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Apple's brand is not destroying the world

Apple's brand is not destroying the world
Last week, we questioned if those who were out to criticize Apple were judging the company by an old standard, namely the standard set by Steve Jobs. The company is no longer run by Steve, so while the products of the company will likely still be the same sort of closed, integrated systems that we've come to expect, the company itself may not be as much of a patent lawsuit bully with Tim Cook in charge. However, even if Apple does change its ways, which we still don't have enough proof that has happened, or will continue. The comments on the article led us to see that people have a strange misconception about Apple and the role it plays in shaping the future of technology. 

The trouble seems to be due to the growing metonymy that Apple's brand is creating in the mobile market. By that, we mean that those who don't understand the new smartphone market use "iPhone" as a stand-in word for all smartphones, and all platforms have to be compared primarily to the iPhone. Similarly, "iPad" is slowly becoming metonymous with all tablets. This is all much like how "Kleenex" can become a catch-all term for tissues. When you combine that metonymy with the ridiculous profit and marketing power of Apple, it can seem quite scary, but the extent to which people seem to think this will lead to Apple influencing other companies to create "Apple-like" products. Even to the point that some think that Apple's market power will end up killing "full function mobile devices and PCs". 

This is the sort of doomsaying that we just can't let go, because the arguments can sound reasonable and may sway people, even though they are incredibly unlikely. Let's walk through this and see if we can't hash it out. 

Metonymy

The use of the word "iPhone" to mean all smartphones, is one that luckily is slowly decreasing as Apple's competitors continue to gain market share and awareness. Of course, Android faces a similar metonymy problem, where Verizon's brand "DROID" is becoming a catch-all term for Android devices. And, while iPad was the only tablet worth talking about for a while there, luckily the term "iPad" still hasn't gained as much traction in meaning all tablets, but the same phenomenon is there as well. This creates a distortion of reality. Because people use the Apple brand words in this way, it gives the impression that the iPhone and iPad are the de facto choice of consumers when it comes to mobile devices, but this isn't really true. 

Well, it's not 100% true. The iPad is something of a de facto choice for a tablet, because unless you are deep into the Android ecosystem, or have specific needs why you need to see the file system of your device, the iPad offers a better experience than any other tablet out there. Android tablets are coming on strong, but unlike Android phones, they can't offer full app parity just yet (which we blame more on app developers rather than Google), and the Android tablets that undercut the iPad considerably on price offer a far worse user experience (because they often run Gingerbread and not Google's true tablet versions of Android), and so do not make the savings worth it. That could possibly change with the introduction of the Nexus tablet, but right now Apple is still the clear leader in the tablet space. 

However, just because people say "I want an iPhone" to say that they want a smartphone should not be confused with the iPhone being the de facto choice. The sales figures alone disprove that idea. Yes, Apple has huge sales figures across the board, but Android has steadily been taking more and more of the overall smartphone market share, especially with first time smartphone buyers. This makes it seem like what is happening is that people will walk into a store saying "I want an iPhone", because they don't really know what the market holds. But, once they see what is in the market and learn what each platform offers, more often than not, consumers have been choosing Android, not iOS.

Cloning Apple

Beyond this metonymy, which has a tendency to disappear once a consumer has a bit more knowledge under their belt, is the idea that because Apple is so successful in the market, smaller companies will try to copy Apple's approach and this will ultimately create a market with nothing but Apple and Apple clones. This topic is a bit more nuanced, because that will happen in a way, but not for the reasons laid out. 

As far as we can see, there is no merit to the idea that Apple's power and influence in the market is going to kill off so-called "full-featured devices" in favor of Apple's approach of a tightly controlled walled-garden ecosystem. Once again, this idea can easily be dismissed with the same reasoning that we laid out above. Apple's power and influence in the market was never higher than a few years ago, but rather than clones of Apple's approach, we saw the rise of the polar opposite to Apple's iOS in Android. Apple's iPhone was a cultural and consumer phenomenon, but it's tightly controlled ecosystem didn't lead to copycats, but a platform fighting back with a culture of openness, choice and customization. 

