Why They Won’t Win

There’s a great article written by Jason Schwarz at The Street which I recently discovered, which talks about why companies like Google, Samsung and Microsoft just aren’t going to beat Apple handedly with any old product. It’s a fascinating read, so I’ll let you all check it out, but here’s a few of my thoughts on the subject.

It took me three years to buy an iPod. That’s right, three years. I just couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on a music player. After all, I had Walkmans and Discmans, and they all played at least one format, no matter who manufactured the player, so it didn’t matter. By buying an iPod, I’d be sinking all of my music into one format, then succumbing to that company’s whims as to where it goes. Who knows, it could disappear and go away tomorrow, so why invest? But one day, I bit the bullet and bought a shiny new iPod Photo, and I still have it today, sitting in my truck.

Contrast that to my wife’s story. While I was ripping music to my PC to put on iTunes, she was ripping them to Windows Media Player. She had no way to listen to them other than through the computer, and although that wasn’t a big deal for a while, when it came time to put everything onto a portable player, she just couldn’t do it. Then Windows changed formatting a few times, the Windows store changed, all sorts of BS happened, so she took all of her CDs and one by one uploaded them to iTunes. And when I moved away from my trusty XP box to buy myself a MacBook, I just copied my iTunes library to a drive and moved it over, which took about 20 minutes to do, with no problems. It was easy.

Now let me clarify this a bit. I loved PCs. I knew XP like the back of my hand, and if someone had a problem, I could generally fix it. I was the IT guy at all of the companies I worked at, not by title, but by knowledge because I was the guy who could fix things. As a result, I had no ill will for Apple and iTunes, because it worked on my PC, so why not invest in the product? Everyone I knew had an iPod or were getting one, plus iTunes itself was clean and modern and worked well. I had used Apples in high school, and I knew it was a good company, so I put my faith in them to continue on with the product line so that I wouldn’t have to eventually copy over all of my music again, just like my wife did. It worked. It was easy. It was simple.

That ease of use pushed me into the Apple world, and developed a trust between me and the company. I don’t have to worry about my MacBook Pro dying because if it does, I’m covered. I don’t worry about Applecare screwing me on my warranty the way Best Buy does on a regular basis because it’s Apple, and if I want to complain I can send a letter to Steve if need be – and it gets answered. Because of the trust, I’ve bought more computers in the past two years than I’ve ever bought, and they all function flawlessly.

No one really gets that – the trust that a consumer needs to have in a company. For example, I buy Samsung TVs because I like the quality and they’ve always been reliable for me. But I wouldn’t buy a Samsung phone, because everyone I know who has one talks about the issues they have, and the fit and finish sucks. And why? Because the phone division is in one part of the world and the TV part is in another, and they never talk. There’s never one guy pulling the strings and setting things in motion. Instead, they have a million products and a few shine out, instead of a small lineup of quality products.

I buy Apple products because I trust that it’s going to work out. I bought an AppleTV because it was a way for me to get my iTunes library to my television. Although it hasn’t been the best product out there, it does do as I expected and works pretty well. Is it perfect? Not in the slightest. But I know that there’s no proprietary format that I have to deal with to use it, and I don’t get frustrated when I turn it on.

Contrast that to my PSP. I loved the PSP when it first came out, and it was a constant in my bag on a long flight or a road trip. But to use it, I had to have a memory disk card, and then run UMD discs which were expensive. When I bought my new Canon camera, I used the same compact flash card that I bought for the camera I had prior, and it was 4 years old. I didn’t have to spend that money again, like I was throwing it down the toilet.

Palm, Google and BlackBerry all wonder how they can beat Apple with the iPhone, and make their devices better, so they end up producing high-end products with fancy options that they thing everyone wants. But because it’s not easy to use and integrate with their lives, it doesn’t click. When I bought my iPhone 3G I took it home, plugged it in and a few minutes later my music was on the phone. I couldn’t do that with my BlackBerry. I loved my BlackBerry but it meant carrying an iPod and my Curve with my wherever I went – or switch my music to another format to download to my phone. It’s not easy, so I didn’t do it.

Apple uses the tagline “It just works” a lot, but fact is, it’s true. I don’t get frustrated anymore. The last time I saw a blue screen of death was at Ikea (pictured above) and I laughed because I don’t have to worry about my physical memory dumping on me. Even the one time I had an issue with my company’s MacBook, Apple took care of me.

So why won’t they win? Because they don’t give a shit about me, they only want my wallet. Sure, Apple wants my money too, but they want to take me into their world, show my how nice everything is, and make it easy for me to pick up new things. Why?

Because then I’m going to buy even MORE.

 

Comments

  1. Pfft. “They?” You mean the Windows users? Surely you’re not showing how much of a Macfag you are my trying to pass off the BSoD as a PC problem are you?

