Cell Phone Technology Voices

How A Google Guy Buys an iPhone

Apple, You Own Me Too – Or How I utterly failed to go Android

Guest post by Travis Dirks, PhD

A window into one of us here who is not a full fledged member of the Apple ecosystem.

We’ve written recently here on the Silicon Valley Story about Google’s growing ownership of us. They see all, know all. They even read this article before publication, when I emailed it for editing.

For all that I’m still rooting for Google because they try things –  crazy things, inspiring things. Free internet in Kansas. Free world wide Wifi from weather balloons. The Cyborg extension that is Glass. Autonomous cars.  Defeating death itself!   It’s 2014 and my flying car is 14 years late, but I have the feeling that when I get one it will be from Google(s newly acquired startup). Google is the Modern Wizard of Mountain View.   From the steampunk to the downright Asimov, Google is taking a decent chunk of their crazy profits and trying to change the world.

And what of Apple?

To sum up my feelings, Apple makes a heck of a cellphone… and they can be kind of a jerk about it. (Strangely I don’t feel like I need to support this statement, I think everyone kind of knows what I mean.)  Apple doesn’t have Google’s swing for the fences mentality. I think you can chalk it up to a rough addolesence. There was a time not too long ago when Apple was struggling. People there remember.  Google has been doubling and redoubling so fast and so consistently that only the long term residents and Googlers can remember a time when then didn’t have more money than they needed. But this golden road has lead to inspiring places. Apple makes me want. Google makes me want to do something awe inspiring.

So why, having decided to switch from Apple’s iPhone to Google’s Nexus, am I sitting here with a brand new iPhone 5s?  I have studied competitive advantage, I have seen customer captivity, but I’ve never experienced it until yesterday.  Yesterday, I felt the invisibles reins with which Apple has bound me.

You see when Apple brutally bricked my iPhone4 with an update it couldn’t handle, I was angry. All customer loyalty drained away in immediate hot injustice. I took Apple’s faustian bargain and stopped thinking, in return for trusting them to make thinking unnecessary. Then they shipped me an update my poor hardware couldn’t possible handle and refused to let me go back.  It was time to support Google and buy an android phone.

Customer Captivity through switching costs (combined with economies of scale) have kept businesses as diverse  as Coca Cola and Intel thriving for decades.  Still I wasn’t captive, especially to Apple! I’m not locked into iTunes. I hate iTunes and don’t use it. I only have music on my phone thanks to Amazon’s beautiful cloud player. I’m not locked into the Apple platform. I don’t have, have never had a Mac. I’m not even Mac curious. It wasn’t even the apps. All the apps I care about are on Android save one, Azumio’s Argus. I just enjoy a good phone. I can quit anytime I want.

I tell myself that Argus is why I spent an extra $350 and stuck with Apple and it might be partially true. But if I’m honest the flimsy bonds that principle couldn’t break boiled down to two. The first was a petulant frustration that the Nexus didn’t understand my Apple trained gestures.  You see android isn’t “intuitive” and it lacks a well thought out “UI” (Apple has trained me to say, so that I feel better about my frustration at having to change.).

Still, I was ready to persevere through this.  I believe I would have walked home with a nexus – I tried twice. First at Fry’s where a sarcastic attendant refused to let me handle a real phone because I “might run away with it”. Then at Best Buy where a strange hypnosis almost had me walking out with two “free” tablets, two phones, and 4 unwanted AT&T contracts. So in defeat/relief (Is there a Russian, or perhaps Japanese word for this feeling?) I walked into an Apple store and said “I want a space-grey 16Gb 5S.” and the blue-shirt simply smiled (smugly?) and said “ok”.

Google I tried. But here I sit with an iPhone 5S.

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