The #1 reason we continually use iPhones
Wherever you are reading this, quickly glance at the people around you. What kind of phones are they holding? iPhones? Androids? How about your friends and family? Coworkers? What side of the fence do the fall on? Chances are a strong majority are Apple users.
The company does a lot of things well, there’s no way around it. To name a few....
1. Continually exciting, yet simple technology
Apple products are consistently cutting edge, leading the market of smart devices year after year. Yet, despite the complications this might bring, they’re also consistently simple to use. Time’s journalist Tim Bajarin said it well: “As technology has become more intricate and users want more features, the task of keeping things simple is sometimes difficult. But even with that, Apple is the only company I deal with where ease of use is more important than the product itself. Apple makes this a critical goal of its approach to creating anything for the market”. Their ability to remain simple, yet front line with their technology is pillar to the success of the company overall.
2. Beautifully designed products
Apple doesn’t just care about simplicity in their hardware, they emphasize great design as well. For years, customers have notoriously described their products as sleek, minimalistic, beautiful, elegant, stylish, phenomenal and so on. Apple’s Senior VP, Jonathan Ive, explains why by saying, “A big part of the experience of a physical object has to do with the materials....understanding that preoccupation with the materials and processes, is very essential to the way we work.” (Note their emphasis on materials in this quote. Read more about this topic in a recent article I wrote on Google’s mission to explore “Material Design”.)
3. Notoriously memorable marketing campaigns
Over the years, Apple has never failed to kill off competitors like Nokia, Blackberry, and Microsoft through their marketing campaigns. From the “There’s an App for That” campaign in 2009 (which coined a phrase that quickly became part of modern lexicon) to their recent “Shot with an iPhone” advertisements (genius in the way it not only engaged with the public by using their photos, but also required little work from Apple themselves because of this), Apple remains at the forefront of not only design and technology, but marketing as well.
Despite the things Apple does well, there are many competing products on the market right now that are arguably just as good if not better.
Take Google’s new Pixel 2, for example.
One of its largest strengths by far is the unlimited storage. I willingly admit to being a major picture-taker, screenshotter, and Snapchat-video-saver, and until recently upgrading to the 128GB iPhone 7, that little “Storage Almost Full” or even “Cannot Take Photo” would pop up on my phone daily. You know what would also happen daily? Complaining about it.
Yet, it has never even crossed my mind to switch to a Google phone, like many Apple users I know. (Although my attention was spiked upon finding out that with the Pixel 2, you can voice command your phone to take a selfie).
How could that be, given the wide variety of smart devices out there with great features?
The Pixel 2 is water resistant, contain extremely high quality speakers and cameras, and are fast charging (in fact, Google claims the Pixel 2 can hold up to 7 hours of charge from a merely 15-minute charging session). Upon doing some research, I also found that the Pixel 2 comes in standard and XL sizing (which is a major plus being a big iPhone Plus girl myself), offers different colors, has a spacious screen, is very well designed, and is comparable in price, if not cheaper than the iPhone. Google even makes a super easy way to transfer data from your iPhone to their Pixel (!!!).
So why are iPhones still so incredibly prevalent? W-h-y.
It couldn’t possibly be strictly because of their clever marketing campaigns, although I won’t deny they play a factor. We are humans after all, influenced by strong messaging and emotion.
After much thought and consideration, my theory as to why Apple has successfully dominated the market of smartphone devices despite many other worthy competitors out there is…drum roll please…none other than, iMessage.
iMessage's influence has surpassed any of its expectations upon being introduced in 2012. It has created a strong divide to what is now labeled as conversations in “blue” or “green”, with the latter majorly disfavored (see memes below). A certain level of convenience comes with texting another individual through iMessage - rapid texts, seeing when they’ve read it, when they are typing, working on WiFi alone, syncing up with other Apple devices, etc. On the other side, texting someone “in green” comes with inconveniences - longer texts being separated by a character limit (and subsequently often sending out of order), not knowing if they’ve seen your text, being limited to cellular service, issues with group texts, and so on.
And if Apple’s messaging system wasn’t already seamless enough, the recent IOS update (IOS 11) integrates many of your highly-used apps into the iMessage app itself. For example, you can now send and request Venmo payments, search for businesses on Yelp, and send Starbucks credit all through iMessage on your mobile device. These features in combination, with previous conveniences, makes iMessage virtually unbeatable.
So there it is - the key feature that keeps me (and many other users from what I’ve gathered) “in the blue”. Did Apple know that iMessage would have this much of an influence on the retention of their products back when it was thought up? We may never know. However, it is something to think about going forward as technology evolves, the features demanded by users continue to grow, and, as I’d imagine, Apple will continue to rein in the market of smart devices.