Last week, I bought an iPhone 4S. I hadn’t planned on buying one, but my upgrade became available eight months ahead of schedule, and I couldn’t help myself.
When I learned that my upgrade was available, my mind didn’t stop for a moment to consider an Android or Windows Phone device, I simply went straight to the Apple Store and bought a 4S.
Nothing out of the ordinary, right? The iPhone 4S is the successor of one of my favorite devices of all time, the iPhone 4. I write a great deal about Apple, and am highly invested in the iTunes ecosystem. On a personal level, my decision makes perfect sense.
And yet, what has caused me to take pause, is that the aforementioned “decision” lacked any of the characteristics typical of a decision. Rather than cognitively weighing options, my decision was more instinctual and basic. There was not a moment that I pondered the purchase, or contemplated an iPhone competitor, I just took the new information regarding my upgrade, and went directly to an Apple Store.
You might suggest that it’s because I’m some sort of “fanboy” (or “fanboi” depending on how skewed your vocabulary is), but if you have read what I have had to say for the past two months on ONE37 and The Loop, you’ll know that’s not the case.
I went out and bought the best product for me. I instinctively picked what I know to be best, and I’m happy for it. Yes, I could’ve gone out and bought a Windows Phone or the Galaxy Nexus, but what would I have gained?
That’s not to say I don’t want those platforms to have any sort of success — I find Windows Phone to be a very compelling platform — but for the modern Apple smartphone user, there’s simply no current, defining reason to switch.
Knowledge is a difficult thing to fight, and it is being fought incorrectly by just about everyone out there. Once a user has experienced a seamless environment, regardless of the manufacturer, do you really think they will willingly stick with or switch over to something more clunky and difficult to work with?
Rather than building something seamless and easy, manufacturers are keen to slap on a UI skin, copy a hardware feature or two, and put out twelve oddly named phones per year.
Sure, those phones are selling, and of course Android marketshare is growing, but do you really think the users are dedicated? Is there really anything about Android that makes users averse to switching to something else? When reaching an upgrade, does the average user know precisely what they’re going to get next and why?
In building the iOS platform, Apple has removed the need for much of what I used to be cognizant of. With AirPlay, I no longer concern myself with how I can play a video on my television from one of my devices. With iCloud, as long as my phone is connected, I have backups, seamless contacts, and calendars. With iMessage I can text internationally for free without thinking about it. As such, as the market stands, I have no compelling reason to seriously consider switching to another platform.
That might sound like my life has been dumbed down, but that’s incorrect assertion. My life has just been made easier. There’s that much less in my digital life for me to be considerate of. No longer must I verse myself with codecs and conversion techniques in order to enjoy my media, or with firmware hacks and overclocking to get the best features and performance out of my hardware. My technology just works, and it does so in the background. I enjoy applications that help me work and live, and I no longer have to focus on the underlying mechanics that facilitate that.
Other manufacturers can tack on a similar feature set — be it cosmetic or software-based — but no matter how good any one of their individual products is, there is quite literally no compelling reason for me to take pause when driving to the Apple Store until the ecosystem matches up. The Galaxy Nexus may well be a fantastic phone, but what can Android bring to the table that my Apple devices cannot? What would make my life easier in having a Galaxy Nexus?
Until manufacturers can answer these questions, and I can do something appreciably different and better using their products and ecosystems, then there is no reason for me to take pause when shopping.
That is not fanboyism — that is being a reasonable, informed consumer.