There were some copycats trying to replicate Apple's design philosophies, but we don't see any problems there. Apple has always put in more effort than most to create intuitive software design combined with quality hardware design, so if there is anything that companies should look to emulate it would be Apple's design philosophies. However, this is also the type of copying which is least detrimental to the overall choice in the market. The Nokia Lumia 800 has a very Apple-esque design with its unibody design, which is very striking, but beyond that it is still a Windows Phone device, which has only a little in common with iOS. The same goes with the Sony Xperia P, which also features a design that seems to take cues from Apple, but is still an Android device with all of the customization and access that entails. 

Apple still makes huge profits, and has an incredibly loyal (and vocal) user base, but Apple is not the dominant force in the market. Apple's days of huge power and influence are no longer at its peak, and since then we've seen nothing but an increase in diversity of choice rather than more Apple clones. What we have seen is less a result of companies copying Apple, but rather that Apple sees trends in the market and makes a big move at the same time that other companies are doing the same. But, because it is Apple with the marketing frenzy that follows the company, it is made to seem as though Apple is leading the way, when it may not be. 

The post-PC world

Apple has been making user-friendly devices for years and years, this is nothing new. However, now that tablets are catching on, suddenly people are worried that "full-featured PCs" are going to die and be replaced with easy-to-use, limited functionality devices. Well, that's almost true. Yes, "full-featured" PCs as we know them are on their way out, and will ultimately become a niche or companion device, but those devices will not be erased from the world, and the functionality that is lacking in mobile devices now will be added in as we get deeper and deeper into the so-called "post-PC era". 

Essentially, the role of traditional PCs and mobile devices will be switched, with mobile increasingly becoming the primary device for the majority of users. That's the way of the future, and it's not because of Apple, but because of how people use electronic devices. This trend is also nothing to be scared of, because it is a trend that will not only get more people using computing devices and the web, but because it is a perfectly logical trend. Google realized the same thing that Apple did: computers are overkill. Computers are more powerful and expensive than 95% of users have any use for, and there is no need for a computer to be a relatively localized experience. 

As such, Apple created the iPad, which can probably do about 90% of what a traditional PC can do, and that percentage is growing with each new iteration. Google followed a two-pronged approach with both Android, which can probably do about 92% of what a traditional PC can do (the extra 2% above Apple is for the easily accessed file system) and Chrome OS. The idea for Chrome OS was simple, and very similar to the thinking behind tablets: users spend most of their time in a web browser, and more and more the web can replicate 95% of what users may need to do, and the portability is gained by syncing data in the cloud rather than actually carrying a device with you. So, the market began to move away from PCs, because they were simply not needed. 

Sure, there will always be people out there with a need for the power to get behind video encoding, hardcore gaming, or more in-depth photo editing/graphical creation, but those people are a very small minority of the market, so why do we need to have our premiere devices made to meet the standards needed for those power users? Quite simply, we don't. We need devices that can do what we need them to do, whenever and wherever we need. This lead to a failed attempt with netbooks, which were mobile enough, but not powerful enough, and the rise of mobile devices. It also led to the rise in ultrabooks, because mobility is important and there are still those out there that need traditional PCs. 

Conclusion

PCs are not going to disappear, but are simply changing form, and are losing the status as our primary computing devices. They are not being replaced by closed-in Apple devices, but with a combination of closed Apple devices, semi-open Android devices, and soon Windows devices, which promise to not just give a new way to do everything we have always done on PCs, but to truly translate the PC world to mobile devices. Sure, at first Windows tablets will be expensive, but the cost will no doubt come down, and lead to quite a solid amount of choice in the mobile market. 

And, that's the whole point. Apple being successful, and people appreciating and supporting Apple devices has never led to a reduction of choice in the market, nor has it led to devices becoming more closed and limited to emulate Apple devices. Rather, we've seen a number of competitors spring up with a wide range of styles, and the only thing we can say about companies following Apple's lead is in the number of content stores we've seen coming together from Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, and in some design choices from various manufacturers, because once the platform capabilities are on par, the biggest advantage that Apple has/had is iTunes. 

Apple makes huge profits, and has the most powerful marketing machine in the world because of its extremely loyal fans supplementing the company's official marketing campaigns. Apple may even get extra coverage in mainstream media because its products tend to become cultural touchstones with common viewers because of their ease and simplicity. This connection to common users has led to the metonymy with Apple branded products. But, none of that has caused a shift in the market towards more Apple-like products, because companies like Google and Microsoft have pretty dedicated followers as well, and their followers don't want the simplicity and limits of Apple devices. So, those companies, and their hardware partners make devices for that section of the market. All users coexist, and with luck, all enjoy the devices they have chosen. Those that choose Apple, do so because it fits their needs and desires, but that support doesn't endanger the choice of those who want a Google or Microsoft device. It's just a personal choice. 

87 Comments
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posted on 12 Mar 2012, 09:42 8

1. cellgeek82 (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Dec 2009)


Apple isn't destroying the world silly. The liberal governments of the world do a good job of that already!

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 12:02 2

23. BlacRaZredge (Posts: 36; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


umm... you have the liberal government to thank for this progressive technolgy.... if we were all backwards thinking republican rednecks we would still be riding horses around and burning coal. sounds kinda steampunk, maybe that wouldnt have been so bad... but i digress.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 12:04 19

24. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Oh no, man! Never ever ever engage anyone on a message board about politics! There is no way this can end well.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 21:31

61. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lolol. funny about that, eh? :)

posted on 13 Mar 2012, 09:44 1

78. hepresearch (unregistered)


Haha... yeah, you all have seen how bad it gets when someone sets off my politics button... I am trying to resist such urges, but when others open up a conversation like that, sometimes I can't help myself.

I don't like it when I allow myself to get dragged into a political discussion here... we are here to talk mobile, not politics... and then again, some of it crosses into political territory these days, so it can be hard to avoid.

Best way to avoid problems is to be respectful and not call out other political affiliations for being "bad" or whatever. You may feel tempted, but don't do it! Just don't!

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 15:22

35. Whateverman (Posts: 3271; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Please don't start this sh*t today!

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 09:52 6

2. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


I agree with both michael and Cellgeek. :) lol

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 09:55 7

3. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


wait.. i need to make a crazy eyed post... hmm.. umm...

ZOMG, of COURSE Apple is taking over the world!?!? cant u see the iTrickery going on!?!? Michael, they are totally tricking you!! U must already be an iServant in disguise!! U know it! You are trying to lower our defences so Apple can get us in our sleep! Think of the children!!! the Children!!! And what about the new logo huh? doesnt it remind you of one of those old school hipnosis thinggies? Just start spining the logo around and everyone turns into an ishaep!!! ZOMG!! WTH!! I bet they are putting fruit chemicals in the water right now!! dont drink the water!! To be safe we must live like WaterWorld and drink our own filtered Pee!! that way they cant get us!! Paper? Ive got paper!! Next they will have the whole world making iProducts.. 500 hour weeks for everyone with no pay!! no sleep!! they are going to iGlue your iEyes open.. then when you collapse they are going to instal Siri into your brain so you respond to voice commands!!!!

that Better M? lolz

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:25 2

10. PAPINYC (banned) (Posts: 2315; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)


iTotally agree. On a personal note, iDidn't read the entire article above; iRead the first two sentences and realized it was a repeat of what iPhoneandiPadArena wrote last week and quite honestly life is too short. If I wanted to waste my precious time re-reading the sAme ole krApple content, I could use the time more efficiently by playing "Snow Angels" on the tracks of the NYC subway in a VERY dark tunnel.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 11:49 11

22. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Good thing you only read the first two sentences, which were a recap of last week's article, and judged the whole post on that. Wouldn't want to accidentally read anything new.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 12:35 5

28. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


papi,
you do realize that what i posted was comical satyr and not actual opinions right? lol :)

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 17:34 2

41. shimmyx20 (Posts: 280; Member since: 03 Mar 2009)


Not sure if trolling or retarded...

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 19:47 3

48. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


oh dont worry its definitely both..

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:42 3

14. andro. (Posts: 1999; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Michael has been writing very 'Let love apple' articles recently. Not that i would have considered him an apple hater previously just a person with an non ifanatic view on apple which is rare for phone journalists especially on PA which posted about 80 articles of the exact same info on the new ipad.

But the recent 'Lets love Apple' ' 'apple is good' is eerily like when in the Simpsons when Homer gets turned to love the Movementarians and declares his undying love for the 'Leader' !!!

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 11:41 8

20. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


more "no need to hate" than "let love", I'd say.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 15:25 1

36. andro. (Posts: 1999; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Unfortunately though theres a new article here on Phonearena of apple attacking Samsung in the courts again for the Galaxy tab source code :-( Its hard to like a villain!

