What makes Apple a success story? Marketing hype, say some. Apple Stores, say others. Better quality products, say many. Other phrases come to mind including service and support, training, App Stores, privacy and security, resale value, and the whole curated ecosystem.
Apple claims to have over 1-billion active customers; over 100-million Mac users, a few hundred million iPad users, and many hundreds of millions of iPhone owners. Obviously, Apple is doing something right, so what do you think is the key to Apple’s successes?
Maketing hype? Superior engineering? Chinese manufacturing prowess? Reputation? Apple Stores? All are important, yes, but one very important element often gets overlooked.
This is not the key to success, but differentiation is an important and often ignored key to how well Apple does in each product line; Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, and both Beats headphones and earbuds and AirPods.
Windows and Android have more in common that you may think. Both are operating systems and both compete against Apple for marketshare; the Mac against Windows, and Android against iPhone and iPad. The problem here is the false equivalency. Windows is an OS. The Mac is a PC that runs an OS, macOS Sierra being the latest. Likewise, Android is an OS and Android devices compete against iPhone and iPad, each with iOS. Samsung’s Galaxy S8, for example, competes against the iPhone 7 Plus, but Android vs. iPhone is like Windows vs. Mac; both are false equivalencies.
Yet, these equivalencies are exactly what helps Apple to succeed. Differentiation is the key. It’s an important component in any product marketing, but especially so with Apple. Despite being unable to create their own superior product, Google’s Android OS being little more than a bolted on copy of Apple’s original iPhone’s user interface, iOS is well differentiated from competition.
Unlike Android OS, iOS only runs on iPhone and iPad. Unlike Windows, macOS only runs on Macs (yet, the Mac can run Windows, various flavors of Unix and Linux, and all at the same time if necessary). iOS and macOS serve as key differentiating points when compared to mainstream Android and Windows devices.
Generally speaking, Apple’s products are of higher hardware quality with easier to use user interface and software. There is little that cannot be accomplished on less expensive Android smartphones and tablets or Windows PCs; notebooks or desktops. So, why does Apple prosper?
iOS is different. macOS is different. But not so much so that users from Android and Windows cannot make a relatively straightforward switch. Why is it that few Apple customers switch to other brands?
The entire Apple ecosystem is designed to create a better experience for customers who prefer an easier interface, who want products that last longer and have good resale, and need devices that, well, for lack of a better phrase, provide for customer satisfaction in ways not found via Android or Windows devices.
Apple’s ecosystem also means devices integrate and connect well with one another, sync data seamlessly, and provide a level of both privacy and security not as easily found with Android and Windows devices.
Apple tends to lead the way toward product designs within the genre. What do the best Android smartphones look like? iPhones. What does Android OS look like? iOS. What do the best Windows PCs look like? Apple’s Mac notebooks.
Here’s another example of such differentiation and we’re likely to see more of it in the future. Apple’s Smart Connector. This is a small and proprietary magnetic connection which allows for data transfer and even bi-directional power from iPad to third party accessories; keyboards come to mind. Pop on a keyboard and it locks into place and is immediately recognized by iOS.
There is a danger to such differentiation, though, but kudos to Apple for pushing the envelope. Remember FireWire? Remember MagSafe? Both were unique to Apple back in the day, but both are footnotes to technology history today.
Also note the little connector in Apple Watch. Apple claims it can be used for diagnostics but the correct band could also be used to power Watch; I’m thinking solar powered watchband. Regardless, whatever Apple comes up with as a differentiating feature or function often gets copied by Android and Windows PC device makers, but it’s an element of how Apple succeeds in the 21st century.