Apple MacBooks, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are extremely popular and highly desired devices. MacBooks inundate university lecture halls, every other person on the subway has the signature white Apple earbuds tethered to their iPods or iPhones, and it’s impossible to fly on an airplane and not see someone with an iPad in your row. What makes us want these devices?
When the first iPod was released in 2001, Bill Gates immediately recognized Apple’s end game: get people hooked on a series of devices that sync together. If you have a Mac with all of your music, movies, books, and apps in iTunes, you can easily plug in an iPhone, iPod, or iPad and seamlessly transfer your digital media collection in one easy migration. In an attempt to imitate Apple and the immensely successful iPod, Microsoft released the Zune. By the time the Zune hit shelves, it was already too late: Apple’s iTunes was already an integral part of most people’s music collections.
Today’s Apple is even more proprietary. Apps, movies, TV shows, books, and other content hook users and make it difficult to change to another platform without sacrificing your media collection. Paid apps in particular lock users into a particular OS just like the Apple-Microsoft software war in the 80’s and 90’s.
Apple devices just work well together. Things like iTunes and iCloud have made sharing content and information between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone seamless and behind the scenes. Calendars and contacts sync on all of your devices. Using the iTunes “Purchased” tab, you can download previously paid content onto any device that doesn’t already have that new movie or game. Universal apps work on both the iPhone and iPad, and using iCloud, they can sync progress between devices.
There’s a culture around Apple products that’s difficult to describe. Macs are all over college campuses in part because everyone else has one. If you’re a student and all of your friends have Macs, the university has Mac computer labs, and your professors lecture from MacBooks, you’ll undoubtably consider it when shopping for your next computer.
There’s an unexplainable hype and excitement around new product launches that mobilizes people into lines outside of Apple stores. Apple fanboys need to have the newest Apple products first because they love showing off their day-old iDevices to drooling friends.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why this fan club for Apple products exists but much of it is resultant of Apple’s secrecy and the over-speculation of future gadgets on tech websites. Because Apple rarely leaks prototypes or even device launch dates, the online community speculates through blogs and tech articles what to expect with Apple’s newest devices. Some sites use leaked parts from Chinese Foxconn factory workers to hypothesize about the next iPhone. Others claim to have secret sources with inside information from their work within manufacturing companies for Apple components. After months of speculation, everyone involved eagerly waits for Apple’s Keynotes to basically see how right (or wrong) they were. It’s almost a game- a winning prediction leads to credibility and could result in tons of new viewers to your website, whereas an incorrect prediction costs you web traffic.
Because Apple doesn’t leak any information before their product launches, when they formally announce devices, it’s a big deal. Apple theatrically presents their products in mesmerizing Keynotes. They send out witty invitations that hint at one aspect of the launch and then fill lecture halls with tech analysts all ready to report on Apple’s next “revolution.” The Keynotes are littered with words like “amazing” and “revolutionary” that can make any product sound incredible.
Apple’s advertisements are similarly captivating. They’re always smart, clean, and visually stimulating and present the product in a “wow I could really see myself using that” kind of way. The overly successful “Get a Mac” ad campaign used Justin Long’s casual appearance and laid-back demeanor to help the everyday person relate more with the jean-wearing Mac figure as opposed to the uptight and boring brown-suit PC character. In the same light, iPhone and iPad commercials show every-day people using their products to make their lives easier.
Apple products are sexy: they’re thin and lightweight, precision cut from high quality materials, minimal, and generally aesthetically pleasing. The iPhone feels solid and substantial in the hand and the screen’s resolution is made for the sharpness of the human eye. MacBooks are sculpted from solid blocks of aluminum making them incredibly clean but also significantly more solid than plastic laptops. Apple products have timeless designs but more importantly, they convey structural integrity and long-term usability. The lack of visible screws or “joints” makes for devices that are elemental and simple, but clean and innate.
Much of Apple’s success has been attributed to their physical stores. These locations not only show off the beauty of the products but are design feats of their own. Some stores feature impressive staircases made of thick, transparent glass. Beyond the pristine product displays and the building’s aesthetic qualities, having a knowledgable person to walk you through your purchase or fix your broken product is comforting.
Apple excels when it comes to service. They stand behind their products and are known to replace Macs, iPhones, and iPads without hassle. Compared to other phone and computer companies that rely on call centers around the world for their customer support, Apple’s Genius Bar is free to consult and genuinely wants to help.
Apple’s first generation iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac were revolutionary. At their initiation, they all packed features that no-one else in the industry was offering. Think back to when the first iPhone was announced: a long multitouch touchscreen was unprecedented in the cell phone industry. Multitouch gestures were so new and amazing because they made intuitive sense yet companies like Samsung, Nokia, and LG didn’t offer them on their phones. Today, multitouch is second nature to users and Android and Windows Phone both offer scrolling and pinching gestures.
In the same vein, the separated-key chiclet keyboard on MacBooks was quite different from the industry standard uncomfortable plastic and loud keyboards on IBM Thinkbooks and Dell laptops. Nonetheless, most laptop manufactures today have followed the Apple keyboard trend. Inventions like the retina display, 10 hour laptop/tablet battery life, the App Store, and MacBook, iPhone, and iPad aluminum manufacturing processes aren’t necessarily Apple specific inventions, however, Apple implemented them for the general public before any other major tech company. These features make their break with Apple and eventually spread to other companies over time but techies love to be on the cutting edge, making Apple products appealing.
The above reasons or a combination of them could potentially explain why Apple products are so popular today. Regardless of the reasoning, Apple’s growth over the past decade has been extraordinary. Feel free to add your insight on the “Apple Appeal” in the comments.
[Image via Wikipedia]