Apple I love; Amazon I admire

Why Apple inspires love, but Amazon only admiration

I’ve been thinking about the difference in emotional connection I have with Apple as opposed to Amazon. Why do I love Apple but—at best—only admire Amazon?

On a philosophical level I feel very aligned with Apple’s values. Their commitment to premium, simple, easy-to-use products matches my own desires. Aesthetically, I am in sync with their design values. Their ethos as a company is one I share.

Apple creates products that are intended to not merely serve the needs of consumers, but to leave those consumers delighted. It is not enough for a function to be satisfied; an emotional transaction has to take place as well. Because of this, Apple manage to create a bond with their customers unlike any other company. They make it easy for people to love them.

With Amazon, my experience is totally different. For one, I don’t own a single Amazon product. I have tried various Kindle’s—including the Kindle Fire tablets—but they’re pretty clunky* devices to someone who’s embraced Apple’s approach to product design. You get the feeling Amazon is doing the bare minimum to get a low cost product to market, with no concern at all for the customer being delighted by the experience. It’s all about function and meeting that functional need as cheaply as possible.

And that’s fine. It works for Amazon within the bigger picture of what they’re about as a company. But it doesn’t build the same kind of strong emotional bonds with customers that Apple products generate.

Though I don’t own any Amazon products, I have purchased countless products through their website. They do this unbelievably well. Even on the occasion when orders have gone wrong, their customer service has been brilliant. This is where it is hard not to admire what Amazon does.

But engaging with Amazon solely on the level of them being middle-man to products from other companies, leaves me with very little emotional connection to Amazon at all. This is further hindered by my dislike of some of Amazon’s practices. It may be great for customers getting books at ridiculously low prices—often so low that Amazon are making losses—but is this good for the future of publishing? I don’t think so. It’s not just with books either. There is a real danger of Amazon becoming a dangerous and harmful monopoly in numerous product areas—especially as they seem to have US politicians in the palm of their hand.

This is why Amazon—and particularly Jeff Bezos, the CEO—only get my begrudging admiration. I like that there’s another major corporation taking such an alternative approach to business than Apple, but the different approaches are also a major part of the reason I find it easier to love Apple while only admiring Amazon.

In terms of the future success of both Apple and Amazon, it’ll be interesting to see how relevant this emotional connection is. Will it matter that one is easier to love than the other?

And, from a completely different angle, why do we form emotional connections with companies and products at all?

*I’m being very polite there. That said, I do recognise that some people do love their Kindle’s and, as a result, probably do have quite a strong brand connection with Amazon. I’d just say they have bad taste. ;-)

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