In Gordon Ramsey’s auto-biography, the accomplished chef (who you might recognize as the guy screaming on Hell’s Kitchen) articulated why he’s obsessed with making sure that everything about a dish is absolutely perfect, all the way down to the most excruciatingly minute detail.
It doesn’t matter how amazing the steak is, if it’s served on a cold plate it’s crap. If it’s served with a dull knife it’s crap. If the gravy isn’t piping hot, it’s crap. If you’re eating it on an uncomfortable chair, it’s crap. If it’s served by an ugly waiter who just came in from a smoke break, it’s crap. Because I care about the steak, I have to care about everything around it.
Love him or hate him, but Ramsey is onto something here because people often judge a meal not simply on taste alone, but on the entire experience of eating out. In a similar vein, Apple, under the helm of Steve Jobs, pays extraordinary close attention to the entire user experience, and in doing so, has made decisions to close off its technology in the interest of simplicity and a positive user experience.
The iPod, for example, never came with the most impressive spec sheet on the market, and Apple haters loved to point out that such and such MP3 player came with more storage, or that this other MP3 player was a heck of a lot cheaper.
But spec sheets are fickle, and Apple was more concerned with redefining the music listening experience than it was with creating a music player that simply looked good on paper. With that goal in mind, the iPod came with an extremely intuitive UI along with seamless integration with iTunes. Once the iTunes Store came along in 2003, it was game over.
In creating the iPod, Apple didn’t just set out to develop an MP3 player, they took into account all aspects of the music listening experience, with an attention to detail that trickled down all the way down to the packaging that the iPod came in. While most companies are primarily concerned with just the steak, to use the analogy from above, Apple was, and remains, focused on the entire dining experience.