Most experts agree that the iPhone is not the most technically superior smartphone in the market. In fact, several different phones are far superior to the iPhone in categories like screen resolution, battery life, and processing speeds. The Samsung Galaxy line of phones seem to be better across the board in terms of technical capabilities, and Samsung markets these differences aggressively to try to pull away Apple’s loyal fans from their beloved iPhones.
But it doesn’t end with iPhones. Macs aren’t the most superior laptops, iPads aren’t the best tablets, and iWatches are not the best wearable technology. These devices are all priced as though they are the best in their class, and their market share seems to reflect that as well. How are these Apple products so popular and successful?
Apple relies on the holistic “Apple Experience”, not just the individual Apple product, to make its products superior in the eyes of its consumers and so popular in the markets that it competes in. The Apple Experience is fascinating, because its effects span across the individual user and their Apple products (internal level), as well as across different users of Apple products (external level).
Steve Wozniak said last year that Apple focuses on seamless connectivity between its products more than any other technology company, creating a need to own other Apple products if you own even a single one. This creates the internal Apple Experience for users. For example, lets say you are browsing the web on your Macbook and close the screen to let your laptop sleep. If you have the appropriate setting on, when you pick up your iCloud linked iPad or iPhone device and open the Safari app, the same web pages you were browsing on your Macbook will be open for you. Text messages can be sent and seen from any Apple device, and any picture taken or note stored can be viewed from all of your devices instantly.
These are convenience factors that Apple has enabled to make sure that once you own an Apple product, you are inclined to expand to an entire family of Apple products. But this expands to necessity factors as well. Google has made sure you can connect your iPhone to any Google Chromecast and enjoy the same functionality as a connected Android phone, because of how huge the iPhone market is. But the Apple TV has very limited functionalities unless you are using an iPhone or a Mac computer. The Apple iWatch only connects to iPhones, and even Apple’s proprietary Lighting cables and ports only connect with Apple products (essentially requiring adapters if anyone else wants to connect to such products).
Even in terms of software, Apple positions itself in ways that you basically HAVE to buy its products in order to enjoy particular products or services. For example, Apple Music is the exclusive music provider of Drake, one of the most popular artists in the entire music industry. If you don’t own an Apple Music account, you can’t stream Drake’s music. And if you don’t own an Apple device, at least thus far, there is no native way for you to access your Apple Music account.
There are external effects to the Apple Experience as well, where Apple heavily leverages network affects to pressure individuals into purchasing (and sticking with) its products, whether or not superior products or better valued products emerge in the market. Airdrop is an awesome technology that allows quick sharing of media over the air, but it only works between Apple devices. So, if you want to Airdrop media with your friends, or see your friends Airdropping media to each other and having to take “extra” steps in order to send the same media content to your Android device, you feel extremely pressured to jump ship to Apple.
Even in terms of Text Messaging, Apple subconsciously makes you dislike other non-iOS device users. Text messages between iOS users are always displayed with dark blue backgrounds, making the text easy to read and very appealing and
soothing, which are natural qualities of the color blue. Meanwhile, text messages between iOS users and non-iOS users are always displayed in with green backgrounds on the iOS devices. This shade is specifically chosen to make the text harder to read, and it makes the texts itself 1) Stand out as different from the rest of your text messages and 2) Makes these texts much less appealing when compared to the soothing blue color of the other text messages.
So Apple doesn’t even need to necessarily create technically superior products in order to be successful in its markets. It already has such a dominant foothold in technical markets that it will always be able to gain market share in new product categories and retain customers in its existing product categories, so long as it continues to leverage its unique internal and external Apple Experience.