Differentiation. Products can be and are mostly differentiated by quality, size, price, distribution, capability, capacity, and much more. Even commodity items are highly differentiated one from another. Here’s how Apple does it.
Think Different™, Indeed
Instead of think differently, the grammatically correct way to say it, Apple differentiated itself with an award winning advertising campaign shortly after co-founder Steve Jobs’ return in 1997.
Successful product marketers will tell you the same thing about a product. Differentiation is a key to success.
Yes, there’s more than differentiation, but that’s where success starts.
Let me give you a few of Apple’s recent product successes to see where the company differentiates itself (and products) from competitors.
Traditional PCs, loaded with Microsoft’s Windows, rule the industry, right? The Mac is a bit player, right?
Not so fast. The Mac is different, a premium priced product with a different operating system, a distinct look and feel on both hardware and software which sets it apart from the low priced plastic of typical PC fare.
Differentiation is key. Macs are arguably easier to use, just as fast, more secure, and last longer. That’s differentiation.
Beating The Leaders
How did the iPhone garner so much success so quickly. After all, a smartphone is a smartphone, right? Not so fast.
To defeat an entrenched market leader, an upstart must also differentiate. There are many ways to do that but let me keep it simple. A new competitor must have the same feature set, but priced much lower to attract customers.
Or, a new competitor must have a far better feature set, but priced roughly the same to attract customers. What did the iPhone have that other smartphones of 2007-2010 not have? A tremendously different, simple, attractive, and intuitive interface, and a huge number of useful, usable, applications. All priced roughly the same as old style smartphones.
Apple’s success in smartphones and tablets came about for various reasons, but each one can be traced back to an element in differentiation. Can Apple be toppled from its perch as the premium brand with the most profits?
Yes. But it works the same way. Samsung, Xiaomi, Microsoft, Android, or whichever company wants to take over Apple’s success needs the same approach. A much better product and environment at a similar price. Or, the same product and environment at a much lower price. Otherwise, where’s the incentive for an Apple customer to switch sides?
Differentiation is the conundrum facing Apple’s competitors. To get the product margins and profits they want, they must make a better product and environment than Apple– at about the same price. That’s not easy to accomplish. Or, they must have a similar product and environment with little differentiation other than price. That’s not easy, either.
Apple is the Think Different™ company that rules with premium differentiation.