Author: Ryan Jacobs

Deciding What Not to Do at Apple

Image: techcrunch.com
Image: techcrunch.com

Simplicity is at the essence of Apple. So it was all the more surprising when Apple announced on October 16th that it would be offering five distinct iPad product lines this Holiday season.

With the introduction of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 to an existing lineup of iPads, Apple drifted further away from its ethos of simplicity and reached a new milestone: 66 unique permutations (SKUs) of the iPad product.

Although this rise in product complexity has had no discernable impact to Apple’s bottom line—Apple released its best ever Q4 financial results last week—a deeper dive into the financial fine print reveals a 12.6% decline in year-over-year iPad sales and shrinking margins , both disturbing trends.

So, is it time for Apple to rethink its iPad strategy and re-embrace simplicity?

More

Outsource Your Chores: A Look at the Service-On-Demand Economy

Mini Laundry

Is there a pile of laundry or dirty dishes waiting for you at home? Now you can skip the hassle of chores and outsource that work instead. By leveraging the social connectivity of the internet, new service-on-demand companies like TaskRabbit, Handybook and Alfred Club make it easy to outsource your chores.

While the outsourcing of chores certainly benefits the individual ridding themselves of the work, will this mass redistribution of labor mean that chores can be completed with greater collective efficiency? To evaluate this question, we want to consider how companies are positioning themselves to reap the benefits of operational advancements like global task optimization and continuous learning in the new service-on-demand framework.

With a mindset toward operating efficiency, a breakdown of the business models behind TaskRabbit, Handybook, and Alfred Club provides a powerful narrative of why first-mover TaskRabbit should be worried about the growing Handybook, and why both of them should take a second look at recent upstart Alfred Club.

More

Trade Secrets and the Shift to Transparency

more_transparency

Each day, retailers are exposing more and more information about their respective supply chains. Details like material cost data, supplier locations, labor conditions, and environmental impact are now being overtly displayed for customer consumption by a selection of companies.

This disregard for what were previously considered trade secrets and the shift to transparency is not simply a passing marketing fad either. This trend actually makes real economic sense.

More

Turning Data into Profit at Caesars Palace

caesars_roulette_crop

When you walk into a casino today, with every slot machine pull and roll of the dice, owners are collecting more data points in what is already one of the richest environments for tracking customer behavior. By analyzing these treasure troves of customer data, casinos can knowledgeably deliver a personalized experience to each and every customer.

It wasn’t always this way though. Before the advent of loyalty programs, the average player came and went with barely a free gin and tonic to show for the visit. There was value being left, quite literally, on the table.

So how did Caesars Entertainment go from an enterprise where operating decisions were based on intuition and experience to one built on data, analytics, and experimentation?

More

1 to 10,000: Scaling the Retail Supply Chain

Ministry_of_Supply_Article

In just a little over two years, high-tech clothing startup Ministry of Supply grew from a single prototype to over 10,000 customers. By integrating the latest textile manufacturing and fabric advances into their products, Ministry of Supply pioneered the “Performance Professional” category of men’s dress wear. Although customers loved the products, to the tune of $429,276 and $204,601 on Kickstarter, Ministry of Supply quickly confronted the daunting challenge of scaling up their Supply Chain to deliver all of those cutting-edge garments.

So how does a new retail startup scale from one customer to over 10,000?

More