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OPINION1 August 2012

Update: Apple does do MR – but they don't rely on it

Apple Insider has a report from Tuesday’s Apple vs Samsung court hearing in which senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller took the stand to declare: “We don’t use any customer surveys, focus groups, or typical things of that nature. That plays no role in the creation of the products.”

What gives? It was only Monday that we covered the Wall Street Journal report on Apple’s iPhone Owner Study, while last year Apple Insider reported on the creation of an online survey panel to give regular feedback to the company. You’re probably thinking: “That sounds like research to me.”

And it is. Apple does do research: you know that, I know that (I once took part in an iTunes survey). But doing research isn’t the same as relying on it to create new products.



5 years ago

I don't think anyone who does tech research is surprised by this revelation. I think Mr. Schiller's comments had to do with a definitional issue, e.g., when is a research study not a research study? There's always been this quiet split between traditional marketing research and customer experience measurement/ management. Certainly non-traditional competitors like call center operators, direct mail houses, loyalty companies etc. are loath to call what they do "marketing research." They'd probably call it customer experience management or continuous feedback. He makes a clear distinction by saying they conduct no PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT research. I certainly do not speak for Phil Schiller, but my interpretation was that Apple checks in with customers regularly (any Apple product owner knows this) and he clearly doesn't consider this marketing research in the traditional sense. I'm not defending his distinction but I can understand how the customer experience work he conducts is, in his mind, very different than activities other companies take to develop their products and services.

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5 years ago

Brian I absolutely agree. I wrote a blog post recently exploring this which you can see here and here's a snap shot of my thoughts: "So Mr. Jobs was right to be openly dismissive of research. If it has become a tick-box exercise, it does not help anyone. When it works, it simply becomes a great point of stimulus to help client marketing/agency creative teams make better decisions and create better, more successful work and even Apple do that…"

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