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What If Apple Worked On Big F*&#ing Problems?

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Why Give a Damn:

Steve Jobs liked to “live at the intersection of the humanities and technology,” and that’s exactly the place where communications technologies need to be.


The author of this post, Ken Banks, is the founder of kiwanja.net and Means Of Exchange, and devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. Ken is the author of The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator.


    “Two weeks ago, I was staying at a working dairy farm sixty kilometers north of Bogotá, Colombia. I was fiddling around with my iPad when one of the kids that worked in the stables came up to me and started staring at it. He couldn’t have been more than six years old, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that he had never used a computer or even a cellular telephone before (Colombia has many attractions. The vast pool of illiterate poor is not one of them)

    Who better to show us how it should be done than the masters of usability and design?  Tweet This Quote

    Curious, I handed him the device and a very small miracle happened. He started using it. I mean, really using it. Almost instantly, he was sliding around, opening and closing applications, playing a pinball game I had downloaded. All without a single word of instruction from me”

    Michael Noer, “The Stable Boy and the iPad

Two questions scream out at me when I read this. Firstly, what would happen if Apple turned a fraction of its attention to the disparity between technological “have” and “have not” geographic locations or demographic groups? And secondly, why doesn’t Apple work in aiding economic development by ensuring equitable access to up-to-date communications technologies? In a sector where so many tools and solutions seem to fail because they’re too complex, poorly designed, unusable or inappropriate, who better to show us how it should be done than the masters of usability and design?

Steve Jobs seemed to have little time for philanthropy, at least publicly.  Tweet This Quote

The answer to the second question is a little easier to answer than the first. As Walter Isaacson pointed out in his recent biography, Steve Jobs felt he could contribute more to the world by ‘simply’ making brilliant products. He seemed to have little time for philanthropy, at least publicly, and his laser focus meant he saw almost everything other than Apple’s mission as a distraction. Ironically, had he decided to give away some of his ballooning wealth, he’d most likely have funded programs working in nutrition and vegetarianism, not technology, according to Mark Vermilion (who Steve Jobs hired back in 1986 to run the Steven P. Jobs Foundation, which he was destined to shut down a year later).

Had Steve Jobs decided to pursue his Foundation, and had he decided to fund technology-based initiatives in the developing world, how well might he have done, and what might Apple have been able to contribute to our discipline?

Here are five initial thoughts on where an Apple approach to Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) might be different – or problematic.

  1. Consult the user

    One of the central tenets of ICT4D is to consult the user before designing or building anything. In business, at least, Apple doesn’t do this. They certainly didn’t speak to Colombian farm children, yet they managed to intuitively build something that worked for the six year old Michael Noer met. As Steve Jobs famously said:

    “Our job is to figure out what users are going to want before they do. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

    An Apple ICT4D project would unlikely spend much time, if any, speaking with the target audience, an approach entirely at odds with the one we champion right now.

  2. Customer vs. beneficiary

    Apple would see people as customers, and they’d be carrying out what they’d see as a commercial transaction with them. This approach would mean they’d have to build something the customer wanted, and that worked (and worked well). Since it would have to sell, if successful it would, by default, be financially sustainable. Part of the problem with the largely subsidised ICT4D “give away technology” model is that no-one is ultimately accountable if things don’t work out, and regular business rules do not apply.

  3. Open vs. closed

    The ICT4D community is entrenched in an open source mindset, almost to the extent that closed solutions are scorned upon. Steve Jobs was a strong believer in controlling all aspects of the user experience, all the way from hardware through to software. To him, closed systems were better “integrated” and open systems “fragmented”:

      What is best for the customer – integrated versus fragmented? We think this is a huge strength of our system versus Google’s. When selling to people who want their devices to just work, we think integrated wins every time. We are committed to the integrated approach. We are confident it will triumph over Google’s fragmented approach.

    There is no evidence in ICT4D, I don’t believe, which points towards more success for open solutions vs. closed (however you define success), yet open remains dominant. An early Apple success might give us pause for thought.

  4. Time for the field

    Although Paul Polak doesn’t work in ICT4D, he is one the biggest proponents of “getting out into the field to understand the needs of your customer”. In his long career he’s interviewed over 3,000 people earning a dollar or less a day to better understand their needs – and the market opportunity. In this short video he talks about the process of spending time in rural villages, talking in depth with villagers, and identifying opportunities for transformative impact.

    Apple wouldn’t see the need to do this because they wouldn’t consider the needs of dollar-a-day customers as being any different to anyone else. They’d consider their intuitive design and user interface to be non-culturally specific. People, everywhere, want simple-to-use technologies that just work, regardless of who they are.

