If you feel the earth slowing down a little this weekend, that's because Apple is getting ready to stop time and make its next big iPhone announcement. Do yourself a favor and don't try to talk to any Apple geeks (me included) from 1pm-2pm EST Monday.
With the iPhone, the MacBook Air, and a few other products, Apple is in a curious position: It has raised the bar so high on itself by turning out such extraordinary stuff, it is now under exceptional pressure to keep improving -- or else.
If it doesn't, two things happen:
1. Others start to catch up, and these competitors will charge less for a similar product.
2. Apple loses its luster, which threatens customer loyalty (zeal) and its ability to recruit and motivate the best talent.
In the past, I have railed against the "upgrade mania" of Silicon Valley, and I still despise it when companies cynically manipulate the customer by using PR and lousy improvements to make their yesterday's whiz bang tool seem like today's embarrassing fossil. But now I have to acknowledge that there is a positive version of this same phenomenon: when companies find themselves under great pressure to continually improve their products or fall behind, quality wins.
How did Apple first develop its culture of greatness? That's another matter which I will address in future posts . . .