Ron Johnson on Apple’s transformation:
I remember the day we opened our Soho store. How many have you been to the Soho store, lower Manhattan. That opened on July 17th, 2002. It was a day after Macworld. That’s when Apple was kind of at the bottom and Steve had really worked hard with myself and a few other people in this room to design that Soho store. We were really proud of it and it was a day after Macworld. I made the decision to open at 8:00 a.m. thought that was kind of a good time open a store. It turns out nobody in lower Manhattan was up at 8. Steve came over to the opening and he was kind of not one of his better moods. Most of the time, he actually was a lovely guy, very upbeat. And there were about 50 to 100 people in line for an Apple store opening in Manhattan. At that time we didn’t believe could we make money. Steve and I talked about a half hour. He said, you know, nobody cares. There are days I feel like just giving up. Nobody cares. He had read all the reviews from (Walt) Mossberg and David (Pogue) in the New York Times. He said nobody understands what we’re doing. Nobody cares.Sometimes I just want to give up. And he said maybe the store’s not going to work. I said all right. Steve got in his car and went back uptown. He was staying at the Four Seasons. I was stuck with the store so I had to stay. About 11 Soho started to wake up and people started to come and we had a person at the door. Traffic counters. From 12 to 1, 1,000 people walked through the door, from 1 to 130, 800 people walked through the door. I said Steve, you’ve got to come back. He says I don’t want to come back. Steve drove down. He actually arrived around 1:30. If you’ve been in that store there’s a glass bridge behind the Genius Bar you can stand on. It was actually really hard to design that in a lot of ways. Steve and I stood on that bridge at 1:30. He didn’t leave the bridge until 8. Six and-a-half hours. He immersed himself in his customer, what he loved. And we went to dinner at and talked about it and Steve kind of got back in the game.
Even the best get discouraged. Inspiring.
It seems inevitable that Apple will announce a smaller iPad next month. From leaked photos, parts and careful math the product will sit between the full sized iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. The consumer demand for such a product has been established by Samsung, Amazon and Google producing the only glimmer of hope Android can someday take on the market dominating iPad. So it just makes sense that Apple would produce a similar product.
The only problem with this line of reasoning is Apple could care less about consumer demand. They do what they do and then convince us to buy the result. The current iPad is a tremendous success at it’s $400-500 entry price points. The current size of the device is perfect for what it does, the only area for improvement is in weight which will likely be solved in the next refresh. And finally, Apple just doesn’t expand their lines with the same thing in smaller sizes. At least in mobile devices (just look at the iPod lineup for an example). So for these and developer fragmentation in apps I have long contended Apple would never do “a 7 inch iPad.”
If all the speculation is correct, the size of the iPad mini (or Air) will be closer to 8 inches so my previous statements will be technically correct. But what really bothers me is the sameness to the current iPad; there just has to be something magical about doing the smaller version aside from a lower price point. This got me thinking about the next big thing in computer user interface; what comes after the mouse. And I think the new, smaller iPad could be part of that future.
Since Apple introduced multi-touch gestures in Mac OS X and the magic trackpad most of us have at least become aware of where computing is headed. But the gestures just are the tip of the iceberg that will start to come to light when the iPad mini is released.
Imagine using the tablet as your main pointing device replacing your mouse. Each application could have their own palettes and special controls on the iPad screen as well as accept your touch input for pointing and manipulating data. Games would be another interesting application what could span the desktop and Apple TV. This mouse app could be run on a full sized iPad, of course, but I think being in the middle of the too small iPhone and the too large iPad is the perfect spot. And the entry price of $299 would not put it out of reach for most consumers. So I think the iPad mini will also double as your mouse for your laptop or desktop. We’ll see what they have for us in October.
An article from last week I only got around to reading today but has an interesting idea: what if Best Buy curated their inventory to only carry the best values in each product area instead of dozens of choices? They certainly have the domain expertise to choose the very best products but I’m sure nearly all their partners would not like this idea. But if Best Buy transformed their brand to be about the customer actually getting the best value for their money and avoid the ‘paradox of choice’ they could turn their business around fairly quickly.
This evening I spoke about securing WordPress at the MSP WordPress meeting. Below are my slides which should be pretty clear for most to follow.