Successful Tech Ecosystems, Part 1: Apple

Fifth Avenue Apple Store

I’m a fan of Apple. Not the kind of fan who will wait overnight in a line to get the latest gadget, but one who enjoys using their products and has a genuine affinity for how effortless they are to use. Say what you will about them (they’re losing their innovative edge, they have made some questionable design decisions, their products aren’t customizable enough), they are among the few companies who have truly created a solid technological ecosystem for their users, which in turn has created a fiercely loyal following of customers who aren’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.

A Personal Success Story

Just this past week, I was reminded of the quality of the Apple ecosystem — namely how easy it is to replace a device and quickly restore its settings and data via iCloud. I had noticed that my iPhone’s ring/silent switch was acting up, spastically toggling between silent and ring mode when it was switched to silent. This was merely the result of the switch becoming loose, causing it to be very touchy when in silent mode. I decided it wasn’t worth putting up with, so I made sure I backed the phone up in iTunes and iCloud and took it in to the Apple Store. I met with one of the Apple Geniuses, explained what was wrong, and just like that (and since the phone was covered with AppleCare), I was given a brand new iPhone to replace mine. No questions asked.

Now anyone who has bought or received a new phone knows that there is often a certain amount of pain that goes along with the transition, be it transferring contacts, losing pictures or music, etc. But today’s successful technological ecosystems have made the process of getting a new phone virtually painless — at least beyond the initial learning curve if it’s a completely new device or OS. In the case of Apple, much of the magic lies in iCloud. With iCloud, your backed-up data is available to you anywhere, be it on your mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer. You can get a brand new device and either set it up by restoring from an iCloud backup, or as a new device, after which you can sign in to iCloud and have your data automatically sync to the device. Contacts, calendar, reminders, notes, music, and mail — it can all be synced with no more than a simple login. In my case, I was able to set up my new iPhone by restoring my most recent iCloud backup, which automatically synced my data so I didn’t lose anything. And the whole process only took a matter of minutes.

The Power of the Apple Ecosystem

Apple has done a wonderful job of creating and maintaining their ecosystem of products and services that work well together. On its own, an Apple product is powerful and useful. But when you put multiple products together, they become much more powerful and valuable. Documents, music, movies and other data can sync between multiple devices with ease. You can cast content from your iPhone to an Apple TV via AirPlay. You can set up a Time Capsule to wirelessly back up your Mac. And there is a whole suite of apps available which are (by and large) available on multiple devices using Mac OS or iOS, allowing users to view, edit, and share information no matter what device they are using. In short, the more Apple products you use, the more you get out of them.

And it doesn’t stop with the physical products and services. Unlike Facebook, who, as I wrote about in the article “Dislike: A Case Study of Horrible Customer Service”, Apple does an amazing job with their customer service and support. As I mentioned earlier, they have the Genius Bar in Apple Stores, where customers can go to get help with their issues. They also offer workshops and one-on-one training. And their AppleCare program offers one-stop service and support to help protect your hardware and software.

Apple has also helped pioneer the process of shopping online, offering the options of delivery or picking up in store, the latter of which is as easy as walking in and picking up your purchase with little more than a signature and verification of identity.

The Road Ahead

As time rolls on, I’m excited to see what Apple has in store. While some of their more recent product and service announcements may not have been as monumental or revolutionary as the introductions of the iPod or iPhone, you can always count on Apple to continue pushing the envelope and working to create better products and services to supplement their ecosystem.

Like any company, there have been (and will continue to be) bumps in the road. When a new product or service is rolled out, there are bound to be hiccups (Apple Maps, anyone?). But by and large, it’s difficult to argue against how well Apple’s products and services work together inside of their ecosystem. And this is just one of the reasons why they have a fiercely loyal following of customers who aren’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.

Featured photo: “Fifth Avenue Apple Store” by Diana Beato

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