  5. Appropriate technology

    Apple’s product line hardly fits into the appropriate technology model – they’re expensive, power-hungry and the devices are reliant on a computer (via iTunes) as their central controlling “hub”. The systems are also closed, blocking any chance of local innovation around the platform. How Apple tackle this – yet maintain their standards of excellence in design and usability – would probably turn out to be their biggest challenge.

    Although it hasn’t happened yet, a post-Steve Jobs Apple might yet develop a philanthropic streak. If they did they could easily turn to their friends at frog design (now branded Frog) for help. Frog, who worked closely with them in the early days of the Macintosh range, have recently worked with a number of ICT4D initiatives and organisations, including Project Masiluleke and UNICEF.

Apple has already reinvented the music and publishing industries. With the talent, capital and resources available I’d bet my bottom dollar on them reinventing ICT4D if they chose to. Steve Jobs liked to “live at the intersection of the humanities and technology”, and that’s exactly the place where ICT4D needs to be.

Although it hasn’t happened yet, a post-Steve Jobs Apple might yet develop a philanthropic streak.  Tweet This Quote

Ken Banks

About the author

Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net and FrontlineSMS, devotes himself to the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change in the developing world. He has worked...

Ken Banks has written 15 articles for UNREASONABLE.is

  • GrycowskAJ17

    Before even reading I was thinking about his closed style. I love how that was referenced. It wouldn’t have made him that much money to publicize his works before release dates, but I bet his inventions would be even greater. Great article though.

  • Frank_Stanek

    I myself am not the biggest fan of Apple and of Steve Jobs. That being said I can most definitely see the potential benefits of Apple taking a more active interest in philanthropic activities. However based on their past buisness model I really don’t see this happening. This is one of the reasons that Google is one of my favorite companies when it comes to this type of activities. They may not be perfect but they are much more active in the philantropy scene. I would argue that if they did take part in this it actually might help their buisness as it might win people like myself over showing that they do care.

  • jbrycewilson

    Certainly Apple could incorporate a more philanthropic style, but if it happens I think it would have to be through a subsidiary, or through a partnership to which Apple does not have a financial stake. Historically their aim hasn’t been to open up access to dollar-a-day areas, but rather market their products to the places that create multi-month backorder logs. Could they change they style, yes and I would support it. But they’d be hard pressed to do it without serious backlash from their board and execs, and every investor whose had their stock since the late 90s.

  • cameruca4

    This is an interesting article. It is hard to imagine Apple as a completely different company than the one we see today. That said if they would have channelled their energies into fixing world problems they would have likely made some serious headway, but there is no question that they would be a completely different company then the one we know today.

  • Logan Dohmeier

    I agree with and think it is important that companies such as Apple utilize their success in helping contribute to various solutions of the many world wide problems. There is no reason for one company to take that load and throw it all on their back, but if a few distribute the brain power and wealth I think a lot could be done. The trouble is that it would take quite a few changes in how the company works as they simply would not be the same company if they took more of a philanthropic approach. It is a great idea, but it would require a tremendous amount of work and dedication to the different “projects” which would take away from their current profit and marketing success. It most certainly couldn’t be free. Great article with some really interesting ideas to mull over.

  • natebbeard

    I have been waiting for someone to post something on this topic. Thanks, Ken!
    This might be a little scattered/abstract…
    First, Apple might represent the future of ICT4D because it consists of users building products for themselves, which should be the ultimate goal of many social ventures because that is true empowerment.
    I really agree with your second point. It’s a fundamental difference that’s problematic with ICT4D, social entrepreneurship, and/or economic development. Aneel Karnani talks about it in his responses to Prahalad’s BOP manuscripts, but the value exchange in business inherently has one side profiting more than the other, which can’t be the poor because they can’t afford it… kind of leaks into your third point perhaps too, but more so circulating around to the fact that we need to help spur new Apples where the BOPs are producers and consumers making innovative products for themselves?

  • Kendra Larson

    I would have to agree with you. I think that it’s great that Apple utilizes their success to help contribute to solutions for world wide problems. It is true that Apple could have the potential risk of changing the way that they currently operate, but it could be worth it in the long run. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jeovany_Espino

    I agree that the Apple we know today would be totally different if they were philanthropic. After reading this article I sort of dislike Apple even more. I see it as a status quote brand of self importance and standardization. The company is full of themselves, when they have an abundance in wealth that can easily be used to help others and in some ways help their image. It also wouldn’t take much since the kid in Bogota within a few minutes knew how to use the ipad.

