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May 24, 2011

Wanna work with Apple? Get ready to Think Different...

I have been in love with Apple since I was 12. In 1982 a friend of mine showed me an Apple and a PET computer sitting side by side in his dad's home office and I remember thinking that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Since then I have always been in or around Apple technology and have always been considered the MAC guy - even when it was a pretty unpopular choice back Apple's dark days (i.e. No Steve).

After I sold my company Interactive Media Solutions in 2000 I immediately jumped at the chance to join Apple to work on the largest single deal in the company's history - the State of Maine Laptop Initiative - one laptop for every child. I managed the team that deployed 67 thousand iBooks to every 7-12 grader in the State, installed wireless access points in 400 schools, created a professional development program for teachers so they could leverage all the new technology. This was an opportunity for me to help prove what Steve Jobs knew in his heart - that ubiquitous compute infrastructure for children would fundamentally transform education and improve student achievement in not only standardized test score but higher order/21st century skills like presentation and collaboration. I will argue that Apple is still the only company of its kind that truly cares about education and puts its money where it's mouth is. The people at Apple are not the cold transactional beasts that look to profit off our nations schools rather they provide real solutions with hardware, software, curriculum, teacher portals that delver on the promise of technology in our classrooms.

I mention this because it is critical to understand how to work with Apple. You need to understand what is important to the company - to Steve Jobs. The companies that have done well working with Apple truly get this. When you think about your product or service think about the following:


What Apple Cares About - Apple cares about building the best products in the world. Apple wants their user experiences to be unmatched. Although the executives at Apple will tell you that Apple is a consumer products company they will also tell you that Apple's products happen to work great in SMB and in the largest Enterprises in the world.


How you can get their attention - Build something truly innovative on the Apple platform. The Apple developer community has gone from a tiny passionate, albeit bloody at times, group of people to tens of thousands of companies creating Apple-specific hardware extensions and truly transformative Apps for Mac OS X and iOS. Another way to get their attention is help them create switchers - both consumer and enterprise. If you product or service can help Apple win new customers then love will flow.


Dos and Dont's for working with Apple - Build products specifically for Mac OS X and iOS. This is HUGE. If your product was built for another platform originally then plan a completely new version for Apple that leverages the key value proposition of Apple's OSes and hardware. Many non Apple-centric companies see Apple's customers as an easy target for stuff that was primarily built for other platforms and they create a me too version for Mac OS X or iOS that almost always fails. Not only will you get no love from Apple(Developer Relations, Field Sales, ACN Community, and others in Apple's ecosystem), users will quickly realize that these products are an afterthought and will not want them on their devices.

Each day we are mindful and respectful of the wonderful relationship we have with Apple and the many people we work with there. I feel blessed to have been given the chance to start Apperian and we have been laser focused on accelerating the growth and adoption of iOS in the enterprise since day one. Even more exciting for me to see Apperian moving from building these very first enterprise Apps as custom engagements to developing EASE, a platform that allows enterprise to Create, Deploy, and Manage transformative native Apps. EASE is built with the learnings from our time at Apple - to put user experience first and to solve all the gnarly technological problems behind the scenes - and to build software that Apple can be proud to have running on their devices.

Apperian

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