A World Upside-Down – Apple and Google Launches

A World Upside-Down - Apple and Google LaunchesIn a world where Apple can do no wrong and Google has had some product flops, this week their roles have reversed.

Google launched its most ambitious social initiative yet with Google+. It is getting very good reviews from GigaOM, TechCrunch, Mashable and others. Due to “insane demand“, Google had to shut down invites to manage a slower rollout. (Even further proof that the world is upside: one of the original Apple Macintosh designers was the lead designer for Google+).

Beyond the smart design though was also a smart strategy. First, Google is unifying its services and pushing Google+ with a consistent toolbar across all of its properties. Second, Google is providing seamless syncing of photos taken from an Android phone to your Google+ cloud storage, where the photos can then be easily shared with family and friends. It is a smart strategy for getting user adoption – ReadWriteWeb calls it their killer feature. It actually takes a page from Apple’s iCloud book, where the cloud storage and the advantages it provides in accessing data from multiple devices is done almost “automagically” without changing user behavior.

Even China thinks that Google+ will be a hit: they’ve already blocked it.

Apple’s release of an upgraded version of Final Cut Pro X had a different result. Apple rewrote its media editing tool from the ground up, removing several features in the process. The backlash from reviewers and users was severe. It spawned a funny mocking video from Conan.

Apple reportedly had to provide refunds to unhappy customers. An online petition has over 6,000 signatures asking Apple to “declassify” it as a product for professional use. In a not-so-surprising coincidence, all the written reviews on the Mac App Store were removed for a period of time (most of which were negative). Then Apple was forced to publish a follow-up FAQ promising that a next release will come with “fixes”, including restoring some removed features.

Here are the takeaways from Google’s and Apple’s experiences:

  • No company is perfect; even the best make mistakes.
  • As I’ve written about before, you can never underestimate the cost of changing user behavior.
  • Don’t ever count out innovative companies that have had the courage to try new things and are not afraid to fail.

It is too early to tell whether Google+ will be a success, but they’re making all the right steps so far, while Apple is backpedaling with one of its applications.

Image credit: jedbaxter

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Rocco TarasiRocco Tarasi (@RoccoTarasi) is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and Co-Founder of GivingLog, a lifelong record of your charitable giving. He also publishes the tech newsletter ExecTechEd and blog InnovationMinute.

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2 Responses to A World Upside-Down – Apple and Google Launches

  1. Rocco – I read Apple’s “failure” a little differently – as actually part of a conscious strategy. Check out my short analysis at http://rampantinnovation.com/ for the alternate viewpoint.

    Would love to know what you think.

  2. Rocco Tarasi says:

    John, great analysis in your article. I certainly agree with your premise: it is important to decide what not to do, those decisions are not easy to make, and Apple does have a history of doing that well.

    It’s a fascinating contradiction: on the one hand Apple has the foresight to control new technologies ahead of everyone else (see today’s story at http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-supply-chain-2011-7?op=1), on the other hand they purposely lag introducing certain components like NFC in the iPhones or a camera in the first iPad. For the record I don’t disagree with any of those moves, they are brilliant at balancing the introduction of a product that everyone wants with the ability to within 12 months introduce an upgrade that everyone wants again.

    I’m not going to go so far as to say they didn’t misstep here though. Even if their actions were 100% calculated, I don’t believe they predicted how negative the pro reaction would be, and they’ve admitted as much by saying they’ll bring back some of the cut features. I think they’re talented enough to design a product to appease their current pro users without making it too difficult for the average user. I think there is a little bit of the Apple “arrogance” (see: attennagate) showing through in this story too.

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