As we move further into the 21st century a number of trends have become obvious. First, we live in the mobile device era. There are more smartphones and tablets than personal computers sold every year and Google’s Android OS tops Microsoft’s Windows in total market share.
Second, traditional personal computers, those with Windows installed, continue to experience a prolonged sales drop which is not likely to change. Yet, Apple’s Mac line of notebooks and desktops continues to achieve record sales every quarter. Why the disparity?
Interconnected Quality and Security
Allow me to coin a phrase which describes, partially, what Apple has done with the Mac that hasn’t been accomplished with typical PCs and smartphone competition.
Interconnected Quality and Security.
Simply put, Apple’s devices, though priced higher than typical PCs, smartphones, and tablets, work better together, last longer, and cause users fewer problems during use and throughout the product’s life cycle. Apple builds in a layer of higher quality, more durable materials which makes devices last longer and cause fewer problems. That Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch are more integrated helps the ecosystem, of course, but there’s more to it than that.
Apple’s traditional approach to the user experience features various forms of curation, obviously found in the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store, but the idea extends elsewhere, from fit and finish and feel, to the actual components which make up each device. Apple sells devices in such great numbers that it can demand higher quality components from suppliers but at lower prices which help to improve gross margins which are the starting point for Apple’s massive profits.
Samsung may have a higher resolution screen in their Galaxy flagship smartphone which has better specifications than anything Apple puts into a mobile device, but so what? The average user cannot tell the difference because, you know, Retina. Meanwhile, Samsung’s devices are battery hogs which reduces one aspect of the user experience. Apple is very good at managing such component tradeoffs and does not worry much about features and benefits if the seeming benefit does not outweigh or enhance the user experience.
Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch all have a finely crafted, laser honed, durable aluminum case which protects what’s inside, but the cases also evoke a combination of valuable emotions; a ‘quality feel‘ with a user desire to ‘protect and care‘ for the devices beyond the throwaway plastic manufactured by competitors. Apple’s products feel more luxurious, feel better, last longer, and that helps to grow the identity that they also work better.
Now, what about security? All modern operating systems and applications used by the masses of humanities have vulnerabilities, but a vulnerability does not an exploit make. By curating the App Store, Apple ensures that both the operating system, iOS and OS X, and the apps they run are devoid of the security issues that seem to permeate the Windows and Android experience.
Windows PC manufacturers and Android device makers live in the same boat. The easiest way to differentiate their products– which run the same operating system as their competitors– is by price and brand. However, the brand is tarnished by Windows reputation for problematic security and user troubles, which is mirrored by Android, where most devices cannot easily be upgraded to the latest versions, even to fix severe security holes.
Compare and contrast that situation with Apple where products going back many years are easily upgraded to the latest versions and security fixes. Is it any wonder that customers are willing to pay more for Apple’s products and are happy to leave the fragmented mess of Windows and Android devices?