Mark Bridge writes:
What’s the secret of Apple’s success? That’s the question I was asked earlier this week by LBC radio during a report on Apple’s impressive iPhone sales and its record quarterly results.
Much of the answer, I said, was down to usability and design. Apple has taken existing features – both software and hardware – and has made them better. After all, the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone... and wasn’t even the first touchscreen smartphone. But for many people, that’s the perception.
And, perhaps just as importantly, Apple doesn’t get involved with products it can’t improve.
Here are six reasons I think Apple is doing so well at the moment.
Apple makes products that are easy to use. Yet they’re not dumbed-down. An Apple iPhone is pretty intuitive for new users but is smart enough to appeal to ‘power users’ as well. Some people will argue they don’t have enough control over an iPhone’s settings, but for most people that’s not a problem.
Apple makes products that are easy to choose. If you want an Apple mobile phone, you buy an iPhone. Yes, there are different memory sizes and different screen sizes – and you can always buy one of the previous versions – but for many consumers there’s only really one model.
Apple makes products that people want. Every so often there’s a celebrity who endorses a rival product and yet they’re seen using an iPhone when they need to go online. The staff at Apple love them too: they use them all the time. That’s how prototypes get lost in bars. And don’t underrate the effect of Apple’s advertising. Visit the Apple website and it’s showing you the amazing things you can do with Apple products. It’s not trying to sell you a phone.
Apple controls the sales process. Okay, not entirely – you can buy an iPhone from your mobile network or from an independent retailer – but buying from an Apple Store gives customers an all-Apple experience. There’s hands-on contact with the products, there’s no pressure, there are well-informed staff – and it’s all glowing white, rather like a high-tech version of heaven. On top of that, Apple runs its own App Store and iTunes, too. Buying your device, filling it up with content, downloading apps, customising it to suit your taste: it’s all under Apple’s umbrella. No, not an iUmbrella.
Apple makes premium products. In an industry where average smartphone selling prices keep falling because more and more low-cost devices are being produced for developing markets, Apple is sticking with premium. And you can end up paying quite a lot more for a phone that’s a little bit better. A bigger iPhone screen doesn’t cost Apple £80 more but that’s what it costs customers. The same goes for memory, too. Extra profit from customers who don’t mind paying extra for a top-spec handset.
Apple spends a lot of time and money on research and development. Goodness knows which version of iPhone they’re working on now. But I bet it’s not just iPhone 7.
|Mark Bridge is one of the team at The Fonecast. He doesn’t have an iPhone, Not yet, anyway.