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Iphone Patents The Courts Apple

Apple Comes Clean, Admits To Doing Market Research 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the users-sometimes-do-know-what-they-want dept.
colinneagle writes "In an interview with Fortune a few years ago, Steve Jobs explained that Apple never does market research. Rather, they simply preoccupy themselves with creating great products. On Monday, Apple's Greg Joswiak — the company's VP of Product Marketing — submitted a declaration to the Court explaining why documents relating to Apple's market research and strategy should be sealed. Every month, Apple surveys iPhone buyers and Joswiak explains what Apple is able to glean from these surveys. And as you might expect, Apple conducts similar surveys with iPad buyers. Apple wants all of these tracking studies sealed. Joswiak explains that if a competitor were to find out what drives iPhone purchases — whether it be FaceTime, battery life, or Siri — it would serve as an unfair competitive edge to rival companies. Further, competitors, as it stands today, have to guess as to which demographics are most satisfied with Apple products." A few other interesting facts have come out of the trial so far; Apple spent $647 million advertising the iPhone in the U.S. from its launch through fiscal 2011, and they spent $457.2 million advertising the iPad from its launch up to the same point.
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Apple Comes Clean, Admits To Doing Market Research

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:42AM (#40877791)

    Obviously, since he died, this new generation of Apple leaders have lost their way. They need to turn back to Steve before it's too late and realize that only through him can they find the correct path. And that path is not through market research, it's through listening to Steve's own words and letting them into your heart.

    • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:52AM (#40877859)
      How long before baptisms and communion services are offered at the Genius Bar?
    • by jkrise (535370)

      listening to Steve's own words and letting them into your heart

      Yeah, the idiotic bit about going thermo-nuclear against Android for copying a rounded rectangle.

  • Hint: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:48AM (#40877831) Homepage Journal

    >> Joswiak explains that if a competitor were to find out what drives iPhone purchases â" whether it be FaceTime, battery life, or Siri â" it would serve as an unfair competitive edge

    Hint: It's that patented rectangular shape.

    • by Alumoi (1321661)
      Hint: well built gadget aimed at metrosexuals
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      It certainly isn't any of the things he mentioned. Most high end phones have a front facing camera and video chat functionality. Battery life on iPads with retina screens is actually pretty poor and the iPhone battery life is fairly average. Google had Voice for years and several other manufacturers have their own versions of Siri now which seem to be just as good (or bad, depending on your opinion of Siri).

  • Yeah, right. Marketting research tells you who wants to buy your stuff. If they haddn't bothered with it, Apple would have died back when they finished burning their original funding on beer, weed, and pizza in Steve's garage.
    • Marketting research tells you who wants to buy your stuff.

      Not entirely. More importantly, market research also tells you what people who are not buying your products want or need. Getting feedback from people who do not choose your products can be more important than feedback from your customers.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Very true. Once someone has your product you want to retain them as a customer, in the phone market this means coming up with something worth having every couple of years so they upgrade, or at least keeping in step with the competition. It can also mean trying to lock them to your platform by making migration hard (for example if you couldn't get your phone contacts from your iphone to a droid).

        The people you are interested in are the ones who would only buy your product if it had ______________. Then y

      • by icebike (68054) *

        Marketting research tells you who wants to buy your stuff.

        Not entirely. More importantly, market research also tells you what people who are not buying your products want or need. Getting feedback from people who do not choose your products can be more important than feedback from your customers.

        But Apple didn't do that, they only ate their own dog food.

        Every month, Apple surveys iPhone buyers and Joswiak explains what Apple is able to glean from these surveys. And as you might expect, Apple conducts similar surveys with iPad buyers.

        So what they learned only helps them attract that same customer again and again, which is precisely why most apple fanboys dump their perfectly good current model and rush out an replace it with the next model the instant it comes out, even if they have to pay an Early Termination Fee to do so.

        Far from attracting the majority of new customers, Apple is mostly eating its young, singing to its own choir, reselling to the same crowd.