  • Evan Baldwin

    How would you measure this value if Apple were to change the future of ICT4D? I doubt you could quantify it monetarily, but with that being said, I still believe a project like this could add tremendous value to Apple. But I think if a publicly traded company is going to do anything like this they are going to need to find a way to measure it in order to return something back to the shareholders.

  • Sammaritano

    Great article! The idea that certain people lack the ability to use modern technology is very relevant for today’s world. But apple exists for profit, not philanthropy. Yet if apple (or any other technology company) were able to truly adapt its handheld, computer, and cellular product to a much wider range of customers around the world, it would without doubt raise profits. Certain products they make are indeed too complex for certain technological infrastructures. I believe that the first tech company that can break out of these already saturated North American/European markets and start to build a product for people with less tech savvy cultures WILL MAKE HUGE PROFITS.

  • John Harbaugh

    Very interesting article! Most publications I read on the internet highlight Apples success at creating simple products that can change peoples lives. One such article describes how mentally challenged people can communicate easier and more effectively through the use of their appropriate technology. If Apple could create a product that could be more affordable and meet the needs of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid than they could effectively raise the standard of living for these individuals with the ability to research the internet in a matter of seconds. There is extremely potential for Apple to continue its success in the modern age, but the developing worlds will continue to lack an affordable alternative.

  • KevinThomson32

    After reading this article it showed me how much apple is full of themselves and do not really reach out to other people. This company is so money hungry that they will do anything to keep you coming back. For example, like changing the power cord on the iphone 5 so you have to get a new charger and also a radio dock if you had one.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this article! It is amazing how apple has been made such a simple product that a stable boy can use it. Perhaps these products have more potential in them than to play flappy bird. These products can help to continue to change the world in more ways than they have before. Do you think the world would be better or would we have worse products with apple if they did philanthropic work?

  • http://www.pitchily.com/ Nathan Young

    What would happen if Apple worked on big problems? We’d get a bunch of pretty, piecemeal solutions. Apple’s success in business is based on an iterative approach to innovation, despite the leaderships frequent claims of developing “the next big thing” a few times per year. It focuses in on small achievable problems and heralds them as earth shattering revelations during conferences. Perhaps Apple’s greatest achievement as a company is pushing adoption of existing innovations through the power of its brand.

    Take the latest innovation for instance: TouchID. Fingerprint scanners have been around for ages. The main reason that TouchID is useful is because iOS requires your Apple ID password multiple times per day. Is that real innovation? Is that solving a real problem?

    If you look at the biggest innovations in 2000s Tech — Cloud Computing, Social Media, Content Sharing Platforms — Apple has either lagged behind its competition or been a non-entity. If you look at the places where Apple changed the game — smartphones, tablets, iTunes — there were several major players who did it before Apple.

    Apple packages solutions to problems that have already been solved in ways that connect with consumers in a powerful way. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s a great thing. But Apple solving world hunger? Apple fixing AIDS in Africa? Apple curing cancer? Please.

  • katie bartlein

    Before reading this article I never really thought of the big picture behind it. What is big companies such as Apple spent a little time, energy, or focus on helping those in need. Many of these big companies are programmed to continually better themselves. I think that if effort was put into helping others, it could be done. These large companies have a large amount of employees that work on problem solving daily. If these efforts were turned towards something bigger, it could ultimately help with the solution. How do we get these companies to help in other ways then just bettering themselves?

  • Willie

    These are multi-billion dollar companies, to me it could be as simple as donating money to worthwhile charities that are trying to change the world because that’s where problems always arise in this world we live in, if you don’t have the money you’re just out of luck.

  • treehugger90

    I like how Paul Porlak said, “Start talking to poor people themselves and see what they want.” The video really told the the true picture. I agree that its a good idea to talk to the poor people themselves and see what they spend their money on to help. I am a Apple person, I have an Iphone and have many Ipods; but Apple pisses me off when they keep coming out with new generation after generation. Reason being is because I swear they put some defect in the earlier on product, so it will have that specific lifespan. But I do think Apple makes great products, and they are easy to use.

  • treehugger90

    I agree with you that Apple is a money hungry business. I swear they put some default in all their products; so you have to keep coming back and buying a newer one.

  • Anthony Urbanski

    Interesting article, I tend to agree with most if it’s points. If apple used some of its wealth to funds other programs, as mentioned in the article, I think it could leave a bigger impact on a larger amount if people. I liked the point on possible funding a nutrition movement. This type of focus would help millions around the world. The apple brand carries a lot of weight but this could add to its reputation

  • amandatwolf

    It’s certainly true that there is a daunting disparity in this world. Both socially and technologically, although these are two sides of the same coin. I enjoyed this article a lot because it prompted me to think and reflect on the power of technology and the solutions it potentially poses to these huge problems plaguing our world. I certainly agree that it could be very beneficial to begin integrating disadvantaged people into this complex technological world that we’ve all grown accustomed to.

