Don’t be first – be best

Apple chief executive Tim Cook rarely gives interviews, so those he does are a rare treat for anyone interested in the company or how it works.

Last month’s interview at the D11 conference provided plenty of fodder in this regard. Most interesting were comments about Google Glass, and how Cook thinks this device may not be the saviour of wearable computing some think it is.

“I don’t know a lot of people that wear [glasses] that don’t have to,” he said. Shock horror, Tim Cook says something bad about Google. But it’s an interesting insight to Apple’s strategy.

Cook didn’t dismiss wearable computing altogether. Instead, he says the area is “ripe” for innovation and is of great interest to the company. That’s usually an indication the business is focusing on something in that space. (Indeed, rumors suggest a watch is around the corner).

This is Apple’s strategy. Wait until a market has shown itself, then swoop in with a premium product that costs more than the initial entrants.

It’s obviously a strategy that has worked so far, but it represents something a little more fascinating than “make a great product”. Steve Jobs always preferred the “wait and see” approach, and Cook has continued that trend.

It’s interesting how many businesses think they’re taking that same approach, when in fact, they’re doing anything but.

Consider cloud computing services. While most businesses are now adopting some form of cloud service, the mantra for many companies hasn’t been “wait and see” in the same way Apple would use “wait and see”.

What Tim Cook means isn’t, “I’m going to say something about this and forget about it”. What he means is, “this is an interesting area, and I’m going to be continually watching this and investigate whether we can incorporate this into a product”.

Smaller business owners tend to mean they’ll “wait and see” when it comes to tech, but they don’t take an interest in anything. What they mean is, “I’ll adopt this piece of technology when it’s convenient”. They rarely watch industry trends and they hardly ever try to get a leg-up on the competition by using new tech and tools.

When it comes to “waiting and seeing”, emulate Tim Cook. Keep an eye on what’s going in technology trends. One day, when you find a piece of tech that fits well into your business and gives you a competitive advantage, you’ll be glad you did.

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