- 01/01/09 - Customer Needs and the iTouch
Customer Needs and the iTouch
When marketing a new product or service it is always important to consider what the needs which are being met are. If these are well designed it is easier to define the specific market segment and to refine the product for a perfect fit. It sounds easy and actually is when this process is done thoroughly. I always recommend clients do this and help them with some techniques thinking about explicit, latent (not yet satisfied) or incipient (not yet known). Yet there are some interesting products which do not perfectly fit the mould.
As it turned out the biggest must-have product for Christmas 2008 turned out to be the iPod Touch. Now the question is what need does it serve? A student project presented to me by my second year group at the University of Bath indicated the three uses for the iTouch - entertainment, communication and information. Apple initially appeared to have made the iTouch only to offer an enhanced iPod with direct communication via WiFi to the iTunes store and a better experience for watching videos. It borrowed on the technology, design and positive comments of the iPhone.
Changing the way we do things
But technical products have a habit of changing the way we do things. Think of Professor Neil Postman when he said: "If you add technology to a system, you don't get the old system plus technology; you get a new system." Apple is in the lead in this regard as they produce products which change the way we do things in particular through the way they combine with other products and services. Remember back in the 1980s when the Apple IIe linked up with VisiCalc to change the world of computers? More recently the iPod had its real success via its linkage with iTunes.
For the iTouch the introduction of "Applications" has been the unexpected success. Many of these applications help improve the fun and experience of the core target users but they also transform the value of the iTouch for quite different types of users with different priorities in the three areas of entertainment, communication and information. PA Consulting gives them to all their senior managers to download pod casts and videos. Students on campus (where WiFi is normally completely available - certainly in Bath) use them for email and course pod casts as well as music.
The applications are intensely useful for information, with Bloomberg, BBCreader, NY Times, Currency, News UK Lite and Stocks excellent for business people to keep in touch. All these applications are free. This implies a huge change in the way we do such things as get our news, communicate, and watch video as well as how we work and study. Suddenly the iTouch is solving incipient needs that neither Apple nor their loyal customers dreamed of, and in doing so is changing the way we do things. To do it once with iTunes is clever but to do it again with Applications is quite amazing.