Differentiation is a key component to product marketing. You’ve heard me shout that from my digital rooftop on many occasions. The company that employs my services works diligently to provide better and different products and services than competitors. Change is a requirement.
Look at Apple and the iPhone. Differentiation is a key component of Apple’s strategy in every product it designs and builds. Like most Windows PCs, the Mac has Intel Inside. What’s the difference? Apple won’t use the cheaper, less capable Intel chips, and each Mac comes with macOS inside.
The iPhone works the same way. Apple designs the iPhone and the CPU that powers the iPhone. But all smartphone are mostly capable of running the very same applications from Facebook to Instagram, from Maps to popular games, so why buy a premium smartphone when they all run the same apps?
To make the situation worse, what’s the difference between devices running Android OS and iPhones? I mean, other than Google stole Apple’s iconic design. They use icons to launch apps, and touch menus to select various functions, otherwise, same old, same old, right?
What’s the difference between premium smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Google, et al? Size, look, and feel are similar. Components inside are similar. Screens are good, cameras are good, all are fast and pretty– and all run most of the same popular applications. To many customers, the differences are not so easily discernible.
A good example of the problem premium smartphone makers have these days is the same problem we saw with Windows-based personal computers. Most PC users– Mac or Windows– run many of the same applications. Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and even various photo and design applications are cross platform these days. The Mac can even run Windows and Linux in a window on macOS High Sierra.
What happened over time in a maturing PC industry could be ready to happen with smartphones that have begun to be the same in every respect. Commoditization of hardware and software. PC customers stopped buying the most expensive personal computer hardware because the basic applications they used each day– spreadsheets, word processors, etc– didn’t need the expensive hardware.
Do smartphone users need the nearly $1,000 iPhone, Galaxy Note 8, or Google’s new Pixel models if they all run the same applications as far less expensive devices; some of which are one third the price of the premium tier but do exactly the same thing?
Look at the automobile. It carries passengers from point A to point B no matter which car you consider; Kia or Corolla, Accord or Lexus, Tesla or Bentley. The all have seats, four wheels, and engine, and will get you to your destination in about the same time (assumes legal driving speeds). Why spend $100,000 to $350,000 for transportation that works exactly the way a $20,000 Corolla works?
Seats, tires, engine, windshield, steering wheel, brakes, accelerator– it’s all the same, right? No. Spend more money on a car and the level of quality and luxury goes up. You get what you pay for by going beyond the basics. The camera in a $200 Android phone is not the camera in an iPhone X. Security on Android devices in general is different than security with iPhone, iOS, and components such as Touch ID and Face ID.
In general, major cross platform applications are similar but not the same. Other applications work better on iPhone and iPad than on Android devices because the marketplace is willing to pay for higher quality and enhanced usability.
Isn’t that the difference between a lowly Kia and a Tesla? That’s the difference between a plastic Motorola vs. an iPhone. Industry commoditization does not exist in the automobile industry, and it does not exist in the smartphone industry.