Business lessons from Apple. Patience & Perseverance.

We’re all told that patience and perseverance play an important role in our life. Well, they do in business too. Today, I’d like to talk quickly about how Apple, a company with unlimited resources, still relies on patience and grit to bring their products and services to life.

Apple Watch

Apple introduced the first Apple Watch in April 2015. At launch, the product faced plenty of skepticisms over its value propositions, as well as criticisms regarding various features. Although Apple did deserve some of those negative sentiments, the company continued to work hard on all aspects of Apple Watch over the last eight years and ultimately transformed it. The battery life is at least 24 hours on one charge now. The software is significantly better. The interface looks bigger. More importantly, they pivoted Apple Watch to focus on consumer health and safety. Positioning the Watch as a health monitoring gadget unlocked two important benefits to Apple. First, the target population includes not only young tech-savvy consumers, but also health-conscious elderly citizens. Per WSJ:

Wearable devices for tracking health and fitness are the hottest technology among older adults, according to leaders at several aging-tech organizations and companies. The AARP says 28% of older Americans own a wearable and 77% of those people use it daily.

Trish Macvaugh, a 76-year-old Willow Valley resident, began swimming competitively three years ago. She uses her Apple Watch Series 6 to log her heart rate and more particular stats, too. There’s her “swolf” score, the number of strokes taken plus the time it takes to swim a certain length, and her “VO2 max,” the maximum amount of oxygen she takes in during intense exercise.

For tech advice, she turns to fellow resident Susan Culbertson, a 76-year-old retired computer-software trainer. Last fall, Ms. Culbertson created classes at Willow Valley to teach others how to use Apple products. The classes have gotten so popular, they’ve occasionally run out of seats for people in the conference room where they take place.

Second, the pivot elevated Apple Watch to a whole new level that folks no longer consider it a simple device that sends notifications. Think about it this way: No other product on the market has the positioning that Apple Watch has – a high-end timepiece that also provides excellent health monitoring services and comes with an ecosystem. That little market niche is enough to generate billions of dollars in annual revenue for the company.

While Apple Watch is undoubtedly a resounding success, Apple did NOT strike gold at its first try. It took years and a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get there. Even for the most valuable company in the US with unfathomable resources at its disposal.

Apple Maps

Would you believe it if I told you this was Apple Maps in 2012?

Source: The Verge

The embarrassing episode was so disastrous that Apple had to issue a rare public apology. Back then, a lot of people cast serious doubt over the outlook of Apple Maps and whether it could be a competitive alternative to Google Maps. Frankly, after such a horrible display by Apple despite having limitless resources, I don’t blame the critics. I’d have the same reservation.

Nonetheless, Apple Maps today is a vastly improved version compared to its predecessor. The service is so good now that the website Tom’s Guide found it to be superior to Google Maps in Interface, Map Design and especially privacy while being competitive in other aspects. I have been using exclusively Apple Maps since 2019 and had no trouble with it. While my wife and I were in Washington DC last month, we used Apple Maps to navigate and use the public transportation without any hiccup.

Apple Maps has a long way to go before catching up with Google Maps. And I doubt that it ever will. Simply because Apple doesn’t collect data like Google does and Apple Maps is only available on iOS devices. With that being said, being where Apple Maps is now can be considered a success. A success that overcame a nasty public embarrassment and took years to arrive.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay came to the market in 2014, even though work on the service started about a year before that. Nine years later, here is where Apple Pay stands:

  • It makes up 6% of in-store purchases
  • A lot of merchants select Apple Pay as a checkout option due to its seamless experience, fraud protection and popularity.
  • It’s available in 76 countries all over the world

iOS devices are present in almost every country in the world, but Apple Pay is only in about one-thirds of the world. Even that already makes the service arguably the most popular digital wallet out there. Such a success, though, didn’t come over night. There are regulations involved in this type of payment services. There are technical issues that must be solved. Plus, you can’t convince merchants to put Apple Pay on the checkout if it isn’t used by consumers. And consumers won’t develop a habit of using it unless it’s on a lot of merchants’ checkout. Success looks easy, but the work behind it takes more than just a household brand name and ads.

If a company like Apple still needs to grind for success, I don’t see how it should be different for smaller businesses or individuals like us.

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