I thought I had written enough about the antitrust hearing last week. You know, the one with the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google answering questions before Congress about whether they’re too big and powerful. Then I went back and read through the entire transcript and found something I had almost missed watching it live.
It wasn’t hard to miss, with all of the crosstalk, but during one answer, Tim Cook was talking about Apple’s review of apps. Specifically, he was describing the guidelines, or rules, that govern the approval process when he said, “It’s a rigorous process because we care so deeply about privacy, and security, and quality.”
Let’s set aside, for a moment, all of the potential problems Apple has right now with its App Store (and there are plenty). That isn’t to say they aren’t important, but I don’t want to get distracted by things I’ve already covered before.
Instead, I want to think about those three words.
“Privacy, security, quality”
I don’t think it’s a stretch to argue those three words are what set Apple apart from its competition. There’s no question that, at least in terms of privacy, Apple has taken a dramatically different approach. It’s also taken a public stand on encryption and device security.
Think about the difference in Apple’s approach to privacy compared to the other companies at the hearing. There’s no question Apple views your privacy differently from Google or Facebook. In fact, in many ways, the products and services it designs are in direct conflict with the way those companies use your personal data.
Either an app or device or service respects your privacy, or it doesn’t. If it requires you to hadn’t over personal information, give up your location, or if it tracks everything you do online, it doesn’t respect your privacy.
At the same time, a device is either built with encryption and security protection, or it isn’t. If it has a back door, it isn’t secure, a point Apple has made on more than one occasion.
Finally, quality is something that Apple has long stood for, not just in terms of its products, but the overall experience. It’s one of the main reasons people buy Macs. Sure, they’re more expensive, but they’re also just better. They look better, they feel better, and they work better.
It’s also why the iPhone isn’t just the most powerful smartphone you can buy, but it also has the most seamless experience. It isn’t just that the components are high quality, the experience is as well.
That doesn’t mean that Apple is perfect. It would be foolish to believe it is. But Apple has identified those three words as foundational to how it operates. That’s true of the way it designs products as well as how it incorporates services into those products. Those three words give clarity to the decisions it makes.
Can you describe the things your company cares about in three words? If you can, would it be obvious to those who interact with your business that you really believe them? In the end, that’s the point. That’s the lesson.
As a leader, it’s helpful to clarify what you stand for and why. It helps your team to make the right decisions. It helps your customers to know that you care about what they care about. Your job is to make sure that those three words define every interaction a customer has with your brand.
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