The Triple Crown?

Steve Jobs liked to find the What Else? in his business.


In my last post, I talked about the choice companies must make between price, quality and service - how they can only choose two.

I asked the readers to name products they thought excelled in all three areas, and some great responses came in. Here were some of my favorites:

Anthony DeMarco: Zippo lighters are the best lighters you can buy and you can get them/keep them filled cheaply compared to constantly buying new lighters. Also if your lighter needs repair Zippo will fix it for you free of charge. Basically buy a zippo or even find an old broken one on the ground, and you have fire for life!

Chris Hall: Boxee Box, making your television and wireless connection everything you thought would be possible one day, but exists already. Easy to install, great tech support if needed.

Dennis Murray: without a doubt, Girl Scout Cookies

John Snow: I would have to say Ibanez hits the mark on all three. They make musical instruments (For myself Bass Guitar or Guitar) They are an extremely affordable alternative to many of the “Top of the heap” brands of instruments, and the quality and playability of the instruments is second to none. I have owned 3 different instruments and the quality was so good I’ve never had to deal with a customer service issue. From what I’ve reviewed, even when there is an issue there is no issue.

Keith G: Netflix. Can’t beat the price, the selection is the best around (streaming video and DVD), their competition is limited (Blockbuster? Amazon Prime? Hulu?) and the customer service is great.

Melody Smith: Budweiser

Sam G: I would say the Apple IMAC. Compared to other desktops the IMAC is way superior. Customer support is GREAT on apple products. Price, you can have an IMAC for a decade at $1100. Most of its competitors cost is around $600+ and is obsolete in a few years.

All excellent recommendations. But I had to pick a winner, and in the end I went with the iPod shuffle, suggested by Beth.

With Apple service, most of the functionality of a full iPod, and a price of $49.00, I agree with Beth that the shuffle scores extraordinarily high marks in all three areas.

In the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs published last year, there’s a great little passage about the development the iPod shuffle that serves as a good example of Steve Jobs’s ability to look beneath the surface of what his industry thought was possible, and hone in on what people really value and want:

The iPod Shuffle, introduced in January 2005, was even more revolutionary [than the iPod Mini]. Jobs learned that the shuffle feature on the iPod, which played songs in random order, had become very popular. People liked to be surprised, and they were also too lazy to keep setting up and revising their playlists. Some users even became obsessed with figuring out whether the song selection was truly random, and, if so, why their iPod kept coming back to, say, the Neville Brothers. That feature led to the iPod Shuffle. As [Apple developers] Rubinstein and Fadell were working on creating a flash player that was small and inexpensive, they kept doing things like making the screen tinier. At one point Jobs came in with a crazy suggestion: Get rid of the screen altogether. ‘What?!’ Fadell responded. ‘Just get rid of it,’ Jobs insisted. Fadell asked how users would navigate the songs. Jobs’s insight was that you didn’t need to navigate; the songs would play randomly. After all, they were songs you had chosen. All that was needed was a button to skip over a song if you weren’t in the mood for it. ‘Embrace uncertainty,’ the ads read.

Are you able to look past the things you take for granted in your business, so you can really start innovating?

Congrats again to Beth and thank you to everyone for your entries.

Buy my new book, You Gotta Have Balls, here.


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