Saturday, 8 September 2012

Why Media, Technology And Retail Are Now One Market (Where Apple Is King)


We can tell the difference between a phone, a newspaper and a shop. Yet increasingly their individual success is becoming interdependent as major players attempt to dominate the market by forming partnerships with (or acquiring) prominent providers of complementing services.

Apple set the rules of the game. By providing a complete ecosystem of hardware (Macs and iPods,) software (iOS and OS X) and innovative services that people ‘[did] not even know they want[ed]’* (iTunes) Apple ‘trapped’ consumers in its comfy web where everything works great together. But the appeal extends far beyond functionality – Apple has created a desirable end-to-end customer experience that is aspired to in its own right.

Contenders for its throne include Google and Amazon, both of whom are busy filling in ‘gaps’ in their portfolio through launching hardware ranges (Nexus and Kindle) as well as offering additional services aimed to lock consumers in (e.g. Google+). Amazon’s announcement that Microsoft’s Bing will be the default search engine on the Kindle Fire HD (http://mashable.com/2012/09/07/bing-kindle-fire-hd/) is a clear strategic attempt to keep Kindle users away from Google.

But they are still missing the crucial ingredient – the gravitational pull of the Apple experience. Consumers crave to be trapped in their ecosystem because it makes them feel like a certain kind of person. But what kind of person would I feel like if I were trapped with Amazon/Bing?

As I write this in a trendy Brick Lane café, there are 4 other customers tapping away on their Macs. I doubt there’s a café anywhere that’s only full of HP or Sony users.  Until another brand – or a partnership – creates a cultural aura and a branded end-to-end user experience around their technology/media/search engine/retail offer, Apple will remain uncontested.

Fighting for leadership are brands originally known for hardware (Apple,) online retail (Amazon) and a search engine (Google). But what would you call that market..?

*Steve Jobs’ quote and innovation cliché. Aka Henry Ford (who invented the car): ‘If I had asked my customers what they want, they would have said a faster horse

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