An Apple a Day Keeps Freedom Away

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As the digital media revolution advances, a strange battle between control and freedom is surfacing.

Historically speaking, Apple has always tended to be at the forefront of technological innovation, yet Android (the mobile operating system owned by Google) is rarely far behind. Despite this, it is maintaining a significantly large market share (over 80% in 2015) in the smartphone market.

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This table measures the comparative market share of the major smartphone manufacturers from 2012-2015 (source)

The reason for this is simple: despite the widespread success of the iPhone, Google never set out to mimic it. Instead, they focused on differentiation (Hola marketing students).

“what we are announcing – the open handset alliance and Android – is more significant than a single phone” (Andy Rubin, 2007).

By focusing on the creation of a new operating system, rather than mimicking Apple’s rigid design, Google appealed to a different market landscape altogether. Remember the long tail distribution?

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Apple represents the limited variety segment (the head) with wild popularity, whereas Android (the long tail) appeals to all the tiny niche markets with little individual popularity, but which trumps market share when combined.

 

The long tail paradigm is the reason both of these operating systems continue to succeed. The interesting part is, in a world where gatekeepers and control are slowly disappearing from the media, why does Apple – a company built on control and closed standards – retain so much appeal to today’s consumer market?

It’s like you’re a mail order bride, who climbs out of a stuffy shipping container into a new life (is that how it works?), only to be forced to ‘forsake all others’ for a chubby, rich, white dude you’ve just met; you literally have no choice but to confine yourself within the Apple realm. It’s a glorified prison sentence.

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As soon as you purchase an iPhone you are instantaneously limited to Apple earphones, the Apple App Store, specific chargers, the iTunes store, and a whole bunch of other hardware and software. They’re comfortable to use, and their gatekeeper, stalkerish, Big Brother-esque status maintains a decent quality throughout Apple software.

Android is the polar opposite. It’s an open system; the control, creation and management of software is user-generated. Anyone can create an app. It’s the epitome of smartphone freedom. Of course, the downside to user-curation is the lack of predetermined quality.

In the end, that’s all it comes down to: quality vs. freedom. It’s the same battle the legacy media is slowly losing to the internet. Team quality has bred the (arguable) most valuable and profitable brand on the globe, while team freedom has harvested a massive market share. Can the two exist in harmony forever? The next decade or so will be interesting.

– Claire

5 thoughts on “An Apple a Day Keeps Freedom Away

  1. I think this is an extremely well done blog post. The overall composition is clear and engaging. This helps get your message across in an effective manner. I think your coverage of this weeks topic is more than comprehensive as well as your ability to link it to other weeks topics covered in this subject. The images linked to this post further your content in a highly beneficial way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought it was really interesting how you linked this topic back to the previous topic of the long tail effect, and it is completely relevant – it definitely wasn’t something that I had thought about up until now, and you’re exactly right in what you said about Apple being the head and Android the long tail. A literal take on whether or not they can both exist in harmony, they can! This article shows how you can use both together without having to commit to only one http://gizmodo.com/how-to-use-android-and-ios-together-1358600762

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tiana, thanks for your comment. That was a really interesting source, the two operating systems are so different, that just maybe they can exist in harmony.
      -Claire 🙂

      Like

  3. Linking the ownership of android vs. iOS software phones to the longtail effect was really effective in grasping the whole idea, the fact that there are so many android phones under the Open Handset Alliance versus just one iPhone each production season. iPhone’s accessories of the lightning port charger size difference from the iPhone 4 to the 5 and now the headphone connection difference from the 6 to the 7 is a great example of how Apple controls its users on their closed based appliances, and makes them always eager to continue their buying patterns of Apple products, forever stuck in the cycle of the controlled and curated closed system. This article from Forbes describes how Apple cleverly tricks its consumers to upgrading to the new handset- http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2014/09/01/you-dont-need-to-buy-an-iphone-6-but-this-is-how-apple-will-make-you-upgrade/#559c994d661c

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this read. It made me understand even more the concept of closed and open systems, and your explanation of purchasing and iPhone and all the things that come with it in its closed system was clear and concise. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

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