How Apple is customising consumer behaviour

How Apple is customising consumer behaviour

[social_share]For all those apple fanatics out there who installed the recently released Mountain Lion operating system, I have one thing to say: “I’m a consumer behaviour victim, a sheep in the herd, just like you”.

Apple’s OS system, OS-X Lion, just received a lift up to the mountains. With this upgrade came some brand new features, most of which are geared towards creating more synergies between Apple’s iOS systems (the software for mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones) and the desktop version. More synergies mean similarity of interface between desktop and mobile. So you are not only working on a word processor that looks exactly the same, you can continue your work from your phone while you wait in line at the dentist’s office.

Apple is betting on a sure formula. If all your gateways to the electronic world look and behave the same, what’s the chance of you switching to a different experience in the future? Slim. Remember Nokia and Motorola phones? No matter what brand you used back in the day, you were loyal to them. Ever wonder why?

Where as a Windows operating system requires its user to close a window by pressing on the red “x” on the top left hand corner, a Mac OS user’s behaviour will be exactly the same, but this time they have to click right instead of left. Similarly, Nokia users answered incoming calls by pressing the green key on the left, whereas Motorola users the right.

Coincidence? Any marketing brainiac can tell you that there is an intentional, underlying strategy at play, where companies are betting that their users will be “trained” to use their products and over time will resist the jump to another brand because the barrier of change from one set of behaviours to another will be too much to swallow. But this is “Manipulating Consumer Behaviour 101″. The true manipulation elegance comes in Apple’s tactics surrounding the coveted “Reminders” app recently launched on iOS4+ and now Mountain Lion.

The “To-do” wars

Every half-organised professional will come to the same crossroads at some point in their career: should I use post-it’s or an inbox from the GTD methodology? How about some Steven Covey key priorities philosophy to make sense of my day? For an industry that prides itself in developing methods that keep us organized, they sure made a well-organised mess of options for us end-users.

What’s it gonna be? Remember the Milk, or Toodledo? OmniPlan or Outlook To-do’s? A cloud based system like Flow, or the new collaboration desires of Orchestra? Appigo’s To-do, or good ‘ol Erica Sadun’s To-do? The world is full of possibilities. In fact, the world is one chaotic place filled with too many options, none of which seem to ever be good enough.

Enter Apple’s “Reminders”.

For all iPhone users out there this will makes sense. But allow me a few sentences to engage the Android sheep as well in this growing consumer herd. You see, when Apple released the iPhone 4S, they included a “To-Do” style app called “Reminders”, which took a very simplistic stand at how one should manage their loose ends. For one, they challenged the corporate lingo of “to-dos” by naming their app with a descriptive word referring to the action of reminding one’s self that they have something to do. They then added some flare by making this app location-aware. So you could remind yourself to call your wife once you left the football game, or to buy milk once you came within 1km from the convenient store on Wednesdays only. Clever ha?

By no means is this move Apple’s way of attacking the To-do app market. On the contrary, their Reminders app pales in comparison to more sophisticated alternatives out there. However when Apple decided to include Reminders in Mountain Lion, that meant that users could create reminders on their desktop, such as “when I leave work, remind me to pick up my dry-cleaning”. Another cross-platform synergy that takes us Apple fans that much closer to looking like sheep. When Apple says jump, we jump. And when they roll-out their products in the ever so patient controlled-released manner, we line up outside their stores, some of us tent and sleeping bag in hand, to be the first to try them.

Why on earth would I buy any other product if my behaviour, my devices, my entire organisational heaven has been centred around Apple magic?

Just another user, expressing a deeper level of awareness than most others in the herd… yet following loyally like everyone else. Your mileage may vary.