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商业 - 科技

iPhone这十年教给了我们什么

财富中文网 2017年01月11日

还有一件事儿……

不得不说,现在苹果的发布会已经远远没有从前那么吸引人了,或许这都是各路扑面天盖地的“泄露”和“网传”给闹的。曾几何时,苹果的新产品保密工作做得极为严密,等到发布会盛大召开的时候,乔布斯每一次都知道如何为我们带来惊喜。他总是在发布会快结束的时候来一个“返场”,低调而狂拽地说一句:“还有一件事儿……”随后才带出用户最望眼欲穿的设备或服务。现在就让我们来回顾一下1998年以来,乔布斯每次在发布会上是怎样为我们带来惊喜的。

十年前的今天,史蒂夫·乔布斯发布了首款iPhone手机,自此,苹果公司开启了整整十年的腾飞期,成为有史以来最为成功的企业之一。苹果现在也成为全世界最有价值的上市公司。

以当时的眼光看来,iPhone的设计以及乔布斯的后继战略似乎很难保证iPhone的持续火爆。毕竟当时诺基亚凭借极具质感的手机设计几乎垄断了整个市场。当时全球手机市场的年销量刚刚达到10亿部,乔布斯表示,苹果的目标是攫取1%的市场份额,也就是大约每年1,000万部手机。而iPhone推出的第二年便打破了这个目标。2015年,iPhone的销量更是达到了2.31亿部之高。去年iPhone的销量增长势头终于有所减缓,但它仍然是市面上利润最高的手机。

正因为如此,iPhone也成了当代商业史上被研究得最多的产品。

斯普林特公司的CEO马塞洛·克劳雷对《财富》杂志表示:“很多时候,仅仅是一些微小的进步也会被夸张地宣传成‘改变世界’或者‘革命性’的进步,但我认为,即便是这些形容词也不足以形容iPhone所带来的影响。乔布斯和苹果不仅仅是发明了一种新产品并推广了它的功能,而是掀起了一场真正的技术革命。因为他们专注于为数十亿人提供一种更好的方式,以改善人们生活的方方面面。”

在哈佛商业学院教授大卫·约菲看来,苹果之所以能够繁荣增长这么长的时间,是因为它从来没有将iPhone当作一个孤立的产品,而是把它当成一个可以提供大量软件应用程序的通用计算平台,并且迅速地将该平台向外部开发者进行了开放。除了软件应用程序以外,iPhone也是销售媒体服务和线上服务的一个新载体,更不用说它还可以销售很多高利润的配件。

约菲指出:“iPhone的成功给我们上的最重要的一课,就是它从来不仅仅是一个产品。苹果围绕iPhone建立了一个平台和一个完整的生态系统,因此在行业内的全球其他企业都在遭受商品化冲击化的时候,苹果却能够禁受住商品化的强大压力。”

其他硬件厂商也想偷师苹果的这套平台战略,但并非每款产品都可以支撑起一套自己的生态系统。Fitbit和GoPro最近的艰难处境就突显出了这方面的挑战。

苹果的成功并不是在iPhone发布后就注定了的。苹果早期也曾经犯过一些错误,乔布斯也只能灵活应对。比如在iPhone刚发布的时候,还没有应用商店和第三方软件,iPhone的定价也高达600美元,还忽略了当时非常普遍的补贴体系。而且初代iPhone也缺乏高速3G上网能力。初代iPhone的有些瑕疵是设计上的,还有一些是技术限制导致的。所以苹果必须迅速做出后续动作。

约菲表示:“至少在早期阶段,苹果在iPhone战略的调整上还是相当灵活和敏捷的。换句话说,不像很多公司在遇到问题时的表现,苹果基本上没有陷入过困境。”

麻省理工学院斯隆商学院教授迈克尔·库苏玛诺认为,苹果自始至终都把关注点放在用户身上,这也是一条重要的经验。企业必须关注用户与产品的互动方式,它与产品的技术本身同样重要。库苏玛诺也十分推崇乔布斯“用户体验为王”的提法。

和微软创始人比尔·盖茨以及苹果的另外一位创始人史蒂夫·沃兹尼亚克不同,乔布斯并不是一位纯技术宅。他并不过分纠结于iPhone的技术规格,而是更重视打造易用性最佳的手机体验。

“以Palm Pilot、黑莓和微软手机为代表的所有早期的PDA和手持设备都很难上手。” 库苏玛诺指出:“而iPhone非常简洁,非常好用。它的易用性是之前的所有设备都无法比拟的。”

竞争对手一开始并不认为iPhone是个严重的威胁。时任微软CEO的史蒂夫·鲍默甚至还无情嘲笑过iPhone,黑莓的高管也曾经嘲笑过iPhone没有实体键盘,诺基亚的CEO康培凯还说iPhone只不过是个“小众”产品。不过最终,苹果一无反顾地专注于易用性的做法还是笑到了最后。

库苏玛诺表示,乔布斯的优势也相应地带来了一个弱点——iPhone近年来的发展历程证明了一个硬道理,那就是任何伟大的设计都会被山寨。虽然苹果有数不清的专利和商业秘密,却依旧无法阻止三星等厂商凭借几乎与iPhone完全相同的产品,抢占了比iPhone大得多的市场份额。