  • amykahl8

    Based on my experience with apple their main goal isn’t to satisfy the customer. I had a phone break that was suppose to be under warranty and they claimed a cracked screen wasn’t included in the warranty. My thoughts are if that common of a problem isn’t included what is then!? You’d think with all that money apple has as a company they could spare to send some ipads to underdeveloped places and help expand knowledge.

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for posting this blog. I found this interesting because I never really thought about before what could happen if big companies like apple gave a little bite more money to the poor. To think that if every big company gave just a little bit more money to the poor how much we as a society might be able to help improve these poor peoples lives. I do agree if we provided more technology to poor people it could really end up being beneficial. Just because these people don’t have the technology doesn’t meant they wont know how to use it. For example, when the farm child looked at aw at the ipad and he got to use it . He new exactly what to do even though the author could tell that this child has never used any technology like this before based on the child’s facial expression.

  • Monique

    Great article! As I was reading your article, I thought to myself, this is exactly what Paul Polak would say and then I saw his video! In my solutions for the 3rd world class we read Paul Polak’s book “Out of Poverty” and it says just that. You must first consult the end user (poorest of the poor) and by listening to them and working with them then you can see what they need and design it for them. I think it would be great if Apple could do this and on a large scale. One of Paul Polaks requirements is that your product has to reach at least one million users and Apple could do just that, if not more. This topic also reminded me of what people do when they become so rich. In one of my business classes, a man presented his hero as being Larry Ellison the CEO of Oracle Corporation. He then explained how much money Larry had and how his house was work $600 million. He also said that Steve Jobs and Larry were very good friends. I thought this wasn’t very impressive because anyone can spend their money on a house. That doesn’t involve any thought processes. What he should be spending his money on is inventing in making products for the poorest of the poor and then that would be impressive. Of course this takes brain power, knowledge, time, and research but in the end it can be profitable as well. If Larry Ellison were to do something like that, that would be “hero” worthy news to me. I hope that in the future years the richest of the rich can begin to see the opportunities that are available in the business market if they target the poorest of the poor as their consumers and producers.

  • Josh Pritchard

    I agree with you. Apple is such a big company and I think everybody knows the brand. If the company just donated a little money or even funded a “nutrition movement” the companies reputation would be greater. This was a good article to read and Apple is a great company but they need to invest in some other programs. What else could Apple do to increase their reputation with other programs?

  • Jessica Walker

    The sad part about this is that yes, Apple has it all figured out. But you are right, it doesn’t seem as if they are doing much for the people. They have all of the advanced technologies, are probably making as much money as McDonalds is and still seem so placed into themselves. It would be great for them to be connected to programs such as vegetarianism and nutrition like you mentioned in your article. They almost seem as if they are so high on the totem pole (which they are) and that the objects below them do not even matter. Sure they say they are giving us what we want before we even know we want it, but still in a self-centered way. Making all of their products run at atleast $100, making it a smaller target audience of people who can afford something like this. Do you think there is any hope that Apple will get out of its own circle one day?

  • Caitlin Donohue

    Thank you for this article! Being a communication major it is interesting to see five initial thoughts where an Apple approach to Information and Communication Technologies for Development might be different or problematic. Those are very interesting to hear and I will definitely take note of them to help solve problems in my future career. Do you see Apple changing any time soon?

  • clemonsel02

    This article makes you wonder why this these companies do not give back. Companies like Apple have money to blow so why not give to those who truely need it the most. I think if every big company gave a little it could change many more lives than I think they realize. How could be get big companies to get involved though? Any suggestions?

  • PKroening

    I had the same kind of experience with them. They are such a huge name in the world and it would be great if they could give back more. Maybe not even iPad’s to underdeveloped countries but how about some money for food so all these people aren’t starving. I just wish they could help those in need more.

  • Jack Delabar

    Big corporations piss me off for exactly this reason. My general view towards them is that they are out to make money. That’s it. Granted, not all of them follow this stereotype, but if a company like Marlboro really cared, they would discontinue a product that is proven to have killed millions. The world is about money and I believe that Apple is taking advantage of it’s consumers. Yes, their product “helps” us, but coming out with the Iphone 5s shortly after the Iphone 5 is a good example. Why do it? because it comes in a color now? No. Because they know people will go out and buy it because its the latest and greatest. What’s your take on this, Ken?