        The research plan i

  • by MrKaos (858439)
    iMarket, therefore iAm
  • by wzinc (612701) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:14PM (#40877999)
    Obviously, Steve meant market research for future products. The article describes a survey of existing customers, and I've gotten them before. While this plays a part in product development, they don't use focus groups. It's one of those things where, if Apple asked outside people (not customers), "what do you want in a phone," they'd end-up with a terrible product. Instead, they make the phone they, themselves want to use. As they've stated in their conference calls, they only enter markets where they think they can improve things. One example is student information systems. They sold PowerSchool to Pierson, exiting that market because they felt they couldn't do a killer product there. It's so obvious how they work; the only mystery is what future products will be. They keep those under wraps because, if they decide to scrap it or change it dramatically, there won't be a Microsoft-CES-announcement-style embarrassment. As the Samsung court documents show, they have hundreds of iterations of products that never see the light of day.
    • Steve meant market research for future products.

      Are you his spokesperson? How do you know what he meant?

      • by wzinc (612701) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:35PM (#40878495)
        Nope, I listen to the quarterly conference calls.
      • by Chuckstar (799005) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:23PM (#40879339)

        Steve had made similar comments in other forums. He seemed to be a big believer that people don't know what they want until you show it to them. If you did a market survey before the iPad came out, and asked people what they wanted in a tablet computer, very few would have articulated something that looked/operated similar to an iPad. Even after it was announced many people scoffed. But it's been a huge success.

        While he sometimes said things that were not entirely clear, Steve's philosophy never seemed to be "don't ask the customer what they like or don't like about existing products". Especially knowing what they don't like is important. That's where the opportunities are. The trick is, in Steve's mind, that the customer is not the appropriate person to ask HOW to fix it. The great designers at Apple will come up with a fix. And if they do the job right, it will be something the customer would never have thought of, but will love.

      • Are you his spokesperson? How do you know what he meant?

        By having the sense to look up what he actually said, instead of relying on media soundbites. Here's what he told Business Week in 1988 [businessweek.com]:

        Q: Did you do consumer research on the iMac when you were developing it?
        A: No. We have a lot of customers, and we have a lot of research into our installed base. We also watch industry trends pretty carefully. But in the end, for something this complicated, it's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of

    • Instead, they make the phone they, themselves want to use.

      What Steve himself wanted to use.

      FTFY

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      yes so they asked your opinion about your current product to NOT use that information for future products

      ok thanks for that, sure you had a tear in your eye when you wrote it

      • by wzinc (612701)
        Fortunately for me, I said this, "While this plays a part in product development, they don't use focus groups."
  • Wow, the formerly squeaky clean image of Apple seems to be crumbling away before our very eyes.
  • Here's the secret (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:33PM (#40878095) Journal

    And it's as anticlimactic as the cough syrup in Flaming Moes... they buy it because it has an Apple logo on it. The logo itself is a status symbol.

    -uso.

    • by surgen (1145449) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:56PM (#40878207)

      The logo itself is a status symbol.

      I used to think this was just an insult to apple buyers. Then the iPhone 4s came out. I'll never forget the first words that came out of my apple buying friend's mouth after seeing the design. "How will anyone be able to tell I have the new one?"

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Teckla (630646)

        The logo itself is a status symbol.

        I used to think this was just an insult to apple buyers. Then the iPhone 4s came out. I'll never forget the first words that came out of my apple buying friend's mouth after seeing the design. "How will anyone be able to tell I have the new one?"

        An anecdote changed your mind? And for this you get +5 Insightful?

        Pathetic.

      • by vakuona (788200)

        The logo itself is a status symbol.

        I used to think this was just an insult to apple buyers. Then the iPhone 4s came out. I'll never forget the first words that came out of my apple buying friend's mouth after seeing the design. "How will anyone be able to tell I have the new one?"