库苏玛诺表示:“一款出类拔萃的产品是无法长时间鹤立鸡群的。它有可能变成一个平台,但它还是会被剽窃。”

为了保持利润水平,苹果决定不提供廉价机型,也没有将平台软件授权给其他厂商,因此在市场上留下了让跟风者趁虚而入的空间。

即便如此,苹果依旧保持了巨额的利润。最近一个财年,苹果的利润达到了460亿美元。而且很多分析师也认为,2017年苹果即将推出的新一代iPhone也将是一款畅销产品。

“iPhone并不像微软Windows一样拥有长达30年的增长周期,但它的增长周期也是相当抢眼的,而且它还尚未结束。” 库苏玛诺说道。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

Blame those leaks and rumors, but Apple events aren't quite what they used to be. New products were once shrouded in secrecy. And when the time came for the big reveal, Steve Jobs knew how to impress time after time, delighting the audience with that now-famous one-liner, "one more thing..." and the latest lust-worthy device or service. Here's a look at every announcement Jobs surprised us with from 1998 on. Photo: Jerome Brunet/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Steve Jobs' famous iPhone introduction—10 years ago today—kicked off one of the most successful business runs in history, lifting Apple to its current position as the most valuable public company in the world.

Few aspects of the iPhone's design, or Jobs' subsequent strategies to ensure its continued popularity, followed the conventional wisdom of the day. At the time, Nokia dominated the mobile phone market with slick-looking handsets. As the market was just hitting 1 billion units in sales a year, Jobs said Apple was aiming to grab 1%, or just 10 million phones. The product beat that target in its second year and reached a peak of 231 million phones by 2015. Last year, the momentum finally crested, but the iPhone remains an incredible profit-generating machine.

And that's made it perhaps the most scrutinized product case study in recent business history.

"Too often, only modest advances are overhyped as 'world-changing' and 'revolutionary,' but I believe those phrases understate the impact of the iPhone," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure told Fortune. "Steve Jobs and Apple didn't just create a product and then market its features. They sparked a true technological revolution because they've always had a laser focus on providing billions of people a better way to do the things they do every day."

To Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie, Apple has been able to flourish for so long because it never considered the iPhone in isolation as the thing it was selling. Instead, Apple saw the iPhone as a general computing system that could offer a bevy of software apps, quickly opening the system to outside developers as well. Beyond apps, the phone was also a new vehicle to sell media and online services, not to mention lucrative accessories.

"The most important lesson of the iPhone's success is that it was never just a product," Yoffie said. "Apple built a platform and entire ecosystem around the iPhone, which enabled it to withstand the powerful forces of commoditization which struck every other firm in the industry worldwide."

Other hardware vendors have tried to take the platform lesson to heart, but not every product can become the center of its own ecosystem. The recent struggles of Fitbit and GoPro demonstrate some of the challenges.

And Apple's success wasn't guaranteed from the moment Jobs revealed the iPhone, either, Yoffie points out. Apple made some early mistakes, and Jobs had to be flexible. Initially, there was no app store or third-party software, the phone was priced at $600 ignoring the subsidy system prevalent at the time and it lacked high-speed 3G connectivity, Yoffie noted. Some flaws were by design, others caused by technological limitations. Apple had to move quickly.

"Apple, at least in the early days, was flexible and nimble in adjusting the iPhone strategy, after a slow start," Yoffie said. "In other words, unlike many companies when things go wrong, it didn't get stuck."

Throughout, Apple kept its focus on the users, another key lesson according to Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of management. Companies need to focus on the way users will interact with their products as much as the technology inside, he said, crediting Steve Jobs for recognizing that "the user experience is king."

Unlike Microsoft founder Bill Gates or Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs was not a hardcore geek. He cared less about the iPhone's technical specs and more about creating the easiest-to-use phone ever made.

"All the earlier PDAs and handhelds like the Palm Pilot or the BlackBerry or Microsoft's phones were hard to use," Cusumano said. "The iPhone was so elegant, so simple to use. The ease of use of the iPhone really made it stand out from everything else that had existed before that."

Competitors didn't take the iPhone seriously at first. Then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at Apple's first effort. BlackBerry executives derided its lack of a physical keyboard. And Nokia’s chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo took to calling it a "niche" product. Ultimately, though, the Apple's relentless focus on ease of use won out.

But Jobs' strength has also proven to be a weakness in one way, because the more recent lesson of the iPhone is that any great design will be copied, Cusumano said. Despite Apple's numerous patents and trade secrets, the company was unable to prevent to Samsung and others from collectively far surpassing the iPhone's market share with almost identical products.

"A stand-alone product cannot stand alone very long," Cusumano said. "It may become a platform, but it will still be copied."

Apple decided to maintain its profit margins and has not expanded by offering cheap models or licensing its software to others, leaving ample space in the market for the copycats to dominate.

Still, Apple continues to garner huge profits–$46 billion in its most recent fiscal year–and many analysts think the 2017 iPhone upgrade will be the best seller yet.

"It’s not a 30-year run like Microsoft Windows has had but it’s a pretty good run," Cusumano said. "And it’s not over yet."


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