Apple had some of its worst press but some of its best results ever — why the disconnect?
Tim Cook, from Apple's Q1 2017 conference call, on Apple Watch:
Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch in the world, and also the most-loved, with the highest customer satisfaction in its category by a wide margin.
On iPad Pro:
The customer sat numbers are through the roof; literally, the customer sat for the iPad Pro is 99%. It's stunning.
Rounding up Apple's current product lineup and their relative customer satisfaction ratings:
Customer satisfaction (US):— Horace Dediu (@asymco) February 1, 2017
iPhone 7+: 99%
Corp. iPhone: 94%
iPad mini: 94%
iPad Air: 97%
iPad Pro: 96%
Corp. iPad: 96%
It makes for an interesting contrast to how these products are often portrayed in the tech community.
Based on the intensity and proportion of iPhone 7 coverage devoted to its lack of a headphone jack, lack of new design, etc., a casual observer might reasonably expect the product to have been DOA. Instead it not only had a record quarter but record levels of customer satisfaction.
Highest-ever iPhone sales. Reminder: technologist complaints about Apple products are generally a good counter-indicator for consumer demand— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) January 31, 2017
For a while you couldn't turn around without tripping over a hot take on wearables in general and Apple Watch in particular were a failed category and failed product. Yet, Apple Watch also had a record quarter and is also getting record levels of customer satisfaction.
Apple Watch had its best ever quarter. Really big ongoing disconnect between tech and normal user expectations & satisfaction.— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) January 31, 2017
How does this keep happening? I have a theory: I think it comes down to us forgetting that we're not mainstream consumers and not every product has to fit our non-mainstream consumer needs. In other words, we spend too much time reviewing for us and not enough time reviewing for everyone else.
Not only do we have different needs, we have different wants, and we forget to keep that in perspective. We have such a constant stream of new products racing past us every day that we become velocitized. It makes the sensible seem boring, the impractical seem novel, and it's drained almost every bit of meaning from how we use terms like "innovation". And it looks like we lack anything approaching self awareness about it.
That's not the really worrisome part, though. The really worrisome part is that, based on Apple's sales and satisfaction numbers, consumers are perfectly aware of all this — and they've learned to ignore us.
Sure, they'll click on our bait, but they won't respect us in the morning.
The opportunity here is to up our game. To dig deeper and go broader. To not focus so tightly on the headphone jack we lose sight of the camera, and on the wearables market we pay no attention to the Watch.
In other words, to tell the story of a product in a way that's more meaningful and respectful to the people considering whether or not to buy it.