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Friday
Feb182011

Do People Really Want Choice?

Seriously, think about it.  When you are bombarded with all these Android devices, do you actually feel empowered or does your head spin?  Apple and Microsoft proved to us that people only want the illusion of choice.  In the Apple camp, the 3 different choices for iPhones are more or less the same (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 16GB, and iPhone 4 32GB).  There are a few different iPod choices, as well as MacBooks.  However, they are all Apple.  On the Microsoft front, it's all Windows.  Do you want to know why everyone flocks to the iPhone, iPods, and Windows?  It's because every has one, and that makes it easy to share the same experience.  It's the hive mindset.

Want more proof?  Lets talk Linux.  For a while, Linux didn't have a unfied front.  There wasn't a single distro that was popular.  Because of this, Linux adoption was very low in the consumer area.  Ubuntu changed that.  It became the defacto Linux distro.  Anytime you talk to someone who isn't a hardcore techie about Linux, Ubuntu is the first thing that comes to mind.  Once they try it out, they are hooked.  They can't believe how easy it is, and it spreads.  It's still not as big as Windows, but when you have a non-techie ask about it, you know it's starting to spread.

 

A Good Experience is Key

 So how did things become the way they are?  Well, in my opinion, it starts with a good user experience. Sure there were MP3 players before, but Apple made it big with the iPod because it was the first to have a user experience that was worth telling a friend or family about.  Say what you will about Windows, but their user experience is what drew people in.  Apple actually had the lead with MacOS, but didn't follow through.

In the tech world, the software has to be easy to use, and the hardware has to have a good asthetic design.  It also can't feel like it's going to fall apart.  This is why Apple is killing it with their iDevices, and gaining market share with their Macs.  However, their Macs aren't selling as much as their iDevices because it's hard to convert people who have Windows.

Ubuntu may not be the first Linux distro, but it was the first to be easy to install and use.  They also have a live CD option so you can try it out without fear of loosing your data.  There's no compiling involved.  It seem to magically detect most hardware.  Also the Software Center made it easy for users to find and install 3rd party software.  Don't even ask me how Linux was before Ubuntu, because I don't want to relive it!

 

Be There First

Having a good user experience isn't the only the thing that will catapult you to popularity.  You have to be the first to get it right.  This will build mind share.  As more and more people buy into it, it's harder to switch away from it when something that's just as good or better arrives.

Apple's iPhone and iOS got here first, and got a good lead.  People weren't used to the slick interface, and the easy to use gestures.  Before the iPhone and iOS, we had to Windows Mobile and the Palm OS.  Neither reacted quick enough to counter Apple.

Android only started to catch up only because Apple had one flaw in their plan for world domination: they were only available on one carrier in the US.  This gave Android an opening.  Actually, come to think of it, that's how Windows dominated the MacOS.  WebOS has an arguably better user experience than iPhone, but because they didn't get there first, they had less momentum.  And while it's too early to tell, Windows Phone 7 seem to be following the same footsteps.  The only difference is that Microsoft didn't saddle the OS with a single failing hardware design like the Pre.

When I was saying that Android is starting to take over iOS, I was just talking about the OS.  Lets talk iPhone vs other phones.  iPhone still dominates here.  Is there any smartphone that outsold the iPhone?  Nope.

The iPhone may actually still pull out on top now that they are on Verizon, and if Apple is smart, get on the other carriers as well.

 

Be Consistant 

Once you lock someone into your world, you want them to feel comfortable.  Owning a Windows PC usually means that if you were to buy a new Windows PC, you can get it back to how you had it, and start working or playing.

It's the same for the iPhone.  When you buy the next iPhone, you're instantly able to get back to where you had it.  Most software are still compatible, and because there is less fear of people having different versions of the OS, app developers are more comfortable with making a living creating more apps for the device.  The hardware is also relatively consistant.  This foster a market for accessories.

Android has a problem here.  When you move from an HTC EVO to a Samsung Epic, you may be able to get all your apps and data back (thanks to a Google account), but the interface, home screen, and menus have been shuffled around.  The critical default apps (music, calendar, email, etc.) changed on you.  They are totally different from one model to the next!  They are consistant in the way Windows is consistant.  Apps will more-or-less work on different Android devices, but the fear of your app not working with one phone over another is there.  Also, name one speaker dock on the market that was made specifically for, oh say, the EVO.  Of course you can't.

Linux really got a shot in the arm with Ubuntu.  While it's easy to use and install, every version seem to have a consistant look and how things work.  Even with a new refreshed look on Ubuntu 10.10, it's still the same Ubuntu.

Consistancy is the key to keep the people in your kingdom happy and not want to leave.

 

The Illusion of Choice

With Apple, there really isn't much choice, is there?  Be it with iPhone or a Mac computer.  And yet, it's thriving.  Sure there are multiple iPod devices now, but they are all Apple, and you're feeding iTunes.

With Android, you have a "choice" of phones, but it can cause headaches.  Even if your thought is "at least I have the choice", you're still choosing Android.  It's the same with the myriad of PCs running Windows.  To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can choose any PC you want, as long as it has Windows.

In reality, people want to be locked into a software platform.  They also want to be on a platform where there are other people on it.  This way, they can share the same experience, and they can "upgrade" and still keep the same experience.  The hardware can change, but the more similar it is from the previous version, the more it will be accepted.

This is why in the PC world, there isn't a whole lot of different OSes that's popular.  You have Windows, and a distant #2 is MacOS X.  In the Linux world, there is only Ubuntu, which in the grand scheme of things, is a distant #3 in the overall PC OS world.

Because how Apple played things with carriers, there is a duopoly with iPhone and Android.  However, in terms of actual smartphone devices, iPhone trumps any single Android phone make and model despite the fact that it's only on AT&T.  Marketing the same device world wide helps, too.

So in conclusion, it seems that the world won't change after all.  At least not very quickly.  Windows will still be the dominant OS on computers.  Apple will have to battle it out with Google, but in reality, the Android phone makers still won't make as much as Apple because the pie is split up even more so for them.  And while Ubuntu won't over take Windows, it will continue to be the first thing most people will download when they think about getting a Linux distro.

Reader Comments (2)

I'll try not to be bias-ed since i could be consider a apple fan-girl... but your right, Apple got it right first... which would make it extremely difficult to any other competitor to keep up. The other devices just have not impressed me. The iPhone to me will still be easier, more intuitive, sleeker and faster to me. If someone talks specs to me, it doesn't phase me because it all depends on how the device runs, its not about all the text thats written on the packaging.

I was without an iphone after i lost it a few years ago. In result i had to use a blackjack for almost 2 years. I thought "meh" i dont need an iphone anymore i save some money... But of course when the iPhone 4 came out, i went out and got one, and then i remembered why i missed my iPhone. Though i guess its not a fair comparison from blackjack to iPhone, and I've never owned a Droid. I've seen it, played with it. its just not the same.

February 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermoymoy

As much as I like Android, there's something about Mary...errr...Apple.

March 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterGuy Techie

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