  • PKroening

    Thanks for sharing this article. I have had some troubles buying through Apple.I purchased an Iphone a while back and eventually the screen cracked. I took it into the Apple store and they said that a cracked screen wasn’t under warranty. The warranty stated that they would fix any accidental problems with the phone, but apparently not a cracked screen. Sometimes I think that these big, money powerful companies make their products cheaper than they could make them so they have customers keep coming back to get stuff fixed. How do you think Apple could get involved with more people in need?

  • Kait Harman

    To be honest I am not much of a technology person but I could relate to the end of the article where I understood what was being said. Many people have Apple products and can relate also to what this article is talking about. I have all Apple products because I have had problems with any other company used products from before. My Droid and my Dell compute broke real quick. I like Apple because they don’t have to many problems with their products but I hate their prices. Why are their prices so high if the guy who designed Apple has more than enough money already?

  • Caleb Trantow

    I just kept thinking and thinking the entire article that the reason why apple doesn’t do any of these things is because they like to make a lot of money while keeping their brand as strong as possible. Look how long it took them to come out with a ‘cheap’ model of the iPhone in the 5c. The whole ‘appropriate technology’ point addresses this relatively. I don’t think apple will ever look towards designing products for the BOP because they do not want ‘cheap’ and ‘apple’ to ever be associated. Apple is successful, not just because they offer a good product (many other phone makers products are arguably better) but because of the status symbol that goes along with Apple… as unfortunate as that is.

  • Tyler Steinmetz

    Thank you for sharing all your thoughts about this!! Apple does seem to have this mindset of, “When you buy our product, you must buy all of our other products so that your first product will work.” Even though Apple has some of the best devices out there, it’s hard for people that are living on dollar-a-day salaries to even consider owning a product that was made by Apple. I thought it was crazy to think that Steve Jobs said he doesn’t look at other market reviews. It seems to be working in countries like ours, but countries that are suffering from poverty need to be given something and presented with something that can benefit them the most. What are some other things that you think Apple will do in the future to either benefit or take away from the big problems around the world?

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    Apple is a major company that focuses on one thing, “profit”. Due to the views of capitalism and marketing, we choose to become apart of this cycle. Some people purchase items from this company to “stay up with the Jones'”. It symbolizes the status and power you now acquired from these devices. Others have these items because of the quality of the product. Don’t get me wrong, Apple does have some of the best quality devices around yet you’re paying an arm and a leg to have the item. The loyalty you have for these companies are not the same they have for you. One of the most popular sayings you will hear in their world, “It’s just business!”.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for this article!! Apple is a huge company that’s all about the money but, yet everyone wants the iPhone or iPad. Everyone wants apple because they are reliable and don’t broke often. I don’t get why the prices are so high if they come out with an iPhone like every six months. I mean apple already makes enough money.

  • lepkowskjj29

    I agree they are already such a popular company people buy their product even with the high prices so just imagine if they lowered prices more, I feel they would get even more popular.

  • tjbaumeister08

    I agree, I think it’s a little ridiculous that their prices are so high even though the new model isn’t always that different from the one before it but they kind of have to to keep their products priced high because it’s part of their status symbol in society. From the way they’ve branded themselves, they’re products are considered luxuries and to maintain that reputation they have to keep their prices high. They also are known for being innovative which is why they probably come out with a new model so often; they have to try to remain at the top of the market.

  • Amy Rink

    I agree with you, the products apple has created could have more potential to help with philanthropic work. Then again I believe that other big companies could as well, such as Microsoft. My only question is what exactly are they wanting to change?

  • weidmankl15

    So true with the “When you buy our product, you must buy all of our other products so that your first product will work.” I bought a Macbook for college and my phone and mp3 are not Apple products so they are not compatible. Basically trying to force me to buy an IPod and an IPhone, although I am not that stupid to go along with it.

  • Daniel John

    This article was interesting, thank you for the post. I liked your first example of the young child that caught on quickly to your iPad. Do you think this will be a problem with the younger minds of today?

  • Jansscor16

    I agree, my iPhone was a present from my parents this year because I was traveling by myself, they wanted me to have something reliable with internet for emergencies. Up until then I always used a cheap, basic phone. Which was plenty for me. I can see how apple devices create a sense of status. In High School it was a definite status, but not many people realized it.

  • AmandaBrom

    Thank you for sharing this great article! I think sometimes its hard to look at companies that are so successful and wonder how they are able to make such a large amount of money but do little to help. Apple is by far the largest and most popular when it comes to technology. But they are so expensive I don’t own many of their products. What gave you this idea to write this article?

