Repetition and Consistency

Macworld Expo 2006

Macworld Expo 2006

Imagine a circle. Now, imagine a person pushing a button at a factory and every 30 seconds a widget pops out. Wash, rinse, repeat. That's true repetition: a timed and expected outcome of effort that repeats forever and requires little momentum.

Now imagine an ever-widening spiral. A person pushes a button at a factory and every 30 seconds a widget pops out. That's repetition, too, but the outcome is more effort as the spiral pushes your view further from where it started and requires more momentum to change the trajectory. Sometimes, when effort weakens, the spiral tracks are narrower to one another like reversed grooves in a record but they're always moving outward.

The first example is how I see the majority of the CE industry. The latter is Apple.

Let me dispel one particular thought before it festers: Apple is no different than the rest of the CE industry where, like clockwork, the widgets come out. Seasonal. Profitable. Shareholders rejoice.

But, the difference is consistency.

As a long-time fan it's somewhat hard to remove the edge of excitement before an Apple announcement. Also, as someone who works in the industry, I find it extremely difficult to know where to position my next ideas because we know there's a new widget on the horizon. That means my excitement is sometimes marred with an "oh fuck" kinda moment. I know enough to know the market will shift toward that new device, though I never know what it will be exactly.

That "oh fuck" moment is usually because Apple is so consistent with their product line that, in hindsight (the kind that has to look back years in some cases), they're obvious. They're all stepping stones to the next product.

The kind of consistency, effort and repetition Apple maintains is an anomaly. Make no mistake in thinking they're just making things up as they go. Incremental innovation is 10X more difficult than a one-off leap.

And I am consistently surprised.

Post Script -- Let me be very clear about one thing: I know nothing more than you, dear rumor blog reader, of what Apple is going to do. There's no advanced knowledge handed down from on high, under the table or from a man behind a curtain. Everything is a semi-educated guess.