When it comes to mobile devices, how important is brand loyalty to you?

May 29, 2013
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Android vs iOS

Just yesterday I wrote an opinion piece about whether or not LG deserves another chance at making a Nexus device. As you might expect, the opinions I received varied wildly. Some folks felt that it wouldn’t matter who built the Nexus, as long as it was provided an excellent Android experience. Others thought that their “brand of choice” could do it better.

This brings up a good question. How important is brand loyalty to you? Is it a driving force behind your buying decisions, or just a minor consideration?

For me, it is an important consideration, but not the only one. For example, over the years I have generally purchased Samsung mobile devices, even before the smartphone era really took off. I also tend to gravitate towards Google products and services, Android obviously included.

So does that mean I have all Samsung and Google products in my household? Nope.

I currently own an LG Nexus 4. I have a Windows PC. And I still primarily use Yahoo for my email services (I don’t know why either). For all of these decisions, it wasn’t at all about the brand. It was about how a particular device fitted my needs at the time, all while giving me a reasonable price and quality experience.

I have nothing against rooting for a particular brand. Unfortunately, some people seem to get carried away here and stop being loyal to brands – and instead start worshiping them.

How brand loyalty can hold back innovation in the mobile world

The hottest stars in the mobile world are arguably Apple and Samsung. They both have extremely loyal fanbases that would buy their devices regardless of what features they came with.

For the most devoted Apple fans, it doesn’t matter that Android offers more screen sizes, NFC, a flexible operating system and better pricing. Apple IS the only company that matters on Earth to these folks and it can do no evil. I’m not just picking on Android’s rival platform here. Samsung devotees are often equally guilty of many of the same things.

Sure, Samsung’s latest Galaxy S4 packs great technology onboard, but they have also been pushing the same plastic design for as far as I can remember, in a world that has quickly shifted to preferring metal-bodied designs. And then there is TouchWiz, which depending on your own preferences, you either love or hate.

Yet any time anyone points these less desirable aspects out, a few rabid Samsung or Apple fans seem to turn to “attack mode”. Now keep in mind I’m not saying that the Galaxy S4 is a bad device (I actually REALLY am impressed with it), and I’m not even trash-talking the iPhone.

My point is that these devices and companies aren’t perfect, despite what Samsung and Apple’s advertising dollars work to tell us.

If a device doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t be afraid to turn it down, even if you enjoyed past generation devices from a specific brand. If you do buy it just “because it’s the flagship from my favorite brand”, you could potentially be hurting innovation.

Think of every dollar received by a company as a vote in favor of the brand’s current direction. The more votes they get, the less likely they are to change direction or consider major changes that push the industry forward. The less votes (dollars) they get, the more likely they are going to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

An example of this is HTC. While some of you might still not have love for HTC, I have to give the company props for the HTC One. It is a solid smartphone with an aesthetically pleasing design, and is the by-product of a lot of time and reflection. If HTC hadn’t seen declining profits, the innovative and beautiful HTC One wouldn’t exist.


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Does your favorite company deserve your loyalty?

You love Samsung, HTC, Apple, or Google with a passion. But do they love you back? No, they love the $$$ you bring. That’s just how businesses work.

That said, there are good reasons to stick to a specific company or brand. This includes companies that regularly push out timely updates, continually display exceptional build quality or always deliver epic customer service. The common denominator here is consistency.

If you find a brand that meets your expectations every time, you probably have little reason to give anyone else a try. Just be careful, and don’t forget that there are other choices out there.

Also be quick to realize when a company is no longer consistently delivering the aspect that drew you to them in the first place. For example, whether you love or hate Apple, the company’s original iPhone and iPad were certainly innovative devices.

Today though? We see minor hardware revisions and few major, ground-breaking changes. So is Apple really innovative or are they living on past glory and brand loyalty? There’s no right or wrong answer to that, it’s just food for thought.

Don’t let brand loyalty keep you from finding your perfect phone or tablet

While I absolutely love Android and am a big Google fan, would I let blind loyalty hold me to it? No, I can’t say I would. If Ubuntu, Tizen or even iOS rolled out superior features and services, I would still respect Google and all it offers but I would seriously consider a different path.

Some could say that means I’m fickle and will go wherever the wind takes me. Maybe they are right, but I certainly wouldn’t make these changes easily or without serious thought. I’m just saying I try to keep an open mind about other companies and technologies around me, despite where my loyalties might lie.

We’ve seen Apple advocates switch to Android before, despite their loyalty. Why? Because they wanted more and finally saw past the marketing bullshit. This includes big names like Guy Kawaski and Andy Ihnatko. On the other side of the fence, there have also been a fair amount of Android users that have made the switch to iPhone, realizing that it met their own personal needs in a way Android apparently did not.

I respect both sides here, as they weighed the pros and cons of a brand/device and went with it, regardless of their own bias and/or past loyalties. Don’t let your love for a brand hold you back from the device you’ve always dreamed of. Pure and simple.

What do you think, do some folks take brand loyalty way too far? Does this get in the way of innovation? Or do you feel it is only natural to aggressively defend and love a product/brand that serves you well?

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