Apple Does Research? Seriously?

Well, here’s something else that the Samsung vs. Apple lawsuit has unleashed on the world.

Apple does market research.

“It is with a tinge of irony then that buried within the troves of court documents unsealed Thursday in the Apple vs. Samsung patent war is an “iPhone Owner Study” labeled “Apple Market Research & Analysis, May 2011.” The study surveys users in multiple countries about why they bought an iPhone.” Here it is in the Wall Street Journal.

This seems to be big news due to what Steve Jobs always contended as he quoted Henry Ford about asking his customers what they want. There’s a lot packed into the message that Steve never did market research on product design.

This author believes it to be true and here’s why:

One. Apple was, at the time of Steve’s reign, a benevolent dictatorship. A dictator doesn’t need to ask what his people want, he only needs to deliver what they need and desire. I think we can all agree Steve delivered.

Two. Steve was insanely intuitive and confident in what he knew about the role technology should play in people’s lives. When an organization has such a leader, the research department gets renamed the “What-Would-Steve-Like” team.

Three. Steve was the product testing department and his design team designed for Steve, the research sample of one. You can have a high confidence interval with a sample of one, when the one member of the sample is Steve Jobs.

Now, reconciling the fact about Apple doing research. Yes, every organization does research in some form and just observing the marketplace, retail store environment or asking someone on the Apple campus, “what do you think?” is conducting research. Apple isn’t “all knowing” and no organization or individual can be.

Now, note Schiller’s quote below. “We accumulate that ourselves” is an indication of gathering knowledge.

“We never go and ask the customer ‘what features do you want in the next product?’ It’s not the customer’s job to know. We accumulate that ourselves,” Schiller said, according to CNET.

How do you accumulate knowledge in your organization?

At Capsule we believe the best research does these things for our clients:

One: Offers a perspective into how people interact with, perceive or use the brands in their lives.

Two: Unique knowledge about culture, behaviors and belief systems from which to make better decisions.

Three: Actionable learnings which can be applied to multiple areas of the organization.

Four: Clarity on direction you’re heading, but not confidence because that has to come from leadership.

We believe in the power of gathering knowledge and turning it into understanding. We have leveraged observational research methods to do this along with a wide variety of other methods.

If you believe in gathering knowledge but have lost touch with the ugly, common methods in use today, then we should talk.

Aaron Keller

Photo Credit : “Stuck in Customs” :Creative Commons


About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.