones. People aren’t buying a phone. They are buying something that helps them accomplish a job – whether it’s communicating with other people (remember voicemail before the iPhone!), checking e-mail (remember email on a phone before iPhone!), or looking up directions – in the best way possible. Apple’s iPhone was easy to use, incredibly functional and got these tasks done better than other competitors, which is why it continues to sell today.
As the iPhone has evolved, Apple has continued to reinvent it using the jobs-to-be-done approach. Critics have complained that now that other smartphones have entered the market with fancier features Apple isn’t going fast enough. They assume that if each new generation doesn’t add on at least ten new extravagant extras then consumers’ needs won’t be met. So then why do customers continue to buy the iPhone in record numbers?
Because the iPhone is satisfying customer needs, and importantly, the iPhone is not over-satisfying needs. Apple has always focused on improving the customer experience and avoiding unnecessary elements. It’s tempting for companies to add new components to each new product, but that doesn’t make them innovative. If we look at the different iPhone specs over the years, we see that the iPhone 5 has made huge advancements over the original iPhone. It has a great deal more memory, higher resolution, a faster processor, a larger screen, and lighter weight. And Apple constantly releases software updates in between phones. All these improvements help people get jobs done quicker and easier, leaving them satisfied with their iPhone purchase and not wanting for more.
With the smartphone market becoming saturated with cool apps and frills, it’s easy to criticize the simplicity of Apple that was once so highly praised. But customers aren’t stupid. They aren’t buying into more for the sake of more. They want the best phone for the job, and that is still the iPhone. Apple will continue to innovate and update their products based on the job consumers need to accomplish and not on what everyone else is doing. They are putting the JTBD theory into practice which is why they dominate the market.