Though Apple released data last week indicating iPhone sales may, at last, be slowing, one CEO recently explained why he thinks the smartphone has upended our expectations of basically everything.
Harry West is the CEO of the global design and strategy firm frog, which works with its clients “to anticipate the future.” In a conversation with The Huffington Post at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, West credited Apple with transforming the way companies approach consumers and their own employees.
“Way back in the day,” West said, companies marketed their products as “military spec” and “industrial” to take advantage of the perception that these seemingly specialized products were higher-quality than consumer versions. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, this slowly gave way to the rise of “professional” products geared toward businesses and businesspeople.
That all changed after the advent of the iPhone in 2007, he said. “Consumers began to use this amazing digital interface, and they liked it. And they used it in their personal life and at home, and when they went back to work, they encountered this terrible ‘professional’ or ‘industrial,’ or ‘enterprise’ [product], and they realized how old-fashioned [and] inconvenient it was, they demanded change.”
In other words: After the iPhone, the consumer was back on top.
That massive shift foreshadowed the downfall of BlackBerry and the weakening of the power of IT departments — and it also forced companies to update the work experience of their employees, according to West.
“[Companies] need to hire millennials, and millennials refuse to work in these antiquated, backward systems,” he said. “Not only is it uncomfortable, but it also indicates something wrong about the company. If your work experience is that old-fashioned, then what else is wrong in the company?”
The iPhone was a “big eureka moment” for the design industry, West said. “I don’t think we realized how big it was. It was enormous.”
“What we didn’t realize was it was also going to drive the expectation — the consumer expectation — around every other product and service that they encountered … and that is continuing to drive our business.”
BEFORE YOU GO
iPhones Through The Years