When Tim Cook took the stage for the historical 25th World Wide Developer Conference at San Francisco he looked noticeably relaxed, fresher and in the mood. Taking several jibes at the competitors and proud of the numbers achieved by Apple in pretty much every vertical, Tim was like a kid in the playground for the first time, absolutely fearless. It was like Apple had found its voice for the first time in the post Job’s era. There was a new identity and we definitely liked it. The reason could also well be attributed that he was joined in the room by some of the people who must take large credit for what Apple has achieved in the mobile domain in the past five to six years, yes, their developers. The WWDC 2014 may have been a long keynote and perhaps even boring on the borderline to see a dude site and type in a code on stage, but it will be an occasion where we will look back and smile, that it was here that Apple finally opened all the doors for the developers to come into its highly secured and private rooms that so far were locked with powers that even Magneto will struggle to undo.
Both iOS 8 and OSX 10.10 updates were met with enthusiasm initially, because lets face it, they are strong products. While OSX 10.10 is the most drastic change to Mac in the past 10 years, iOS 8 is looking to build on the success that iOS 7 enjoyed. While Apple has always had good, even great products, their excellence has always been with marketing them. Like someone on Quora once said, ‘if Steve Jobs was before me, he sure would convince me to buy a raincoat in the Sahara Desert’. That is the power and the emotional attachment the brand has built over the period of time.
While you can check out several blogs that detail what was announced at WWDC, we will be focussing on two key pillars, that we think are a work of marketing genius from Apple. If anything, these features tell you more about the way marketing space is currently than any market observer can, so we will try and make some sense of these earnings in terms of market space currently. We are talking about Extensibility and Continuity, the two new iOS 8 features. Names, right plucked from the marketing class 108 in your Business Administration Degree.
A quick look at the dictionary reveals that extensibility means the ability to extend, to reach out. Apple has always been big believers of extensibility. But so far, apps in the iPhone or iPads have not been able to do that, with Apple believing in keeping each app secure within its own sandbox and minimal communication with adjacent boxes. With iOS 8 though, Apple has solved this issue. Extensibility will allow the developers to create widgets for the iPhone, Touch ID would now be accessible by third party apps for quick authentication while purchases, users can change their keyboards based on their needs, you can control the focus, white balance as well as exposure on your camera, the power is gradually shifting from Apple to the developers and in turn to the user.
The key learning for us to take away from extensibility is that in 2014 you cannot treat yourself or your product or service in isolation. You need to grow out arms to reach out, or arms where others can reach for you. With the model of extensibility, things like quick authentication for mobile payments will be possible as Touch ID uses your finger prints, widgets will allow for quick actions without even entering the apps. The end user today is looking for simple and quick fixes, anything complicated is outright rejected, and placing the widgets in the notification center gives us two very important lessons when releasing any product: quick discovery irrespective of the location and second being quick action on owning that discovery.
Its a very basic principle, but if you can be reached and discovered fast and you are uncomplicated to deal with, without hearing a background story, you are bound to be popular. Another important lesson in extensibility is that of personalisation. You cannot serve the same meat to everyone and expect that your feast will be a topic of page 3 the next morning. You have to serve what people like, there is no substitute to personalisation and options. But for what it was worth, Apple did not sacrifice its core mantra of security even while implementing extensibility with widgets. So, if you have some principles set in stone, while, there is nothing wrong in evolving, make sure to stick to them and keep your foot firmly planted, as long as they are right and work for you.
Continuity was a concept that Apple showcased where your devices interact between each other. You can start an E-Mail now and carry on to compose it on your Mac and send it via your iPad without a hiccup. You can turn the hotspot on, on your iPhone and your Mac will latch on to it immediately without you having to do anything. You may respond to phone calls and text messages straight from your Mac without touching your iPhone. It’s how synergy between OSX and iOS was supposed to be.
Continuity was the perfect sales pitch that Apple made for its products. If you are in the Apple ecosystem, with two or more Apple devices, you can easily rely on any of the devices without letting a snag appear in your productivity. It re-emphasises the point that we are moving in the time of multiple displays with omnipresent data on all of them. The content will be viewed on a 4 inch iPhone, on a 10 inch tablet and a 21 inch computer, and it all has to look just as good and tailor made on them. Creating an environment where the user can move from one peripheral to the other without a problem and his data taken care of impeccably, is a massive incentive to donate some more cash towards the giant Apple bank account.
With retention numbers as high as 75% plus that Apple boasts and with Tim Cook admitting that more Android users are jumping from Android to iOS in China than ever before, there is a fat chance most of these users will consider moving to an iPad or a Mac soon too, given the ecosystem’s recent evolution, and now with extensibility, Apple has given them a bigger incentive. The move to show that they understand the need of multiple displays and to create a coherent environment where these devices can interact is just brilliant and a key lesson for any marketing exercise that you might do. It reiterates that the forefront of the focus must be how well can you connect all the displays or mediums without the user feeling the speedbumps.
If you break down the WWDC 2014 opening keynote, the key take away was the need for seamless connectivity irrespective of the medium and quick information, irrespective of the app or the website, and strong focus on service. End of the day, everything is about experience, and while hardware is still an important door to unlock, nothing beats a fine experience post unlocking that door, and with WWDC, Apple has done just that. The new, jovial and fun loving Apple certainly showed that it is listening to its customers, and while they may not do everything that the customers want, they are willing enough, to just give away few toffees to keep the millions of mouths feeling the sweet taste.