Apple’s success in the 21st century is often written off as clever marketing to a rabid fan base that drinks Kool-Aid with every new product announcement. As is often the case with critics and competitors, the reality of a situation is easily dismissed, discarded, or not understood. So, what’s the real magic that defines Apple’s success in this century?
All About Basics, No Trouble
All me to paraphrase a little of Meghan Trainor’s hit, ‘All About That Bass.’ Apple is all about the basics of business, which means products that don’t cause customers trouble.
Bass and treble, meet basics and no trouble. Walk into any technology store that sells products that compete with Apple’s Mac, iPhone, and iPad. What do you see? What do you get?
Then, compare that experience with what takes place in an Apple Store. Apple creates an end-to-end experience that fully differentiates every product from every competitor’s product.
Macs come with precision engineered and laser crafted aluminum cases which feel light and sturdy, and which create a disparity with the rash of plastic in typical Windows notebooks.
Both iPhone and iPad have a unique and almost emotional feel which starts at the buying experience in an Apple Store or the Apple website. All Apple products can be touched and used in the retail store, but the online experience displays products in an attractive layout with just the right amount of information available for the customer to make an informed choice or comparison.
Each Apple product has a familiar look and familiar feel. OS X today looks much like the vastly more popular iOS on iPhone and iPad (for all the noise about iPad’s dropping sales, it still sells more than four times the number of Macs sold each year) which makes the Mac appear more attractive to switchers. That familiarity is embedded magic to potential customers and current users.
The feel is consistent across all products, and the familiarity breeds usability, which breeds comfort, not trouble.
Magic Apple Beans
Think about the whole end-to-end buyer and ownership experience that Apple provides with each product, and then compare it to what takes place when attempting to buy or while owning a competing product; whether from HP or Dell or Lenovo, or from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, or Google.
Each Apple Store has someone on hand to explain each product, show off the features, get instruction or to troubleshoot or service as needed. That kind of personal touch and handholding is difficult for most competitors to duplicate in the same way. For that effort, Apple breeds generations of loyal customers who just don’t want the trouble to own something different, even if the product does more, or costs less.
Apple’s magic beans that grew the company to success and riches are really basics– products that are delightful to own, user friendly and familiar, and which feel like premium products, but actually are priced affordably, but with a strong value proposition.
Apple’s entire ecosystem could be duplicated by Samsung or Microsoft or even Google, but it is not. Why? Apple of 2015 is a 15 year-old dynamic ecosystem of product design and customer experience that pervades a variety of products that work well together; from apps to hardware to service and support to the retail experience.
Samsung, Microsoft, Google or whomever could build something similar, but it would take a decade and enormous expense (and most of Apple’s competitors survive on razor thin gross margins). Apple won’t be standing still for the next decade so competitors who want to mimic Apple’s methods and success find themselves chasing a rapidly moving target.
Is Apple’s success simply the result of magic, or clever marketing?