  • Kyle Schiedemeyer

    My sister got an iphone the same time I did at Christmas this past year. She is 7 years younger than me, and figured it out twice as fast as I did. Im amazed at how much kids would rather face time their friends instead of going over to their house and playing with them in person. This is a problem, I agree.

  • Kyle Schiedemeyer

    I think its crazy that the more you pay for a product the easier it breaks. An example is an iPhone, if you drop it once without a $150 case on it, it shatters, where as a penny flip phone is virtually indestructible. Makes no sense to me!

  • Leahrebout

    Very interesting, thanks for posting! I think the thing that is most surprising is that within all of the bullet points it seemed that they really did not pay any attention to the current customer. How is this possible within such a successful business? I think the people using the product would be the most important support and resource for a company to have! What do you think is the biggest thing that Apple needs to change?

  • Caroline Brewka

    Unfortunately I don’t believe that Apple will ever design for the BOP. Although they certainly have the resources and capabilities to, it does not align with their brand equity of designing elite technologies. Catering to the BOP would require designing around the price to create a product that the BOP needs, and Apple cannot afford to focus their attention towards this. Being in such a static environment, the technology industry, requires that Apple always be ahead of their competition, and designing ‘down’ might hurt them more than it helps. We therefore could never rely on giant’s such as Apple. What the BOP needs are businesses who enter the space with a social objective. In which case, designing for the BOP would directly align with their business model and it would allow for a more concentrated effort.

  • aulm92

    This article was very interesting and really made me think outside the box a bit. I can relate completely about the story where the child just started using the Ipad. My 3 year old nephew caught onto using an Ipad in a very similar way the child in the story, its crazy how easy and convenient apple products are to use.

  • Steven Bichler

    I think one of Apple’s greatest assets is that all of their products are simple enough to use for anybody (examples: the child in this article, any grandparent walking around with an iPhone or iPod). In addition they also do a great job marketing it as the next big thing and now all of their products are used in styles so I see it very hard for them to mess this up, even though Steve Jobs has passed away.

  • Fabian Laguna

    This is a great idea I never thought of before. Apple could truly make a difference in the world if they were to expand to different consumer markets. I would not necessarily denominate this as a philanthropic effort though. If their expansion into developing markets would be as successful as their efforts have been in the past, they could make tremendous profits as well as stimulate the countries economy and provide an essential tool to develop the country. I am very interested in ways that large corporations can sustainably develop their consumer markets while making profits. This is something that must occur, businesses have proven to be extremely powerful in this world, why not use that power logically in an effort to progress the planet?

  • Morgan Dowd

    I would challenge the idea of changing the Apple product. If a 6 year old Columbian boy can pick up an Apple product and figure it out on his own, then why would Apple change their product by responding to their customers? They have been successful in finding ways to surprise the consumers of their products, and finding many ways to improve their product without feedback from the consumer. If the system isn’t flawed, why change it? However, I do think Apple could change the product to make it more affordable to a different market, which why they make the iphone 5C. The 5C is a cheaper, affordable version that can translate to other developing markets. But it’s not enough. In other countries, cell phone users need to buy the phone and plan, without no discount for the phone itself. An even cheaper phone could be a solution, but Apple has to decide what is more important; expansion to more markets or the quality of their product.

  • Palecekb

    I agree with you on the outlook of if the system is not flawed why change it? It looks as if apple is doing a great job of the 6 year old can manage the ipad with no instruction. This was a goal of their, easy to use for everyone. The point you made about apple coming out with cheaper phones such as the 5C is a perfect example of how they are trying to market to lower income families to be able to afford things. It show the Apple is taking them into consideration. My question is, is Apple is showing improvement and success in changing the marketing target why are other companies not being criticized to do the same? Why is all the pressure on apple when they are showing improvement while companies such as samsung are facing no criticism?

  • giorgiogmr

    I also agree with you. Changing their product line could just turn people away from their products. Most adolescents and kids are doing great with their tablets or phone without the help of an instruction. Currently, Apple is going to release the iphone 6 with a wide screen. They could probably put a more competitive price for the iphone 6. Thus, it’ll be more affordable for those who live in a country where people need to buy the device without a discount from the cellphone’s carrier. Apple should not be greedy, their products might be pioneering the market for now but it won’t stay long if they still put the same price tag for years.

  • Andersonjc16

    I like the idea of having a company like apple try and make a difference with other products but i agree with many others how many do not like change and some loose loyalty to a brand if they change from their norms. But if they can create a product at similar value and with a far less cost many more can use it and be exposed to the brand.

