Blog / Marketing is a feature

Some things about the smartphone wars are objective. The Nexus 5 has a larger screen than the iPhone 5s, while the iPhone has a fingerprint sensor and the Nexus doesn’t. If those were the only two differences of the devices you’d choose which one is most important to you and that’d be the end of it.

Our digital computing world is hardly that binary (cough). Each type of phone has lots of features, some you can compare (processor, RAM, screen size) and others you can’t always line up (user experience, app quality, privacy). So we have endless debates about which phone is better because of which reasons. Android phones typically win on objective features and iPhones tend to win on the softer, subjective ones.

Why is Apple General Grievous?

Here’s one feature I never see mentioned: marketing. Media attention, advertising, all the fruits of Communications majors. I believe that’s part of the product, and that’s a feature which people use to decide which phone to buy. If a company makes good TV ads they’ll sell more devices than a company that makes bad ads even if the product is the same. Sometimes it’s more direct, like salespeople at stores pressuring customers to buy the phone du jour.

It’s part of why Apple’s iPhone sales are still going strong even in the face of excellent compeition from Android’s solid hardware and stable software. The “cult” effect Apple exudes through its marketing is, in the minds of some consumers, a positive aspect of the iPhone. On the mental checklist they’re using, Apple has a big green check mark in the “has emotional and clever ads” category. Samsung understands this and is working to make its mark.

Those of you scoffing and rolling your eyes are running a similar weighted calculation in your mind. For you those types of advertising result in a negative score, like a short-lasting battery or a blurry camera. By owning an iPhone you’ll be part of the “cult” and you don’t want a phone which does that.

See? It’s a feature.