“Several times a year, I have meetings with major PC manufacturers about their upcoming product lines, and the tenor is always the same: “Our customers told us this is what they want, and our market research says this is what people are buying, so we made this great product to address that market!” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but you’ll never set any trends that way. If you want to make the product that everyone else compares their product to, you have to go outside the envelope. You have to take a risk to build something nobody has told you they want, because they don’t know they want it yet, and then you have to invest in it and stick with it until you get it right. The real irony here is that their marketing departments are constantly striving to find differentiators: ways to set their products apart from the pack. If every company is building products to address the same set of market research data, you’re not going to get differentiated products.”
Exactly! This article is a must read, and specially a must read by every guy that works in a Marketing Department somewhere.
I don’t agree with everything though. I think that many times Apple should listen a bit more to its customers. Yes we get it, you are the leader/visionary but we are the ones that shell out the bucks for your products. If ten thousand people complain about the glossy screens and request for a matte option, couldn’t you simply indulge us?
And the same goes for the poor deceased white macbook, which i sorely miss. Because now, when someone asks me why or what macbook should they get, i can’t simply recommend the white one that was good enough and cheap enough for most. And when most of your competitors sell cheap laptops (which i grant that aren’t that good but my interlocutor doesn’t know that) for 600-800€ that appear to kick ass in specs, is really hard to convince or recommend the a computer that starts in the 1000€ and always going up…
And this without even going in the thousand paper-cuts or annoyances in Mac OS. It is not that Apple hasn’t been warned or requested, it’s just that they refuse to listen.
But, back to the original point, Marketing Departments should understand that their point is not to undermine every bold move other engineering departments do and neuter them to mediocrity, but help to fine-tune and adjust those bold moves. At least that was what i learned in Business school. Maybe they were wrong? Because in practice i really don’t see that much computer companies doing it.