Who knew that you can draw a direct line from Cap’n Crunch to the development of the iPhone? From Today I Found Out:
One such prize was offered by Cap’n Crunch in the 1960s: a seemingly innocuous whistle. Styled after naval bo’sun whistles used to transmit orders on a sea vessel, the plastic instrument happened to be able to produce a tone at exactly 2600 hertz. This is important because AT&T phone systems functioned on a series of tones that indicated which line was to perform a given action. Producing the right tone at the right time gave one control over part of the system, such as the ability to make free long-distance calls.
The culture that grew around learning to manipulate this infrastructure became known as “phreaking.” One of the most important phreakers was John Draper, who was not coincidentally aliased “Captain Crunch”, thanks to the aforementioned whistle. Moving beyond whistles and instruments, Draper, along with several others, ultimately constructed what came to be known as “blue boxes”- devices capable of emitting the various tones necessary to take advantage of AT&T phone lines in various ways.
Phreaking was arguably the beginning of what would later develop into the computer hacking subculture. Among the members of this burgeoning group were two young men who were inspired by John “Cap’n Crunch” Draper, sought him out, and learned his whistling ways. Of course, these two took it a step further when one of them realized that they could monetize the concept.
Their names were, of course, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (founders of Apple), who created their first business together making these blue boxes, which were incredibly valuable not just for prank and free calls, but also to criminals the world over thanks to the fact that the free calls could be made in such a way as to be incredibly difficult to trace.
This is a description of Steve Jobs that I can almost guarantee is unique:
So, who is this man? He's the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock. He's a non-Christian, arugula-eating, drug-using follower of unabashedly old-fashioned liberal teachings from the hippies and folk music stars of the 60s. And he believes in science, in things that science can demonstrate like climate change and Pi having a value more specific than "3", and in extending responsible benefits to his employees while encouraging his company to lead by being environmentally responsible.
The description comes from Anil Dash who also writes:
Every single person who'd attack Steve Jobs on any of these grounds is, demonstrably, worse at business than Jobs. They're unqualified to assert that liberal values are bad for business, when the demonstrable, factual, obvious evidence contradicts those assertions.
Agree or disagree he makes an interesting point.
In an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about Apple's retail strategy I came across this:
Still, Apple is considered a pioneer in many aspects of customer service and store design. According to several employees and training manuals, sales associates are taught an unusual sales philosophy: not to sell, but rather to help customers solve problems. "Your job is to understand all of your customers' needs—some of which they may not even realize they have," one training manual says. To that end, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas.
"You were never trying to close a sale. It was about finding solutions for a customer and finding their pain points," said David Ambrose, 26 years old, who worked at an Apple store in Arlington, Va., until 2007.
Apple lays its "steps of service" out in the acronym APPLE, according to a 2007 employee training manual reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that is still in use.
"Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome," "Probe politely to understand all the customer's needs," "Present a solution for the customer to take home today," "Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns," and "End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return."
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576364071955678908.html#ixzz1PNc5
I find it sad that a business is considered a pioneer because it asks its front line employees to listen to customers, help them solve a problem and warmly invite them back. I'm not shocked, hey I saw Glengarry Glen Ross too, but I am saddened. I know many small businesses that do what Apple is being lauded for in this article, but when the Journal of Big Business Wall Street Journal points out that this is different from what you see in corporate retail America I think that's a pretty good indicator of how lots of large companies treat their customers – as raw meat for the sales mill.
Received via email from my Mom, using her Apple: