Is Apple losing its coolness edge to Microsoft and Android?

By , Feb 21, 2013

Surface (table, left angled, red cover)

In the contest for coolness, the amorphous concept potentially driving young consumers to smartphones, tablets and other devices, Apple has some competition. While the iPhone maker is seen as cooler now than previously by 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, even more people point to Android as the king of cool.

Even more surprising is Microsoft apparently isn’t your father’s software giant. The Windows maker – long viewed as buttoned-down and behind the technology curve – has revamped its image, thanks largely to the firm’s smartphone and Surface tablet…

According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll (via BusinessInsider), 70 percent of young people who responded gave Android the nod for improved coolness, followed by Apple with 60 percent and Microsoft at 50 percent.

Much of Microsoft’s gains apparently stem from its marketing of the Surface tablet.

In what Reuters described as a “blitz,” the software company has heavily promoted its tablet, using well-known media names and product placements in network television episodes. Then there is a blow-back from Apple’s well-crafted ecosystem connecting hardware, software and services.

A 24-year-old University of South Carolina student while acknowledging Apple is the “hip brand right now,” said the Microsoft phone isn’t as restrictive as the iPhone. “If you want a ringtone, you don’t have to pay iTunes,” he told the news service.

A similar backlash against Apple by trendsetters is happening in Asia, which after massive adoption of the iPhone is now increasingly turning to Android and other alternatives. But trends and the coolness factor don’t always equate to sales.

Research giant Gartner estimates Microsoft accounts for 3 percent of global smartphone sales, its estimated fewer than 900,000 Surface tablets sold in the fourth quarter a shadow of the 23 million iPads sold. Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer essentially agreed, saying the Surface will never dominate the market.

As for Android, despite it’s 70 percent “coolness” factor in this latest poll, and adoption of multiple devices around the world, Apple continues to get more bang for the buck. As we reported recently, Apple and Samsung account for 103 percent of handset profits.

Meanwhile, Google’s commercials continue to position Nexus as a hip brand.

This means just one Android player has found the right mix for competing with Apple, blowing away the myth that there is this army of Android products all successfully nibbling away at iOS. Indeed, a recent report outlined just how far ahead Apple is against Android.

Which gets us back to coolness of smartphones and tablets.

Trends are not stable markers of performance, just snapshots. As Apple spent the past few weeks in the headlines dealing with uncool details such as its stock value, Microsoft was airing Surface commercials, showing its new Metro design in place of the all-too-familiar Windows screen.

Android was able to play on Apple widespread usage by appealing to young consumers looking to be trend-setters, not trend followers.

But as we began, coolness is amorphous – it doesn’t translate to more sales, more market share or cancel out clunky technology.

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  • MagicDrumSticks

    Your average person doesn’t care about things like specs and features. They just want a phone that looks nice, sends texts messages and can be used to communicate with their friends. The iPhone accomplishes this and does it quite well, infact; I have no fear of people simply dumping it anytime soon.

  • DJ Garcia

    Apple lost it’s mojo on Oct 5th 2011, The day Jobs died.

    • Tr1pTr0p

      For fucks sake, will you let the man rest in peace? Sure, he was a visionary with great ideas… But that doesn’t mean everyone else around him were blind brainless sheep who only knew how to obey his orders.

      • DJ Garcia

        Explain to me why then apple maps hasn’t been pulled yet? Steve always said the consumer is most important.

      • ap3604

        Pulled? what the hell are you babbling about? o_O

        You don’t expect perfection out of a first generation product (apple maps included). There is always improvement to be had in the upcoming years.

        If Apple listened to similar slow minded people then we wouldn’t have even had the iPhone we had today since they (following your “logic”) released the first generation iPhone that wasn’t perfect either.

        People just need to calm the **** down about Apple maps and give it a few years like they did with the original iPhone.

        Besides… quit your belly aching and go download Google Maps App instead.

      • JamesR624

        Exactly. Anyone who thinks Tim is any more than a business man out to make as much money as possible is kidding themselves. Notice how since Steve left, Apple’s been putting out junk and CALLING it extrodanary.

      • Tr1pTr0p

        Wait? Is this a joke? I hope it is because I’ve never seen someone this shallow. Apple has always been calling their products extraordinary, innovative and revolutionary, no matter how shitty they were. Ping, for example. The Magic Mouse, which is easily one of the most horrible mice available on the market.

      • Kurt

        exactly…

      • http://www.facebook.com/cameronrc Cameron Chao

        Are you serious? Apple has been calling their products evolutionary all along. In fact Steve Jobs did it more forcefully than Tim Cook, who tends to be more humble.

      • CollegiateLad

        How could Apple ever hope to improve maps if they took it out of the hands of customers? You can’t perfect a maps application in a lab. You know what has made google maps and google search so good? The millions and millions of people using it. It just doesn’t happen over night… Google had to work at this.

