Tag Archives: Apple

Apple, Disney and KISS?

There are very few businesses that are able to pull it off, the delivery of a product or service so perfect, so seamless, that their brand becomes a gold standard.  Personally, my all-time benchmark is Disney.  Over the past 5 years, I have added Apple to that mix. Now I have to add KISS.  Yes, that KISS, as in the old dudes with make-up, big hair and platform shoes.

Call it a “benefit” of having been a Florida resident, we have visited all the attractions:  Universal Studios, Sea World, NASA, Busch Gardens, all the smaller roadside parks and sights, and of course the Disney properties.  There is no comparison, Disney has it figured out.  They are the gold standard in amusement parks, hotels, and just the entire entertainment and vacation experience.  Consider the Disney staff, their physical parks and resorts, the unmatched customer service as well as their ability to make you want to spend money – Disney is amazing.  The absolute tops in their business.  No one is even close.

Then there is Apple, the epitome of hip, premium priced products.  iTunes, iPods, Mac’s, iPhones and iPads.  Apple is everywhere, with products that just flat-out work.  Not only do they work, they work well, right out of the box.  They work with each other.  Above all, they are simple, intuitive and reliable.  Oh, and from a customer service experience, go to an Apple Store – the place is jammed and yet somehow you are taken care of quickly, efficiently, and seamlessly.  Or you can schedule an appointment:  no lines, no registers, no hassle.

So really, what possibly could a bunch of over 60, make-up encrusted, leather clad, platform shoe wearing rock and rollers have to do with anything?  A buddy gave me tickets to see Mötley Crüe and KISS a few weeks ago as a birthday gift.  It was a tongue in cheek, won’t it be funny to see hair bands sort of thing.  What it ended up being was an amazing education in business and entertainment:  KISS has it figured out.    The sound was flawless, the show was the most well-choreographed display of stage presence, pyrotechnics, theater, effects and lighting imaginable.  The marketing, merchandising and multi-generational reach of the band unlike anything I have ever seen.  There were over 15,000 people there!  In short KISS, much like Disney and Apple, makes you want to spend money.  They are a brand that generates loyalty…for over 40 years!  I was stunned.

Jimmy Buffett, the man I previously thought was the best marketer and money-maker in music, said it best:  “Don’t try to describe a KISS concert if you’ve never seen it”.  That line is from his song Mañana, from 1978’s  Son of a Son of a Sailor album.  Jimmy knew a brilliant business model when he saw it.  Speaking of businesses, if you want to visit the Margaritaville in Orlando, you have to go to Universal Studios.  Guess Disney cannot have it all…yet.

And yes, both KISS and Jimmy Buffett are available on iTunes.

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Steve Jobs – One Last Gift?

There are two stories competing for top billing over the last 24 hours – the passing of Steve Jobs and the Occupy Wall Street movement and all of its related protests. Ironic, on one hand people mourn the loss of a billionaire captain of industry, yet on the other they vilify the very system that created the one they mourn.  One has to realize and accept that Steve Jobs was enabled and grew from the system; the very system they claim to despise.

Steve Jobs was wealthy.  He was rich – he made a ton of money – billions.  The system afforded him the opportunity to create, to improve upon, to develop and market great products.  Let’s be honest, Apple has always been a premium priced product – always.  He ran a company that minimized costs and maximized revenues.  It did great things for its employees, its shareholders and stakeholders, but he ran it always with an eye on the bottom line, and I would imagine extreme sensitivity to taxation.  He did exactly what any good CEO is supposed to do – he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts.

Steve Jobs the man is praised for what he created.  How he did it is often overlooked.  He was widely known to have a rather “interesting” leadership style. Above all else, he was a business man.  Clearly there are issues in our world that need addressed – in business, in politics, on Wall Street and even on Main Street.  However, declaring large companies, executives, banks, “the rich” and “the system” to be evil and fundamentally flawed is missing the real lesson of Steve Jobs.

It is the system that allowed an adopted son of a squarely middle class family to quite literally change the world.  Steve Jobs gave us many gifts, or rather he afforded us the opportunity to buy things he and his company created.  His is an example that we need to remember now more than ever.  Hard work, vision, passion, committment and reward.  Make no mistake, Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur.  He saw opportunities and he took them.  He took massive risk, multiple times actually, and reaped massive rewards.  He created jobs and wealth – a lot of both.  He did all of this on some level for the greater good, but he also did it for money.   He was not so different from the majority of those in business; those who are being vilified.

Yes, Steve Jobs was one amazing visionary – he did change the world.  We are all better because of him.  Steve Jobs was exceptional, but he was not the exception.  He was another business man who thrived in the system.

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