There are two kinds of people in this world:
- Those who absolutely adore Apple products (like me)
- Those who believe Apple products are woefully overpriced, repackaged versions of technology already available from other companies
If you're in the second camp, you probably wonder why Apple fans always fawn over announcements of tech "innovations" that look eerily familiar--because they've already been available in other products released by other companies, several months (or, in some cases, years) earlier.
But in a recent video, YouTube tech celebrity Marques Brownlee, also known professionally as MKBHD, explained why Apple features like those found in the iPhone are always "late."
Because Apple's focus is very different from the focus of companies like Google.
While Google is focused on innovation, Apple isn't concerned with being first. Rather, Apple wants to take innovation to the next level--by making its product features better and able to work seamlessly across multiple devices.
Understanding this is helpful for anyone running a business, because it can help you decide on your own focus and business strategy.
For example, let's dive into what Apple fans know as the "Apple ecosystem."
There may be better earphones out there than Apple Airpods, but none of them are as good as Airpods and work so well with the iPhone. Or there may be great messaging apps or ways to share files, but none of them work as well as iMessage or AirDrop.
This doesn't just make for better devices, says Brownlee--it also makes it harder for customers to leave the ecosystem.
"So while Google's teams can be ridiculously innovative because the teams are a little more siloed and they get to work without the constraints of having to talk to each other all the time, they will often churn out amazing, incredible new features that ... just don't talk to anything else," points out Brownlee.
On the other hand, Brownlee continues, although Apple's teams may have the exact same idea at the exact same time as Google's teams (or, let's be honest, maybe even earlier), Apple has the constraint of having to work with the rest of the ecosystem and plug into as many different things as possible.
Which, yes, multiplies the amount of time needed to launch--but with the end result of creating a much better product.
For example, Brownlee cites Apple's new feature named Live Text, which was announced at Apple's most recent conference, WWDC. Live Text takes an image in your camera or photos, recognizes text in the image, and lets you copy and paste that handwritten or stylized text and place it in another app (for example, to search a phrase or find a business name on an internet search).
Of course, Android phones have already been doing something very similar for a while with their Google Lens feature. The difference, Brownlee says, is the seamlessness with which Apple's feature works.
For example, seeing a phone number on a sign in a photo and then simply long-pressing that phone number and being able to call right away is just easier and quicker than hitting the Google Lens button, and copying and pasting from there.
Apple announced another new feature connected to its FaceTime app, called Share Play.
In Share Play, users can screen-share and watch things together inside of FaceTime, similar to what is offered by Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
But, again, the difference is not in what Apple's feature can do, but rather how Apple does it.
For example, if listening to Apple music or watching a video in FaceTime with someone, you have a beautiful interface that's synced up with the app. So you can watch or listen with synced playback controls.
This is much better than the typical screen-sharing function, in which the media transfer depends on internet connections, and therefore produces an inferior experience.
And, of course, companies like Netflix, Disney, and HBO will be eager to take advantage of Apple's new feature, so their apps can similarly plug right into FaceTime and provide a similar experience for users.
But perhaps no feature better demonstrates Apples superior continuity than its ability to connect a Mac to an iPad, drag your cursor between both back and forth seamlessly, or to drag and drop files between them.
"That is one of the coolest, slickest ecosystem flex features I think I've ever seen," exclaims Brownlee.
"I don't know how many years we would have to wait to see Google doing that with a Chrome OS laptop and an Android tablet. But I wouldn't hold my breath."
In the end, Brownlee says the choice between Apple and Android basically comes down to what you prefer:
- Super innovative, new, bleeding-edge features versus
- A little bit later, but a little bit more well-polished or plugged-in.
Apple made its choice a long time ago, and it's sticking to it.
Seems to have worked out for the company.