      • Kurt

        releasing the same device every year like apple does is going to be their downfall. or as you like to say, suicide

      • http://twitter.com/dmkraig Donald Michael Kraig

        In actuality, for most people, maps.app works just fine. There are some errors that are being corrected as we speak. Google maps was, and remains, filled with errors. It took me on wild goose chases so many times that I started using MapQuest on my computer and printing it out. Face it, DJ, you’ve just bought the “I hate anything Apple does, especially if it isn’t 100% perfect” kool aid.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cameronrc Cameron Chao

        Steve Jobs wouldnt pull it, he will just give excuses on why Apple Maps is good, so you’re wrong there.

      • Kurt

        or say you are holding it wrong. he blamed the consumers for apples failures. he was scum

      • Kurt

        he’s in hell. its not peaceful

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558812483 Gustavo Adolfo Mirabal

        Since he died apple is known for its lack of innovation. Last new apple product was in 2010 with iPad. Making it smaller and the iphone bigger doesnt count as inventive. Just saying

  • http://twitter.com/ze_rusty Sachin

    LOL.

  • Qiren_94

    “If you want a ringtone, you don’t have to pay iTunes,”
    WTF? Doesn’t he know that you can actually create ringtones from the songs inside your iTunes library?

    • ap3604

      Obviously he is talking to the “technically challenged” that don’t know any better.

    • sambuzzlight

      wait really? (no sarcasm) i use a 3rd party ringtone maker called iRinger but the qualiy is just blehh..

      can you please tell me how??

      • Mohammed Sahib

        Google it, it is not hard but I found Xilisoft iphone ringtone maker is easier and the sound quality is superb. Try it.

    • Kurt

      I thought iOS 6 was going to allow us to use our songs as ring tones? Was that feature taken out? too hard for Apple to write that code?

    • Weezy

      I don’t know how to create ring tones either. I’m new to this iPhone 5

  • http://twitter.com/MikeCropon My Kell

    its not “Microsoft or android” but rather “Blackberry or Android.” See the difference.

  • wonderboydave

    I wonder whats happening to apple R&D; What happened to the risk takin.. it feels so neutral at this point.

    • Kurt

      thats longggg gone. the next iphone won’t look different. and the one after that the same. in ten years the iphone will have the same look as it does now. look at all of apples products. look at osx, that looks nearly as it did 10 years ago

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558812483 Gustavo Adolfo Mirabal

        You are wrong. it wont look the same. The iphone will have a 12″ and you will be able to keep your ipad as a key chain. (sarcasm) lol

      • Kurt

        Haha ipad key chain

  • FlamingOzone

    Yeah, that circular home button is starting to get old now lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      that button is fine what is old is the boring static grid of apps and lack of cool animations and special effects in the damn UI..

  • ap3604

    I personally don’t give a **** if a product is “cool.”

    I buy a product based on it’s hardware (battery life, screen, speed) and software capabilities that fit my needs.

    For those that would actually care if a product is cool or not… well… have fun being a slave to marketing propaganda.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      the damn surface is far from cool

      • Irfan Tarique

        I agree with you, the surface is the inverse of cool… Android hmm it’s ok, but ios with jailbreak = AWESOME XD

      • Kurt

        ios without jailbreak is awful. iphone 5 is one ugly cyclops looking phone. iphone 4S is attractive. all other idevices are ugly and all look alike like some retarded family

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        you must smoke

  • AforAppleAforAndoid

    link bait title.

  • Raffael Erhart

    Are you kidding?

  • stevesup

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    I refuse to read this article

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    If aluminum unibody is not cool, then tell me what is? Plastic heavy parts? C’mon.

    • Kurt

      Plastic is light and flexes when dropped so it protects your innards better.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cameronrc Cameron Chao

        But its still plastic and doesnt look as good as Metal.

      • Kurt

        metal looks better, but plastic protects it better (my wife’s iphone’s gps stopped working after 1 drop). give me plastic any day if 1) protection is better and 2) you can replace the battery. Here in korea all cellphones come with 2 batteries except iphone of course.

  • http://twitter.com/dmkraig Donald Michael Kraig

    They try. They fail. Apple continues to lead.

  • Patrick

    well I’m 16 and for my the surface looks for an old economist with erection problems, in my country if you dont have an apple product you are not cool

  • pjs_boston

    Question: Is Apple losing it’s coolness edge to Microsoft and Android?

    Answer: No

  • Kurt

    you can’t release the same looking devices for 7 years and people still think its “cool” unless you are a follower. but as stated before, who the hell thinks an idevice is “cool”. For one, it’s old and outdated. maybe 2013 the devices will have a new design and iOS will look different. hahaha jk, not gonna happen

  • http://twitter.com/iHacker99 SuperDev

    Bah! Android sucks, Microsoft is crying over its Surface Pro (Pro in dumbness that is) and Apple is awesome, especially with all the the geeks-drool-over-me products its been releasing :)