Retaining Users is about Creating or Complimenting Useable Ecosystems

Retaining Users is about Creating or Complimenting Useable Ecosystems

Big Ideas

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June 29 2016
Big Ideas
Author: Dan Nicholson

It was fairly recently when I decided I should finally retire my struggling, long outdated iPhone 4s. Even though Apple still supported it, it was having a very hard time keeping up with today's applications and the battery would only last a couple hours on a full charge. I would not consider myself an Apple fan-boy, however the cell phone market has changed drastically since I got my 4s. Over time, Android has risen to be a direct competitor of Apple. Even Blackberry decided to jump on the Android bandwagon (sorry Marty). 

I'm not completely unfamiliar with Android devices. In fact, I owned a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (running Android 2.x) while I was in school, but I found the system to be sluggish and buggy. I shouldn't be surprised given that Google had just started their transition into the cell phone market. Either way, it was that Android that pushed me into Apple's iPhone 3G and 4s. Over time, I've begun to become more acquainted with Apple products. Our main home computer is a Macbook Pro, we have an Apple TV for viewing Netflix and other streaming content, iPhones for mobile phones, and an iPad Mini for digital reading. Despite that  my house runs on Apple, nearly every major Google product runs my daily life. Because of this, I was ready to give Android another shot. 

With my history with the X10, I did not want a third-party branded phone (this obviously severely limited my Android options). The Google Nexus 6P, which was a few months old at the time, was considered as the best Android phone on the market. After in-depth research through YouTube reviews, Blog reviews, in-store research, etc., I jumped in with both feet while my partner bought herself the iPhone 6s. After a few days, I was in love. The phone was a powerful change against my iPhone 4s. One of the greatest options was that any photo I took uploaded automatically backed up to Google Photos. Short of rooting the phone, I was able to customize the phone to fit my personality (my partner was confused as to why I was still "setting up my phone" weeks later). 

Even though I was able to customize the phone to my personal tastes, and connect EVERYTHING to Google, there were a two major "issues" that actually impacted my daily life.

1. Airplay only works on Apple devices.
Unless I wanted to root my phone (which I didn't want to do), it was virtually impossible to stream Google Music to my Apple TV. This was a major issue as we do not own a Bluetooth speaker. All of our streaming comes through our main hub - our TV. If I wanted to listen to any music, I had to use my partner's iPhone. Yes, a $30 Chromecast device could fix this issue, but I already owned an expensive streaming device. Not a huge issue, but I didn't want to spend money on another one for just my phone.

2. Not having iMessage left me out in the cold in multiple ways.
This was the beast I couldn't shake. Apple's iMessage takes Blackberry's BBM and brings it to another level:

A. All of my closest friends and family members own an iPhone to some degree. Prior to my iPhone departure, my partner and I had iMessage groups with various couples in order to make hangout planning easier and more involved. Once I moved to my Android phone, I no longer could group message people. I had to send mass text messages that everyone received individually. It eventually became such a hassle to repeat the same message multiple times that I just let my partner make all the plans. 

B. For those of you who do not know, you can directly iMessage people from any Apple device (Macbook, iPad, iPhone) to another person's iMessage device. Not having iMessage frustrated my partner and I as we could no longer message each other directly from our Macbook while the other was out of the house. It seems like such an arbitrary thing, but when your phone is dead, it's a huge player to stay connected.

Because of these two issues, I could not escape Apple's well thought-out ecosystem. I eventually sold my Nexus 6p and purchased an iPhone 6s. Sure, I can't customize it like I could the Android, but at least I can now stream audio/video and message friends/family like I could before. Marty, as you may know, is a Blackberry advocate and still is to this day. His response was "why doesn't everyone just download BBM? It does the same thing." Sure it does, but as the outcast, I'm not going to persuade an entire group of people to download an app that they'll likely rarely use if only to communicate with me. The reason being is that it's not a part of their lifestyle (aka. their personal ecosystem). 

Blackberry works for Marty because it's a part of his ecosystem. This is similar to Android users - it's a part of their ecosystem. New apps, programs, and social media channels are constantly being developed. Snapchat, for example, was released September 2011 and has quickly become a billion-dollar company. They've built a fun and casual ecosystem for a generation of cell phone users. Whereas Peach was built to satisfy a more adult audience and already has seen a sharp decline in just a few months after launch.

As a society, we've long past the digital disruption phase and have begun our decent into a semi-consistent lifestyle. Therefore, you must ask yourself how does your product or service compliment your consumer's personal ecosystem, as opposed to disrupting it. 

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