  • Drew

    I like your idea here and agree. Loyalty is huge for a company and when companies starting putting their foot into places where it shouldn’t be or so some think, then they become less loyal and dislike a certain company. Products nowadays are outrageously expensive this just gives Apple another way to price fix…

  • Melissa Howlett

    This article made me think of a TED talk by Dan Pallotta (link: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong). Banks’ ideas about the differences between ICT4D and Apple speak to the differences between the business and non-profit world that Pallotta pointed out in his talk.

    The distinction between Pallotta and Banks comes from Pallotta suggesting that ICT4D should be more like Apple. Although Banks does not reject this idea entirely, he does suggest that some of Apple’s strategies are contrary to ICT4D’s. For example, Banks notes that their current strategy starts by talking to customers while Apple does not rely on market research at all when creating its product. I am not suggesting that one strategy is better, but the discussion about the pros and cons of each needs to keep happening in order to have the greatest impact on development.

  • Marissa Forbes

    This was a great article! I think the part that stuck with me most was when it said, “Steve Jobs felt he could contribute more to the world by ‘simply’ making brilliant products.” While it’s really important to try to reach out and help others, a lot of times that requires new ideas and technology. It seems that the odds aren’t great to have someone as brilliant as Steve Jobs who is at the same time very philanthropic.

    It makes me wonder how much of an attitude shift would be needed in the business world to make helping others a priority. With Wall Street and the extreme pressure for publicly traded companies to be growing and profitable, it creates an environment that makes serious efforts towards helping those living in poverty extremely difficult. Our economic model has made it easy to create the technology we need to do this, now we just need to find a way to support businesses in spreading economic development.

  • Alyssa Borgrud

    I also agree about product loyalty. I myself will only buy apple products. I have a Iphone, Ipad, and Macbook Pro. Many think that this is redundant and tell me that they are all practically the same product and just different size, but I enjoy having all of these products. I don’t think that Apple needs to “dumb” down their products to make it more accessible to others. So many people are already buying Apple products. Currently, Apple is one of the elite brands and I think that it should be kept that way.

  • mhansen11

    Exactly. I agree with you here about using their power to progress our planet. It will of course help all of us here. They seem to be only caring about their own company and how much they can do for themselves. But they can be so much more than just that. I hope one day they can prosper to more and help everyone out for the greater good.

  • Tammy Hartmann

    Ken, thank you for sharing this article. Before reading, I had no clue what was behind Apple. You mentioned in the article that Apple spends little time, energy, or focus on helping those in need, which conflicts with Apple’s mission.

    This article reminded me of how important it is to periodically review and reflect on company/organization missions, visions, values and goals. If the mission and the company’s activities are divergent, what can I do? What solutions do I have as one person?

  • Chris Williams

    To be honest I am not much of a technology person but I could relate to the end of the article where I understood what was being said. Many people have Apple products and can relate also to what this article is talking about. I have all Apple products because I have had problems with any other company used products from before. My Droid and my Dell compute broke real quick. I like Apple because they don’t have to many problems with their products but I hate their prices. Why are their prices so high if the guy who designed Apple has more than enough money already?

  • jack lomax

    I agree with your statement. It would really need a huge shift in attitude in businesses and what a company stands for in order for said companies to build for a better future for the world, instead of a more bigger profit for the big wigs in their company. The technology IS there, but the mindset isn’t. IT doesn’t look like it ever will be unfortunately. Greed is too overwhelming for big companies to REALLY care for a better economic/poverty-less world. Sad but unfortunately true.

  • Angela Hoch

    Chris, I completely agree with what you said. I am also not much of a technology person, and don’t understand why Apple products are so extremely expensive. The only reason why I have Apple products is because I know it’s a trusted brand and have also had problems with other used products. You would think since the creator of Apple is a trillionaire, that the products would actually be affordable for most people.

  • Kevin Weber

    I agree with the second portion of your post. I often think about the products I’m buying. Such as is the company reliable, trustworthy, and honest. I believe word of mouth is huge is publicity. If you aren’t liking a product, spreading the word may have others thinking before buying next time. For instance, my parents have had time warner cable for many years now. The last few years they’ve been having problems with the cable connection, and customer service. During this time, neighbors and relatives were mentioning the same problems and the decided to switch. My parents just recently made the switch to at&t, after having enough with TWC.

  • masterdan55

    I agree with you! Apple is already a very very popular company. By lowering some of their prices this could in turn have more consumers. Great thought!

  • Caitlin Snyder

    Thank you for this article! I could relate to the ending because I, as well as so many other people, have an iPhone and I love it. What I don’t get is why Apple products are so expensive. They really don’t do that much more than anything else. Apple products are marketed like crazy and make people believe the are some sort of super brand. I am a huge fan of my iPhone but I have yet to fall into the trap of buying every single Apple product that is on the market. I also find it funny how many updates Apple has on their iPhones, even though the changes are not very significant with every new phone. People tend to just look at the advertisement and believe it, so they buy it. If you tell yourself something is awesome enough, you’ll believe it. Thanks again for the post!

