The Halo effect

As things stand, Apple is on a roll and their Apple Mac market share is on the increase. Much has been written over the years about why this is, especially as not too long ago they were on the verge of bankruptcy. If it wasn’t for Microsoft investing in the platform at the time, the world would be a different place today.

However, the number one reason given is called the “Halo Effect”. This started when Apple released the iPod and shortly after released iTunes (for PC’s) and the iTunes store. By thinking differently (pardon the pun) Apple actually released a device that gave people what they wanted, the closet thing on the market at the time was a Creative Labs device which ate batteries (6 at a time) like no tomorrow and was the size of a portable CD-ROM player and weighed a ton. The interface was abysmal and it didn’t sell well. The Apple device by comparison was smaller, lighter, had great battery life and an innovative and simple interface; it quickly became a hit with the Macintosh community (there were no good MP3 players for the Mac at this time). Although there was a brief collaboration with MusicMatch for PCs, it wasn’t until iTunes was released for PCs that it really took off.

Over the years the device was improved, USB2 and charging via USB2 was added, the dock connector, colour screens, photo and then video playback – competitor after competitor tried and failed to create an “iPod Killer” they couldn’t keep up with Apple’s innovations and even the once mighty Microsoft tried and failed.

However what started to happen is that some users of the iPod wanted the same “it just works” experience for their computers too, so many people who would have never even considered an Apple Computer purchased them. Apple state that 50% of the Mac’s they sell are to new users.

This was and is called the Halo effect, although the devices are now the mainly the iPhone and iPod touch this is still happening. The complete integration with the iPhone, iPad, iTunes, the iTunes Music and App store, iPhoto and Apple software is the main reason I have an iMac. It all works seamlessly.

However there could be a new Halo Effect that will start happening next year when Windows 8 is released. The start menu of Windows 8 is based on a “Metro-style” interface; tiles are used to display useful information and statuses of running software, clicking on them launches the program. The UI is also called “touch-first” meaning that the best experience will be with Touch-sensitive screens even thigh Mice and keyboards are also supported. Instead of expanding the Windows Phone interface for their tablets the Windows Anywhere initiative will mean that the MS tablet software will be Windows 8.

The current Microsoft Windows Phone Seven devices are not selling too well at the moment, this is a shame as they have come up with an entirely new and fresh interface, the Android interface (widgets aside) is quite similar to the iPhone.

However Windows Phone 7 devices use the same “Metro-syle” interface as Windows 8. The idea is that as users start to use Windows 8 computers and then come accustomed to the way things work it would be second nature to use a phone that had the same interface. This means that many more users who may have typically purchased an iPhone or Android device would consider a phone with a very similar interface – Windows Phone 7. The experience will be even better when Windows Phone 8 is released which will essentially be Windows 8 too.

So, Apple’s Halo Effect enabled them to sell more Macs after people experienced the iPod and iPhone. Microsoft’s Halo Effect might mean that people purchase and use Windows Phone devices after they experience Windows 8 on the PC. Only time will tell.

However I am an iPhone (and iPad) User and I am happy with the device so won’t be switching just yet. But in a year’s time the smart-phone market share could be very different.