Blind Faith or Brand Loyalty?
Damian is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Is There a Difference?
Announcing Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) new iPhone 5 complete with two titanium cans and a faster fiber-optic string and it works seamlessly with our complete line of iProducts. Of course this exaggerates the point a bit, but there isn’t much that Apple announces that goes unnoticed (or unconsumed) by today’s consumer. Are we led to believe that anything Apple puts in front of us is going to be magical, or has there been a consistency in the consumer experience that buys a loyalty not seen by very many brands?
We’ve all heard the jokes about Kool-Aid, the Cult following, blind-faith, and there is some truth to that. However, Apple seems to be able to produce products and services with a broad appeal to the point that techies and non-techies alike speculate wildly on the possibilities. It appears the post-WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) period is once again creating a firestorm of speculation including photographs of alleged new iPhone and iPad cases with holes in different places, leaked engineering drawings for mini tablets, and photo-shopped mock-ups of a larger iPhone screens. And we eat that stuff up! I admit I’ve visited those blog sites looking for clues as to when the newest version of the i(fill-in-blank) will be hitting store shelves.
I’ve recently been nursing an original iPhone 4 careful to preserve my available upgrade during a visit to the AT&T (NYSE: T) store. The very helpful sales clerk apparently has heard the list of rumors, because she let me in on the expected release of the iPhone 5 as being “sometime in the next three months, but probably October.” She then proceeded to tell me they could give me a temporary Go-phone to use until then, but I’d “be without all my e-mail and apps.” That was the hard-sell, but I still decided to take my phone to the local fix-it guy and bide my time until the new one arrives. Not once have I questioned the integrity of this somewhat failing product (broken home button and dead battery). The phone is over two years old and I’m too excited about what’s next!
It’s What’s Inside That Matters
Apple’s iOS 6 is reported to have over 200 new features, a lot of which will be a once and “been-there-done-that” feature. But more interesting and what keeps me coming back to Apple products again and again is the synergy they create with each new upgraded piece of software and hardware. If you step back from the 200 features and look at the overall picture of what Apple is creating, you see a symbiotic community created by cloud computing and their software offerings. And lets not forget their retail within retail models with newly designed App Store, iTunes store, and iBookstore to be released with iOS 6. With each new product and service, you see improvements in memory, battery life, processor speed, esthetics and overall experience which all make for a must-have product. As advances allow engineers to fit more into smaller spaces without sacrificing battery life, Apple is gradually merging their mobile and desktop operating systems so they become a familiar and intuitive user interface.
Competitors like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) should focus on what’s on the inside. Although Android phones are available across carrier platforms and built by several manufacturers, making Android the largest mobile operating system, each new software upgrade downgrades the newest phone to “old technology.” And because of two year carrier contracts, consumers find themselves chasing a moving target. Each manufacturer wants to use the latest Android OS and is trying to build the next best mobile device obviously on different product cycles. This creates a conflict of interest and leaves the customer frustrated. Apple tries to give value added features to their phones each time they update their iOS. For sure Apple includes software features that perform better on the latest hardware, (because of processing speed, engineering improvements, and retina display [ie. Siri, HD Camera]), but their intentional product cycles work in tandem with the two year carrier contracts.
Apple Dangling the Carrot
Apple has become very good at improving products just enough while feeding just enough information about those products that we hang on their every word. Just watch the live or recorded feed of the developers conference. Someone should use an applause meter (there’s an app for that) at the WWDC each year and compare noise level and frequency of applause to years past. We know iOS Mountain Lion is due for distribution sometime in July and iOS 6 in the fall. Here we are midway through July and I keep checking the App Store daily for the release. I find myself studying the subtle nuances of the latest software release looking for clues about possible upcoming hardware improvements.
Faith, Hope, Love
I have faith (although not blind) Apple will not disappoint with their newest operating systems, and create excitement around each new product release. They will contain just the right amount of eye-candy blended perfectly with “how-did-I-ever-live-without-this” features. I hope the new iPhone is released in the next three months just as my AT&T sales clerk alluded to. I’m not sure I can nurse this original iPhone 4 along much longer than that. I love that Apple keeps investors, developers, and consumers like me engaged, excited, and loyal to their products and services. It makes for a very healthy and profitable relationship with Apple owning over 34% of the smartphone market and surely hoping to build on that.
Dubbles has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.