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Lessons in innovation from Apple Watch

Posted by Lauren Hall, CEO of iVvy on 9 November 2015 | Comments

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Apple recently announced that it has sold around $1.7 billion in Apple Watches and, that Watches accounted for more than 100% of the year-over-year growth in net sales of their other products.

This is a product that when CEO Tim Cook announced in September 2014, shares of the company declined just after the live announcement. This was followed by heavy scepticism and naysaying by many about what the high priced watch would deliver that its competitors hadn’t already tried.

But, the day sales started, in a few minutes, Apple sold around a million units in pre-order sales – a sell-out for the next few months – more watches than Android platform ones sold in a year.

Here are some lessons in innovation from Apple Watch and the business around it.

Enable great customer experiences

The late Steve Jobs once said, “You have to start with customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Commonwealth Bank, Woolworths, Qantas and other early Australian adopters gave their customers access at every touchpoint and got in first just as they experience the new device. Their speed-to-market helped in fine-tuning the app before the device became mainstream, giving them an early advantage.  

Nick Maher, a Sydney-based software developer behind the TripView app told the Australian Financial Review that he had started working on an Apple Watch app without even seeing the product. These big brands and Maher proactively enabled customer experience and facilitated the change rather than waiting for it to happen around them and then jump on board.

Our premise for iVvy was built around overcoming challenges being faced by customers in the events industry and creating a platform that changes how the industry functions. It wasn’t easy, but we stuck to our vision and we are happy with the results, and we will continue to better the experience for our customers.

Use your networks to test

Many entrepreneurs hesitate to ask their networks to test products and give feedback. Testing, when done, is on a limited scale owing to lack of budgets for startups.

Apple Watch Sport is one of its most popular models. And it goes heads up against Fitbit Surge - in the fitness and health tracking devices space where others have tried and failed. To test its fitness capabilities, Apple revealed in a an ABC interview that the company's engineers, managers, developers and other employees worked for a year in a high-tech Apple gym to help ensure the product got every point right. Data was collected from employees rowing, running, doing yoga and other fitness activities to perfect the product.

Often, our networks are bigger than we think. Enlist the help of people around you in testing (and testing again) to strengthen the value proposition.

Launching a world-first to the market meant that we had to test extensively. We worked closely with brands like Mantra to test the platform. In working with us at initial phase, Mantra also had the first mover advantage.

Less is more. More from less

This is the Tinder generation. People are time-poor. They want to input less data but get more output. I started iVvy because it was taking event organisers about 6 weeks to find, discuss and confirm venue options. This was ridiculous given the online facilities other industries such as travel and insurance had to offer.

As our world shrinks onto our wrists, every product or service we put out needs to factor in how little time people have or perceive to have. Every idea should consider how to transform clunky or legacy based systems into super-efficient hubs of insight and activity. As big data does its job crunching numbers, the front end has to be clear, concise and engaging.

How Apple Watch performs in the long run is a question on everyone’s minds. Until then, as Apple did, we need to be the change we want to see around us, take risks and be ready for the future.