Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 10th Oct 2013 16:37 UTC
Apple

Insightful article by John Gruber.

So the irony here is that iOS vs. Android (or, if you prefer, iPhone and iPad vs. commodity smartphones and tablets) is in fact a replay Mac vs. Windows - but not in the way that most who make the comparison would have you believe. Judging by its actions, Apple is keenly aware of the lessons to be learned from 20 years ago. To wit, this has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well - a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing.

As insightful as the article is, it does pivot on the assumption that Apple does, indeed, "[maintain] a lead over its rivals" in design and quality. Design is largely a matter of taste, but as far as quality goes, Apple has, in my view, been surpassed in almost every aspect by Android - at least, when it comes to software. And let's not even get started on internet services, where Apple is a complete and utter joke compared to its competitors. As far as hardware goes, however, Apple's supposed lead is harder to debate - I've held a lot of phones and tablets in my hands over the years, and while many come close to Apple's, I've never held anything that outright surpassed it (save for maybe the HTC One which no one is buying).

Unsurprisingly, Gruber believes Apple does maintain that lead, and as such, arguing his point becomes relatively easy. However, if you ascribe to the view that Android has surpassed iOS in quality (and certainly in design, in my view), it becomes a lot harder to accept that Apple can, this time, avoid the trap it fell into in the '90s.

Now, before people will twist and turn this into me saying Apple is doomed - I don't believe for a second that it is. However, that doesn't mean a repeat of the '90s is somehow magically off the table - Apple has a lot of work to do in order to avoid it. As Tom Dale stated so aptly almost a year ago, "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services". With Motorola and the Moto X, design might not be the only thing Google is getting better at faster.

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Customer service
by darknexus on Thu 10th Oct 2013 17:21 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Before I begin, let me state that I live in the USA and have ever since I was born. Experiences in other countries may differ significantly, and I'll probably get a chance to experience a few shortly.
Speaking from my own experience, here's why customers stay with Apple once they go there. It has very little to do with design, or even quality (though most Apple devices I've owned have lasted longer than their non-Apple equivalents). Most of it is service. You see, and yes this is purely anicdotal, but when I call Apple or visit an Apple retail location, I get staff that: A. are friendly, B. speak English fluently, and C. are direct, to the point, and don't treat me like an idiot. I can go in, examine the devices thoroughly before I purchase, all while not being bothered by pushy staff trying to force a sale. Apple know that if you don't wish to purchase one of their products, no amount of pushing is going to help. If a device needs serviced, no problem. Call or take it in, and you get someone who asks you clearly what the problem is in your language, and doesn't run through a script with you. If it's clear you know your stuff, they treat you accordingly.
Can I get any of that through Google, Samsung, or any other Android OEMs out there? Not that I've found. There is no Google Store to let me try devices. I can't call Samsung and expect to be able to understand the person on the other end, and if I go to any of our 3rd-party retailers (Best Buy and the like) I'm bothered by pushy staff trying to get me out of the store as soon as possible. Let alone trying to get one of these devices serviced should I need service within the warranty period.
It's a repeat of the 90's all right, except this time Apple has learned from their mistake and knows what customer service is about. Android OEMs are following the Dell example, and that's not going to keep many customers long term.
I'd be interested to know if the situation is similar in Europe, for example. Apple do mostly concentrate on the USA at this point, so I'm wondering if their service in other regions comes anywhere close to matching what they do here.

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