When the corporate need for wealth, fueled by pervasive advertising, outstrips the funds and time of customers, there is technological pushback. That's when customers start looking more carefully at the concept of value, and that's why they love Apple.
The customer base of funds available for tech products is not infinite. Wages are not rising as fast as companies need to grow, and that's causing, it seems, customer behavior to change.
The Great Pushback
I read a lot to keep up with current affairs, and what I think I'm seeing is a mild technological pushback. The relentless creation of demand, via advertising, is overwhelming people. In turn, they are turning to things of stronger value, like Apple products and turning away from things that don't contribute to their lives in a valuable way.
The pushback against Google Glass is one example. Whether it's justified or not, Glass is perceived as all that's wrong with modern society: rich techno-geeks spying on every day people. In this story, a bicyclist jeers at a BBC journalist wearing Glass: "It’ll never catch on."
Another example is cord cutting. While not yet pervasive, it gets a lot of press because of its everyman allure. If one can save money and acquire entertainment on one's own terms, it's a win. Denying the cable or satellite company just feels so good.
Banking on Apple
When I think of the things Apple provides, they are not always excessively flashy, but they are fundamental to human lives. The iPad delivered millions from the tyranny of PCs and Windows. Apple appears to have a strong interest in helping us monitor our health and fitness thanks to persistent leaks about the iWatch. Apple has always focused on the positive aspects of life: music, FaceTime and family, movies of our children, photo albums, and the security of our computing devices. Despite recent spin.,Android remains a strong and viable target. Not so much with the iPhone.
Nowadays, Apple is even paying dividends on its stock, a stock that's about to become a lot more accessible to everyday people thanks to the announced 7-1 stock split. Dividends are something real and valuable that a person can take to the bank.
Apple retail stores are always crowded, but not because people have a materialistic obsession with geek toys. They are there, in my experience, because they know they can find elegant solutions to their life problems that have real value.
Companies that compete against Apple have a tough time providing value the way Apple does. In my opinion, Samsung's ultimate goal is to one-up Apple, at any cost, in financial success by mimicking Apple's products. Google's ultimate goal is to wedge past our privacy so that it can sell advertising. Microsoft's ultimate goal has been to ensure the prolonged success of Windows and Office, and it has built hardware to promote that agenda, not to delight customers.
Apple, on the other hand, understands that not every technology that can be created has value. That's why Steve Jobs, and now Tim Cook, have said "No!" to a lot of gadgeteering.
Next: Authentic Value
Companies that aren't very good at creating value for customers because of their culture or obsession with wealth play two clever tricks on customers. First, lesser quality means more money in their pocket, less in yours. Second, to compensate, they create an artificial sense of value through feature comparisons. The reason this works, in many cases, is because customers can be seduced into believing that more features = more value.
For example, if two loaves of bread cost the same, but brand A has 3 grams of fiber per slice while brand B has 2 grams, then brand A has greater value. That's why Apple's competitors love their comparison charts. They say, "Look! We have feature X, so our product has more value than Apple's."
However, when I listen to people who have forsaken Android phones and come to iPhone, they invariably state that their previous phone was of poor quality and usability. They are delighted with their new iPhone.
Apple's products, as customers know, display their values in more subtle ways. The joy of use through industrial design, an intuitive ease of use and great protection of the user's privacy and security via the app curation process are values that are hard to quantify in a comparison chart. And so they are often (conveniently) overlooked, even by technical journalists.
This idea that we pay a little more for genuine value has made Apple a successful company. These days, when customers think about how to cut back with other companies, that Apple focus on value pays off handsomely.