One Bad Apple

How the iconic smartphone brand has kept its audience despite its high price tag

The glowing fruit has defined our smartphone usage for the past decade. No matter where we are, Apple has become involved in nearly every aspect of what we do ranging from Apple CarPlay to Apple Music to Apple Pay. Apple Insider reported that Apple sold a total of 2 billion iPhones between the release of the smartphone in 2007 until 2021. This number is likely to increase with the release of Apple’s iPhone 14 on September 7th. Yet, Apple has received backlash and criticism over the price of their iconic smartphones. Despite the high prices, why is Apple still dominating the market?

An article by The Washington Post finds that “Many Apple product prices are rising faster than inflation.” The same article mentions, “The reality is that smartphones, like laptops and tablets, haven’t been getting dramatically better.” In fact, people are now waiting for 36 months to upgrade their phones, a whopping 12 months more than the average of 24 months in 2014.

Bishop’s Applications and IT Specialist Mr. David Mallick still chooses to use Apple products mostly out of habit. He recalls that his family has “been Apple users [their] entire lives.” Mr. Mallick remembers how he bought his first Macintosh color classic in 1993, and has worked in many different places that he’s called “Mac-centric.” 

Mr. Mallick reasons that it’s the familiarity that has him gravitating towards Apple products. “If something goes wrong, I definitely feel I’ll be able to figure things out for myself,” said Mr. Mallick. Since he’s part of the IT department, this is an aspect that he finds to be especially important. 

Dylan Buchanan (‘24) thinks that “one of the major reasons people buy Apple products is for the brand name and sense of exclusivity that comes with it.” He thinks, however, “that it is easier to use Apple products if you already have them, or family members have them.” 

Dr. Marcus Jaiclin, Wu Tsai Chair in Computer Science, has a Macbook Pro and iPad, finds that Apple has a friendlier user experience than its competitors. He mentioned, “[I think Apple] is more user friendly because they take so much control of the hardware, they have a lot more flexibility in what they can do to make the user experience better.”  

Though he finds Apple products easy to use, Dr. Jaiclin “like[s] the Android phone partly because everybody else in [his] family [has] an Android phone so it puts [them] on the same platform.” Additionally, Dr. Jaiclin “got used to an Android phone early on so [he] just stuck with it.”

Ryan Qin (‘25) also describes Apple products as “work[ing] really well together. Their ability to seamlessly communicate with each other, especially considering the amount of products they have, is one of the most impressive things about Apple.” From his perspective, Ryan believes that many Bishopians use Apple products “because of their simplicity…they managed to develop a user-experience that is extremely streamlined.” 

Other Bishopians use Apple products mostly out of personal preference. Mr. Mallick mentioned how new Bishops employees get a choice of a Macbook Air or other alternatives with a Windows operating system. “Whatever they choose is whatever we provide them,” he explained.

Despite the positive feelings towards Apple’s user friendliness, in recent years, various allegations arose about Apple purposely slowing down older models of the iPhone. According to NPR, these allegations became known as “batterygate.” The main argument against the company was that Apple was trying to encourage consumers to purchase newer models of the iPhone. After much back and forth, NPR states that Apple agreed to pay $113 million towards consumer fraud lawsuits in 2020. 

When asked about batterygate, Ryan agreed that “it’s a very dirty marketing practice,” but conceded that Apple has a reasonable argument against the allegations. “Their entire business model is centered around their simplicity…it is most likely just Apple optimizing the performance of the older iPhones to increase their battery life and survivability.” 

Mr. Mallick finds the situation to be a little different. “I’ve never been one to adopt the absolute latest and greatest…I’m also personally not one to pay the premium for having something when it comes out for the first time,” stated Mr. Mallick, while pointing to a first generation iPhone SE. “When I find something that suits my purpose, I tend to keep it until it falls apart or breaks,” said Mr. Mallick. “I’ve replaced batteries, replaced hard drives, RAM, just about anything I’ve owned,” he added. 

Despite the difference, he still agrees with Ryan. Mr. Mallick said, “I think Apple has made more of an effort to support older operating systems and older devices to a certain extent.” Though he can see both sides of the argument and agreed that “planned obsolescence is an issue in just about any industry these days.”

Apple’s official statement regarding this issue includes how they “released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.” 

“[Though] it isn’t necessarily a good thing, “Dylan stateed, “at least more people have been made aware of it now.”  In fact, according to CNET, the EU has passed laws that come into effect in 2024, requiring the use of a universal USB-C charger as part of combating planned obsolescence.

Adding to this, Ryan also finds that Apple devices have limitations that can prevent customization. “Android provides a lot more customizability” and “Windows is overall much more suited for people who want to take more control over their devices,” Ryan stated, “but the freedom is dangerous for those that don’t know what they are doing,” he added. In general, for those who want to optimize and customize their devices to a max, “android and windows are infinitely better than iOS and macOS,” says Ryan. 

At the end of the day, as Mr. Mallick put it, “I think people use what they’re most familiar with.”