How Apple and Google succeed by eliminating the “tyranny of choice”

Wed, Oct 14, 2009


Not too long ago, we discussed on how a simple product line is integral to Apple’s success.

While other companies release an inordinate number of products in an attempt to satisfy every potential customer, Apple has kept its product line-up relatively streamlined in comparison.  Not only does this make things less confusing for consumers, but it also helps consumers understand what they’re actually paying for.

On that same topic Nathan Bowers of UX Hero recently opined on how both Google and Apple have blossomed by eliminating what Bowers refers to as the “tyranny of choice”.  Meanwhile, both Yahoo! and RIM, competitors of Google and Apple respectively, are finding themselves stuck in the mud as they’re being forced to support a multitude of choices which ultimately hinders their ability to play catch up.

Apple discovered that 1) phones should not have keyboards, 2) you should sell just one model, and 3) the phone with the best apps wins. Now Blackberry is stuck. They not only have to keep selling phones with physical keyboards, they have to keep selling a flip phone, and a scrollball phone, and a trackpad phone, and a touch phone.

Now if you’re a developer, how enticing does developing for a fragmented platform sound?

Bowers concludes,

Google and Apple won by eliminating the tyranny of choice for users and by being the best at one thing. They became market leaders by demonstrating leadership: by acting on strong convictions about what’s best for users. It’s the difference between a friend who says, “do you feel like a burger, or Italian, or Chinese, or Thai?” and a friend who says, “hey, let’s get sushi at The Hump because you’ll love it.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, and the notion of excelling at one specific thing as a means to succeed can really applies to everything.  If you have a heart problem, for example, would you rather go to a highly regarded cardiologist or a general practice physician?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if having a diverse product line equates to shitty products, but it necessarily implies that a company’s resources are divided and spread across a varying number of products and research initiatives.  By focusing on the bare minimum, companies like Google and Apple are better equipped to attack ideas with full force and extract the most utility out of their developmental efforts.


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