Apple is known for making decisions that only make sense to the company even if it has countless users wanting the exact opposite. I’m sure many would have loved to see expandable storage on the iPhone. However, Apple continues to keep expandable storage a distant dream for its smartphones.
This is part of the aura that it has created for itself. It’s the impression that Apple knows what’s best for its users. That customers should be content with what the company offers them and not think too much about what could have been done differently.
Some would call it shrewd business acumen while others might view it as arrogance. Apple derives this power from the very ecosystem that it has created. It has tied customers to this ecosystem so effectively that leaving this walled garden would require them to make significant changes.
iMessage is the perfect example of this approach. Apple can make an Android version of its popular messaging app but it chooses not to. iMessage users will find it difficult to switch, particularly if most of their friends also use the app. They won’t have access to the same featured.
“iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phone.” This was a concern expressed by Craig Federighi, Apple’s current SVP of software engineering to another top Apple executive.
It’s business, after all, and Apple leverages the hold it has on its customers to maximize its returns. Take one of its new products as an example. The Apple AirTag is a tiny tracking accessory that uses advanced tech like UWB to help you find lost items. Samsung’s competitor to this product is the Galaxy SmartTag+.
Apple is selling its tracking puck for $29 each. It’s not the price that’s shocking, it’s the fact that you need to buy an accessory to get the most benefit from this product. The AirTag itself doesn’t have a loop or a keyhole that would allow it to be attached to your keychain or other valuables.
The most you could do without an accessory is slip the tracker inside the pocket of your purse or bag. To extend its versatility, Apple will happily sell you a loop for $29 and a keyring for $35. Suddenly that small $29 tracker ends up costing you more than $50. If you’re feeling really posh, you can spend $449 on an AirTag Hermès luggage tag.
There’s no such limitation on the Galaxy SmartTag+. Any loop or keyring can be easily attached to it without the need for accessories. Both products do basically the same thing but how they’re made accessible to customers is poles apart.
Call it arrogance or the mother of all upsells, but limiting the AirTag’s versatility to force the sales of relevant accessories is simply a power move. Sure, Apple can point at the thriving third-party accessory market and say that more cost effective options are available. However, that doesn’t change the fact that customers don’t get a choice. If they want to expand the ways they can attach the tracker to their items, they must purchase an accessory.
At the end of the day, Apple remains unbothered by the impression this would send. It knows that loyal customers would happily spend upwards of $50 on a tracker because they want everything in their Apple product ecosystem to work together seamlessly. Or they could just drill a hole in the AirTag to thread a loop through. Apparently that works too.