An Article that Made an Impact: ROKRs, iPhones, and Health Care

Once in a while I read an article that makes an impression on me, and this is one that did.


Because of this statement:

“The ROKR (phone, a commercial disaster), made with Motorola in 2005, respected the traditional relationships between manufacturers and carriers. The iPhone, released last summer, completely overturned them.”

I feel like I straddle the fence. I work within the (health care) industry, where I respect traditional relationships and support the best things happening within them. At the same time, the organization within that industry has a well known history of turning over traditional relationships, all the way back to 1947. It makes for a challenging and thought provoking existence. It’s great.

I love both this story, and a story I read previously about the birth of the iPod. I have worked in situations like the iPhone developers, with so much raw passion for doing the right thing, that maybe a door slammed here and there (and maybe not physically but emotionally). I know what that’s like. I also know what it’s like to arrive, physically and emotionally, to the place where people are happy with what we did.

The article drew nice parallels for me about how the actors in health care see each other and how those visions may change if we want the iPhone and not the ROKR version of a health system. The other nice thing about the story is that it pointed out that relationships were overturned, not organizations. Everyone has a role to play to get us there.

Enjoy the article(s) and see what impact they make on you (and comment on them here, please).


I bought my iPhone on the day that they were released, and I've loved it ever since, but, admittedly, I'm somewhat of a geek. What is really interesting is to watch people play with it for the first time, and see just how quickly they learn to use every singly little feature. The focus on ease-of-use is amazing. And not only is it easy to use it on a daily basis, but the maintenance is fantastically simple (speaking of which, bring on firmware 1.1.3). I've looked at the manual exactly one time.

I just finished reading "Lean Solutions" and throughout the book I kept thinking of the iPhone as a case study.

It's been interesting to hear more about the dynamics between Apple and AT&T. They've had to overcome cultural issues, systems issues, and come to an agreement about how to best thrive as a business: give the customer what they want.

I'd be curious to know more about Apple's supply chain and logistics. I've heard that they rely heavily on air shipments from Asia. Also, they have a pretty quick turnaround time on built-to-order computers. I'm curious if they have the same type of system that Dell uses (with big parts inventories) or if they've figured something else out.

Thanks Jay, fellow iPhone user and looking forward to 1.1.3 too!

The comment about LEAN Solutions makes me ache for the library….

I sometimes think that Apple may conduct itself in a non-LEAN way, through power of mindshare, rather than through mutual respect, and that may carry things through in the short term, especially with a very customer centered and visionary leader. On the other hand, they work very hard to bring great value to their customer. The "how" that the use to get there is the thing I think we're both curious about….

Ted Eytan, MD