The eight secrets that make Apple No. 1

How to succeed in consumer electronics (without really trying)

The answer is that identity is a primary human motivation. One of the major components of self-identity is group affiliation. People want to belong to a group that immediately identifies them as being superior to other people in other groups. That's just how human beings are wired. It's the same aspect of human nature that drives all fandom as well as nationalism and religious zealotry.

Buying a laptop, media player or cell phone is more like buying clothes or a car than buying a dishwasher or a vacuum cleaner. It's less about functionality and more about what it tells other people about who you are and what group you belong to.

This is what's so great about Apple: Its products get a "B" on features and functionality -- they're almost best in class in most of their respective categories. But they're an "A+" on what really matters -- coolness, which translates into both boosted self-identity and appealing group affiliation.

I'll get slammed on this last point by readers who hold features and functionality above self-identity. And I'll also get slammed by Apple fans who believe their product choices are driven by more substantive concerns than boosting their self-image.

But Apple executives will read this rule and say, "Well, yeah. Obviously." That's why their "Choose a Mac" ads are so effective. They're fun and highlight actual product differences between PCs running Windows and Macs. But they also clearly emphasize the idea that PC and Mac users are different kinds of people. Your choice is really about what kind of person you want to be or which group you want to belong to.

Most surviving consumer electronics companies know and use at least one of these secrets. But Apple is the only major company I can think of that employs all of them. And that's why Apple is No. 1.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Elgan

Computerworld

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?