The Parallel Worlds of Gondolas and iPads (New Video)

Lisa Nirell

Will your innovations be able to stand the test of time like the gondolas in Venice, Italy?

My husband and I enjoyed our vacation in Venice, and our gondola ride was a major highlight. The gondola–one of the first mobile innovations to grace the ancient Venetian canals–has endured centuries of social, economic, and political changes. Here’s why:

  1. Few boat builders (known as “squeri”) own the market. Yes–after 750 years, only three companies still own the secret sauce. Imagine owning your market for hundreds of years without fear of competitors stealing market share. Apple’s competitors are still jockeying for second and third position, and one–Samsung–has paid dearly for imitating Apple’s user interface.
  2. People are willing to pay top dollar for a gondola experience. The cost of a forty minute ride is approximately 125 US dollars. The price is non-negotiable. Apple enjoys similar healthy profit margins on their devices. Do you have crowds lining up for hours in anticipation of your next product release?
  3. Earning a gondoliere license is a privilege. Gondolieres, as they are known, keep canal chaos to a minimum. When the police careened by our gondola in hot pursuit, he calmly pulled aside, keeping us out of harm’s way. I have no idea how he could gracefully glide the oar through those canals, but I knew he had years of experience. Think about Apple. Owning their devices is also a privilege, a status symbol. They make it virtually impossible to understand the inner workings of their operating system. As a long-time customer, frankly, I don’t really want to know how the device works internally.
  4. The gondola’s appearance is distinctive. The ferro, a sturdy iron symbol placed at the stem, is festooned with six “teeth” which represent the six districts of Venice. You can spot Apple’s sleek devices from a distance as well.

While Venice’s economic and architectural infrastructure continues to crumble, the gondola’s design and traditions stay strong.

How will YOUR marketing and innovation strategies be remembered in 500 years?

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