Monday, May 3, 2010

Innovation as a Growth Engine

Apple officially confirmed today that it has sold 1 million iPads. According to the press release, the company sold its one millionth iPad on Friday, April 30, just 28 days after the device’s release. More than 12 million apps from the App Store and 1.5 million e-books have been downloaded from the new iBookstore.

“One million iPads in 28 days—that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Demand continues to exceed supply and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”

While the new product has its drawbacks (no camera, no multi-tasking, no USB or Flash compatibility), it still is the latest in a string of Apple hits from an innovation and design perspective (iPod, iTunes store, iPhone and the App Store). In most cases, Apple has created or dominated a category that was underdeveloped or nonexistent.

Isn't there a way to build innovation into banking products from a customer experience perspective? Wouldn't it be nice for customers to purchase slightly imperfect financial services with the intention of 'upgrading' when newer versions hit the market? Unfortunately, most banks do not put an emphasis on innovation and definitely do not introduce products with the intention of constant and ongoing improvement. In fact, as of this date, E*Trade and Chase Bank are the only U.S. financial firms with an iPad app (Spain's Banco Sabadell also has an iPad app) even though there are many ways to make both online banking and personal financial management (PFM) a more enjoyable customer experience with an iPad. What truly new products are you aware of in the banking vertical?

All I know is that I will not be alone in line when/if Apple decides to market a new iPhone with Verizon as the phone carrier. In fact, I am already hoping I can get an upgraded iPad with Verizon support that will allow me to write this Blog on the road without carrying my oversized IBM laptop. Even in rough economic times, it's nice to treat yourself to something that is innovative, fun and useful.

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