When comparing Apple’s iconic iPhone to competing products, what is it exactly that constitutes a ‘better’ product? It’s rather easy to quantify product features into a comparison of bullet points. All of Apple’s competitors do it, so why doesn’t feature comparison unseat Apple’s grip on the customer’s psyche?
I have a couple of theories about what is going on, and I’ll use the new Nokia Lumia 1020 as an example (as reviewed by BGR).
Compared to the iPhone 5, the Lumia 1020 looks to be stellar competition. It has a bright, 4.5-inch display with higher resolution than the iPhone 5 (but no true HD). It starts with 32GB of storage, a dual-core CPU, and comes with 2GB of RAM, far more than the iPhone.
The killer feature is the 41-megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics, image stabilization, and dual capture mode. Nokia gets high marks for cameras with extra low light sensitivity and by all accounts the Lumia 1020’s photos and videos are top of the line.
The smartphone runs Windows Phone 8, which, if we’re to believe advertising, is even easier to use than an iPhone. As with other Nokia’s with decent reviews, I predict the Lumia 1020 will be an anemic seller, and become heavily discounted within a month.
If so many smartphones have bullet point features which compare favorably or exceed those on an iPhone, why does the iPhone continue to reign supreme?
First things first. For Apple, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, hence the company doesn’t engage much in point-for-point comparisons. Second, most iPhone users are well integrated into Apple’s app economy and unlikely to ditch that investment for a smartphone with similar features.
After all, what’s the compelling reason to switch?
Second, innovation comes in multiple flavors. Apple has a long history of disruptive innovations– Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, while competitors add more RAM or a few clever apps to differentiate their products and call it innovation.
Today’s iPhone and iPad competitors just don’t have enough disruptive innovation to entice customers to switch, even if the competing products perform better on the bullet point comparison test.
Apple relies greatly on the overall user experience which isn’t easily quantified into a bullet point list, but which customers can figure out rather quickly.
As they say, build it and they will come. But what gets built must be substantially better than the industry leader.