Is Apple too big to fail? Not when it comes to the live stream of their iPhone6 launch

During yesterday’s iPhone6 and Apple Watch product launch, thousands of viewers were cut off from the live streaming video with no explanation.  As I watched from my office in Boulder, Colorado, viewers from around the world tweeted their frustration and disbelief using hashtag #AppleLive. 

Instead of a flawless stream of video, here’s what we saw:
Apple test screen

How could the most technically creative and control-freak driven company in the world completely bork their video broadcast? EVP Dan Rayburn took a stab at identifying what caused the massive failure.  His blog post “Inside Apple’s Live Event Stream Failure, And Why It Happened: It Wasn’t A Capacity Issue” generated a heated discussion in the comments.

Despite the conflicting hyptheses on why the live stream failed, all agree that Apple bears at least some of the responsibility by its insistence on having viewers only access the live video stream on Apple products. Apple put all of its eggs in its own basket. There was no Plan B.

And after a few minutes, there was only this:

Apple's "Access Denied" screen

As theories continued to pile up in the comments, Rayburn tweeted:

“Some IP network providers Akamai uses for overflow tell me traffic has jumped from 100Gbps to 350Gbps within 10 minutes. Akamai not prepared.”

Was is Amazon S3, Apple’s CDN or Akamai?  We’ll probably never know for sure. But you can bet it won’t happen again.

At least not to Apple.

Strategic Action

At first glance, “strategic action” may sound like an oxymoron.  But strategy is only useful if it can be executed.  Otherwise it’s just a string of good ideas bouncing around like a pinball game in your brain.  So how does a well-thought-out strategy get out of your head and into an action plan?

1) Write everything down – Start jotting thoughts on a whiteboard, post-it notes, in a notebook, in a Word doc or, what I do, a stream of consciousness text file.  Typing or writing ideas down, without worrying about punctuation or grammar, makes them real.  It is also helpful when trying to remember all of the nuggets that come out when the mind is open to non-judgemental brainstorming.

2) Group your ideas – Look at all of the thoughts and ideas, then begin to identify  common qualities.  These qualities become categories for organizing your strategic thoughts into groups.  It’s ok if some ideas fall under more than one category.  I find that once these thoughts are down on paper, it’s much easier to see commonalities than when everything is one big pot of minestrone soup in my mind.

3) Prioritize – You’ve grouped ideas according to their common qualities, and identified the categories.  Now label these categories in a way that identifies their priority, such as  “urgent,” “important,” “later,” etc.  Use terms that are meaningful to you and the people who are involved in the work.

4) Put it on the calendar – time flies by especially quickly for a to-do list that doesn’t have deadlines.  Look at chunks of time on the calendar – I tend to think in quarters of the calendar year – and assign due dates to your most urgent to-do’s and major milestones.

5) Celebrate success – each time a significant deadline from your to-do list is met, reward yourself and the members of your team who got it done.  High fives are great, so are nice lunches or a quick run to the coffee shop for some specialty drinks.

The main thing to remember is…no one can see the creative ideas bouncing around in your head.  Verbalizing them is one step, but by only verbalizing them, your ideas will remain abstract and vulnerable to misinterpretation. Once ideas are out of your head and captured in a format that you can share with others, progress starts immediately.