What is it about Apple that drives people insane? I mean, it must do. Otherwise, why would Apple get such a kicking in the media? Despite its profits, its stockpile of cash, and the fact that more people buy iPhones, iPads and Macs every year, a glance at the headlines on an average day would convince you that Apple’s days are numbered. Why do people get such palpable joy from predicting its doom?
The fact is that a lot of people still don’t understand the appeal of Apple and its products, and therefore conclude that the company’s success can’t last.
Features for the Few
One reason for the confusion is that the areas in which Apple excels – build quality, simplicity and attention to design – aren’t always easily quantifiable. Meanwhile, reviewers look at checklists of features and declare the Samsung Whatever III FX II DS superior because it has a projector. Seriously, did you even know there are phones on the market with built-in projectors? It’s a feature, certainly, but it’s one that few people will ever need. And I feel confident predicting that Apple will never include it in an iPhone.
That’s because another key part of Apple’s approach to products is to deliberately create devices that will appeal to the broadest possible market. However, many people don’t seem to understand that Apple doesn’t chase niche markets.
The Cult of the ‘Apple Cult’
The other reason Apple seems to make people crazy is because it has such a vociferous following. So when Joe Pundit writes, “I put the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Universe IV 9 3D 4G into my spreadsheet, and the Samsung came out the winner!”, MacLuvr4Life replies, “UR AN IDIOT. YOU SHOULD BE RIPPED APART BY ANGRY HAMSTERS.”
Now Joe Pundit is confused. He can’t imagine his checklist-based system is flawed, so he searches for other answers. “Since I’m using science, the only explanation for your hatred – and the fact that people keep buying iPhones despite the fact other phones have more features – is that you’re tied to some kind of religious belief system centred around Apple. That explains everything!”
And, of course, it explains nothing. When you can’t or don’t want to take the time to figure out why people like the company’s products, you can just trot out the ‘religion’ argument and call it a day.
The Secrecy Strategy
Stock market and financial analysts have always had a hard time understanding Apple. Its modus operandi is: enter a market, stake out the high end and scoop up the profit. As copycats flood the low end, you hold on to the high end by evolving and differentiating products, while looking for new markets.
One key to this approach is to never telegraph your punches; that way, no one knows which market you’ll remake next. Hence Apple’s famous veil of secrecy.
The bottom line is the appeal of Apple’s products and its business strategies are both inscrutable, which makes the company a Rorschach test. People see what they want to see. And the idea that Apple’s fortunes are plummeting is more appealing to many than the idea that it might continue to ride high.
John Moltz is the once and future proprietor of Crazy Apple Rumors Site (bit.ly/oUQbgn)