Two years ago, I was a 12-year old Apple fanboy.
Not only did I spend most of my waking hours shuffling back and forth between an iPhone 4, iPad and MacBook Pro, but I also worshipped the words of Steve Jobs as if he was a deity.
I watched every Apple keynote on my laptop, and if the livestream wasn’t available I’d check out the live blogs. Not only that, my long-term goal was to work for Apple. At that time, I believed Apple knew what I wanted before I knew I wanted it.
The world has changed so much in the last two years. I switched to the dark side.
Yes, I have become an Android user.
My switch from Apple’s operating system, iOS, is representative of a colossal shift I’ve witnessed among my friends in the teen demographic.
At my high school, the iPhone had the reputation for being the cool phone. However, that’s no longer the case, and things have shifted in the span of the last year. It used to be that nearly everyone in my school owned an iPhone. However, by the end of the last year, I couldn’t walk around school without seeing a Samsung Galaxy S3. I switched to the Nexus S in February of 2012. I am currently using the Nexus 4.
After interviewing many of the students at my school who have switched to Android from iOS, I heard a few common themes as to why they switched. For one, Samsung’s marketing has worked.
Apple understands the effectiveness of marketing. The 1984 and Think Different advertising campaigns were some of the most recognizable that have ever been aired on television. So, how did Apple lose teens?
As of late, Samsung’s marketing campaign has made an effective appeal to the teenage sector, while simultaneously, Apple’s marketing has lost its steam. Apple started to run ads that showed Zooey Deschanel, Samuel L. Jackson, John Malkovich, and Martin Scorsese demonstrating Siri. These ads have featured celebrities who have no profound connection with the teenage market because they did not demonstrate any of the ways that teenagers actually use their phones.
More significantly, teenagers did not connect with these celebrities, who seem to reach an older and perhaps less technologically sophisticated audience. None of my friends connected with the characters in the ads.
At the same time, Samsung has been creating advertising that actually features real-use cases for teenagers. While these ads have not been targeted specifically at teens, any teenager would be interested in a faster way of transferring photos to his or her friends. In another ad, Samsung demonstrated a new way of transferring music playlists through the tapping of phones, which has been highly enticing for many teenagers.
Another reason many of us teens switched to Android was the closed-down nature of iOS. Android offers greater customizability, including being able to add new keyboards, live wallpapers and apps that aren’t from the Google Play Store. While the Android platform provides this openness, Apple is closed. You can’t even download new keyboards from the Apple App Store. This closed-system does not appeal to my generation, who are focused on being individual and unique.
At Apple’s developer conference last week, Apple announced and demonstrated iOS 7.
With this latest version of iOS, Apple continues to play catch-up. Apple has decided to not open up iOS to more customization, even though that is one of the biggest complaints that teens had with the old iOS.
However, when Tim Cook answered a question at the D11 conference about iOS openness, he had this to say: “I think you will see us open up more in the future. But not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience. But will we open up more? Yes.”
This leaves the possibility that Apple might open up iOS to customization in the fall, when they release the final version to the public.
Even if Apple opens up a bit, they may have lost my generation. For now, they’ve lost me, a one-time Apple fanboy.
Michael Sherman, 14, a student at Seattle’s Bush School, is a technophile with aspirations to be a future entrepreneur and/or politician.
[Editor’s Note: Michael’s father, Craig Sherman, is a lawyer at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati who represents GeekWire.]
Previously on GeekWire: Why I won’t buy another subsidized Android phone (and why you shouldn’t, either)
Post updated to correct reference to Google Play Store.