• Learned

Apple’s Better, Special, Different

Watching the Apple keynote this week – and reading this – all highlighted the importance of starting with the product to drive differentiation. Everything Apple does is about difference – not just to others in the market but to what preceded it.

Prices then go up over time and are a result of innovation.

As Tim Cook said in his interview with BusinessWeek:

“We never had an objective to sell a low-cost phone,” says Cook. “Our primary objective is to sell a great phone and provide a great experience, and we figured out a way to do it at a lower cost.”

And critically, the product and pricing are optimised for a specific market – where the Apple ecosystem is most vital – America. As Ben demonstrates well:

The Apple ecosystem is of most value in the American markets first, the European markets next, and the Asian-style markets last … therefore, it’s very rational for Apple to optimise its pricing for the American-style markets, and the most logical price is $550/$99.

What Ben is getting at in all of this is a set of marketing fundamentals I see most marketers, miss:

  1. Price to product differentiation – not just relative to market but also prior product instantiations. Don’t price solely to category entry point or pricing dynamics.
  2. Pricing must exist in the context of broader market dynamics in most cases, but not all. There is little logic to the iPhone Pro pricing relative to other competing products. It is priced on its merits as a “luxury” device. Pro is always the misnomer in tech – it’s code for luxury.
  3. Pricing substitution isn’t necessary – each Apple product is priced relative to the market and its brand effect. iPhones don’t sell for less than they are worth in the hope you will buy iPods and other services. There is no “hope” in Apple’s strategy.

Start with: product (innovation & differentiation), position, price. Not with price, the product, then position.

Effectively Apple’s brand power is the point of leverage and “strategy” insurance. The massive investment in the Apple brand creates the halo that protects pricing power and ensures demand. But without effective product innovation, priced and packaged to the core target market, the brand wouldn’t make the difference up.

Stratechery is a great read and well worth paying for.

  • Inspired

Reads & Feeds | Sep 5

Great minds don’t think alike – they challenge each other to think again. The clearest sign of intellectual chemistry isn’t agreeing with someone. It’s enjoying your disagreements with them. Harmony is a pleasing arrangement of different sounds, not the same ones. Creative tension can make beautiful music. – Adam Grant

💡 Hybrid working isn’t the right frame to guide a workplace strategy – I keep saying it because I believe it. It focuses only on one narrow dimension of work – where we work – and then overemphasises it. What matters is collaboration, focus and outcomes. Then pick the best way to do one or all three against the priorities in front of you. If that means you’ll drive a better outcome working from Antarctica, go for it. This got me thinking about it even more. And where there is a collaboration chasm, we might all need to work together for a bit.

Quotes of the Week:

“Rule of 3 in conversation. To get to the real reason, ask a person to go deeper than what they just said. Then again, and once more. The third time’s answer is close to the truth.” – Kevin Kelly

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery. – James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

  • Connect

Creating an image with AI

User generated image using Stable Diffusion

Stability AI and its collaborators announced the first stage of the release of Stable Diffusion to researchers. In short, AI creates images based on parameters you enter – words, sketches, collages and more. They’ve been testing the model at scale with over 10,000 beta testers that are creating 1.7 million images a day.  That’s, well, staggering.

Does AI replace humans? Not at all. But it does amplify our ability to create and make at scale. And then there is this little gem where a person just won first prize (and the corresponding angst) at an art fair with a piece of AI-generated Art.

  • Connect

Creating Content in Notion

TL’DR: Don’t think of note-taking in Notion as about creating a note for every idea, piece of work, or event. Think about one note housing many notes within it. All are searchable and discoverable.

Notion is unlike most note-taking apps – because it isn’t one. It’s a database, essentially, but don’t let that put you off. But it does mean you can create notes differently.

Simply put, you can create depth to every note by creating pages within a page.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say I’m producing content for my company. Traditionally every piece of content might be a new note in say, Apple Notes or a document in Google Docs.

