The iPhone Is not Apple’s Most Invaluable Product
It’s safe to say that the iPhone is the product that made Apple a $ 2 trillion company. Apple sells many iPhones – worth more than $ 65 billion in the company’s final quarter alone. This is partly because iPhones are cool.
They’re not always the best smartphones. You don’t always have the best cameras or displays. Until last year, they didn’t even have 5G, which almost every other manufacturer had already added to their flagships.
But people like iPhones. They also like their iPads and Macs – which 2020 had a pretty good year of their own. I think you could even argue that Apple is still a computer company and the Mac is its heart.
However, none of these are Apple’s most valuable products. Besides, they’re not the most important thing Apple sells. The most valuable thing Apple sells is trust.
Before I explain why, it’s worth asking a question: is trust really a product?
To answer that, it’s important to understand what people are actually buying when they buy something from Apple. Take the iPhone, for example. Sure, they’re buying a device with glass and aluminum, an A14 processor, and cameras.
However, when people buy something from Apple, they are buying an experience. They expect the company to deliver something they love.
They expect the company won’t ruin what it’s like to use a Mac when Apple says it is moving all of its hardware to its own internal processors and creating slides with very vague numbers about performance and battery life. They trust Apple found out, and they don’t have to understand things like Universal Binaries and Rosetta 2 to know if their software is running.
They expect it to “just work,” whether it’s setting up a new iPhone, connecting a pair of AirPods, syncing their photos, or paying for something online with ApplePay. By the way, when it doesn’t work it’s so disappointing to come from Apple. This is why so many people are vocal about the way the company manages the App Store. People expect more when you sell trust.
They expect what they buy to respect their privacy and not try to monetize their personal information. Some may even argue that what sets Apple apart from its competition – its core brand equity – is actually privacy, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think Apple’s drive to get apps to respect your privacy is another aspect of how Apple continues to build a tremendous amount of trust with its users.
If a product is something a company sells, then the thing Apple sells – and the experience its customers buy – is based entirely on trust. It turns out that this is more valuable than any particular device.
Incidentally, this applies to every brand. Trust is always your most valuable asset. It’s the only reason someone gives you free cash for what you make – because they trust that it will do what you say. They trust you will keep your promise.
If you don’t, or if you break your promise, you will lose confidence – and it’s very hard to make money back. That’s why people don’t like Facebook. It’s not that the app is particularly bad. It’s not that people don’t like being connected with their friends and seeing photos of their family. The way it is, they don’t trust the people who make Facebook to have their best interests in mind.
They don’t trust Facebook because collecting, tracking, and monetizing your personal information is not a good experience, despite the company saying how valuable “personalized ads” are.
Apple is not perfect. I wish Apple did a lot of things differently. Ultimately, however, it is best to build trust. This is something that a lot of people buy.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.