Thanks Apple. You’ve Ruined Everything For Me!

Phil Durand

Phil Durand

Author Bio

Director, Customer Experience Management

Author Bio

Now I know it’s all de rigueur in certain circles to bash Apple for any number of reasons, but please be assured this is not one of those moments. So if you’ve come online today to hear someone laying into Apple for all its many, many crimes against whatever it is you care about - best look elsewhere. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Regardless of what you think about Apple, one of the things they’re often praised for is keeping things simple and easy to use. You may not agree with this - but I do. So there. And that’s the only thing I’m going to talk about today.

I recently bumped into Mrs D on the train home - which is a rarity, as she is normally home-based. So it was nice to chat and catch up. Of course, the catch up inevitably turned into the creation of a list of things we needed to do. Some of this was directed towards me. Namely, our daughter needed to provide a short news item for school.

‘Hello’, thought I, ‘I can put a couple of pictures into a little newsletter for her.’ Yes, that’ll do nicely. So, in a very unlike me “carpe diem” sort of way, out came the phone from my pocket, I opened up the built-in word processor and within five minutes I had dropped a couple of pictures on a page, surrounded by a few short words for Little Miss D to read out. Save to iCloud. I’ll print that when I get home. Lovely.

‘Sorry, Mrs D. What were you saying?’

And so it was, that this hastily created document was waiting for me when I got home. I made a few tweaks and off to the printer it went. Job done.

There are several things about this that I loved. Firstly, I am a natural procrastinator. Frankly, it’s amazing that I’m even writing this down! The main reason it’s happening at all is because this is one of my work from home days and I can use my MacBook instead of my unloved, non-Apple laptop I’m forced (albeit paid) to spend all day with normally. I know. Don’t roll your eyes like that. But here’s the thing, nice technology that is easy to use makes you want to engage and get things done, EVEN WHEN your natural setting is ‘Maximum Procrastinate’. Apple’s kit helps me do things that I’d avoid like the plague in another setting. I know this might sound like some post-rationalization along the lines of ‘Any excuse to mess around on your phone’, and that may be part of it. But damn it, I’m more productive with this stuff than without it. So on balance, I’m better off.

Secondly, and this is a biggy, it just works. Yes, I can hear yet more sighing and hand-wringing - but just hear me out. My iPhone integrates with my MacBook in a way that my boring work laptop can only dream about. A file created on a mobile device, remotely, was instantly available on the MacBook when I needed it.

To be fair for a moment, I can hear many PC-Apologists yelling at me. “PCs can do this too!” they roar. “You just need to set it up to whatever, whatever, whatever.”  To which, my response is twofold:

  1. Well….maybe. But such simple integration probably does not work right out of the box, with so little fuss. I am happy to be told I’m wrong. But I’ll let you into a little secret – I. Don’t. Care.
  2. Any time I’ve tried to quickly do something even just a little off piste on a PC… it would be easier to gnaw the arm off a whale without drowning! Seriously, there might be an easy way to do some of these things, but you Google it and it looks anything but easy! Let me put it this way, I cannot find a PC that is capable of remembering how I want the photo on my desktop to be presented. So I just don’t believe that they can cope with the whizzy stuff.  

I know this is entirely the sort of smug, self-satisfied attitude that can give Apple fans a poor name. This sense of not caring about any other approach if it doesn’t say Apple on the box. Well, guilty as charged. I’m fine with that.

But here’s the problem from my perspective, Apple (and in truth a small handful of others like them) have ruined all other software in the world for me. The simplicity and ease of their stuff has set an expectation that most simply don’t live up to. As one of my colleagues once said to me, with more truth than he perhaps knew, ‘You’ve spent too long using Apple stuff, Phil.’ And this is true.

But I’m not the only one. And beyond the users, the market is catching up as more and more technology providers come to understand what Apple and that small handful of others have known from the start - the experience is the bit that differentiates, not the technology. Yes, of course the technology and functionality needs to be good too, but if the interface is horrid you may as well not bother.

So as more of our lives move online and into digital environments, the ease of use within these spaces will become the battleground for market share. If you’re not listening to customers and their views on ease of use, you probably should be. If you don’t have someone in your organization thinking about user experiences and interfaces, best get onto it soon.