Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's In A Name? Just About Everything

If there's one brand in the technology sector that continuously continues to stun me, it's Apple. To be perfectly clear, I have nothing against Apple as a company, nor do I think its products are inferior in any way. But it's always been quizzical to me how anyone would gladly fork over twice the money for half the horsepower of an equivalent-priced PC or PC compatible. Their phones, while competitively priced, are really no more functional than the phones in Samsung's Galaxy line, especially the S2, plus the Android OS is no less functional than the IOS. The only product line of theirs I have no real issue with is the Ipod line, if only because the only competition with comparable functionality, Microsoft's own Zune, is pretty much dead, rendering any comparative discussion moot.

But still, somehow, the brand grows and grows. Outside of their misguided attempt at making a video game console with the Apple Pippin, and the Macintosh's own predecessor, the ancient Apple Lisa, they've struck gold in an impressive way. And again, the crux of this is their products are arguably no better than anyone else's, and are often even more expensive.

One reason oft-cited for Apple's success it that Apple products are very easy to use. The situation today is not as bad as it was in the pre-Windows 95 era. But still, a Windows PC, while easy enough to use, is still not as intuitive as a Mac. While using the OS per se is easy, Windows machines are still much harder to configure, and adding new hardware to a PC is an extreme sport in itself.

Another thing with Apple products is that they have a longer useful life than their competition. A five year old Mac will still be able to run up to date, cutting-edge programs. A five year old PC cannot without some upgrades made along the way.

Lastly, and most importantly, Apple as a brand has such incredible goodwill vested in it that its loyal followers will gladly buy Apple-branded products at any price. Apple more than any other company shows how important goodwill and brand loyalty could be--indeed without these, they'd be out of business. The man behind this goodwill, Steve Jobs is such a revered figure that he can probably sell ice to Eskimos and twice the going rate. And this is deservedly so--the man is incredibly charismatic and makes his customers feel special and important. He's the consummate people's man, a far warmer figure than Bill Gates and a far more likable personality than Mark Zuckerberg.

Personally, I will not be buying Apple any time soon, if only because I've been using PCs and their compatibles all my life. Also, I honestly enjoy the quirks and difficulties associated with PC ownership. But neither do I diss Apple loyalists. Apple is a great brand, it makes great products, and I would gladly buy a Mac if I could get one at half price. I guess in the end, Apple shows us how powerful a name could be. The Bard once asked "what's in a name?" For Apple, it's just about everything.

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