Sunday, 21 September 2014

Reflections on why I'm seeing so much anti-Apple material on Google+

Recently, the amount of anti-Apple posts in my Google+ stream seems to have reached epic proportions. One community that is supposed to be about funny posts in general has become ridiculous. One or two posts were fine;  it then started getting boring and now a deluge of anti-Apple posts that drown out the humorous posts in a sea of repetition.

Clearly, the timing of IFA and the release of new iPhones has an impact. But it made me curious about what motivates people to behave like this. And why so much anti Apple? I’m using Android, iOS & WP and in communities for all of these and I don’t see anything like the same level of attack aimed at Android or WP. 

There are several reasons that sprang to mind about why someone might want to ridicule the buying decisions that someone else makes:

1) Apple has been the main smartphone player for sometime. It's always easier to have a go at the main figure. Though Samsung now sells more handsets than Apple so clearly there is something more going on than people having a go at the company selling the most handsets. 

2) The world of Android and Apple are different, though interrelated. Android has a faster rate of change, many manufacturers and Google’s increasing hold of user content. Apple provides a degree of stability for its customers, a focus on user experience and product quality. However, by itself this would not be sufficient to get supporters of one having a go at the supporters of the other.

3) The behaviour of some suppliers has an effect on some people’s behaviour. Samsung for example, through the use of negative marketing, has set an example for what some see as reasonable behaviour. Obviously it has a number of benefits for Samsung (though it also has a secondary effect on the organisation using negative marketing approaches). When Samsung was fined for paying people to post positive comments about their products and negative comments about competitors (including HTC) it drew a new line on what could be considered marketing tactics. And, again fuelled animosity. 

4) The relationship between Apple & Samsung (and Google) is interesting. From when Samsung was a supplier to Apple; the court case on ‘the Samsung manual on how to copy an iPhone’ ; the numerous court battles as Samsung copied Apple for a period and then got into the stride of its own identity and innovation cycles (court cases that have potential benefits for both sides). Ideas are relatively easy to copy- from any direction- and as a consumer I like having the benefit of features in whatever I buy at the best price and quality I can get. However, I do understand the desire to protect patents, limit copying etc  and Apple are very diligent in protecting these (as are others, but those tend to get less publicity). And in some markets copying is seen as less of an issue than in others.

5) Corporate culture makes a huge difference, though no company is ‘ perfect’ - it’s made up of people, departments etc each with their own objectives. The Chairman of Samsung helped dramatically improve the success of Samsung (and play a part in Korea’s success). However, he was found guilty of financial irregularities and sentenced to prison. He was pardoned by the Korean President (to help with the Winter Olympics bid) and returned to Samsung. This sort of behaviour at the top level of any organisation, especially when condoned, can have a major impact on corporate culture and what is seen as acceptable.

6) Samsung is one of several Android suppliers, the one that has the most to gain by targeting Apple (sensible marketing strategy). However, when people who like Apple respond to negative comments by attacking Android in general, it draws in other people.With the increasing competition, especially at the cheaper end (at the moment), from Chinese manufacturers, Samsung has a vested interest in aiming upstream, where Apple has sat.

7) Google+ inevitably has more android users than Apple users, though clearly Apple bashing isn’t something that most people go in for. Google+ is a key competitive & strategic tool for Google.  For example, not releasing a Google+ app on WP introduces a barrier for people wanting to use WP. (I’ve recently realised that for WP there are other conversations going on outside of Google+ that are interesting for people using WP devices. However, Microsoft could do with providing a free version of Yammer outside of the corporate world. And Apple will loose out by not having an equivalent. Though ideally, I’d prefer to use a social media tool that’s not from an OS provider).

8) There are some people who like to vent steam; try and provoke a reaction; behave in quite a different manner online compared to how they might behave if you met them face to face. There is also an element of team support- like at a football (soccer) match where people get into the swing of chanting for their team, irrespective of who is playing well (whilst some people look on more interested in who is playing the better game). And there’s a lot of emotional & personal investment in a phone (more so for some people), and some people feel the need to justify their own decisions by having a go at the decisions that others make (a bit bizarre if you stand back- for example I don’t see buyers of BMW attacking buyers of Mercedes or vice versa- though it’s in less of their interests to encourage attacks on the other party). 

Which ever way you look at it having more competition is better for the consumer. If Apple or Android suddenly disappeared the customers of the ones left would look forward to less innovation and improvements, not more.

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