We’re not quite there yet, and Apple’s calculation that the short-term hassle of dealing with adapters and dongles to make old, wired audio connections work with the new iPhone will be worth the long-term benefits to Apple (in simplified product designs) and their users (in getting rid of cables and their shortcomings).
I’m betting that they’re right. Because Apple’s business model is a master class in how to get more by doing less. And this is far from the first time that they’ve done something like this.
Remember the floppy disk? Maybe, like me, you remember having a wallet full of them, crossing your fingers every time you pushed one into the disk drive that you wouldn’t see the dreaded “Disk Error” message that meant all was lost. Maybe you even remember back when they were actually floppy.
Then in 1998 Apple unveiled their comeback vehicle, the iMac. It was colorful, compact, powerful, inexpensive—and had no floppy drive. Industry experts cried folly and predicted doom, but the iMac few off the shelves and brought Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy. People realized that they could, in fact, live without a floppy drive in their PC. It just took someone taking it away to prove it.
Since then Apple has done this again and again: released a brand-new operating system that instantly made 20 years worth of Mac software obsolete; replaced the 30-pin iPod/iPhone connector used by millions of accessories with the brand-new Lightning Connector; released a new MacBook with only one port and no CD/DVD drive; taking the audio jack out of the iPhone. And yet customers have not deserted them and their profits just get bigger. How do they get away with it?
Take a minute to think about what your company’s floppy disk is. What is the process, or product, or feature that you keep around out of inertia, because that’s how things have always been? If it went away, what opportunities to get more by doing less—increased efficiency, or growth, or innovation—would its absence reveal?
Sometimes the answer is obvious, but more often it feels like a tough call. But a strong vision for your business lets you approach the question confidently: is it serving your Vision? What if it went away? What possible outcomes can you ideate, prototype, and test?
Successful businesses don’t just learn to change with the times. Successful companies lead the change, and to do that you have to have the confidence and discipline to know when it’s time to say goodbye to things that might have once been essential and embrace what’s next.
So, what is your floppy disk? It’s time to hit the eject button for the last time.