Sound of the Evolution: Ear-itated No More.

“Can you hear me now?”

One word to describe Apple? Mine would be: Evolution. When taking any of their products into consideration, ask yourself this: When was the last time this product was updated? Probably not too long ago..

The trick with Apple is, that nothing is “too small” to change. Any change, no matter how seemingly incremental is done with purpose at Apple. This ranges from the bigger products such as laptops and tablets to the smaller, such as with their earphones. Considering there isn’t exactly a shortage of Operations-related Apple news on our blog site, what’s one more? Apple’s operations are so constantly in flux and evolving, there’s a lot to explore with their operations/products.

Shortly following the release of the iPhone 5, people were suddenly seeing a television commercial for the newly redesigned slick Apple earphones, now dubbed Earpods. The commercial effectively highlighted all the issues consumers had with the previous headphones incarnation, and explained how the new Earpods were designed for comfort, quality and sound transmission. While some might think this minor change to such a small product isn’t a big deal, the fact is that it actually is a big deal, especially from an operations standpoint.

Think back to product strategy options in chapter five’s Design of Goods and Services. When we think about Apple’s products and their constant changes and updates, this evolution technique of theirs is a clear example of the differentiation product strategy. Consider their aluminum laptops, iPad introduction, the iPod, the touchscreen smartphone and the App store. All of which revolutionized the electronic product industry, often imitated by competitors but never replicated. Apple effectively dominated their market because they introduced most of these product concepts, they wanted their products to have an edge that their competition lacked.

After the Earpods came to my attention, I read two articles on Wired and Engadget reviewing the Earpods and praising them for eliminating the problems that the older earphones had. Apple stated, “A breakthrough design for a more natural fit and increased durability, and an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones.” And they delivered. The sound is clearer, less rubber and metal, they feed sound comfortably on the edge of the ear canal, airflow and bass are sharper and they’re sleeker and conform to most ear shapes/sizes.

Operationally, when creating the Earpods Apple utilized Quality Function Deployment, wherein they identified customer wants and satisfied them. The Earpods differentiate in two ways, the first being that they’re physically/structurally very unique in appearance, sleek yet functional. The second is that they  retail for $29, the same as the old models. Not to mention, free with the iPhone 5 or new iPod. You get the quality of earphones that usually sell for $100+ but at the previous price. Apple listened to their customers and it paid off in satisfaction.

Where do you think? Do you think the Earphones are a testament to Apple’s evolution or is it an unnecessary change? Should Apple’s differentiation have a different target?

 

4 thoughts on “Sound of the Evolution: Ear-itated No More.

  1. One of the first things I noticed when I got my iPhone 5 was the different earphones. However I didn’t use them right away because I still had the earphones from my iPhone 4. I noticed the volume wasn’t very loud when using the old earphones to listen to music but I didn’t think much about it and just turned it up all the way. I don’t think I would have used the new earphones unless I had to give my iPhone 4 to my dad so I gave him the old earphones. When i first used the new earphones, I noticed the different shape and how comfortably it fit. They seemed secure in my ears and didn’t feel as though if they would fall off if I went jogging with it. But what most surprised me was the quality of the sound. It was so clear and loud, I felt like I could hear every single instrument used in a song. Although it is just earphones and doesn’t affect the quality and performance of the phone itself, it made such a difference in the way I felt about the phone and my decision to purchase it. I know that it makes the iPhone 5 stand out way much more than any other phone out there. I think it’s definitely a necessary change. When people ask me how I feel about the phone I never fail to mention the earphones.

  2. I believe the new earphones are a testament to Apple’s evolution. Apple constantly shows attention to detail, regardless of the size of the product. That is what differentiates Apple from the rest; constantly making positive, quality changes to increase consumer satisfaction.

  3. I haven’t used apple headphones In a very long time due to the fact that they would always shock me and the chords would fray. I preordered the iPhone 5 and didn’t even look at my headphones in the box until this article. I have been using Bose headphones instead of the apple ones. After this article, I am really thinking about considering trying out the one that were given. This article brings up a really interesting point how apple listens to the consumer. They really take into consideration everything and it really is a constant evolution

  4. The improvements in the design of the earphone show that Apple’s technology is advancing. The changes are absolutely necessary for Apple to move forward and make them distinct from their competitors. As you have stated that Apple’s changes were based on the consumer’s needs. This will definitely help improve their sales because the consideration for their consumers. It shows that they care about their consumers and actually listens to their needs. This is beneficial to improving the relationship between Apple and their consumers.

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