When Steve Jobs provided a select group of journalists a preview of the iPad last year, he was asked what consumer and market research Apple had done while developing the product. His answer? "None, it isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want."
Wow. Talk about chutzpah. But with Apple's latest off-the-charts quarterly results, it's hard to argue with that. Truth be told, Apple employees undoubtedly provide an opinionated and cutting-edge focus group, and Steve Jobs is said to visit the Apple store in Palo Alto frequently (although I wonder whether and how he interacts with shoppers there). According to John Kao, an innovation consultant, Apple has been introducing "seeing-around-the-corner innovation", and that "these are not the kind of breakthroughs that market research, where you are asking people’s opinions, really help you make."
As the NY Times puts it, "Mr. Jobs, by all accounts, relies on intuition and his own sense of taste, in decisions ranging from hiring to matters of product design." An illustration that there's a limit to what analysis and quantitive methods can do for you; may all of us refine our own senses of intuition and taste. And here's wishing Mr. Jobs better health.
- Can Apple Find More Hits Without its Tastemaker (The New York Times)