Being an avid Mac user articles and other forms of media that pertain to Apple ALWAYS spark my interest.

The past week two articles got my attention. How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong , and Breaking The Rules: Apple Succeeds By Defying 5 Core Valley Principles, both by Leander Kahney.

Apple has been doing everything right by doing everything wrong. Period. They definitely don’t act like any other large corporation. Where as every other large corporation has produced products to suit many different companies and applications, Apple in all its wisdom, saw the opportunity to grab an extremely large target market by becoming self sufficient. By producing products that work amazingly well (and rightly so) with their other products Apple has been able to increase their revenue with products like the iPhone, iPod etc… without the need to outsource much of their products.

Leander Kahney was able to come up with Apple’s unofficial principles that make Apple who they are:

1. COOPERATEValley RuleEmbrace open platforms. Software should be decoupled from hardware so users can access any program or data from any device. Example: Google’s Android, an operating system that will run on a variety of handsets from different manufacturers.Apple RuleDesign software to work on your own hardware — and not on anyone else’s. The OS X experience is made only for the Mac; iPhone apps function only on iPhones. And customers don’t seem to mind. Apparently, they’re willing to trade freedom for a kick-ass product.2. COMMUNICATEValley RuleTell your fans what you’re up to so they feel a connection to your company. Hiring difficulties? New strategies? Digestive problems? Blog ’em! Customers will feel more invested and more loyal. Plus, their comments could give you some good ideas.Apple RuleNever talk to the press. Shut down rumor blogs. Threaten to sue children who send you their ideas. Never leak product news until you’re ready to announce it. Then use that discipline to create buzz and win coverage with every announcement.3. PLAY NICEValley RuleDon’t exploit your market-leader status. Software should compete on its merits, not its ability to shut out rivals. Microsoft earned an antitrust suit and decades of ill will by muscling PC makers into bundling its operating system and browser onto their machines.Apple RuleHardball tactics rule! Every Mac is preloaded with iTunes, which becomes the user’s default music program. And most iTunes purchases can be played only on iPods, creating a closed loop that has proven tough for competitors — and music labels — to challenge.4. LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERSValley RuleMake sure to lavish affection on your clients, and try to ensure that every one of them has a positive experience. Anyone can post a withering review on Yelp or Amazon, so you can’t afford to let a single complaint go unaddressed.Apple RulePlease yourself, not your fans. Release iMacs without floppy drives. Release MacBook Airs without optical drives. Cut the price of an iPhone by $200 two months after its introduction; when early adopters complain, offer them a $100 gift certificate.5. CODDLE YOUR EMPLOYEESValley RuleSince the best ideas bubble up from within the ranks, encourage autonomy by allowing workers free time to focus on their personal projects. Also, shower them with perks like free food and massages to make them feel special.Apple RuleMotivate through fear. Don’t be afraid to scream. Threaten to fire them. Withhold praise until it’s truly deserved. Go ahead and bring them to tears. As long as you can inspire them with your sense of mission, they’ll consider this the best job they’ve ever had.

Some of these rules/principles may seem harsh and may be over exaggerated.

Apple’s customer service is second to none. They treat people like people. Casual and easy to talk to, it makes you want to call customer service just to have a chat.

Its not news to anyone that Apple (or Steve Jobs) is extremely secretive. But this works to their advantage. By not talking to the press or leaking any information about upcoming advancements in technology or products, Apple is able to control a lot of information about them. By only announcing new technologies about a product days before its release, they are able to create incredible amounts of hype, and really know how to get everyone talking.

Apple’s corporate model is definitely one of a kind, but incredibly risky. Maintaining this model will make Apple a powerhouse, however if another company tried to adopt it, it would lead to imminent failure.

WiredPlease add Wired’s Top Stories to your required reading list. They have a number of feeds. The one I would like you to subscribe to is here: http://feeds.wired.com/wired/index

DAVE

Larry Lessig

February 5, 2008

Last night we watched Larry Lessig’s great TED presentation and talked for a minute about his presentation style.

This morning, he released a 20 minute video endorsing Barack Obama, using his signature style:

Let’s add Larry Lessig to the required reading list.

Dave Winer has been writing what may be the web’s longest running blog, and he is credited with inventing RSS. He also wrote a piece of software, Radio Userland, that was one of the first RSS Readers and blogging tools. This probably makes him the father of weblogs, so we’ll add him to our required reading list.

Dave is a technologist and a hacker. He’s often posting about small software projects he’s working on. These days it’s something called FlickrFan. He also posts about politics, baseball and anything else that’s on his mind. His posting style is a little less “article-oriented” then others. That is, his posts are often smaller pieces, without titles, posted frequently through the day.

Please add Scripting News to your RSS reading list.

TechCrunch

January 27, 2008

TechCrunch is a news/rumour site that focuses on the action of Web 2.0/technology start-ups and deals. Reading it will give you a sense of all of the action in this space. It will also open you up to a number of amazing new sites, tools, etc.

TechCrunch is also one of the poster-children for blogging for money. By some accounts, Mike Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder and lead blogger, makes over $1mm/year from the site.

Please add TechCrunch to the weekly reading list.

Guy Kawasaki

January 27, 2008

Guy Kawasaki was an evangelist for Apple in their early days. Since then he’s been an early stage VC with his firm, Garage Technology Ventures. Guy is also an author of some books about starting up new technology companies. The Art of the Start is a great book if you’re thinking of starting your own business.

Guy’s full bio is here and his blog is here.

We’ll add the bog to our required reading list. Reading Guy will give you a feel for some of what’s going on in Silicon Valley start-ups, he’ll also teach you how to give better presentations and generally “pitch” an idea.

Chris Anderson wrote The Long Tail in 2006. The book is one of a handful that defines the large changes brought about by the web. It defines the forces at play that have allowed Amazon, iTunes, ebay and others to redefine large industries. We will discuss the Long Tail at length in class.

Wikipedia says the following:

The phrase The Long Tail was, according to Chris Anderson, first coined by himself. The concept drew in part from an influential February 2003 essay by Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality”, which noted that a relative handful of weblogs have many links going into them but “the long tail” of millions of weblogs may have only a handful of links going into them. Beginning in a series of speeches in early 2004 and culminating with the publication of a Wired magazine article in October 2004, Anderson described the effects of the long tail on current and future business models. Anderson later extended it into the book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More (2006).

Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Anderson cites earlier research by Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu, and Michael D. Smith, that showed that a significant portion of Amazon.com’s sales come from obscure books that are not available in brick-and-mortar stores. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, the distribution and sales channel opportunities created by the Internet often enable businesses to tap into that market successfully.
An Amazon employee described the Long Tail as follows: “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Anderson has explained the term as a reference to the tail of a demand curve.[5] The term has since been rederived from an XY graph that is created when charting popularity to inventory. In the graph shown above, Amazon’s book sales or Netflix’s movie rentals would be represented along the vertical axis, while the book or movie ranks are along the horizontal axis. The total volume of low popularity items exceeds the volume of high popularity items.

Please add his blog to the Required Reading list.