The future is uncertain. However, companies use forecasting to try to predict or estimate an event or trend. The prediction is a statement about an incident that has not yet taken place. In technology, there have been plenty of prophecies which have not come true. In 1977 the President of Digital Equipment Corp. said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” On the other hand, some futurists were surprisingly accurate.
For example, in 1987, Apple shared the future of computing and called it the “knowledge navigator” which was a touchscreen device with video calling and a built-in personal assistant.
They also estimated the date the new product would come to market as for September 16th, 2011 which is 18 days off from when those features were available in the marketplace. Former Apple CEO John Scully predicted Siri over 30 years ago.
One dominant force in play that helped Apple’s success is the focus on the customer that has both a personal and professional life. Back when the iPhone first came out, most people had a BlackBerry for work, and some had the iPhone for personal use. Apple did a good job staying focused on the adage, “The customer defines value.”
Instead of trying to entirely replace Microsoft Outlook which at the time was used in 81 of the Fortune 100 companies, they knew they had to meet customers where they were at to take the company to the next level. In 2007 when the iPhone came out, Apple secretly licensed Exchange ActiveSync technology from Microsoft so that users could sync email, contacts, and calendars between their phone and work. Then, when Apple eventually gained the desired market share, they were careful to protect their proprietary technology versus enabling cross-platform compatibility.
Another force driving Apple’s success is that their vision was backed by exceptional marketing. Market campaigns focused on “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary” new technology around the user experience. Whether it was always so “groundbreaking” may be a matter of debate, but that is their consistent brand. Apple uses phrases like “superior user experience” to distinguish itself from its competitors. Market research has shown that their marketing campaigns have resonated with their customers.
Apple’s history is worth studying, especially given that its stock up more than 30 pct in 2018 making it the first publically traded company in the United States to hit a market value over $1 trillion.
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