There’s more than a modicum of truth there, and that makes me wonder just how much paranoia exists among Apple’s executives, designers, and engineers. Apple presents a positive public posture of unity– everything just works together– with Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Is it real? Is Google’s way of unity better?
The Golden Age of Complexity
One of Apple’s strong suits as a company has been the ability to take what is overly complex and make it simple enough for the masses to use.
Apple didn’t invent the graphic user interface from the early days of Lisa and Mac, but it popularized what Xerox could not.
Apple didn’t invent the portable music player with the iPod and iTunes, but arguably saved the industry with commercialized products and services that made customers happy while paying the music industry.
Apple didn’t invent the smartphone or tablet. The iPhone made the smartphone smarter; much smarter. The iPad became the tablet design that Microsoft probably wished it could have designed over a decade ago.
Apple can easily be described as the Great Unifier; the technology company that shows all the others which direction to go. Even today, more than half of the world’s Macs are running the latest OS X, Mavericks.
iPhone and iPad users adopt to the latest iOS version far faster than customers with devices that run Android or Windows Phone. That level of unity among the customer base makes it easier for Apple to introduce new features and improved usability to a larger number of customers in a shorter period of time.
In modern consumer technology, fragmentation is the name of the game, dating even back into the 1980s with many versions of DOS for PCs. Each manufacturer needs a way to maker their products distinct from the competition, to lock in their customer base.
What Of Google?
Google, like Microsoft before it, tries to unify the customer base with a set of applications and services common to the Android platform. Microsoft did the same with Windows and Office and became the dominant platform in the 1990s and 2000s.
By contrast, fragmentation among device platforms remains a damaging issue for Google. Most Chinese smartphone and tablet knockoffs running Android OS are not part of the Google Play system. Even Amazon’s Kindle Fire line, based on a derivative of Android (itself based upon Linux), avoids the Android ecosystem. Ditto for Microsoft’s Windows Phone and whatever they’re calling the OS on Windows tablets these days.
Astute and discerning customers know that fragmentation is a problem to be avoided and only Apple provides a unified approach to the user experience– Mac and OS X, iPhone and iPad on iOS. Those customers are willing to pay more for the user experience, hence Apple’s growing lock on the industry’s profits.