Constant improvements make good products great

Apple are masters of the glitzy product launch. By witholding all details of whatever new piece of kit they’re announcing, the company whips the media and its loyal fans into a frenzy of excitement and speculation.

This hype machine generates levels of publicity that other companies can only dream of. The recent iPad launch is a prime example.

Now, that sort of PR comes to Apple, in part at least, because the company’s products are pretty impressive. With each launch, they work to improve everything – not just the headline features that persuade people to part with their money.

Here’s an example: mains adaptors. These are a necessary evil for those of us who like gadgets. And most of them don’t really seem to be designed. At all. Every laptop power supply I’ve ever seen is basically a big plastic block. I owned Nokia mobile phones for years and the chargers never changed.

There’s a reason for that. Power adaptors don’t sell mobile phones or laptops. Shops don’t put them out on display. You don’t normally find out what you’re in for until you get the thing home and unwrap it. Then you realise you own a tiny mobile phone, but it has a charger which is the same size but twice as heavy. Convenient, huh?

Apple is different. There are two iPhones and an iPod in my house, and as you can see from my photo, as the products themselves have changed, so have the mains adaptors.

The adaptor on the right came with my first iPod, bought five years ago. It’s pretty chunky, but it does the job. The middle one came with an iPhone 3G, bought about 18 months ago. It’s a lot smaller and lighter.

The tiny one on the left? That’s what you’ll get if you buy a new iPhone 3GS. It’s actually smaller than most plugs, but it does exactly the same job as the iPhone charger in the middle.

The point here is simple. Nobody’s going to buy an iPhone because they’ve seen the charger is tiny. But it’s one of the things you notice when you open the box. The next time you try to pack light for a trip, you appreciate it. And when you next come to upgrade your phone, you’ll probably buy another one made by Apple because you know they pay attention to all the details.

Whether you’re a copywriter (like me), a business selling some kind of physical product (like Apple) or just trying to keep your boss happy, details make a real difference to the way people perceive you. So don’t neglect them.

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