The Problem That Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Amazon, And PC Makers Really Have With Apple

You’ve heard me say this before. In product marketing, differentiation is a key component. Regardless of the product, something must differentiate one product from another, and provide a compelling reason to buy one vs. another.

Let’s look at Apple, starting with the Mac. What differentiates the Mac from run-of-the-mill or even high end Windows PCs. It’s a long list. Aluminum enclosure. Retina display. OS X. Apple Stores (Genius Bar). Resale value.

What about the iPhone? Ease of use, application selection, Apple Stores, Retina display, iOS, quality of construction, resale value, and so on. You can apply the same items to the iPad.

How does a competitor to Apple’s products– whether Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Amazon, or PC makers– differentiate their products from Apple’s line of products?

For the Mac, it might be price, though feature for feature, that’s less of a compelling differentiation than in years past.

For the iPhone, competitors can tout a lower price, a larger screen, perhaps, and… well, not much more. The same holds true for the iPad’s competitors. In other words, what does a competitor do to compete against Apple?

Differentiate.

That’s product differentiation, not advertising differentiation. Microsoft is blasting the TV screen with their Scroogled commercials where users select Bing’s results over Google’s search engine results. Why? Add a photo or image to anything and it’s likely to get selected first, especially over something boring.

The problem is that Bing isn’t better. It’s not cheaper. It doesn’t return results that are much different than Google (neither returns results worth my effort). There’s no compelling reason to switch from Google to Bing. Microsoft doesn’t offer a richly different product.

The same holds true for PCs, smart phones, and tablets. Differentiation exists, but it’s modest, if at all. Price. Screen size. And, uh, what else?

Apple differentiated the iPhone from all previous smart phones by leaps and bounds. Ditto for the iPad. Because competitors haven’t been able to raise the bar of differentiation significantly higher than Apple’s products, Apple continues to rake in the lion’s share of revenue and profits. That will continue until Apple stumbles, and someone invents a better mouse trap.