When Buying Tech, Pick a Brand and Stick With It

By John Seiley

smartphone logos

Websites get a lot of page hits when they they endlessly pit gadgets against each other. It’s always about who has the hottest phone, who’s quad core, who’s 64-bit, who has the biggest screens, who has the best feature. The bottom line, though, is that this is all a pointless exercise.

Throughout the year, companies refresh their products with next-generation releases and inevitability improve on their last versions and temporarily improve on competitor’s products, until the competitors update theirs. And then the cycle starts over again. So some products will of course trump those from competitors, but long term, they will be trumped themselves by either their own manufacturer or the competitors. If endlessly debating which product has the best features is pointless, what should we be talking about?

We should be talking about who is building the strongest ecosystem. An ecosystem is a series of related hardware, software and services that tie a brand’s offerings together. And ecosystems are much less fickle than the landscape of product specifications because their strengths are more about the entirety of the experience and seamless integration.

As an example, the most famous ecosystem belongs to Apple. They sell Macs, iPads, and iPhones and support them with in-house operating systems and curated app and media stores. Because of the nature of their ecosystem, an owner of their products can expect relatively seamless integration between products. Also, because of Apple’s position in the industry and their huge resources, a customer can have confidence that they will be around for a long time, thus ensuring ecosystem security.

Now imagine a buyer decided that they liked Apple’s offerings, and they bought a Mac and an iPhone. Over the course of a year, they get used to using them, and purchase many items from the iTunes and App Stores. They even figure it makes sense, when buying a tablet, to buy an iPad, because of the integration with their other devices. For this person, why would an article about Samsung Galaxy S5 suddenly having one or two specs that trump their iPhone cause them to leave Apple, forsake their integration, and switch to Samsung and Android?

It wouldn’t. It doesn’t make any sense, from a common sense or financial point of view. One could argue that it is very unfortunate that companies like Apple lock their customers into their ecosystems. I personally wish it were easier to switch between platforms and manufacturers because I think it only serves to benefit the customer and increase healthy competition. But the fact is that there is a tremendous benefit to sticking with one ecosystem or brand, even if it’s somewhat obligatory.

So instead of comparing specs when taking the plunge on a phone or tablet, compare ecosystems. Making an investment both initially and over time in just one brand, whichever it may be, is logical. Sure you might be behind another phone or tablet in specs at some point during the year, but it will only be a matter of time before the brand you chose will update theirs and the reward will be all the more sweet.

Pick a brand and stick to it. Ignore the petty specs. Long term, it’s about the ecosystem.

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