Apple’s Penchant for Sophisticated Simplicity

by Ben Bajarin   |   February 19th, 2013

SimplicityI mentioned in an earlier column that I had finally figured out why iOS is the mobile operating system of choice for me. I take the time to objectively look at all the flagship devices on the market. I don’t just use these products for a day or two and then form an opinion but rather I use them as my primary phones, tablets, PCs, etc., for at least a few weeks and sometimes more. However, for me, all roads lead back to iOS. I always go back to my iPhone or iPad. None of the flagship devices I use can keep me from going back to the iPhone or iPad. I think I finally understand why.
 

Simplicity

Sophisticated simplicity is the term I think of when I think of iOS. This is true also of OS X in my opinion but for today I am focusing on iOS. This is perhaps why so many non-tech savvy consumers appreciate and choose the iPhone. Believe it or not there are billions of people on the planet who are not in search of the next big thing in technology. Rarely are the masses looking for the pinnacle of innovation in a product; more often they want things that just work and make their lives easier. To put it succinctly the mass market favors convenience over cool. If that product happens to be incredibly innovative then so be it. But it is not the fact of innovation by itself for which they buy it but rather the problem it solves for them. The mass market hires technology products for reasons that are largely based on convenience not specs. They will favor the technology that helps them get their tasks done in the most convenient, efficient, and simple way possible. Sometimes that task is entertainment, sometimes it is productivity, sometimes it is communication, but the point remains that for many, convenience is what is valuable.

The simplicity of iOS translates into convenience for me and my many mission critical tasks. Yet its simplicity provides a feeling of sophistication that allows me to get very complex things done in an efficient manner. Simple solutions require sophisticated technology. In my opinion, iOS is both.

Sophistication

I spend as much time away from a desk as I do at a desk. For me, it is critical that I stay as productive and efficient as possible while I am mobile. No platform that I have used in recent years has come close to iOS in this regard. It is important to point out that this was not always the case for iOS. In the early days of using the iPhone, I still carried a Windows Mobile device for my more work/productive tasks. Apple caught on and evolved iOS in a way that it is now invading the workforce at unprecedented rates. iOS is not just simple to use it is also extremely sophisticated.

Some thoughts from Steve Jobs at the launch of the iPhone bring clarity to the sophistication of iOS. When Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, he explained how iOS was based on OS X and because of that it ran desktop class applications. This would explain why time and time again we hear from developers that they are overwhelmingly happy with the quality of applications they can write for iOS. More importantly these applications are extremely sophisticated. They are not simply dumbed down mobile versions of desktop software, but an entirely new class of software all together.

Because I am rarely at my desk doing real “work” it is essential for me that I am able to fulfill my job role any place, any time, and with any device I have with me. The bottom line is I don’t always have my notebook, and I don’t always have my iPad with me. However, I always have my smartphone with me. With every single device and mobile OS I have evaluated, I have never felt as productive or efficient on the go with regards to my specific job functions as I do with iOS. As much as I enjoy and appreciate evaluating other other platforms and as much as other platforms have some things that I truly like, at the end of they day I will choose the device that makes my life and my job easier. For the kind of work I do and the manner in which I get things done, other platforms I’ve tried require more work and more time than it takes to do the same thing on iOS. That alone makes the choice easy for me. I don’t want to work for my smart devices, I want them to work for me.

For Me and Maybe Not You

Now I’m sure at this point many passionate fans of other platforms want to point out all the reasons why their platform of choice is better than mine—but let’s remember one thing. Just because your favorite color is green doesn’t mean mine has to be also. Just because you like BMWs doesn’t mean I have to as well. Insert any analogy you like here. The best device is the one you chose for specific reasons unique to your wants. The best device for me is the one that meets my individual needs, wants, and desires. Yours may be different and that is ok. We don’t live in a black and white world and I hope we never do. I fully acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of other products. I also know no device is perfect. But for me, time after time, device after device in which I put through the the paces of my personal life and workflow, all roads lead back to iOS.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • jfutral

    “Yours may be different and that is ok.”

    In Victor Wooten’s song _Sifu_, “Just because I wore this shirt and you wore that shirt, doesn’t mean one of us is wrong.”

    Joe

    • benbajarin

      I was talking to a Rabbi friend one time and he said something similar which I always loved.

      “Just because you are right, doesn’t mean that I am wrong” :)

      • FalKirk

        “Just because you are right, doesn’t mean that I am wrong”

        I love this. Consider it stolen, for future use. :)

      • eric

        but it might do…

  • Rich

    “The mass market…will favor the technology that helps them get their tasks done in the most convenient, efficient, and simple way possible.”

    “I don’t want to work for my smart devices, I want them to work for me.”

    This is how the public views technology and it explains the huge success of the iPhone. But some people, observing products like the iPhone or the iPad, say “just a toy” or “not for real work.” The people who say those things don’t understand what they’re looking at.

  • stevesup

    “I don’t want to work for my smart devices, I want them to work for me.”
    That’s the boundary: folks who use smart devices and folks who use devices to help them feel smart.

    Sophistication within simplicity yields the best for the rest.

  • Viswakarma

    Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered by British economist E. F. Schumacher – seems to be what Steve Jobs practiced and is embedded in Apple’s DNA.

  • los_pollos_hermanos

    Having favourites is all very well but whatever flavour of tech you prefer, it’s highly naive to evangelise about it. The reality is – the best tech is that which fails best. You’ll soon learn this when the next device comes along and fails better.