        I like how people spin the fact that Apple doesn't change the design of its iPhone for 2 years as somehow showing that Apple fanatics care about showing that they have the latest and greatest. Apple evolves their designs slowly. Most times, you cannot tell, at a casual glance, that someone is using the latest, unless they have recently come up with a brand new design.

        So your anecdote reveals more about your friend than it does about the Apple buying public.

  • Joswiak? Sounds like Jobs + Wozniak.
  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @12:39PM (#40878117)

    Using it as Apple is saying here, to survey users, is one thing. It helps gather info on actual uses, usage patterns, customer feedback.

    Using it to design a product or to test a product design, is quite another, especially if, like often, it ends up justifying half-baked committee-think. Apple forte has been Steve Job's "I'm the customer, please me" stance, which is far superior to the "Make none of us dislike it too much" design-by committee version. It requires strong leadership. Apple had that, and storng value too: sexiness and easse of use.

    As an Android user, I wish, I wish Google did more user surveys. There are a handful of very easy changes that would make Android rock, observably so, including in the shop right next to an iPad.

    • by dbcad7 (771464)
      So.. your saying that there were no responses that might have said things like.. "why do my friends with Android have a larger screen ?" .. or "Android users have this notification thingy, are you going to make something similar ?" .. and that nothing the customer says, has any bearing whatsoever on their future designs ?
      • I do hope Apple use their customers' feedback.

        I was trying to contrast real feedback from real users of a real product to theoretical feedback from fake users of a fake product. I might have been to subtle about it.

  • Isn't this whole case about the fact Samsung has figured it out already?
  • Any company can poll people to find out what they think of Apple products. It's not like Apple is the only company capable of finding Apple customers - call 100 people at random, and 30 of them will be Apple customers.
  • by Osgeld (1900440)

    Steve Jobs was full of shit? Next you will be telling us that he was an arrogant asshat too!

    for shame...

  • False dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harperska (1376103) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:20PM (#40878401)

    I think that the summary misses a major point. Sure there was a bit of hyperbole when Steve said that Apple never did market research. But every word that came out of that man's mouth was hyperbole. What I think Steve's point was is that Apple doesn't base their product categories on market research. They just use market research for refining products once the categories are established. They didn't base the idea to have an all-touchscreen smartphone, a high capacity hard-drive based mp3 player, or a GUI centric PC on market research. If they did, they would have found out that people were perfectly happy with their blackberry and symbian keyboard smartphones, their low capacity flash mp3 players, and their DOS based IBM PCs.

    • Re:False dichotomy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:02PM (#40878713)

      Apple is remarkable good at retroactively inventing things. Like hard-drive based mp3 players, the idea for which was stolen from them e.g. in 1998 by Compaq (4.8 GB), in 2000 by Creative (Nomad, 6 GB) and in the same year by Archos (6 GB). Then Apple re-invented the entire market by bringing out a player with ... 5 GB in 2001. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_media_player [wikipedia.org]

      It's understandable that so many people believe Apple came up with the idea, considering the advertising budget. Many probably didn't even realize that mp3 players existed before Apple told them about it.

      • There's a great picture along those lines: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2124177/internet-memes-he-was-the-first.jpg [dropbox.com].

        For those that don't wish to look at it it has Bill Gates introducing the tablet PC in 2002 and says "no one cares", in 2010 Apple introduces the iPad and "the world pisses itself like and excited dog." In 2012 MS rolls out the surface and "People claim they stole the idea from Apple." The final frame is a picture of Patrick Stewart in ST:TNG holding a PADD with the caption "Bitches, please."

        Apple

        • IIRC, the original iPod was pretty fugly. But it did two things that none of the MP3 players had even thought of. 1) the touch wheel - this was a huge interface improvement over the the other guys where the state of the art was, "hold the button down for accelerating repeat button presses."

          2) The touch wheel - Instead of dozens of buttons that are really too small to be machined correctly at the necessary price points, they got the number of buttons down to something like 1 DPad rocker/touchpad, 1 button,

        • by jbolden (176878)

          There is a lot of truth to that (and I say that as someone whose been a solid Apple guy since 10.1).

