If you stop to think about for a moment, the 500-million or so Apple customers represent a user spectrum that ranges from complete neophyte struggling with the intricacies of touching an icon and moving it around a screen, to the experienced user who knows the ins and outs of everything Apple does (and why). Even with that broad spectrum of customers in the user base, I get the feeling Apple is trying to teach us.
Those Who Can, Do
Remember, back in 2007, the iPhone was not the monstrous hit it is today. It took smartphone users awhile to figure out how to use the iPhone, and that learning process began again a year later when the App Store opened to sell native apps.
Once tens of millions of iPhone users figured out how the iPhone worked, along came the iPad, and that brought a different, albeit smaller learning curve. As Apple said, the iPad is so smart you already know how to use it, because iPad had the look and feel of a large iPhone.
What I’ve noticed about Apple in recent years is the tendency to hold back somewhat from dropping in every feature found on Android smartphones. Why? First, the Android community is divided into two distinct groups. The technorati elite who salivate over every little feature, and the common person who doesn’t even know those features exist, and struggles to use mail, setup contacts, browse the web, and play a few games.
Apple reigns supreme between the two disparate groups, but the company’s customer base is equally diverse, and that requires a steady, disciplined, layered approach to bringing new functionality into the ecosystem.
A good example is Force Touch, the new Mac trackpad which feels like a click, but there’s no click when you press. It takes time to figure out how to use that new technology because some of the functions are subtle. Apple Watch is another example; a device with an entirely different user interface, sufficiently different that the entire selling, setup, and training process is different and requires more in-store customer handling.
The Watch interface is not the iPhone’s interface, though both have touch capability. The Watch has Force Touch. The iPhone is likely to have it later this year. Force Touch provides for a tactile feedback when pressed. That’s new. That didn’t exist on Apple products a year ago. We have something new to learn. Even navigating a Watch is different. Notifications and alerts come to you automatically. You go to apps the old fashioned way; touch an icon. But glances is a new function which brings both together in a new way.
All these new features and functions require an ongoing education process which has tremendous benefits for users and for Apple. The company has a staff to help setup and learn new products and features. Name another competing company with a similar number of stores and the same level of support and help. That sets Apple apart. Historically, Apple’s customers have always done more with their Apple products than competing brands and their customers. The iPad may have only 25-percent of the tablet industry’s market share, but it has a disproportionate 75-percent of device usage share.
Apple’s customers are better educated than most of the great unwashed masses of humanity that suffer with Windows PCs, Android smartphones and tablets, from manufacturers who are more interested in selling cheap, than devoting the time and expense to educate customers. Apple layers in both technology and features so the customer base is always progressing, always moving forward, always learning new ways to use the product.
Who else does that?