iPad 2: Apple's Secret Weapon is the Ease of Ownership

So, today the entire tech world was postively shocked to find out that the iPad 2… was exactly what we expected. About the only things we didn’t expect were HDMI and those slick, if generally unexciting, cases.

Still. Given all that, the iPad 2 will be a huge success. The reasons for that are myriad: Apple’s design, ecosystem, marketing and technical prowess are all factors.

But there’s another aspect that people forget about, and it’s crucial: owning an Apple product is simply easier than those from its competitors.

 

A Different Cost of Ownership

Often, when we think of the cost of owning a product, we think of two things: the upfront cost and the ongoing cost. An obvious example is an iPhone: you pay a couple of hundred bucks up front and then you pay a monthly fee.

But there’s another ‘cost’ of owning a product that doesn’t have a monetary value: how much work it is to just own something on a regular basis.

On that front, when compared to other ecosystems, iOS comes up top. This isn’t the same as ‘ease of use’ or ‘it just works’. This is about something different.

 

The Ecosystem Advantage

There are a few things we have to with a phone or tablet. We update apps. We backup media. We download podcasts and music and video.

iOS seems ideal for these things because of how tightly integrated its ecosystem is.

While it’s true that syncing by plugging a device in is less than ideal, think about it: if you turn on your computer and boot up iTunes and plug your device in, you will not only get a back p of everything each time, but any new media, new podcasts and app updates will also be synced without you having to do anything.

It’s true that you can do this with Android. But not only does each manufacturer have their own solution for backing up data, there is no one ideal solution for syncing all your media. Sure, DoubleTwist is great for syncing media wirelessly, but it doesn’t do apps or handle OS updates.

To put it plainly, nothing is as obvious and plain for daily needs as iOS because everything happens in one piece of software and starts by simply plugging a device in. Sure, iTunes is clunky and you can cobble together your own solution, but that just proves the point: you don’t have to think about daily stuff with iOS and can instead think about things that matter.

 

Drudgery Made Easy

But there are other silly little hassles that are easier on iOS.

OS upgrades for one are far easier. All you do is plug your device in and press one button. Try doing that on an Android phone.

Similarly, finding accessories for your device is its own kind of hassle. Yes, it’s very much what people on Twitter label a #firstworldproblem, but still: when you deciding what phone or tablet you want, isn’t simple stuff like “can I just buy a case for this damn thing anywhere” a consideration? Of course it is.

The simple fact is that Apple have made it simple to own on of their products. It’s quite true that some of that simplicity comes from Apple’s ecosystem being ‘closed’, and it’s also true that there are downsides to this.

 

A Call to Competitors

But far from simply ‘celebrating’ iOS, we should find ways to prod Apple’s competitor’s to consider ‘ease of ownership’ a real selling point.

How easy is it transfer photos on a Samsung phone? How simple is it to upgrade the Motorola Xoom or RIM Playbook to a new version of the OS? How straightforward is it sync media on a Sony Ericsson phone?

These are all factors that can sway someone into purchasing one device over the other. And for now, there is no company that takes the overall ease of ownership into account like Apple. Sure, like any company, they’re less than perfect. But they’re also the industry standard when it comes to this – and it behooves others to follow their example in respecting their customers.

So the message to Google, Microsoft, RIM and others is this: make your products as simple to own as possible and you will not only increase customer loyalty, but also just make your products more appealing.

Written by Navneet Alang

Navneet Alang is a technology-culture writer based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter at @navalang
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1 Comment »

 
#1
Rasmus Malver
March 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Though agreeing on the sentiment of the article, I disagree on the upgrade comparison with Android: “You just plug it in, and press update. Try doing that on a droid.”

Well, on my droid, I don’t have to plug it in. I just press update.

 

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