          High quality men's clothing stores are about:
          a) excellent service all the way through the process and included aftercare.
          b) clothes that look better especially after first wash
          c) better than average durability
          d) high price, not for what you get but compared to the low end alternatives

      • by Chuckstar (799005)

        The poster above may think that Apple came up with the hard-drive based mp3 player, but I do not think it is a widely adopted meme. Most people I know accept that the iPod was just a really well-designed and implemented mp3 player. Much like everyone I know understands that Apple didn't invent the smartphone. In fact, almost everyone I know had a Blackberry at some time before the iPhone came out, or was at least familiar with what a Blackberry was before the iPhone came out. But the iPhone kicks ass ov

      • I think it is well established and not denied by even the most rabid iFanboy that Apple doesn't doesn't come up with product concepts out of the blue. Yes, HD based mp3 players existed before the iPod. The GUI was invented by Xerox. And tablet computers existed for years before the iPad. But for some reason, none of these products sold at all statistically speaking. And I think it annoys the alpha nerds that Apple has time and time again been able to take these nascent technologies and somehow reinvent them

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        That's the hallmark of innovation. Refining other peoples' products, but getting your fan base to claim you actually invented it.

        These days, I think "fan base" and "mass media" are interchangeable.

  • That's pretty rediculous, $1.1 billion advertising two new products?! I always knew Apple was a marketing company but damn.

    This could simply be because I haven't seen regular ad numbers before though. Does anyone know what competing products have spent on advertising? That kind of information would help make more sense of their numbers.

    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      That's pretty rediculous, $1.1 billion advertising two new products?!

      ...
      Does anyone know what competing products have spent on advertising? That kind of information would help make more sense of their numbers.

      Remember the original scifi-ish Verizon Droid campaign? [adage.com]

      From that link:

      The integrated campaign encompasses TV, out-of-home, digital, in-store displays and merchandising. New online interactive work breaking today includes a takeover on Verizon's homepage and a dedicated microsite, Droiddoes.com"

      $100 in 2009 money: "the largest in Verizon history" back in November 2009. Compare to Apple and ..."wow" INDEED. Another tidbit:

      The target market is the tech-savvy, early adopter young male in his 20s or 30s who cares more about functionality and productivity, and tends to eschew certain lifestyle brands that attract herds of followers.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Let me just give you some examples:

      -- "The internet in your pocket."
      -- "The most advanced mobile OS. Now even more advanced."
      -- "This changes everything. Again."
      -- "There's an app for that. That's the iPhone. Solving life's dilemma one app at a time."
      -- "If you don't have an iPhone, well, you don't have an iPhone." .

      From the iphone. I could hit you with slogans from almost 30 years ago like:

      "It takes minutes of practice to make Macintosh do this."
      "-the computer for the rest of us."

      and if you are old enough

  • "coming clean" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jaktar (975138)

    How does Apple presenting an argument in a court case amount to "coming clean"? If they didn't make the arguments for keeping these sealed their oh-so-amazing case studies would be out.

    That's not coming clean. That's standard legal babble.

  • by kiddygrinder (605598) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:11PM (#40880737)
    If they don't want to reveal stuff in court, maybe they should stop suing everyone
  • Steve Jobs never said Apple doesn't do at least some market research. What he said was the products don't stem from market research and boardroom decisions. I believe Apple's marketing is targeted at how to sell the really cool-yet-secrative things they are making now that none of us know about, as opposed to market research that dictates what they should make next.

  • 1. Aspiration.
    Some people aspire to being considered part of certain groups and feel that the caché of carrying such devices will help this.

    2. Fashion
    When all the "right people" seem to have iShiny devices, they will be copied. Similarly to 1.

    3. Rumour
    There are rumours that insist that iDevices are more reliable, easier to use, even better value for your money.

    4. Price
    Some people genuinely believe that paying more for something makes it better than something that costs less, even if there are n

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