Value-Subtracted Products


Acer founder Stan Shih has commented that the fads for ultrabooks and tablet PCs are both short-term phenomena and urged companies in the notebook supply chain to come out with more value-added products through innovation.

Shih added that Apple achieved success with iPad through its outside-the-box thinking, which is an attitude that all notebook players should learn.

The phrase “outside-the-box” is so cliché it doesn’t mean much. Did Apple think outside the box? I argue that Apple wasn’t framing its thinking relative to a ‘box’ at all. Instead what Apple was doing with the MacBook Air and the iPad is simple. Steve Jobs says this time and time again: Apple wants to make the best possible product. And how does it do that?

By building value-subtracted products. When Shih mentions value-added, he means adding a bunch of features. The Windows-based PC world is filled with value-added products. Just look at the number of buttons, ports, flashing lights, etc. on most notebooks and you’ll see what I mean. Value-added? Yes, for the manufacturer; but not for the user.

Antoine De Saint-Exupéry:

Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.

Apple value-substracts and by doing that maximizes the value to you, the user; the company takes away and continues to do that until there is no more to take away. That’s how designers and engineers at Apple got to the MacBook Air, to the iPad. Perfect? No, but closer than any other value-added product out there.

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