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 20:17 3

50. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I'm not advocating liking Apple. I'm advocating that people lean back and let others like what they want. Yelling at people in comment threads, and coming up with crazy theories about how Apple is going to destroy everything we love are absurd reactions. There are a lot of people that enjoy Apple products, so let them enjoy it. They aren't wrong, they just have a different opinion.

I know this is a silly argument to try to make to the diehard Apple haters. But, I feel I have to try to bring a little rationality to our volatile tech community.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 09:58 12

4. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4857; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


Apple is not taking over the world, but the mentality & mindset that they are forcing down on people is. For instance your colleague Victor H. had a funny article called "Here's how Apple squeezed over 3 million pixels in the new iPad screen". The mentality & stigma is that Apple makes everything, they are revolutionary.

That couldn't be farther from the truth. We all know Sharp made those displays but we have the media feeding bogus information to the public thus keeping that Apple makes everything or is revolutionary. So Apple indeed is manipulating the media & that is how you begin to destroy world. It starts with propaganda & then it leads to something else.

I am playing with those types of words because that is what is being implied in the title of this article. Thus fueling for gas for Appleā€™s fire. Apple is indeed manipulating the media because we have people in this very website who are giving wrong information about Apple's so called inventions or whatever you want to call it. Apple has done nothing but buy the display, but the media gives Apple the credit as they made it or invented it.

So false information can lead to different things maybe not the destruction of the world but to make Apple fans more extreme than they already are.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:02 9

5. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


You definitely have a valid point on the misinformation. I called victor out on that as well. Apple didnt do squat other than order the product that was available to them. They are a software and advertising agency with some design thrown in. they definitely do not actually make a darn thing, especially technology.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:19 7

9. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4857; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)


I know & that is what I mean. The media has a lot to do with the misinformation. They can report whatever they want & the public will wash it down like a fine wine after a $85.00 filet Mignon.

Apple also never gives anyone credit for their so called inventions. Nuance is not even aloud to talk about Siri, I bet Sharp can't say here is what we did to the new iPad screens, & the list keeps going on.

The media on the other hand paints this picture that Apple makes everything from scratch & that could not be farther from the truth.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:38

13. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


im sorry, u lost me after filet mignon. :)

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 21:35 3

63. andro. (Posts: 1999; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Apple Will never give sharp credit or even mention their name,in fact apple Will generally just say 'weve improved our screens and upped our resolution'. I once told a friend of mine who works for apple that the iphone 4 screen was made by LG and not apple,funny enough he looked shocked and didnt believe it till he googled it.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:47 1

17. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


yeah. apple cant destroy anything but ifans. also apple can never take over the tech world as we android fans easily outnumber ifans by a great margin.
except ifans no one else thinks that smart phone means iphone.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:02 2

6. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


great article im on that windows banwagon

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:12 4

8. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


you know, I got ahold of a windows7 phone that was jailbroken. It had the developer's market in it and a ton more options than the regular WP7 devices. It was pretty darn nice. Added better battery controls, tethering, and all sorts of little tweaks and controls that have been missing.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:10 2

7. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Good article Mike. But I have to disagree on one tiny point. The Lumia 800 and 900 with their pillow shape design don't take their cues from The iPhone. They take it from the Meego running N9. Other than that it was a good article. Of only you coils rub some of your writing skill off on Victor H.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:35 1

11. ZEUS.the.thunder.god (unregistered)


i was thinking the same actually. Lumia 800, 900 and N9, all have better design than any idevice.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:38 2

12. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


im just really drawn to that cyan color for some odd reason. it just pops to me. lol

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 10:46 3

15. PhansMuneeb (Posts: 371; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)


So itroll has started barking huh....

So I think You love Nokia N9/Lumia 800 (Don't even compare Apple's Design with n9/l80p), that's Nokia.
Which Design are U talking about that Iphone. Simply a Rectangle stapled in your hand with a Apple Logo on it. Yes Apple's IOS is smooth and WP is on par with it in smoothness and features (WP has extra). Apple primary aim is profit.
So Please Change the name of PHONEARENA to IPHONEARENA so that others will stop visiting your site and Take My Advise, Start icampagnes to promote IOS.

posted on 12 Mar 2012, 12:06 5

25. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2705; Member since: 26 May 2011)


This is why I love my job. I can write a reasonable post about how hating Apple makes no sense, and then get attacked for being ridiculously biased towards Apple.

God bless the rational denizens of the Interwebs!

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