Why Apple fails in business

As a startup entrepreneur you’re always on the lookout for ways of serving more customers at each chance you get, whether it’s through marketing, generating leads, sales, or just plain ol’ helping someone else out. It’s about earning more than a starving artist’s wage. But as with any business, there is the craft of your business that you love to do and then there is the business of your craft, how to make money doing what you love to do.

Having said that, there are a number of quotes that I’d like to share:

  • Never hand an ill workman good tools.
  • An ill labourer quarrels with his tools.

So, what do these mean? A poor technician, i.e. workman, artist, writer, etc. makes excuses for the tools they use in getting the required results. It’s the same as saying that buying a great word processor will make you a good or even great writer. Not quite.

A good word processor (the tool) makes the task of writing easier, but it does not make your writing (your skill) any better. Whether it’s a book an author is producing or a graphic by an artist, it takes work and talent, using good brushes to do oil paintings with or using a good saw to finely and precisely cut wood. If you don’t know how to use them well, i.e. your talent or skills, it won’t make the results any better.

Apple is a tool maker

What’s that have to do with a Mac? Well, in the grand scheme of things Apple is a tool maker. It makes and builds both the hardware and software tools for entrepreneurs, businesses, and general home use. It’s iLife product, for example, with GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto, iWed, and iDVD makes the prospect of creating products or services using these tools easier.

But if you’re a better than average or even a great “artist” using the Mac and these tools, you’re allowed to make comments so the tool can be improved.

As a tool maker, there are a number of “levels” of tool making. Basic, good, better, and best. In the case of Apple, there’s analog, i.e. paper, and then there’s digital. Apple creates digital tools.

However, here’s the rub that Cupertino has:

Apple, get you head out of Hollywood!!

Yes, Apple has its head so far in Hollywood’s place that the average Mac user could care less. While the iLife and the iWork software packages do wonders compared most Windows counterparts (it’s the function AND the polish Microsoft), Apple still does not understand entrepreneurial needs. In fact, I’d venture to say that nearly all of Apple’s employees have never run their own business before. And Apple is so laser focused that it misses entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

How does that affect you, the entrepreneur, the one starting up your own business?

They don’t understand your problems since Hollywood is in their gun sights (notice Steve Jobs says he has finally cracked the “TV nut” and rumors abound in this arena for 2012.

Since Apple is a tool-maker, what Apple SHOULD be doing is creating or help create new tools that help entrepreneurs.

Here’s what Apple has touted in their “The Best of the Mac App Store 2011″:

  • Pixelmator – Graphics and Design
  • Civilization – Games
  • djay – Music
  • Anomaly Warzone – Games
  • Day One – Productivity
  • Reeder – News
  • Fantastical – Productivity
  • 1Password – Productivity
  • Final Cut Pro – Video
  • Evernote – Productivity
  • Skitch – Productivity
  • Capo – Music
  • OmniGraffle – Productivity
  • Posterio – Photography
  • DaisyDisk – Utilities
  • Flare – Photography
  • Scriverner – Writing
  • iA Writer – Productivity
  • Twitter – Social Networking
  • swackett X – Weather
  • Things – Productivity
  • Delicious Library 2 – Reference
  • YummySoup – Lifestyle

Now I was able to create, write, design, and publish a book using iWork Pages and it did a very good job, and will still do a good job for just about any entrepreneur. But, it stops there.

Not to take away ANY of the above great products, but the one thing that stands out among the above list is that there is little to none of these “Best” products that tackle the most obvious products that entrepreneurs need help with the most: the entrepreneur’s business of their craft, such as taxes, tasks that help with business operations, accounting, etc. These are the mundane tasks of business, but they are still essential for all businesses.

These basic categories are the bread and butter of ALL businesses. If you can’t take care of your business, you’ll go under, or cause financial hardship on your business and your family. Apple’s total commitment to the creative industry is well documented with all of the apps that abound in this arena, but talk with a farmer, accountant, lawyer, realtor, general contractor, writer, or any of the many other professional careers that some have chosen and there is a dearth of apps for them.

Apple’s “icing on their cake” apps is eating your dessert before your main course

So, Tim Cook, make 2012 better for entrepreneurs and startups, gather some of us around and find a way to get this done.

Personally, Apple’s “icing on their great cake” approach to “dessert” apps is getting “long in the tooth,” give me some steak, some great veggies, and a baked potato to eat, something that will fuel ALL small and entrepreneurial businesses, including that I hang around.

I’ll still use a Mac to run my business and so will my wife, but with all of Apple’s $80 BILLION in cash, they could at least encourage the bread and butter apps for businesses.

How about it, Tim?

Here’s to hope in 2012, have a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

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