Innovation Case Study: iPad mini

Around the world, Apple is hailed a premier leader in product design innovation. And while they certainly have their faults, the company continues to knock it out of the park with almost every new product launch. Building on my previous post about focusing on meeting customer needs to innovate, let’s take a quick look at yesterday’s iPad mini launch and Apple’s continued ability to effectively innovate.

“We took the time to design a product that was a concentration of, not a reduction of, the original.” Jony Ive, Senior VP Design, Apple

I think this quote absolutely nails the thinking required to launch great new products. You must understand the real customer needs and desires your product is trying to solve. That understanding is the central framework the entire process hangs on.

When describing the new iPad, they spent a lot of time talking about two things: how capable the device is and how small it is. Clearly those objectives drove Engineering decisions all the way through the development process. With a laundry list of technical innovations, it has always been interesting to me to see they rarely push the boundaries of raw power or capability but instead they find amazing ways to pack the technology into amazingly well thought out packages built around what the end customer actually wants.

At launch time, this approach has given them two vital elements for success: A desirable device from the user’s perspective and a crystal clear marketing message to broadcast to the world.

Will it be a huge success? Probably. Is it deserving of all the superlatives Apple throws at it in their marketing blitz? Maybe … maybe not. But time after time, Apple is continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to deliver innovative products. And for that, they continue to earn my respect.