How Apple locks in customers in the nicest possible way

Posted on by Mike Evans

Not enough is made of Apple's increasingly successful efforts to tie its users in to the company's eco-system. Pietro Montalcino, writing in, makes a very valid point: The only way a consumer can fully leverage the potential of iCloud is through owning more than one Apple device.

Coming to rely on iCloud for synchronisation of PIM data and documents is a revelation for Apple newbies. Clearly they like it. It's a lock-in, of course. But for most users it is a fair trade off for reliability and peace of mind. They don't feel hemmed in by the cage; on the contrary, they are empowered by the new experience of having all their stuff pop up on every device. 

It goes beyond this. Apple's introduction of the app store concept was a genius move that was far more significant even than the wonderful new hardware we have seen since. An app store seemed like a good idea at the time. In reality, though, it was far more than simply an idea. It was a blinder that gives the company added value for every product it sells.

New iPhone and iPad buyers soon begin to invest in applications. Again, this is a lock-in because moving to an Android or Windows device would involve repurchasing all the apps. And once the new familiarity with Apple products leads to the purchase of a Mac--which it does more often than not--the die is cast. With a full house of devices and a few hundred dollars invested in apps, customers are unlikely to move back to any other system.

I cannot think of any other company, in any field, that has so successfully paved the way to long-term consumer loyalty.

The rumoured Apple TV, if it does materialise, will only strengthen the gilded cage that is the Apple eco-system.


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