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Of Apple, Android, Windows and brand evangelism: Part 2

Given the focus on smartphones and tablets nowadays, the Mac vs PC debate has probably given way to Mac vs. Android debates nowadays. Given that Windows does not have a significant presence (yet?) it is understandable. While passion for the Apple brand goes back decades, the rapid rise of Android fanboyism (just over the last 3-4 years) is extraordinary. Needless to say, there are many things that have helped Android gain popularity: the fact that its freely available for distribution, its integration with Google services, the rapidly growing app market, availability on a range of handsets and so on.

The difference between the two platforms is minimal and the choice boils down to personal likes, beliefs and perceptions. As Geek.com said, Android is from Mars, iOS is from Venus. But let’s give credit where its due: the iOS platform, particularly the iPhone has been an inspiration for the Android smartphones. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that Android is by far the most serious threat to iOS and has beaten iOS on parameters like market share (which is perhaps not the focus of Apple). There is also no denying that the ‘battle’ of the fanboys will continue in tech blogs, social media and the likes.  Some of the comments about the competition (from either camps) stems out of blind hatred, bias and ignorance. Potshots at Apple tend to get even more exposure, as is the case with most things Apple.

The fundamental difference between Mac vs PC and the mobile wars is that the PC user became a Windows user by not bychoice but by force. Windows was the default OS on office computers and laptops. So when Apple fanboys displayed a ‘superiority complex’ it evoked largely defensive reactions from Windows fans. The argument for Windows was it universal presence, ability to handle common office files, range of software etc. In countries like India, the ability to acquire pirated copies of the OS or Office suites was considered an advantage for a long time.

With the rising popularity of Android and smartphones, Apple faces a new kind of threat: the proud, aggressive Android user. The halo around the Android brand is huge in many countries, especially in markets like India, which Apple does not care about. The positive rub-off from the Google equity (innovative, cool), the availability of choice (within handets) and a constantly improving OS has given the platform a loyal fan base. And the fan base is not merely defending their choice but playing brand evangelists aggressively.

Apple’s reaction has been typically Apple: ignore. Apple is known for its ruthless focus – be it about product portfolio or priority markets. But in doing so, they are increasingly coming across as a brand that does not give a damn about how its perceived. On Twitter, someone called it an ‘arrogant bastard’. Sky high prices of its products like iPhone 4S in India and Brazil (whatever be the business compulsions, reasons) add fuel to this perception of Apple. Not to mention aggrssive competition like Samsung who are pricing and promoting their products aggressively. Several of the countries which Apple is ignoring today could be ‘future Chinas’ for them. And by displaying a couldn’t-care-less attitude Apple is making life difficult for themselves later.  Hopefully with the launch of the next big product (iPhone 5, iPad 3 or maybe the rumoured Apple TV) things will change for the better.

Part 1 of the post here.

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  1. Actually, in my opinion there is a similarity between Android and Windows in the last decade. Most people in developing nations are getting introduced to Android because of the low pricing! I personally bought an Android phone just because I lost my iPhone and a 15k phone looked really attractive. Then within 6 months I upgraded to a Nexus S (when I realized Android is still good only for budget phones and moved back to iPhone)

    But the point is that users buying an Android phone for the first time are pretty much forced into it because it's the only (decent) smartphone in their budget.

    • Thanks for dropping by and the comment, Chirag. Interesting point about Android users being 'forced' into a smart phone purchase. I guess they don't care if the low-end handsets don't really deliver the full Android/smart phone experience (or do they?). But such users help Android increase their fan base who view don't think much of iOS.

      • From what I've seen they don't. In some situations I convince people to spend 3-4k more so they get a better screen a decent smartphone experience. But they refuse. I think people are more than happy with a fact that their phone plays Angry Birds (and other free popular games) and has a apps like Gtalk, Gmail and Web Browser inbuilt.

        • :) true that. Also with so many handset options, price range, marketing activities (offers, activation in malls etc.) they feel 'wanted', 'taken care of'. On the other hand, stone cold silence and no marketing from Apple gets the 'arrogant bastard' response.