Sunday, 21 September 2014

What makes Apple so special?


This is an adaptation of a previous article on the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch.


So, just a few days ago the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus went on sale worldwide, to much fanfare, and, as with many Apple products, the traditional queuing outside Apple Stores in anticipation.

The traditional iPhone queue outside Covent Garden Apple
Store, London [Luke Westaway, CNET]
No other technology product (or any product in fact) receives this much attention. Why is it that Apple have become so desirable a brand?

Their products alone can be argued to be not that revolutionary.
The iPhone's larger displays? The Samsung Galaxy S5 currently on sale worldwide already has a 5.1 inch display, bigger than the expected 4.7 inch iPhone. The HTC One Max has a whopping 5.9 inch display, larger than the 5.5 iPhone.

NFC on the iPhone? Not a big deal. The Google Nexus 7 had that two years ago, and via Google Wallet you can already perform touch and pay payments.

Heard of this before? Don't blame you...
The Apple Watch- the first digital watch companion? Wrong again Bob- the past year has been chock full of watch announcements, from Samsung, from Motorola, and various other tech companies. They can relay notifications, they can monitor your heart rate, and they've been out for ages- heck, Samsung has already released two iterations of its Samsung Galaxy Gear.

A few weeks ago, if you didn't follow tech closely, you may not have heard of Samsung's Gear (which was first announced a year ago), or Motorola's 360 smartwatch, yet you probably would have heard of Apple's mystical 'iWatch', whose existence we were not even certain of.
Isn't this weird? Why is this?

There are numerous reasons. Many indeed. A key reason is of course the quality and consistency of Apple's product environment, and the products themselves- but Apple's business strategy also has been hugely successful.

Apple has built for itself a truly iconic brand. An Apple logo, be it on an iPod nano, an iPhone or a 27-inch iMac, carries with it connotations of high quality materials (note how commonly that silver aluminium material is used in Apple products), luxury (take a look at some of Apple's prices) and reliability (most Apple product owners would agree on this one).

A large part of this has been thanks to consistency- a key factor in a business' success, but only if it is done right- of course no company should be creating consistently poor products (*cough*Blackberry*cough*).











Apple has created consistency at every corner of its business. Take a look at the two screenshots from Apple's webpage below, and the event invite at the top of the article. The same font (Helvetica Light I am led to believe) is used consistently, the same white-grey colours, the same minimalist design in general is consistent throughout most of Apple's site.
Of course certain products are given their own display style reflective of the product's character, but in general Apple's design (be it the design of the site, the design of the advertisements or the design of the products themselves) are all cohesive. They are certainly decisively minimalist- Apple doesn't make use of any cheesy patterns or frilly designs, it just selects one or two colours and sticks with it throughout the product. And this is throughout Apple's whole product line.
The Mac line is a particularly good example of such consistency- the distinctive aluminium material used as the outer shell for the devices act as a cohesive for all Macs- it links them all together, it lets you know that an iMac is from the same family as a Mac Mini. Not only is this beneficial from a design standpoint, but it creates a subtle familiarity in product users, one that makes people more comfortable in purchasing a second or third or fourth Mac computer.

Consistency spreads further than just the design of Apple products- Apple's retail stores are among the most valuable in the world, thanks largely to their design. Apple makes use of the same materials for all the tables, the walls to give customers familiarity and comfort in their environment- while still allowing for stores to have their own individual appeal (such as the Regent Street store in London).

Consistency goes into the use of the products, too- Apple is well known for its lack of device software fragmentation (basically most Apple users are always running the same latest software on their devices, as opposed to say Android where people are spread across numerous iterations of the software, or Windows where many people are still running XP), its iCloud service allows people to access photos and videos across all of their devices without having to transfer anything manually, and features of the upcoming Mac OSX computer operating system will allow Mac users to send and receive phone calls and text messages on their computers- provided there is an iPhone connected to the same wifi network.
This feature, named Continuity, is another genius move from Apple. Creating this greater connection between the Mac and iPhone is a very effective way of attracting customers to purchase both- as items that complement each other rather than separate items completely. This could easily sway an iPhone user to purchase a Mac, and vice versa.

Through design, brand and functioning consistency Apple is successfully crafting not just a line of products but more an environment of products, all related and cooperative with one another.

We know this, perhaps unawarely, but this expectation of consistency that many people have come to associate with Apple is perhaps the greatest reason why we are so interested in the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6s, despite the competence of these products' already existent competitors.

Consistency is key in a business- and clearly for Apple, when combined with quality products, it has paid dividends, big time.

SOURCES (and recommended reads):
apple.com/iphone
http://www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/samsung-galaxy-s5-1226990/review 
http://www.htc.com/uk/smartphones/htc-one-max/
http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/06/apple-iphone-6-event-predictions/
http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/05/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-an-iphone-6-or-iwatch/
http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-nfc-works-and-mobile-payments/
http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/apple-iphone-6-goes-on-sale-around-the-world/
Mohammad Lone Editor