Design Quality and Customer Delight as Sustainable Advantages

Apple bear argument 1: Superior design doesn’t matter in the long run, the mobile market will be commoditized by “good enough” competitors.

Apple bear argument 2: Quality matters but iOS devices have already lost their edge, and are no longer superior to competing devices from Samsung, Google, or Amazon. iOS devices just cost more.

Apple bear argument 3: Design doesn’t matter, app developers and peripheral makers will flock to Android simply because of raw market share, even if that market share is almost entirely at the low end of the market.

The irony here is that iOS vs. Android (or, if you prefer, iPhone and iPad vs. commodity smartphones and tablets) is in fact a replay Mac vs. Windows — but not in the way that most who make the comparison would have you believe. Judging by its actions, Apple is keenly aware of the lessons to be learned from 20 years ago. To wit, this has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well — a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing.

Of the three, the argument I’m most amenable to is #1. The mobile marketis being commoditized, just like any other market. The key is that as a consumer market, it will never be fully commoditized.1 As I quoted Ben Thompson earlier:

Some consumers inherently know and value quality, look-and-feel, and attention to detail, and are willing to pay a premium that far exceeds the financial costs of being vertically integrated.

“Some” need not be “most”, or even all that close to “most”, for Apple to maintain a lucrative position, with a minority of total unit share but a majority of the profits.

The only catch: they need to keep delighting customers.

Daring Fireball: Design Quality and Customer Delight as Sustainable Advantages.

Keep delighting indeed :) call me fanboi cat vreti dar nu ma mai satur de Champagne 5S asta nou…


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