apple and the ahrendts hire – think laterally not literally
Towards the end of last week
I was quoted on Yahoo Finance in an article about future iPhone updates. Thinking a bit, I was brought to the Angela Ahrendts hire and made the comment; “The Ahrendts hire is big news at Apple and may well influence the iPhone strategy.” Now though we go back to the title, and the tag “think laterally not literally”.
As I mentioned in my communication with the writer I found Jeff Macke’s thoughts on the Ahrendts hire to be one of the best. Yes I had a few quibbles, but in large it seemed to be on point. Angela Ahrendts was of course hired to head retail, which has arguably gone, maybe, a bit astray, or at least has not been noteworthy, after the departure of Ron Johnson. Macke commented “Ahrendts is an internationally respected merchant”. I really like that last word; merchant. There are many interesting connotations there, bringing one back to the experience of retail. By all accounts Ahrendts is savvy with in the online world and e-commerce, but, there is the connotation of tangibility, of experience, of feeling in the term merchant. Did anyone see yesterday’s Keynote? These are goals long espoused by Apple.
It is time for the lateral move. Again I go back to Jeff Macke’s article. This time it is the quote “Forget the gold iPhone, the iOS tweaks and mini-iPad form factors. Disregard the 5c color scheme entirely. … Bringing her on board announces Apple’s commitment to staying out of the commodity war with déclassé operations like Samsung.” How does Apple stay out of the commodity business? It stays out with great technology and a strong design to support it. There is no kick-stand needed it hold it up. I think the Ahrendts hire will add to the tangibility and experience that Apple strives to create. There will always be cheaper hardware out there, but this is not about “hardware”.
In thinking about this piece I watched some Burberry videos on Youtube. This one of guests at the Burberry Prorsum seemed to be a nice summary of the hire and my thoughts. Again don’t think literally, focus on the mood and experience, the feeling of fabric. Of course the lowering of the shades to allow the light flood in is not about utility or hardware. It is about emotion and feeling. I have to note that at 1:28 we catch the first clear shot of Jony Ive in his striped sweater. He is actually shown quite often in his front row seat. Hmmm … Apple’s chief designer at a Burberry show, again think laterally.
In the end I was reminded by a colleague that Angela is entering a “boys club” that only has men around the table. I would suggest the boardroom table is Tim Cook’s territory and responsibility. He made a bold move to bring her in and it will be up to him to allow his hire to flourish.