Ranked as 12th in the Forbes list of World’s Biggest Public Companies, there is no doubt Apple is one of the leading companies for consumer products. As most of us know Apple produces a wide variety of electronic consumer products ranging from small mobile devices like the Apple iWatch to various iterations of the iPhone to the ‘always innovative’ staple of the Apple juggernaut, the Apple Mac. Apple has dominated the consumer tech market for over a decade now leaving companies like Microsoft in it’s wake. How has Apple done this? What is so special about their products? Is it because of the short shelf-life of Apple products? Look around at the products you’ve got in your home. Speaking personally my TV is 3 years old as is my Xbox 360, but my iPhone is the latest one which cost a fortune! Take from that what you will.
We recently interviewed some amazing bloggers and journalists who gave us their brilliant opinions on how Apple’s influence has spread so far and so wide. Let us know what they think:
Who did we Interview?
Adam Oxford Jake Basford Lewis Wallace
Adam Oxford – Blogger & Africa Enterprise
I’m a journalist who writes about technology, whatever that actually means. To be a little more specific, I cover consumer electronics, PC hardware, tablets, international development, environmental issues, telecoms, open data, big data, data privacy, on and offline gaming, Africa and… that’s not much more specific, is it?
What did Adam say ?
This is chicken and egg isn’t it? Has consumer behaviour affected technology or has technology affected consumer behaviour? In the case of the smartphone, for example, it’s clear that a new technology has completely transformed the lives of well over a billion people on the planet. In the case of 3D TVs, it’s the opposite – a technology which was heavily marketed and lots of brands invested in just flat failed to to inspire.
For software-based technologies it’s also a two-way street: consumers get around more easily thanks to Uber, but are a lot more aware of the history, economics and regulation of the taxi industry as a result of the kickback against Uber by the industry it disrupts. You could say the same about Facebook and privacy, Google News and traditional media or AirBNB and so on. In each of these cases, however, I’d argue that consumer behaviour hasn’t influenced the technology much – ultimately, no matter how critical consumers are of some aspects of services, if what is being provided by a digital disrupter is cheaper and more efficient than what was there before consumers will carry on using it regardless of any lip service paid to its detractors. None of these services have really been forced to change their business model, despite widespread understanding and acknowledgement of their flaws.
Ultimately, I think consumer behaviour influences technology in the same way it influences everything else from washing powder to cars: if a product, service or technology is easy to use, fittest for purpose and well marketed with bucketloads of investor money (and I can’t understate the importance of this last bit) consumers will adopt it. If it’s not, they won’t – and the tech start-up scene is littered with the one horned corpses of would-be unicorns which have failed to meet all three of these tests.
Jake Basford – Geek Editor, VadaMagazine
Jake’s experience is mostly in the fields of media, PR and press, specifically within the third and LGBT sectors. At present, I work as the Media Coordinator and Fundraiser for a Castle Preservation Trust, and am the Geek Editor for Vada Magazine, as well as a freelance writer.
What did Jake say ?
Apple has become a one-stop shop for gadgets, and has created a fandom of its own within its own consumer market. Personally, I am not a fan of Apple products as they are incredibly overpriced, produce a new piece of hardware every six/twelve months for fans to purchase, and recommend you spend hundreds if not thousands on devices, apps and software to get the most out of one singular product. That being said, with regards to creative industries like music or graphics, an Apple Mac is possibly one of the best products you can own. Just don’t be tempted to get the Apple Watch just because you have a Macbook Pro. In answer to the question, however, this has not been seen with any other company – you don’t have people who would viciously defend the Nokia Lumia or question why you didn’t have one, nor do you get horrified looks if you say “I don’t have iTunes”, and as someone who grew up in the age where everyone started to get iPods, the expense meant that a lot of people were excluded from purchasing these items, as I suspect many still are today. The global influence of Apple can therefore be summarised thusly: Apple has created a social divide unlike any other, because you don’t see gamers criticising one another for choosing Turtle Bay over Razer– they just accept someone else’s decision and move on.
Lewis Wallace – Managing Editor, CultofMac.com
Lewis Wallace is the managing editor of Cult of Mac, a technology website that eyes the world through an Apple lens. Wallace is based in San Francisco, the epicenter of the internet revolution, and he specializes in covering the convergence of technology and culture. He formerly worked as culture editor at Wired and news producer at NBC Internet.
What did Lewis say ?
Apple sparked the whole “stand in line to buy a phone” phenomenon. The iPhone is such a massive hit, all around the world, that each year’s product launches have become true events. Lining up to get the latest iPhone is now a rite of passage for Apple fans worldwide — it’s like camping out for concert tickets used to be in the good old days, before the internet changed the music biz. Apple’s tried to cut down on this by pushing online preorders, but it’s still a thing. Sometimes people even line up before products are actually announced, on the off change there will be a product release in the offing.
Steve Jobs’ masterful “Stevenote” presentations also took product marketing to a whole new level. Now Apple fans regularly stream Cupertino’s big product reveals, waiting to hear what the new iPhones, MacBooks, Apple Watch, etc., will look like and what new features are on the way. I honestly can’t think of any product ever that’s been met with such devotion. Apple sells millions of iPhones, year in and year out. What else comes close to the excitement and enthusiasm exhibited by Apple fans?
Apple has also trained people to be more discerning about design — and to be willing to pay a “quality premium” for something that’s exquisitely crafted. For a lot of people, I think “design” used to be a bit of a dirty word. But Jony Ive and his design team — with their unending quest for slimmer, lighter, more beautiful products, and their reverence for materials science and usability — have brought design to the forefront of consumers’ minds. It’s no coincidence that design-oriented blogs have sprouted up all over the place in the last few years. It’s directly related to the iPhone and the incredible emphasis that Apple places on design.
And then there’s Apple Pay, which is literally changing the way people buy things. It’s so unbelievably simple and fast to use, especially from an Apple Watch, that it actually does make using a credit card seem clunky. Adoption will accelerate as Apple Pay becomes available in more places and people experience the magic.
What do we think?
Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, Apple has dominated the consumer technology market very significantly. One thing to consider is that Steve Jobs’ would always build amazing hype around new product releases. Jobs believed that consumers don’t care about the product but they do care about their dreams and experiences. His “Sell dreams, not just products” strategy has been responsible for Apple’s dominance to date. In fact, Apple did not just have an amazing market share but also a huge influence on global consumer behaviour. A Brit, Jony Ive was hired by Apple to create a product that is designed beautifully and functional too. A product with a great design makes something more useful, effective for consumers. Steve Jobs’ design-focussed renaissance has been fundamental to Apple’s influence over global consumer behaviour.
Links to other interviews