Who spends more money on R&D than Apple? There might be a company that invests more than Apple but I’m not privy to the stock market ticker symbol. Research and Development is a big business. Apple and Samsung take different approaches to R&D. Apple works diligently to integrate new hardware, software, and services so the customer base absorbs what’s new with less effort and little fanfare.
Samsung throws their R&D efforts against the wall to see what sticks, and that means lots of public embarrassments. Galaxy Fold, I’m looking at you.
Is there a better way?
Yes. Crowdfunding. Kickstarter. It’s all the rage these days and I can see Apple saving a few billion dollars a year by getting some of those one billion customers in the base to ante up a slice of some pie in the sky.
Of course, crowdfunding does not always result in a finished product that becomes successful in the market. Remember the Energizer bunny? Chris Davies:
Energizer’s P18K Android phone, billed as the world’s longest-lasting smartphone with its 18,000 mAh battery, has died an unceremonious death, after crowdfunding proved few people actually wanted it.
What a perfect example of “Let the market decide” before the market has a chance to decide en masse, and before a few billion dollars are spent on a product that should never see the light of day.
What got people to invest in an idea instead of an actual product that could be purchased?
A phone with battery life measured in days, not hours. Up to 90 hours of calls could be made, or over two days of solid video could be watched. In standby mode, meanwhile, it would last for up to 50 days before needing to be plugged in.
Actually, that sounds promising. So, what went wrong?
Remember Motorola’s original mobile phone? It was deemed the brick; a device that raised the bar so low that any future phone that didn’t require a workout at the gym to use was a better buy.
The Energizer bunny smartphone was about the size of a brick. Or, put another way, as big as a bunny.
The campaign looked to raise $1,200,000. Instead, after closing today, it brought in just $15,005 of that target, or around 1-percent. Eleven people backed the P18K in total: seven at the $549 tier which would get them a single handset, and three at the $1,587 tier which would get a pack of three of the phones.
So, instead of raising millions in venture capital and wasting it on designing and manufacturing a product that is not destined to command a spot in the marketplace, crowdfunded R&D makes it easier to see what customers really want.
Or, put another way– what we really do not want. So, what do we want?
Thinner and thinner devices are what buyers are looking for, and so we’ve ended up with slender slabs that have huge screens but can often demand a top-up on their charger before the day is through.
That was easy. And nobody had to spend millions on designs and prototypes to figure it out. Crowdfunding is the R&D that could save Apple billions in, well, R&D.