I was watching something like Community or Modern Family the other night when I saw two commercials that really struck me: one for the iPhone, and one for the Droid. The juxtaposition seemed like a very simple illustration of a point I’ve been trying to make lately which is that Apple is one of the few technology companies that really understands consumers. In other words, probably more than any other technology company, Apple makes products for everyday people rather than for the geeks who design and build them.
Hence all the control Apple insists upon. Geeks like freedom and openness when it comes to technology while most people just want something to work. By carefully controlling the hardware and the software, as well as the retail and support experiences, Apple can give customers exactly what they want: simplicity and elegance.
Google cares about the web. Microsoft cares about software platforms. Apple cares about good experiences. That’s their only prejudice. They will pursue almost any technology whether it’s web-based, installed, mobile, set-top, or otherwise if it makes the power of technology accessible to consumers.
I don’t think most people care about multi-tasking or application approval processes. They just want a device to be easy and fun. I think the two commercials below illustrate which company understands that better:
You make a very interesting point.
The problem is the following statement: “They will embrace any technology whether it’s web-based, installed, mobile, set-top, or otherwise if it makes the power of technology accessible to consumers.” Apple very clearly does not do this. If they did, then they would be in support of the flashPlayer. I may be a geek, and I may have my prejudices towards flash – but there is a reason why so many websites use it to deliver content. This page itself would not “just work” on an iPhone, as the two examples you display are based on the flashPlayer.
Apple definitely understands how consumers think, and how to cater to those thoughts using emotion. They create very elegant and expressive interfaces that people want, advertise to their emotions, and tell them “it just works” so much that they believe the problems don’t come from the device.
The biggest complaint I hear about the iPhone is that it doesn’t have flashPlayer – from geek and non-geek alike. The people want something that “just works” and it is unfortunate that the iPhone only works for your emotions, and not in actuality.
Honestly, the Droid commercials are very geek-based. The whole robot thing is very sterile and hard. “This is not a phone that is for emotional experiences, this is a phone that gets stuff done!” is what the commercial says to me. Personally, that works for me, because I want a smart-phone that gets stuff done, rather than plays to my emotions but doesn’t do things.
Hi, Ross. You make a good point. I actually reworded the sentence a bit shortly after publishing. They don’t always “embrace” technologies (as we’ve seen from the Flash Player), but they do pursue technologies with an eye toward a different end than other technology companies.
I also want to say that this post is not meant to imply that the iPhone is better than the Droid or any other Android device. In fact, I prefer Android. But I honestly can’t recommend Android devices yet to friends or family who are not geeks.
It’s really too bad for android because when non-geek consumers get their hands on a modern android device like nexus 1 they find it superior to the iphone. When they see it for themselves they get why multitasking is important and they experience why open platforms are superior to overly controlled platforms like the iphone. And the 1 thing left that apple actually does anything good at is ui design and organizing their marketplace. It makes sense to organize your store so that you feature the best apps but too much control and you end up limiting what developers can’t create which limits the potential of your device. I just recently switched to android from an iphone and couldn’t be happier. My non tech geek wife is still with for iphone and is jealous of what she sees
Interesting, As a first day of release Android user who runs our Architecture firm on the cloud with G-Apps I appreciate the connectivity offered by the android system. However Android has a lot to learn from apple. There is a lot of capability on the android; most times. It jams a lot. Moreover it has nowhere the ease of use of an phone. The fact that it does not do pinch an zoom on every app is a reason enough to be in favor of a Steve jobs type dictator to make sure app users do their HW and insure the user experience is superior.
I think you have hit the nail on the head – and given Jobs’/Apple’s graceless comments on Adobe/Flash, very generous of you to say so.
As a ‘geek’ you still understand and admire aspects of Apple – shame that the geeks working at other tech companies don’t, we wouldn’t have ended up suffering for years under Windows Mobile…
@Mack: Thanks. You’re right about having to look at these technologies objectively. Although I don’t agree with all of Apple’s policies, I think they do a lot more right than they do wrong. For the most part, I want to support their efforts to provide the best consumer experience possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Android, though (I have both a Nexus One and a Droid, and I love them both). I’ll keep supporting whoever is innovating and competing the hardest.
I’ve been having a hard time understanding who the Droid ads are targetted at. As someone definitely on the technical side of the spectrum, I would imagine they are attempting to sway my allegiance from my iPhone to a Droid, moreso than to sell Droids to the rest of the World — capture the early adopters and the influencers, and the rest will follow.
However, the current set of Droid ads don’t speak to me at all. They list the “advantages” of the Droid over the iPhone, but these are things I already know about, and would assume that other’s like me also know about them. I try to keep up with technology, and read a number of tech blogs (which you all most likely do as well). Therefore, it’s preaching to the choir, and really a lost opportunity to address other points to help me see why it would fit in my digital life better.
“Bullet point” advertising is dead and gone, time to see something different.
Good post. I love ActionScript and the Flash IDE (use Adobe Captivate for a living and develop my own widgets for it). And I wish Adobe and Apple could learn to play nicely together, as I’d love to develop for the iPhone w/o having to learn Objective-C, But I also love Apple’s products–hardware and software. And you nail why so many people like those products. The iPhone 4 ads are full of emotional appeals, but that’s what sells phones to non-geeks. Geeks usually prefer the app or hardware that does more. But, as my dad used to say about cars with automatic windows, “that’s just one more thing that can break.” What appeals to most people is the right feature set, not every possible feature. What they get right is way more than simply pretty GUIs.