It is very apparent that Apple is the brand of choice for many consumers in the Western world. In the UK, the number of monthly active smartphone users is expected to top 50 million by the end of the year, with almost half of all these devices being iPhones. This is significantly higher than the next most popular brand, Samsung, on 29%.
So what is it which makes Apple’s smartphone so special? Their hardware, while arguably sporting the most secure facial recognition system in Face ID, no longer stands out from the crowd of other premium smartphones on the market. iOS, an exclusive to Apple devices, provides a simple and intuitive user experience, but not without its drawbacks.
This is where the concept of the ecosystem comes in. Historically used to refer to living organisms, the idea is well-established in the tech world as a ‘community’ of devices all designed to work well with each other. Apple was in a prime position to develop this as it designs both the hardware and software for its devices, something not possible outside Android owners Google for other mobile device manufacturers.
The idea of the ecosystem has become an increasingly significant factor as Apple continues to expand on the hardware it produces. They currently sell seven different models of iPhone and four distinct types of iPad. Add seven types of Mac computer and two generations of Apple Watch, and it becomes clear just how easy it is to be drawn into Apple’s world.
Apple’s announcement of a new iPod Touch has raised a few eyebrows, with some questioning the need for a 4-inch touchscreen without call functionality, particularly in such a crowded smartphone landscape. However, despite sporting few design changes and technologies long since replaced in flagship iPhones, it represents the most affordable way to get into the Apple ecosystem.
Once you own multiple devices, the experience of moving between them is smooth and seamless. Notes made on an iPhone can be continued on a MacBook in a matter of seconds, files can be instantly transferred via AirDrop, and AirPods connect to your device as soon as they are removed from their charging case.
Harry Frazer, 21, recently purchased AirPods and a MacBook Pro to graduate university with a full suite of Apple products. He described the convenience as a major benefit:
“They’re all able to connect with each other.
“If I’m doing something on my MacBook, I can AirDrop stuff from that onto my iPhone or iPad. If you need stuff to go across devices then it’s really easy.”
Most importantly, he doesn’t see anything from rival companies that could persuade him to jump ship in the near future:
“Android aren’t bringing out anything that I would personally be like ‘Right, I really have to have this’.
“Apple do everything that I want them to do.”
AirPods have undoubtedly revolutionised the market for truly wireless earbuds since their release in 2016, becoming Apple’s second best-selling product in the first two years following its launch.
As smartphones reach near-ubiquity in a modern society, the vast majority of users are not technophiles. A common answer to the question “Why do you use an iPhone?” is “It just works”. That principle is at the core of everything Apple is trying to do.
While they try to push the boundaries of what is possible with technology, they do so knowing that the core user experience should remain as simple as possible. People I have spoken to love how they can upgrade to the latest iPhone and it instantly feels familiar. While Android is not significantly more complex, there is a regular learning curve when using a new phone which is simply not there on Apple devices.
Apple have also taken steps recently to assure users that privacy is one of their top priorities. People have become uneasy over their personal data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and ongoing concerns over Huawei’s commitment to privacy. Apple’s support network, be it through hundreds of stores, online or via the phone, is second to none and gives users vital peace of mind during what is a hugely unpredictable time for technology.
Personally, I don’t use an iPhone. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see why lots of people do. On the Mac side however, the operating system has become so second nature I think it would be hard to leave. Despite becoming highly-polished and slick software, each time I use Windows I become quickly frustrated by things not being found or laid out in the way in which I’m so familiar with.
I’m sure I would soon adapt to the subtle nuances offered by Microsoft, but it’s something I would approach with reluctance.
However, I don’t use FaceTime, iMessage or own AirPods, meaning any future switch could be achieved with considerably less hassle than someone far deeper in the Apple ecosystem.
The Apple ecosystem has graduated from an abstract idea in its infancy to a defining factor in millions of consumers’ buying habits. Apple has successfully exploited people’s strong desire for convenience, a move which has undoubtedly strongly contributed to their position as the world’s first trillion-dollar technology company.