With Notion, I have a master list of all the content I am working on. Each of these appears in my master content page. As I develop that content, I simply create a new page within the content master. I share the master once with the team so they can see everything I am working on.

Then, with a click, I can convert that to a board view and develop a workflow on the fly, easily arranging the content by it’s stage of development. And I’ve got one central archive for all the content we have produced.

It’s also simple and easy to create templates in Notion, so you can quickly populate all the stuff you need to produce great content. This might include keywords, categories, affiliate links and more.

And, just get Grammarly – it works great with Notion.

Check out this Notion video from Thomas Frank or swim through the Notion YouTube channel.

  • Connect

Better Note Taking with Notion

TD’LR: You don’t need to pick one note-taking app, but you do need to choose your master app. Define a workflow and set rigour around it.

Angsty videos and medium posts on why folks selected a particular note-taking app mostly miss the real need – how to be productive, collaborate, and, well, forget less.

The answer is blindingly simple – take notes everywhere, anywhere, using anything. Just do it.

The tricks are:

  1. First: pick a master system – in my case, Notion – where all those thoughts and ideas can go to live.
  2. Second: define a simple workflow to get notes from wherever they were captured and into Notion. The tip here is to make it fast. So, I’ll drop a photo from a whiteboard into Notion rather than trying to recreate it.
  3. Third: establish a routine to get all your notes in one place. Every week I have a calendar block marked “download and clean” where everything goes into Notion. I even have a simple Notion checklist of everything I need to look at, from receipts buried in my bag to my notebook, Apple Photos and more.

So what about the notes capture? As I said, just do it.

Here are my big three:

  1. Old fashioned pen, paper and index cards. Scribble away, fuel that stationary fetish, and have fun. I use my iPhone to snag whiteboards, brainstorms and more.
  2. Use whatever digital app works best for you. Bear is an excellent app for catching notes on the go. Especially the voice capture on an Apple Watch. So, if I am driving home and recall something, I tap Bear on my phone and watch it automatically convert to a text note. Apple notes is OK but not great. But occasionally, I’ll sketch or punch a note in there.
  3. Notion is where everything goes and is shared. The point is not the storage in one place – that’s great and sometimes useful at a future date. The point is that through the process, I am creating secondary notes. So, I might capture notes from a team meeting that include a reference to check-in on headcount approvals – they sit in one Notion page for all my Day Notes. But I’ll also flow that action into my 1:1 Notes for the next meeting with our talent team. Equally important, Notion is the only place I share notes – so I have one place to collaborate from.

The underlying philosophy here is time to ingestion – the faster and more quickly you can capture a note, the more you’ll do it and the more productive you’ll be.

The leap in all this is the discipline and habit required. We’re defined by our routines and rituals. So for those struggling to do this, just do everything in Notion and work backwards.

  • Connect

Reads & Feeds

  1. You have no privacy, don’t get over it. So you’ve never read those epic terms and conditions that come with Google mail – and likely resigned yourself to having no privacy and the indiscriminate scanning of users’ cloud data. So what happens when you suffer the consequence of Big Tech looking at your email? This is a sobering story. In short, Mark, a man flagged by Google as a purveyor of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) for taking pictures of his son’s penis and sending them to their family doctor, subsequently lost nearly every aspect of his digital life when Google deleted his account. Read more over at the excellent Stratechery.
  2. JP Morgan paper on Big Data, AI & Machine Learning. An excellent summary of #MachineLearning #AI and #BigData #DataScience.  And even an overview of types of alternative data and a brilliant tutorial on #ML methods to analyse data. 
  3. Mckinsey says the Metaverse will generate up to $5 trillion in value by 2030 and is too big for companies to ignore.

Random but worth it:

  1. Bruce Mau is coming to Sydney. One of the many designers I admire. I can’t wait to see him speaking and the movie.
  2. A great set of resources for clearer thinking
  3. You’ve been waiting to hear this for like 3,400 years.
  4. This has to be the coolest fish ever