competing v. fulfilling expectations // 29 Feb 2012

I was listening to an episode of The Talk Show (I know, I know…) with Chairman Gruber and John Siracusa on the way to work this morning, the one where they talk about Mountain Lion. A good part of the discussion was about just who Apple is competing with on the PC operating system front. The general consensus that it wasn’t Microsoft any longer, but instead Google. That Mountain Lion + iCloud competes with Google (w/apps) + Android.

I have a slightly different take. I’m sure Apple thinks about the customer experience of Mountain Lion + iCloud v. Google + Android or Windows 8 + Skydrive. But I don’t think that competition is what’s driving them. Instead, I have a feeling they’re working with Mountain Lion to fulfill user expectations that they’re setting with their mobile platform. More and more people are coming to the Mac because of iPhone and iPad, so what Apple’s doing on the Mac + iCloud is developing features that fulfill on the user expectations that are being set by their other products. Even though you’re using a laptop (which is a very different device from a phone), of course it should be as easy to use. And of course your calendar syncs. And your contacts and mail and reminders. And your photos, videos and media. And of course you’ll be able to trust the applications they help you discover and install on your Mac, just like you’re able to trust the applications they help you discover and install on your iPhone and iPad.

This does build a competitive product, of course. But what they’re doing is using each part of their platform — mobile device, Mac, iCloud — to ratchet up the quality of the customer experience, piece by piece. And then bringing the other pieces in line, fulfilling user expectations. “Of course it should work like this.”