I don’t think it’s up for discussion any longer: the iPhone, while attractive and intuitive, isn’t a very cutting edge smartphone. I don’t expect that to change when the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C make their alleged début this September either. Apple is perfectly fine shipping this year’s smartphone packed with last year’s toys. So how then does Apple continue to excite millions of potential smartphone users around the world?
It isn’t openness, Apple doesn’t want users customizing its software experience like they do with Android. Even though the company seems to have borrowed much of its new design aesthetic in iOS 7 from Microsoft’s Windows Phone, I’m not entirely sure users are flocking to the devices for the way iOS looks either.
No, the reason users continue to turn to the iPhone and iPad above all else is something I hadn’t picked up on until I recently began researching a story for GottaBeMobile. It’s the iTunes Store.
For years I’d loathed installing iTunes, and when Microsoft’s Zune and Windows Vista arrived I took the opportunity to cut the Apple cord for good. I sold my iPod Touch, uninstalled iTunes and the four other applications that it forces on users, and never looked back.
After that I moved on to just Microsoft’s offerings. I use an Xbox Music Pass and the Xbox Video Store to buy all of my essential media. For books, I’ve turned to Kindle. Although Microsoft’s offerings have gotten better in the space, they seriously haven’t reached the point of being an all-inclusive solution for media, despite my hopes.
Even when I turned to Google’s Android operating system this year, I had some quaint idea that the experience would finally put all the media I wanted in one place. Unfortunately, the relatively lax requirements for apps to get accepted into the Google Play Store, coupled with the bad usability brought on by its latest update, made that a nonstarter.
So when I found myself installing iTunes and entering my old Apple ID, I couldn’t resist the urge to head into the iTunes Store. I wanted to know if its layout was as clear as I remember, or its ‘Buy’ button still as satisfying to click. I wanted to see if finding the podcasts, television shows, movies university lectures and safe applications was just as easy as I remembered. Of course it was.
And that’s because Apple knows the truth about why people buy their devices. Users don’t care about blazing fast processors when their operating system is optimized for their hardware. Similarly, they don’t care about large 1080P displays when they’ve got the easiest and largest content library the world has ever seen.
People keep buying iPhones and iPads in the face of better offerings because of the iTunes Store. It’s there, it’s always accessible, it has every type of media you could want on the go. It also organizes all of that media in a way mere humans can choose what they want and download it.
The pull of the iTunes Store is so strong that even I thought twice about selling my HTC One and picking up an iPhone 5. If I – a longtime lover of all things not made by Apple — am considering coming back for iTunes, how many average users would consider ever leaving iTunes for other, less greener, pastures?