This guest post is by Zoe Cohen.
Apple has become so ubiquitous that it’s a rare day when you can walk down the street without spotting a single Apple product – teenagers whipping out iPhones to capture the perfect photo for Instagram, joggers checking their stats on their Apple watches, college students toting MacBook Pros to some trendy café to sit and procrastinate that paper that’s due in two days. Just two decades ago, Apple was an unassuming tech company trying to break into the market. So how has it managed to achieve the near cult following it has today?
Starting with the very first iMac, Apple has set out to be cutting-edge and different. With an unprecedented eye for design, they singlehandedly redefined what a computer (and electronics in general) should look and feel like. Splashy colors and streamlined shapes immediately made the iMac stand out. Similar trends followed with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, all of which have become household staples today. A recent example is the controversial decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone. Though this design choice has sparked a huge outcry accusing Apple of just trying to rake in more profits, history will surely show this decision to be groundbreaking and formative for the future direction of smartphones.
Apple has a long history of giving consumers what they need before consumers ever knew they needed it. Consistently, the company has looked at the lifestyles of their consumers and determined what’s missing in their lives. What did we ever do with our music before being able to compile it all in one place and keep it organized and tidy (iTunes)? How did we ever survive without a virtual, voice-activated assistant (Siri)? How did we ever keep track of all of our photos, documents, and precious memories (iCloud)? Though I ask these questions sarcastically, the fact of the matter is that these services have become an integral part of our lives that most consumers would struggle to live without. This is not by accident. Apple examines our lives with utmost scrutiny to find the next service we can’t live without, and this has paid off massively.
Though there are some of us who are tech-savvy enough to run their computer entirely through a command line interface (for those who aren’t, think Terminal on a Mac), the vast majority of us just aren’t. This is where Apple saw another opportunity to stand out from the competition. By limiting how much users could actually alter on their devices, the company made their products uniquely accessible and easy to use. No longer did users have to have knowledge of the inner workings of computers – iMacs and iPhones came with user experience in mind, carefully and painstakingly crafted to be intuitive from the moment you first turned on the device to see that comforting logo and hear that welcoming tone. This low barrier to entry exponentially increased Apple’s user base (even your grandparents can use an iPhone!), and that, combined with streamlined and minimalist design, resulted in a truly exceptional product.
Although Apple is a relatively new company in the grand scheme of things, they knew exactly what would set themselves apart right from the beginning. Throughout their storied (but almost miraculous) history, they have gone to great lengths to maintain their vision and priorities. This has resulted in a superior all-around customer experience and set them apart from the competition.