Tired of car analogies being used for tech companies and the products they make? Me too. I’m hungry. Let’s go for a food analogy. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s find out.
It’s that time of year again when Apple gives us a peek at all the goodies they have been teasing about all year. But Apple is not alone.
Everyone knows Apple will be unveiling the next generation of iPhone on September 9th: presumably, the iPhone 6. It is expected to come in two sizes: bigger, and biggerer. Naturally, Samsung has to get out there a few days earlier with an update to its big phone. Everyone else with a flagship has also staged an event.
But the real excitement is around the expected unveiling of the iWatch. Yes, I’m just going to go ahead and call it the iWatch. If Apple calls it anything else, they’re wrong! Apple can insist their music player is the iPod touch. But everyone else knows it’s the iTouch.
The iWatch is the only smart time piece anyone has cared about since the rumors started flying early last year. The only reason we have the Galaxy Gear is because, as usual, Samsung decided to make spaghetti and just throw something up against the wall to see what sticks. And they wanted to make sure they got their product out there before Apple. You might think of it as preemptive copying.
Samsung’s first smartwatch effort was a lamentable mess. They quickly turned their back on the first batch, and started cooking up a second right around the time buyers remorse could set in for the original gear. Thinking Apple’s iWatch was imminent, they threw out more smartwatches. This time, there were three: The Gear 2, Gear Fit, and Gear Neo. There were credible rumors that the Apple watch would focus on fitness. So they made sure they had the fitness angle covered.
But those watches just ended up being more spaghetti on the wall, while Apple’s iWatch was still baking. Obviously, Apple was not making a quick and dirty dish like spaghetti. They were baking a souffle. It is a dish that has to be carefully prepped and baked with delicate technique and timing. Any indelicate handling or impatience with the process would cause it to fail.
Meanwhile, the dining room has been getting rowdy. Everyone only showed up for a taste of the iWatch souffle. They have been demanding that Apple hurry it up. Either take it out of the oven or take it off the menu. Still, they wait, and the line to get in keeps growing. Many have been contenting themselves with Samsung noodles and Pebble meatballs. Curiously, no matter how much spaghetti Samsung makes, people keep waiting for the iWatch souffle. Why?
No one knows what methods Apple uses for testing product concepts. However, they do it, and they do it well. Even generation one of an Apple product is quite good. They are usability experts. When you pick up an Apple product, it feels like they thought of everything.
When you pick up a new Samsung product, it feels like you are a beta tester. This is even more true with Samsung software. One of the things that almost universally surprised and disappointed those of us who covered the unveiling of the Galaxy S4 event was the degree to which nothing worked. It all felt half-baked, slapped together. At Apple events, journalists are always gushing about how well the announced features seem to work.
What Samsung lacks is a disciplined testing program for the software products they release. What they need is a greater commitment to software testing that doesn’t take shortcuts through critical processes. Major firms have the kind of test automation that allows companies to:
- •Easily create test cases for UI and non-UI functions and use them for manual and automated testing
- •Achieve automation rates greater than 90% for end-to-end testing
- •Enjoy the advantages of services virtualization and minimize maintenance efforts with a model-based approach
To carry our metaphor to the breaking point, People pass up meal after quick service meal for Apple’s annual offering because they want an experience not found elsewhere. Apple products are known for providing end-user experiences that seem to transcend the technology bits. This was best stated in Apple’s iPad 2 ad entitled, “We Believe”:
This is what we believe. Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter: those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful, even magical.
Apple’s competitors sell products. Apple’s sells experiences. Spaghetti is just food. A souffle is an experience.
In defense of spaghetti
Despite the care taken to make it, and the experience of enjoying a nice souffle, most people have never had one. They can’t cook it, nor do they go to the kinds of restaurants that serve it. But almost everyone loves a good dish of spaghetti. It is easy to make with countless variations. It is quick, cheap and accessible just about anywhere. If you are hungry, spaghetti may not be the best meal you’ve ever had, but it is filling. And you can have some right now. No waiting.
What I’m saying, in case you have lost the thread of the metaphor, is that there is something to be said for Samsung’s method. It is not all bad. It has been a good appetizer. But let’s be honest. The main dish is set to finally be served in Cupertino on September 9th. Bon appetit.
Maybe we’ll just go back to car metaphors…