  • Chris Williams

    yeah that is true but I guess if you have the best product out there then you have the right to make it the most expensive. Apple does a really good job at baiting people. The Iphone for example, once you buy one you got to get the next one and then the next one. They are really good a making people own more then just one Iphone.

  • TeamGarvin

    I agree completely with what you said. I myself own just one apple product and that is my phone nothing else. I also just recently learned that apple is sitting on 153 billion dollars straight cash for whatever they want to spend it on. If they put some of that money into better investments like hospital gear that would be amazing. That could benefit everyone, just think of the new technology they could think of with that type of money. That would be a huge break through in the medical field if they did some electronic research over there.

  • TeamGarvin

    Jack I agree with you. Sometimes people get blind with money and just keep thinking more and more about money. I hope that someday in the future that they will shift their technology trends to medical gear and find a break through that could help everybody.

  • TeamGarvin

    I like how you mention how they could make a huge difference in the world. Which is so true. With money comes power and with power comes great responsibility. I to hope that someday they spend some of that money to make better progress for the more meaningful things in life other than electronics.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I agree as well, the purpose of technology is to make life easier and it’s supposed to be accessible for everyone. Apple has achieved the ability to be used by every type of person, the tech savvy and also the outliers. In response to your question, I feel like Apple has become such a huge corporation that it is hard for other companies to challenge them. Apple has such a huge hold of the market that it is difficult for other rivals to even breach enough of the market to make an impact. When I think tablet, I think iPad. I can’t even think of a solid rival.

  • LevenhagAL14

    Well, the purpose of being a producer is to make money, so naturally they are going to care about their own success. I feel like in addition to continuing what they’re doing, evolving their market would make them even more successful. I agree with you in the idea that they could definitely be doing more to help out the common person, but at the same time there comes a point when we need to take responsibility for ourselves.

  • Palecekb

    exactly, so the other companies should be criticized on why they are so behind Apple and cannot compete.

  • Janna Bartels

    I agree with Ken Banks as well. While I think apple has a right to do whatever they want with the money they make, they have a great opportunity to make a difference in so many different areas. As you have said, apple could choose the medical field or philanthropy to support. I hope they choose to do something worth changing the world with that huge amount of money they are sitting on.

  • Slepicka12

    I completely agree with you about apple not using their money to help out those in need. There are many different organizations that could use the support from a company as big as apple.

  • Max Rude

    You summed it up great Just think of those breakthroughs. they could be the leading company not only in recreational/business but over all life.

  • Branden Unger

    Thanks for the article, I agree with you entirely. Apple has the resources and power to make huge contributions to something that could change the world for the better. If Apple invested even some of its time and money into other areas such as medicine, travel, or something like renewable energy sources, who knows what great things could be achieved and what fresh innovations can be put into effect to make life better for everyone on earth.

  • Alivia Holman

    I agree with you. Apple is not coming out with anything better. So what that it has more of a screen or its lighter. All the phones and computer do the same task yet each time a new product comes out it cost more yet nothing is comparably different.

  • Mordi

    Caring deeply about what people want is much different from continually asking them what they want and this requires intuition and instinct about desires that have not yet formed. I am not in total agreement with all that Jobs stood for but I do understand that Jobs cared deeply about the advancement of humankind and empowering people by putting the right tools in their hands was his way of showing it.

    Not everyone will be innovators yet the innovators will have to be inspired and empowered to stay true to their beliefs and create products that aim to solve the problems we face daily as people (users). And this accounts for why most of the new technologies and creativity witnessed in our world today was created by people using apple products or apple inspired products.

  • cdcraig

    Yeah an apple made hospital technology would be amazing. I wonder thought if there are a lot of laws and how tight a grip the other company’s have that make products. I guess when your sitting on billions of dollars you can blow through and grip people have.

  • Mizu4TheWin

    I find the story in the beginning, about the six-year-old child rather inspiring and also sad at the same time. It’s so simple for the child to use, yet it is so inaccessible in the long run.

  • mankobj22

    Its easy for technological innovation to be focused on convenience and entertainment but what could be achieved if instead it focused on sustainability or medical advances? I think that Apple is a perfect case of amazing resources being used inefficiently. If they could just refocus even some of their efforts, they could do so much more and positively contribute to human advancement. They have the chance to be a role model and step out to do something new with technology and forge the way on a new potential market.