Microsoft, Apple and Nokia Now All Have the Same Problem
Each smartphone and tablet that followed iPhone and iPad represented little more than a knock-off of the original. Jobs and Apple took things like Walkmans and mobile phones and made them better; everybody else merely reacted and produced cheap imitations. The only company that deserves a pass for putting out an inferior product is Amazon.com(AMZN) .
Jeff Bezos never wanted, nor does he want, a battle with Apple. He's too smart for that. He released Kindle Fire as a means to serve an end. In many ways, it's similar to the approach Apple takes. Bezos is creating an ecosystem at Amazon, just as Jobs did at Apple with seamless links between gadgets, content and platforms.
At Apple, the entire experience prompts you to buy the company's hardware. At Amazon, the content, and now the gadgets, drive you to buy more stuff. It's no surprise that America's two best CEOs were ramping up these extraordinary ecosystems simultaneously but independently.
If Jeff Bezos left Amazon tomorrow, I would likely make the same long-term bearish prognostication on that company as I do Apple. Amazon.com would not crumble overnight, but it would certainly not be the same company; without Bezos, I am convinced it would fall from greatness.
Thinking About the Box
When I received my Nokia(NOK) Lumia in the mail Tuesday and set it up, I could not help but ruminate over the whole experience. It's a nice phone. I think I will end up liking it better than the BlackBerry I upgraded from. But, it's not even close to being like an Apple product out of the box.
Where Jobs obsessed over what the customer experiences when he or she opens a box, Nokia and Microsoft(MSFT) officially give control of this process to companies like AT&T(T) . When I opened the Lumia box, I was greeted by a sticker covering the phone that urged me not to text and drive. While I agree with the sentiment, it sort of killed the mood.
It reminded me of the time I got hit by a car while cycling and of a story I recently heard about a teenager getting run over and killed by a distracted driver. Jobs never would have let the user have that kind of first-impression experience.
I turned on my Lumia, activated it and got it up and running. Throughout the process, I could not really figure out if I bought a Nokia, Microsoft or AT&T product. The phone says "Nokia" on it. There's a bunch of Microsoft and AT&T stuff I can choose to use.