Benedict Evans: Apple wants to be the Disney of computers (in a good way)

A post-Showtime tweetstorm from one of venture capital‘s most insightful analysts.

The old Apple promise was that you don’t have to worry if the tech works. The new promise is you don’t have to worry if the tech is scamming you.

I think this runs across all of the stuff they announced last week. Curated magazine articles with no fake news, scammy ads or data gathering. Curated games for you/your kid with no loot boxes or pay-to-win. A credit card that’s secure, with no hidden fees and weird points…

And though the TV announcement seemed really vague from a news/analysis perspective, it was pretty clear for brand messaging. Spielberg and Oprah, not Tarantino.

The old computer problems were about how it functions, and Apple removed (or hid) complexity. It all just worked. But (some of) the new computer problems are several levels further up in abstraction—privacy, trust, harmful content, weird charges and scams. So just as Apple hid complexity in how your computer worked, now they want to solve complexity in how software/services/internet stuff works.

Another way to put it: they want to be the Disney of computers (in a good way). Disney stands for something—it has a clear brand promise. Apple was showing ambition to do that for News/games/credit cards, and TV.

My take: Only 131 retweets? A mind like Evans’ is a terrible thing to waste on Twitter.

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  1. David Emery said:
    The metaphor has some value. (But I’m getting increasingly upset at how many things in my Mac environment that used to “just work” have become unreliable!)

    It would be interesting to think about Apple buying DuckDuckGo, to provide a ‘privacy search’ mechanism tuned to the Apple infrastructure. (DuckDuckGo isn’t as good as Google at finding things, but for about 98% of my queries, it’s worked just fine. I only use Google when I know something’s out there and DuckDuckGo can’t find it. Of course, it’s hard to rate the value of items that Google might return that DuckDuckGo didn’t give me when it asked it.)

    April 6, 2019
  2. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    Since its founding over 40 years ago, Apple has strived to create an alternative universe of product solutions that address the inherent errors in market models that place share and volume as the crowing achievements of success. The result has been mostly minority market share for Apple with astonishingly high levels of profits. Consequently, the only time Apple has faltered is when management deliberately put profits ahead of progress (the Performa era).

    In its newest initiatives Apple isn’t creating a shiny new thing. Rather, the company is transforming the way we acquire and consume news, editorial content and streamed entertainment content. As a result, pundits are flummoxed and traditional print publishers are penning scathing editorials.

    In today’s era of “fake news” and the rebirth of yellow journalism, convention must again be upended. There’s nothing “new” per se about Apple’s efforts. It’s simply a recasting of the company’s disruptive approach to delivering progress and innovation.

    Apple News+ provides consumers with an answer to today’s mostly vapid and banal news coverage to which once-proud publications have sadly succumbed for the sake of clicks and readership at the expense of journalistic standards and quality editorial content. Sensational headlines without substance benefit no one. Cynicism isn’t a sign of sophistication. It’s a symptom of capitulation.

    Apple will deliver the readers. Publishers can return to the business of differentiated and quality content.

    Apple’s forthcoming gaming service strikes at a market model of endless in-app purchases and provides consumers with access to hundreds of fully featured games for a low monthly fee. Again, Apple will deliver the consumers. Developers can focus their efforts on quality game development.

    There is some comparative value in citing Disney’s branded and successful parallel universe of an optimistic, never-ending childhood for both children and adults and I marvel (small “m”) at the company’s creativity and success. But In Apple’s alternative universe the company’s mission is to fill in the black holes from which even light can not escape that are created by convention and compromise in pursuit of market share at the expense of innovation and purposeful progress.

    April 6, 2019
  3. Jerry W Doyle said:
    Apple is the Disney of the 21st century. When Tim C sent his note to that producer telling him to not be so mean (likely referencing content in a script), that was the final notch in my bedpost leading me to my conviction. Apple is more Disney today than Disney, throughout its organization from administration, management, operations and marketing.

    Apple has a track record of staying on message. Apple inculcates within the minds of senior executives, mid-level managers and workers on the front lines the messaging it wants repeated incessantly. Staffs execute that messaging with simplicity and clarity in product line-up and services.

    A good example is when Apple launched the iPhone with its plethora of features and its multiplicity of functions. Steve wanted a simplistic messaging to describe the device. The iPhone is revolutionary, the Internet in your pocket and the best iPod ever created. Jobs wanted three simple facts absorbed in the mindset of staffs and reiterated constantly throughout the organization.

    The messaging is regurgitated steadily to the media who then feeds it to the consumer as the new gospel. Consumers soon spread the good news using the same descriptive terms and they pass that messaging on to their friends when they define the product or service Apple is providing. Apple is selling a “lifestyle” image where consumers associate easily with the Apple brand, rather than with the product itself.

    That messaging obsession is as evident today as when Steve was alive when it comes to product design, services and customer experience with emphasis on simplicity, aesthetics and minimalism where less is always more, simpler always better.

    Apple is adamant with projecting an image that it is a premium brand over its competitors; and, that fact is not lost on its customers who desire to be a part of that premium experience.

    April 6, 2019

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