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    Trapped in The Apple Ecosystem

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    Apple has successfully built one of the most well-known brands/ ecosystem in the world with the company holding 23.4 percent share of the market in the second quarter of 2020. It is approximated that nearly a billion people are using more than 1.4 billion Apple devices worldwide. Even though Samsung has sold twice as many phones as Apple, a company such as Samsung produces numerous smartphones to meet all the different price ranges.

    Some Samsung phones are only released exclusively to certain countries and while Samsung is overall a more successful company due to the sheer magnitude of this tech giant in terms of its ability to conquer various industries and fields within the tech world. Apple chooses to focus on a very small percentage of the tech market only having limited products with their logo slapped on making the brand feel a bit more premium. This has always been a selling point for Apple and the company knows they have to maintain that level of exclusivity to get more people on board.

    Even though Apple sold less phones that Samsung and Huawei, the company still managed to generate the most amount of revenue. Apple is one of the 5 companies in the world to be worth over $1 trillion in value. The secret to Apple’s success has never really been cutting edge innovation as that tends to be done by other players in the smartphone industry. Apple has always fixated on one thing for all their products and that is enabling a smooth and functional ecosystem. It is something that some users love while others absolutely hate but are unfortunately forced to deal with.

    The Ecosystem

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    What is this ecosystem and what makes it so great? Many android users are usually perplexed by this concept and find this ecosystem to hold similarities to a cult. The Apple ecosystem is likened to the walled garden and even though the contents within the wall is amazing, there is unfortunately no leaving that garden. The software built by Apple works between several different applications so it is easy for users to access different forms of content on various Apple devices.

    This simplicity is what ultimately keeps people loyal to Apple, once you start using it, there is no leaving it. The Airpods and Apple watch work seamlessly with the iPhone and this keeps more people within the ecosystem. Nobody wants to leave and try out new technology as there are more incentives to stay within those closed-off walls. Anyone invested in this ecosystem is immediately lured in to keep buying Apple products as the products just work even though it isn’t bleeding edge technology.

    No other tech company has managed to build a cult-like following other than Apple and so this company can do virtually anything to their products but people will still buy it just for the sake of the ecosystem. Google, Amazon and Samsung also have so-called ecosystems but at the end of the days these platforms still have a pretty open-ended user interface. Apple spent years designing products that are able to fit this ecosystem at all costs, the company doesn’t care about competing with the marketspace at all. All Apple cares about is how to ensure that all the features on Apple devices work brilliantly.

    This ecosystem has taken years to build and over the years, this system becomes refined after every new software update. Apple connects with people who love simplicity and so this company is able to tap into the minds of every single average consumer. Not everyone on Earth is a power user, most people just want their phone to be functional and work alongside their other gadgets like earphones, smartwatches, laptops and smart home devices. This hardware-based ecosystem is virtually brilliant, as the company does not build their smartwatches for people who do not own an iPhone as such a purchase just doesn’t make sense.

    Apple gets people into the hardware ecosystem through their brand new smartphones and the ability to sell those phones are not based off specs but rather on the idea of a premium phone. Apple sells their branding more than anything as they know their products are not as competitive as other phones in the market who are coming up with groundbreaking features each year. Each new product is designed to compliment an already existing one, this way users are not enticed to check out other tech products in the market. Once you are hooked then there just isn’t a point to leave anymore as everything just works and the price doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore.

    Subscription Services

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    Apple News+

    The Apple ecosystem is also built on subscription services and these services contribute a huge amount to the trillion dollar market value. A popular service is Apple News+ that costs $10 a month. Not many people are willing to pay that kind of money just to get news that can potentially be found online for free. These curated news may just be for hardcore businessmen who have too much money to burn but some features of this subscription are quite appealing to the average user due to the interactive aspect of it.

    There are 85 million people who use Apple News and a fair share of these users are willing to pay to get their daily news articles curated by WSJ. The reason people love it is due to the cross-platform functionality that ties back to the ecosystem. Beautiful graphics with perfect aspect ratios designed specifically for the Apple ecosystem so Apple users who own the hardware are now incentivized to invest in the software to fully make use of their thousand-dollar devices. For $10 a month there are over 300 publications and journals which may cost more if purchased separately so such a subscription isn’t really ludicrous if you really care about the daily news.

    Apple Fitness+

    Apple has also managed to create a paid fitness program that costs yet another $9.99/ month and those who have that extra cash will be willing to shell out for this service. This service integrates with the Apple watch and syncs the data to an iPad, iPhone, or even the Apple TV. This app is built to work with a specified piece of technology and Apple doesn’t care because even though the user base is small, the fee is still significantly large. The ecosystem is just built to lock in users who are willing to try out new features for free initially (assuming you own an Apple Watch) then bringing in the paywall.

    Apple Music

    Apple Music has always been competing with Spotify for years and while both apps contain nearly the same amount of songs. Apple music mainly has radio-based features while Spotify dominates when it comes to podcasts/ audiobooks. Apple Music costs $9.99 per month and allows up to 100k song downloads while Spotify premium costs $9.99 but only allows up to 10k songs to be added to the song library. Apple Music is available in 167 countries but Spotify is only available in 93 countries so Apple music wins in terms of global availability.

