Apple’s iTunes: Ample Demonstration of Harvard’s Law

| Particle Debris

"Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases."  - Harvard's Law.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to Apple customers, iTunes and music, and so I want to set the stage — in light of an interesting article I'll link to below.

First, in my experience, with large companies, the sequence of events in many similar services goes like this:

  • Bright idea by developers
  • Beta fanfare, implementation
  • Productize and market
  • Lots of money earned
  • Rosy projections for growth made
  • Competitors bust in, grab some of the money
  • Customers get saturated
  • Technology changes
  • Managers panic: why aren't projections met?
  • Increased pressure on sales team -- which is handed the blame
  • Prospect for flat or negative growth
  • Draconian actions to reinvigorate the service
  • Punish the loyal customers by disrupting original service
  • Rinse, repeat

This scenario is almost a law of nature. The critical part comes when the early, rosy sales projections aren't met and the reaction to that results in, sometimes, the Abilene Paradox. The first, dreadful instinct by powerful, senior managers is to force the customer, in some fashion, to change so that revenues can be maintained. It always seems like a good idea at the time because, as we know, saner heads never prevail.

But then Harvard's Law kicks in, and everything goes south.

Apple is having that debate right now. Here's the salient article: "Underwhelming Start to iTunes Radio Lights Fire Under Apple." This one will be very interesting to watch because, at its core, it is all about, after all, music.

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Don't miss the week's tech news debris which continues on page 2.

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Teaser image via Shutterstock.

Comments

Lee Dronick

That is a very good story about the discovery of the Heartbleed bug.

vpndev

My take on iTunes Radio is that it has too much in common with MobileMe.

The regular hallmarks of Apple quality are missing.

And until Mr Cue fixes those issues, all else is p***ing in the wind.

John Dingler, artist

Samsung, the channel stuffing leader.

iJack

Why are all three comments on Pg 1, but only one of those comments appears at the end of Pg 2?

And while I’m here, why has my daily email from TMO stopped coming?
Again.

adamC

The problem lies with youtube where one can download a video and then strip off the video for the song if anyone needs an example here is one - http://www.fullsongs.net

If I insulted anyone my apologies.

Perhaps we already owned most of the music we wanted and often than not able to get a free one from the net.

Open is great, free is greater./s

wab95

John:

Some very interesting reads this week. Time for just a quick thought.

Dilger’s piece on Samsung and Google’s theft of Apple tech is not simply illuminating as an historical perspective, but an active malaise in the industry by which Apple’s competitors are not simply getting away with theft, but theft protected by the courts under the guise of public interest and not doing harm to consumers, and effectively having these courts facilitate dishonest companies taking Apple’s technology and using it against Apple in a way in way in which is intrinsically harmful - Apple paid to develop it, their competition did not and therefore can sell it to their clients below costs whereas Apple has to incorporate those R&D costs into their product prices. Worse, these companies publicly lie about the value of these technologies that their internal documents reveal that they highly esteem and covet. Finally, Samsung, at least, openly lies about not simply product spec performance but sales which, again, their internal documents indicate that they know are false, and therefore are intentionally misleading not only consumers and the industry, but investors.

It is difficult to understand not only how all of this can occur with impunity, but how a legal system can conspire with these dishonest companies to time and again to avoid paying the fair price for their theft (taking products off the shelf, imposing stiff penalties, and sending perpetrators to jail where applicable). The legal system is not simply slow to reform and adapt, but seems unwilling to do so, and all too willing to shift the cost to the one innovative company that is actually making the profits, and on the back of whose innovation an entire industry appears to be carried.

One wonders, too, how consumers can avoid the conclusion that, if a company is willing to lie about technology theft, product performance and sales, when they demonstrate a willingness to tolerate worker abuse not only in China but in their own home turf of Korea (as discussed on CNN this past week), and when their profits are primarily driven by those ill-got gains - gains about which they are further willing to deceive their investors - how could that company value the consumer, let alone honour any commitments made to the consumer? Such a company appears to have defined their goal as making profit by any means, rather than making products that benefit their customers, in which case the customer is a means to an end, and the user experience and long-term customer satisfaction are not factors in the equation.

Perplexing indeed. In the long run, however, this can only end badly for the cheats, especially if they succeed in slaying the golden goose. This goose, however, has a kevlar-plated breast, teeth and and talons that an eagle would envy. I put my money on the goose.

John Kirk’s piece, too, is an insightful read, and one that MS senior execs would be well advised to ponder and heed.

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