Is there a major big box drug store near you? Here in Atlanta we’re blessed with the likes of giants Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and a few lesser brands, in addition to many neighborhood pharmacies which specialize in, well, being a pharmacy.
What do those big box pharmacies have in common? They are big. They are national brands. And when you walk inside there’s a pharmacy somewhere in there; usually tucked away in the back so you have to navigate aisles of non-pharmacy products. Drug stores of the 21st century are more about the stores than about drugs.
So it is with many of Apple’s competitors who seem intent on becoming digital drug stores. Google isn’t just the world’s largest and most successful search engine and online advertiser. They have ventured into various and sundry hardware products, many online services unrelated to search. Microsoft and Amazon are not much different. The Windows and Office maker sells Surface PC hardware, too, but also owns the Bing search engine, Skype, a large cloud services division, and more, all in a vain attempt to diversify.
Amazon? It’s an online retailer, right? No, the drug store phenomenon has taken root at Amazon, too, which fancies itself as a grocery store, an internet services company, a hardware company, a streaming TV and movie company, an eBooks distributor, and more.
Every drug store started out as a pharmacy, but today the pharmacy portion is second fiddle to the convenience store aisles.
What about Samsung?
If ever there was a digital drug store of technology, it’s Samsung; a veritable conglomerate of everything from smartphones and PCs, to tablets and gadgets, to washers and dryers, CPUs, memory chips, device displays, a Siri copycat, and a seemingly endless list products unrelated other than they are hardware. Oh, and Samsung executives often go to jail for various and sundry crimes.
What about websites?
Many have become digital drug stores of information. Henry Blodget’s digital rag Business Insider is more about eyeball catching eye candy with trendy headlines than it is about business.
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What about Fortune magazine?
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Those may be interesting stories but have little to do with business and provide less value to those looking for business and market insights.
It gets worse, but you get the idea.
Just as drug stores sell everything to attract everyone, Apple’s competitors want to sell everything to attract everyone as a customer, and online magazines have become digital drug stores to catch every eyeball they can because that is what advertisers demand.
Apple isn’t immune from the move toward drug store marketing. Remember, back at the turn of the century, Apple was the Mac. The Mac was synonymous with Apple. Then along came Apple stores, iPod, iTunes and iTunes Music Store. Then iPhone, iPad, and iCloud and Apple TV. Now we have Watch, AirPods, Beats headphones, Apple Pay and Apple Music, and HomePod.
Apple’s approach to the drug store comparison remains integrated to their own products and customers but we are a long way from the Mac of Steve Jobs days. These days, everything is a drug store.