In the age of commodity technology, what segregates Apple from competitors? Price? Performance? Ease-of-use? Brand? Service and support? One of the key components in product marketing is differentiation. I bring that up because HTC just slashed the price of their highly regarded HTC 10 smartphone.
Competition is a bitch. One tech writer opined that the problem was not the quality of the HTC 10. It was the quality of competition.
The HTC 10 is a fantastic smartphone that is extremely well built, super responsive, takes great photos, and powers through a full day. However, the OnePlus 3 has a similar all-metal build, front fingerprint scanner, and high-end specifications while being priced at just $399. With the $100 discount, the HTC 10 is still $200 more than the OnePlus 3, and I have a hard time justifying why you should pay this premium over the OnePlus 3.
In other words, two premium quality smartphones that do much the same thing the same way, but one is hundreds of dollars less expensive than another.
What’s wrong with that picture? Nothing.
HTC’s problem has less to do with its ability to build high quality smartphones than it does to differentiate those products with far less expensive smartphones with similar specifications. This is the OnePlus 3:
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.2 GHz quad-core
- Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution Optic AMOLED display
- Operating system: Oxygen OS, based on Android 6 Marshmallow
- Cameras: 16 megapixel Sony with f/2.0 aperture and OIS, 8 megapixel front facing camera
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 64GB internal
- Sensors: Fingerprint, gyro, accelerometer, proximity, compass
- Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, and NFC
- Battery: 3000 mAh non-removable with super fast Dash Charge
OnePlus 3, like the HTC 10, bristles with the latest and top of the line hardware, and manages to do so at hundreds of dollars less than HTC wants for HTC 10.
What’s HTC’s problem? Differentiation.
Technology websites tend to compare and contrast hardware specifications more than software capabilities because the former is easier to quantify while the latter is subjective.
Most of the premium smartphones that run a flavor of Android have hardware that is near, equal to, or exceeds what Apple puts into an iPhone these days. That’s as it has always been with Apple’s competition. Windows PCs usually are priced less for similar hardware than Macs, so, why buy a Mac?
It’s not the hardware. It’s the whole widget. The package. Hardware merely enables us to use the software that helps us get something done, whether work or pleasure.
Apple differentiates the Mac from Windows PCs by OS X (and soon, macOS Sierra). Apple differentiates the iPhone from Android smartphones by iOS. Wait. Isn’t Android just like iPhone only with more features? If it’s the same, how can it be differentiated?
Perception is reality.
Apple hogs the premium end of the product spectrum, and uses it’s various and connected operating systems– macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS– to create a well balanced, meticulously curated user experience; a safe and comfortable environment that can be easily contrasted from the growing fragmentation that exists among Android hardware makers, and Windows PC manufacturers.
It’s all about differentiation. What Apple does may not garner marketshare triumphs, but it brings home the bacon.