After graduating college, a buddy and I rented an apartment that became the de facto hangout spot for our group of friends. I don’t even know who started using it, but the phrase “I know what’s best for you” became a popular catchphrase around the apartment, as it was used to convince others to do something that they might not be 100% on board with (nothing illicit, just stupid fun for guys in their early 20’s).
“What do you mean you don’t want to get tickets for that concert? C’mon, I know what’s best for you.”
“We’re going out. Get ready. I don’t care if you’re tired, I know what’s best for you.”
You know, stupid stuff like that.
As everybody knows by know, Apple founder Steve Jobs died the other night. He was a genius, but what I was always most impressed by was not his technical genius. Don’t get me wrong, the ideas he pioneered were quite amazing. But, what impressed me the most is that his ideas sold because he was able to convince millions of people that he knew what was best for them.
In many cases, such as the Apple II or the iMac computer, he took a product that already existed, made improvements on it, and sold it at a higher price that what his competition was selling it for. And people bought them up!
Every time Apple came out with something, the competition soon followed. I always waited for the Apple hype to die, as people would surely realize that you could get the same features at a lower price. I waited and I waited and I waited. And, while many (like me) did buy the cheaper stuff, people still turned out in droves for the Apple products. The higher priced Apple products?
Because Steve Jobs knew what was best for you.
See, he didn’t just sell the technology. His legacy, in my mind, is not the technology that he came up with, for the simple reason that the technology itself will be diminished in importance as time goes on. What won’t be diminished and what he will ultimately be remembered is how he could sell the idea that the technology….no that HIS technology, was what you needed.
He knew what was best for you.
Apple surely has enough product in the pipeline to thrive for the near future. They have enough engineering and creative geniuses that will surely be able to push them ahead for longer than that. But, Apple still lost a lot because they lost the one guy that I’ve seen be able to stand up and say “I know what’s best for you” and have tens of millions of people believe it.
Here’s my dirty little secret: I don’t buy Apple products. I don’t make a habit of going in Apple stores, and if I do, I don’t spend too much time in there. It’s not because I don’t think the products are cool. I do. It’s not because I don’t want the products. I do. It’s that I know once I got the first Apple product in my hand, I’d be sucked in.
The ability to bring you in and keep you hooked is what Steve Jobs created. Steve Jobs was able to do this simply because he knew what was best for you.