There is something good and positive to be said about Disneyland that also can be said about Apple. Both are carefully cultivated, highly orchestrated, fine-tuned ecosystems that cater to hundreds of millions of very happy customers.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung have something in common with each other that is not common to Apple or the company’s products or their growing customer base.
Competition: It’s What’s For Lunch
Like Disney, Apple is all about the user experience and often prefers not to focus on hardware details and bullet points, focusing instead on what the hardware does for the user.
Apple’s hardware tends not to be cutting edge, either, but is always competitive with rival offerings.
On the software side, Apple focuses attention on what the user can do with Apple’s products, eschewing typical product feature comparisons.
Microsoft, Google, and Samsung on the other hand, often compare their wares with Apple in a vain attempt to foster equality in the eyes of potential customers.
Remember the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC‘ commercials that featured John Hodgman and Justin Long? They successfully skewered Microsoft’s Windows PC hegemony for years, creating a subtle FUD– fear, uncertainty, and doubt– about Microsoft’s products.
FUD Kills. Subtle FUD Kills Slowly
That obvious FUD was very successful. Apple’s Mac became the most profitable personal computer line, while Microsoft’s PC partners have continued a long string of losing money.
Apple’s FUD campaign is more subtle these days, but fear, uncertainty, and doubt can move mountains. Apple’s iPhone and iPad commercials are studies in positive reinforcement, and contrast sharply to what is taking place among competitors.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone has struggled to become relevant in the smartphone industry. The Surface RT tablets– so-called iPad killers– have been financial duds. Why? Microsoft has been unable to show why their products are an improvement, and worth the expense of switching, over Apple’s de facto standards.
Similarity Breeds Contempt
Google has a similar problem. Millions of smartphone and tablet customers recognize Android’s growing fragmentation problem. Only Samsung’s products have made profitable inroads, and even the Korean tech giant can see the FUD handwriting on the wall.
How else do you explain Samsung’s need to provide a security suite to guard the Galaxy line against a growing field of Android malware? The situation is similar to the problems Microsoft has with Windows. Discriminating smartphone and tablet customers trust Apple products more than cheaper look-alikes. Cheap sells, of course, but not for long.
To overcome the subtle fear, uncertainty, and doubt that plagues their respective companies, both Google and Microsoft have been forced to attempt to become more like Apple. Google bought Motorola to control both hardware and software in their smartphones and tablets. Microsoft is buying Nokia for the same reasons. Samsung is the odd man out in the trinity of Apple’s major competitors, relying upon Android for the OS component, yet slathering their Galaxy line with an interface and apps to differentiate their smartphones and tablets from every other flavor of Android on the market.
FUD– fear, uncertainty, and doubt– does not affect every segment of the smartphone and tablet customer equally. It affects those with discriminating taste first, and they’re more willing to pay a premium for higher quality, better security and privacy, and ease of use. Just as alert Windows PC users flocked to the Mac because of its better atmosphere, Apple will continue to gain customers at the expensive of cheap Android devices, as well as BlackBerry and Nokia customers who are worried about the future of their chosen platform. Apple represents safety, security, and comfort, while Google, Microsoft, and even Samsung represent a more fragmented, convoluted, and unsure platform.
Make sure to check out Kate MacKenzie’s perspective on Google And Microsoft: Forever In Apple’s Shadow.