Are you in the Apple bubble? Has someone told you that you are in the Apple ecosystem? Are you finding it hard to buy any other product that is not from Apple? Well, Let's answer all these questions by having an explainer on the Apple ecosystem.
What really is the Apple ecosystem?
Apple is able to create the ecosystem because Apple does not design around a single device. They design products around the ecosystem. It used to design around a single device, but sometime around the iPad and iPhone era, the ecosystem emerged and now silently becoming a dominant feature of the Apple experience. Furthermore, Apple does not market the ecosystem overtly, but subtly.
In tech, an ecosystem is a community of interacting objects. So Apple makes a ton of devices like iPhone, iPad, MacBook, HomePod, iPod, Apple TV, iMac. But they also make a lot of software and proprietary technology that ties them all together. Airplay, Airdrop, iCloud are all the software that ties them all together
Thanks to services such as iCloud, airplay, and airdrop, one can start a task in on one Apple device and continue it on another and there is no need to download or install anything. Moreover, Apple ecosystem offers features like AirDrop, iMessage, and FaceTime on macOS; unlocking a Mac laptop with an Apple Watch; or auto-pairing and finding lost AirPods, and the list goes on. Today, Apple ecosystem is widely considered to be the best in the industry, and arguably in the world
All products belonging to Apple ecosystem are highly compatible with each-other and the purchase of one product belonging to the brand’s portfolio often leads to the purchase of other products. Gradually, it will come to the point that consumers only give preference to devices that work best in the ecosystem where they live. The current ecosystem carefully cultivated by Apple is a powerful customer retention strategy.
The Apple ID
The backbone of the entire Apple Ecosystem is the Apple ID. You use the Apple ID to register all Apple devices. As it is basically your Apple account that’s used for everything. From logging in to iCloud to making purchases to getting support to tracking your lost devices with Find My iPhone. An Apple ID authenticates your identity. And it is required whenever you log in to an Apple device to keep everything synced up.
Anything works anywhere
Apple assures you that not only your primary device works as expected on its own. But also works exactly well with its peers inside the ecosystem. Going into the Apple ecosystem is like going into the world where everything works.
By making all the devices have the same kind of applications, there is a profound effect that the user can basically expect all the devices will work pretty much in the same way between devices. Furthermore, the data that the apps use are stored on the iCloud, the content of each app will pretty much synchronize to the point that you can continue your work in a different device that you take off. This feature which is called Continuity enables a seamless interaction between devices. That kind of seamless experience is what the Apple ecosystem is all about.
Apple ecosystem offering is superior to the competition at the moment because they not only control the software that runs the hardware, they also control the hardware.
With the introduction of the M1 chips, Apple now has the same hardware platform on all their devices from tiny little Airpods that fit on your ears to desktops like your iMac. Because every device more or less has the same hardware architecture, Apple can tailor make the experience unlike other companies.
Examples of how the ecosystem works
From the software point of view, Apple made iCloud as the lynchpin of the ecosystem experience. Most Apple common apps are iCloud connected, so you can have the same data synchronized between devices. You receive a message on one device, it goes to all devices. You are away from your phone; you can pick up your calls on the laptop and other devices.
Another example, by also controlling the hardware, Apple uses their own custom Bluetooth chip. The problem with Bluetooth is that sometimes getting the devices connected can be a chore. But with Apple custom Bluetooth chips on most of their devices, connecting is faster and easier. The most underrated feature is that you just register your Bluetooth headphones, like the AirPods Pro, once, and it is available on basically all of your devices. No need to re-register for every other device. Small features, but instantly make the experience much better.
iMessage is another best example of Apple ecosystem works perfectly. All of your messages are available on your devices and other people who are in the same ecosystem have a very rich set of features like video calling, messages that come in text, audio or video and even watching the same thing using SharePlay.
Apple’s goals for the ecosystem are twofold. First is to provide a user experience that is better when you have more and more Apple products. Having their entire line unlocks more features on each product that can only be possible if you control the entire technological stack.
The second, which people often criticize, is that it provides a vendor lock-in feature. While it is true that Apple does not force you to use the features which they did not actively market or advertise, it is very hard for the consumer to leave the Apple ecosystem because at this juncture, Apple does not really have a strong competition against their ecosystem. While some companies provide a fraction of their services and do cross platform like Zoom for meetings, Telegram for messaging, Gmail for email, no one builds the entire stack like Apple does.
Apple Ecosystem is a unique experience that you’ll get when you have a plethora of Apple devices from their desktops and laptops to their watches and wireless earbuds. Their unique differential factor is that they control the entire stack so they have a unique, tailor-made experience for you.
From the explainer, are you in the ecosystem? Do you want to join? Are you finding it hard to leave the ecosystem? Well 😐