In the Post-PC era, designing to delight customers is the currency of persistent advantage. This intensifies competition to own user experience and valuable customer relationships through it.
Last week Apple updated Logic Pro X, its high-end audio software aimed at music professionals. A big part of its new coolness is that it comes with a free companion app which allows iPads to be remote input devices to the processor-intensive audio editing program.
This means you can play an instrument or work a mixing board control wirelessly across a studio or a venue, while your Mac runs the full Logic Pro software and processes the incoming signals.
Sound familiar? This arrangement mirrors the architecture of 'client- server' computing developed back in the seventies. The cloud and mobility allow a similar separation of processing and user experience.
In this arrangement mobile devices become untethered user interfaces, with a PC serving as the 'bus' that executes the processor-hungry work of the mixing board. And, in this arrangement its more valuable to be the driver than the bus.
Your next PC may stay in the Cloud
In the future, mobile devices could connect to a router and a Mac processor far removed in the cloud. We’ve seen both Adobe and Microsoft move to embrace cloud based services in a big way. Its easy to imagine Logic Pro X, Final Cut, or others eventually moving in this direction too.
Sure, you need processing, but Moore’s law has been relentless on delivering more, for less and faster. As broadband connections become ever present and faster, we will increasingly be able to access more than the full power of a PC remotely through mobile devices.
This shift places an increased value on user interface over processing power. After all, which is scarcer, inspired interfaces or processing power? And which is closer to the point of value creation?
Interface + relationship = the new brand equity
What if Samsung had made the Remote Logic app for Android? Sure, this would help them sell some gear. But, more importantly they’d have grabbed the potential relationship platform that a ubiquitous user experience can provide.
That’s what eBay and Amazon have done in ecommerce, it’s what Mint did in finance, it’s what Fitbit and others are working on in personal health data. Because, when you own the relationship layer, it’s possible to interface with an evolving mix of services.
When processing and user interface are split, the high ground of value is usually toward the customer.
That makes the experience layer where firm must align their resources to earn and and direct customer preference to increase the lifetime value of their client relationships.