    Spotify has curated playlists that are built on algorithmic learning so in that regards, Spotify is miles ahead of Apple music. Spotify is just an overall better music app and most people will not argue with that but to those who are fully committed to the ecosystem, apple music obviously works best. Once you are invested in Apple music, there is no leaving as the migration of data is basically non-existent and moving platforms is just a waste of money in the end. Spotify just makes more sense for the users who own other third-party hardware and are not fully committed to the Apple world.

    Apple Arcade

    This is a subscription-based gaming service and it costs $4.99 per month. New titles are added on a biweekly basis and the service currently has over 120 games but this is still pretty underwhelming. The game selection and quality are pretty good as there aren’t many microtransactions and there are no annoying ads. Some Apple Arcade games are exclusive to the platform and the type of games offered are quite diverse. The question is the ability of Apple to keep up and produce high-quality games through this service.

    This probably started off as a way for Apple to dip their toes in the gaming market and expand their ecosystem even more but it will still take quite some time for the company to compete with major gaming names. Apple is choosing to focus on mobile games while Xbox and Sony are able to offer way more and provide even more acclaimed titles for people who are truly invested in gaming. Much like anything, Apple could offer this service for free if they truly wanted but in typical fashion, it is in a subscription-based service to keep people locked in.

    Apple TV+

    This service was launched in late 2019 and it is yet another attempt from Apple to compete with major streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max. There are around 40 shows on this platform. This is a service that will take time to truly become appealing to the masses but Apple has the finances to produce new shows all the time and it costs $5 a month, or $50 for an annual subscription which is a decent price point for a streaming service. The only issue is the lack of content so the price may be low but so is the substance offered in the end.

    Apple One

    This is the newest subscription plan offered by Apple and this is an all-in-one to jump into the deep end of the Apple software ecosystem. This subscription service varies according to the country of residence as the features and services included in the bundle vary based on geographical location. Apple sees this as a way to truly rope people into the ecosystem without leading people in for each service individually and the bundle will probably work well in the long run. The individual plan costs $14.95/ month, the Family plan is $19.95/ month, and the Premier plan is $29.95/ month.

    The individual and family plan include subscriptions for Apple Music, TV+, Arcade, and iCloud storage while the premier also comes with News+ and Fitness+. The premier plan is only available in Australia, Canada, the U.K, and the U.S. and these are also the countries News+ is available in. The pricing for these plans also varies according to the country of residence so the price conversion is in fact lower depending on the strength of the country’s currency. Overall, users who are already hooked on those subscriptions will benefit tremendously from Apple One as the prices are competitive and it is a way for users to stay loyal to the Apple ecosystem.

    Lack of Competition

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    There is a lack of competition when it comes to the existence of fully functional ecosystems. Android, Amazon, and Google may be contenders but the crown still goes to Apple. Other companies build their ecosystems wanting cross-platform availability but the issue with that is not all developers are able to design their OS in a manner that supports others. Apple has one OS so all the focus goes into perfecting that singular engine and that ends up being the key factor of the company’s success.

    Android has so many different phones with varying chipsets making it harder to ensure a smooth software experience for all users. The Android ecosystem may never be fully refined due to the lack of exclusivity. App developers are also just not willing to make their apps work for all android devices but for Apple the process is much simpler. These tiny things make the Apple experience so enjoyable for many and it is completely understandable. Cutting edge design and features have to be mainstream in order for developers to truly make use of it.

    It may be cheaper to get into the android ecosystem, but Apple is also slowly but surely closing that gap. Over the last few years, Apple has released more affordable iPhones in order to get more people invested in the ecosystem. Samsung is continuously producing budget smartphones but the company also sells the most expensive phones due to their innovations in foldable screen technology. More companies will have to streamline their products in order to truly build an ecosystem that has a loyal user base. At the moment Samsung or Huawei users are not incentivized to continue purchasing products from the same company and the consumers are free to browse the market space for the next competitive piece pf technology.

    No Leaving

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    The ecosystem that Apple built is arguably one of the best in the world and even though the company makes the walls of their prison taller each year, the land within those walls is greener as well. Apple incentives users to never leave and not care about the world beyond the ecosystem which for some may be fantastic but others want more options. Those who are already a part of the ecosystem don’t seem to complain but only users on the other side of it all who find the ecosystem too jarring.

    The premise of never leaving is accurate but also many users just don’t want to leave as there is no point. The workflow is just highly functional to the point that leaving may just be the true burden. Every product is designed with existing users in mind and only the iPhone is the true product that draws new users in. The MacBook wasn’t even seen as a true competitor against Windows for such a long time but now Apple produces their own chipset so the product works even better due to the sustainability aspect. Apple is starting to produce all their components in house and this is what truly makes all the products work so seamlessly

    Apple has all the control in the world over their products and this allows the ecosystem to be refined all the time. Apple has cracked the code when it comes to the ecosystem and with this the company doesn’t have to compete to bring new features anymore as the software fluidity is what sells the iPhone. Even a minuscule hardware change gets Apple users excited and the addition of widgets to iOS 14 was seen to revolutionize the iPhone when in reality these additions are 10 years too late.

    A lot of users actually enjoy the control that Apple has over features and products as they make the product easier to use at the end of the day. Less tweaking to make things work and all the most useful features in a smartphone work perfectly without fail. There will be days when users crave for a specific feature that isn’t available in the ecosystem but that need only lasts for a small period of time. All Apple device owners are able to connect conveniently as well and if everyone is invested in the ecosystem, the world will truly be connected in a sense. It may not be the ideal life for many but some people do enjoy the simplicity.

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