When it comes to comparing technology gadgets the thing to remember about reviews is this. The only things that matter are the hardware and the price tag. Otherwise, everything else about a smartphone, tablet, or notebook is the same. Right? Right?
Not so fast. I just read a tech review of the new Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 which asks the question, “Is an Apple iPhone 6s Plus really worth $500 more?” Not to worry. Tech rags exist to gin up a little controversy and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 in question might be controversial if you could actually buy one. Still, wouldn’t you snap up a Note 3 because it’s just like an iPhone for $200?
Same? Or, Different?
Technology writers have fallen into the same trap for decades. Everything is hardware. Everything is about hardware and price. Somehow, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 is the same thing as an iPhone but for about $200. Isn’t that argument just like how a $200 Windows 10 touchscreen tablet-notebook hybrid is the same thing as a MacBook? If they are the same, how is it that Apple continues to sell anything and make a profit?
Humans love generalities and you won’t find a higher class of generality spewing humanoids than in the digital press. A smartphone is a smartphone. A notebook is a notebook. A tablet is a tablet. Why buy an iPad mini 4 for $500 when you can get an Amazon tablet for $50? They’re both tablets, right? They do the same things, right?
Tech rag writers are on record saying that nothing can stop the Chinese smartphone makers from taking over the world and the $200 Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 proves it. Funny thing. True story. Cheap Chinese notebooks have yet to topple the Mac from the premium end of the notebook spectrum for a few good reasons that have little to do with price.
You see, a Mac, like an iPhone, uses premium components whereas the Chinese knockoff makers do not. Math is math. You can’t put expensive components into a device without raising the price, and without the expensive and more powerful components, you can’t have a premium device. It’s math.
In product marketing differentiation is a key component. Apple differentiates the Mac and iPhone and iPad from typical Windows PCs and Android mobile devices a number of ways. First, build quality. Second, components. Third, software. Wait. What? Software? All Windows PCs run much the same software. Most Android devices run much the same software. How are OS X and iOS different than Windows and Android?
Please. Do I need to go there?
The wind blows from Windows to Mac, from Android to iPhone; not from the other direction, and that’s a fact of life for a variety of reasons. Since Apple designs and builds the entire widget– software and hardware– the components are more easily integrated into the product– both hardware and software. Touch ID? Nothing works as well in the Android world. 3D Touch? The copycats will have something similar in a few years. They’re busy right now trying to catch up to Apple’s own iPhone and iPad CPUs which run rings around their Android counterparts.
Here’s the deal. Any manufacturer can pile on a list of features and functions, but what good are they to a customer if many don’t work well, or are buried under a half baked interface (Android, I’m looking at you). Usability trumps bullet points every time, and that helps to explain why Apple’s devices are used more than Windows or Android devices (we buy and use more apps, we buy more online, we use devices more).
Why members of the technorati elite politburo cannot see the differentiation is beyond my scope of understanding and pay grade. Why buy a Lexus when you can buy a Kia Rio? Why buy a Tesla when you can buy a Leaf? They’re the same, right? All have hardware and software. All will get you somewhere. How you get there is the only difference and thus it is with Apple’s differentiation.