I feel bad. Really bad. When our safety-conscious office manager John sent an article titled 'London plagued by crime menace of iPhone muggers on bikes' around the building, I had an unnatural reaction.
Rather than being horrified at the spread of crime around our wonderful capital and concerned at the welfare of all my colleagues, friends and family, I thought: Ha.
Now it’s not because I’m a bad person. Nor that I find the idea of thieves on bikes particularly amusing (unless they’re on penny farthings). It’s because I’m a hater.
Yes, there you go, I’ve said it. I’m an Apple hater and I don’t care what you think.
Let’s analyse the situation: I work in advertising. I am in my twenties. I like technology. I even live in Stoke Newington. To all intents and purposes I should own an iPhone. But I don’t.
Maybe it’s because my first account here at Arnold KLP was Nokia. I had no particular affinity for the Finnish handset maker, but once I got to know the brand and its products (and was given my first smartphone by them) I became a bit of a fanboy. And now all I want for Christmas is a Windows Phone.
So, have I just been brainwashed by my clients? Or is there more to it? Here are three possible answers.
First, there’s the concept of the underdog: SuBo, Wagner and every year’s FA Cup are testament to the Brits’ love for the underdog.
But in the high-end mobile & tablet segment, that argument is a bit harder to buy. In London’s mobile and tablet market right now, Microsoft is definitely trailing Apple. CoolBrands says Apple was Britain’s coolest brand in 2012. Neither Microsoft nor Windows even made the shortlist. But even then, it’s hard to describe Microsoft as the underdog - I’m pretty sure the EU’s antitrust officials would have something to say.
So what about people’s desire to be different? Well, as a car geek and lead planner on Volvo, one very good example springs to mind. When Audi launched the Audi A4 in the early ‘90s, the TV ad showed a city trader finishing a test drive with the words "Nah, it’s not really my style. Know what I mean?" The campaign positioned Audi as an alternative choice to the more common competition (BMW and Mercedes).
In the long term, this appears to have worked wonders. Audi is now the most desired car brand in its segment.
It would seem that appealing to people who want to be different can clearly work, but only for as long as you’re noticeably less common.
But do people really want to be different? Is the bandwagon a safer place? If we go back to my battleground, iPhones are pretty ubiquitous in London, yet you rarely hear anyone say "everyone’s got one of those". We appear to be less concerned with "standing out from the crowd" than we were. By becoming a more acceptant society, have we taken the challenge (and fun) out of being different?
Which brings me to the real reason for steering clear of the shiny apple: redressing the world’s power balance. This might sound crazy, but hear me out.
Google scares the living hell out of me. Data farms the size of Luxembourg, glasses that blur the line between reality and science-fiction and a monopoly of the world’s search traffic. As an economics graduate and boyfriend of a former OFT employee, I get nervous near monopolies. Competition is vital and whilst Google certainly hasn’t become complacent about innovation or service, I do sometimes worry about the risks of market dominance.
And that’s why I occasionally love to avoid market leaders. It may cost me more; I may not always get the best. But at least I feel like I’m doing my bit to redress the power balance in this world. And I don’t think I’m alone. Fellow Londoners are starting to look locally for their grocery needs, they’re choosing local craftsmen over Ikea and they’ll hopefully start buying Volvos instead of Audis.
There may be legions of Apple fans yet to be converted to my thinking, but every time I hear about Foxconn, tax avoidance and rubbish maps, I see a glimmer of hope. Hope for those of us trying to compete with the number one brands.