Yesterday’s keynote from Steve Jobs was, as usual, a great show, full of amazing new products and product innovation. The Nano got even smaller and got video, the shuffle got more memory, the standard iPod got a new name (“classic”) and more storage, the iPhone became a lot cheaper, and he launched the new iPod Touch, an iPhone without the phone bit.
Fascinating to watch and I wouldn’t like to be working at a competitor today, as Apple proves it is relentless in staying ahead of the game.
However, the bit at the end of the presentation was equally intriguing. Steve Jobs gives up the stage to Starbucks’ founder and chairman Howard Shultz to explain in detail the companies’ new partnership.
Walk into a Starbucks (some time in 2008) with your iPhone or wifi-enabled iPod Touch and new button will turn up on the screen, a Starbucks button! This is so close to one of those Google April Fool’s jokes that it takes a second to realize that a) they’re serious b) what they’re talking has potentially huge impact.
Click (or rather tap, of course) on your new Starbucks button and via free connection to the Starbucks network you can see what the currently playing song in the restaurant is (and the last ten tracks), and buy that track (from iTunes of course).
Both Apple and Starbucks have always understood the importance of experience design, and this points the way to a whole new generation of experiences that merge the boundaries between physical and electronic.
Shultz describes Starbucks as “a place to discover music”. So while HMV, Virgin et al are licking their wounds and shutting their stores, Starbucks and Apple marches in and takes what’s left of their market. How?, by making something of the experience.
How long before iTunes is the number one music store in the world (currently number 3 in the US)?
In case anyone missed it, Shultz punches home the point:
To build a great enduring company, you can’t embrace the status quo, you have to keep pushing for re-invention and self renewal, and no one has done that better than Apple.