    Remind me again why Macs never took the market? Remind me again why Mac OS X was one of the first to topple over in several hackup contests?

    FAAAAAAAANBOOOOOOOOOOOOY.

  2. Except… they HAVE won. They all have significantly higher market shares than anything Apple has. Where exactly are they “not winning?”

    My experience with Apple products have shown they DON’T have the oft-bragged-about “quality” the Steve Jobs Cultists claim they do. I could take that $1000 you wasted on a Mac and built a PC that was at least three times as powerful and infinitely more flexible.

    What “world” does Apple show you? The trendy reality-distorted bubble all Apple fanboys live in where their products are high quality, outperform their competition, and are actually worth their premium? That shiny electronics and gltzy interfaces are much more important then a solid, functional device?

    Seriously, who do you think you’re kidding? Because it’s not anyone tech-savvy. They all know better. Instead of iPods, they get irivers and Creative Zens that support far more formats and features and make far less of an issue of modding than the iPods. They don’t buy Macs, because they get significantly LESS hardware power and flexibility and a crippled system distribution to boot, for the sort of money that could buy or build a GREAT PC. A mediocre Mac costs the same as a high end PC, and it’s not because the mediocre Mac is better. They don’t buy iPhones, either, for the same reason they don’t buy iPods, it lacks features and power compared to its current competition, and enjoys being locked down.

    Or were you deluding yourself into thinking they had an open product philosophy? Don’t make me laugh. You STILL can’t install Mac OS on any non-Apple blessed hardware legally. You can’t install non-Apple blessed apps on the iPhone/iPod touch without rooting them first. Apple’s EXPLOITED open source software in locking down a BSD codebase without giving anything back to the BSD community. They’re still very pro-DRM, despite Steve Jobs’ assurances they aren’t anymore. Their PC hardware is nowhere near as serviceable as the rest.

    And by no means are they winning in any market segment. On the PC market you’ve got far more PCs sold by every other OEM. And for PC OS market, Windows is still grinding competition under its heel. The iPod is being outsold by the Zen, Zune, and iriver. The Appel TV crashed and burned, and the iPhone is being outsold by BlackBerry and Pre.

    Please, explain to me, without revealing what a fan boy you are, how they aren’t winning when, in fact, they are?

  3. great article except the couple word errors that should be something else…need a better editor checking that…but all in all I love the article

    except I have a question…as a Best Buy Customer Service Rep and in close relationship with the Geek Squad…I have trouble understanding your comment about Best Buy Warranties…First of all we don’t sell warranties we sell a sorta insurance policy…if you drop your iPod, PSP, DSI, Macbook etc and you have an Accidental Plan we will fix it or replace it if we can’t fix it…on a daily basis I fulfill plans by replacing the items for people that mishandle their electronics. Try dropping your iPod in water or spilling a drink on your laptop and see if Apple will fix it for you or replace it? NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

    don’t get me wrong I am a FANBOY thru and thru…I don’t own and will never ever ever ever own a PC again…but since working at Best Buy I see what we do for our customers that goes above and beyond anything most companies will do…don’t get me wrong some of the plans are not cheap…a netbook with accidental for 2 years is going to run $129.99 but like the other day when a guy spilled Iced Tea on his netbook…I gave him a brand new one…the downside for the consumer is that they now have to purchase protection for the new replacement but at least they have a brand new one for a fraction of what they paid and if it’s closer to the end of two years they have a better model

    the other day a guy brought me in his kids Nintendo DS…and somehow where the cartridge goes the kid somehow got the gold connectors half ripped out…and it was 1 year, 11 months and 2 weeks since it was purchased…and the guy left with a brand new shiny DSI for his kid

    same situation with an iPod Touch…they had it for a year and half and for some reason it was skipping while she was on the subway…gave her a new one

    the list goes on and on…and not to forget the Replacement Plans that we offer on games, game accessories and systems…REPLACEMENT anything goes wrong with it during the plan they get a brand new one no questions asked…hey if you buy one on a game if you don’t like it we will let you get a new different one…

    so I’m not sure what issue you had with your local Best Buy but I think there has to be some extenuating circumstances in this situation because I know my Geek Squad and Customer Service teams go above and beyond for our customers…more than I ever expected them to do

  4. i am getting bored about how people constantly try and compare mac and windows, they are pretty different, whatever works best for you leave it at that.
    personally i always thought of PC’s as difficult to navigate and slow in doing the things i want, vista – pain int he ass
    windows 7? – still a pain in the ass just looks a little more like mac OS.

    only thing i can say is, how many of the PC users slating mac here have actually used one for a prolonged period? i have had mac a year compared to the 5 years i had windows and within the first month it had me! the ease of use and so on, yes it has less hardware customization possibilities but the software customization is unparalleled (well i assume cos i dont know about linux)

    anyway my 2 cents, so stop hating haters, just enjoy the OS that works for you

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