Why everything gets compared to Apple products

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| January 11, 2013

This is just something that popped into my head today: every time I open an article about a new phone coming out (today, for instance, regarding the new BlackBerry Z10 device coming in both white and black housing) and I look at the comments, sure enough there’s always that one person (or ten) that say, “This looks just like the iPhone.” Without fail, there’s always some remark or comparison to an Apple product.

It’s the same with tablets and iPads.

It’s the same with mp3 players and iPods.

It’s the same with laptops and MacBooks.

Everything on this earth is going to have a prototype. Somebody has a good idea; somebody else takes that idea and builds on it, and so on and so forth. That’s just how the world works. If you wanted to you can point at a small lizard and say, “That looks just like a dinosaur.” Or you can even point at a fellow human and say, “You are nothing but a copy of the Neanderthal.” No matter what person, or lizard, or phone you look at there is always some ancestor that came before it.

I’m not going to lie to you: I compare devices to Apple products all the time. I look at a device and I make the comparisons. How does the interface compare to the iPhone, the iPad, an iPod Touch, or MacBook? This device is black! The iPhone is black. This device has volume buttons! You know what else has volume buttons? The iPhone.

We make fun of Apple for handing out patent lawsuits to manufacturers like Oprah gives away cars, but we sit here ourselves and point fingers at the same companies for the same things… except maybe not as extreme. Regardless, some people will sit here and huff and puff about the device having a single dedicated home screen button (Samsung Galaxy S III) but the iPhone had that feature first. Although Apple didn’t really have that feature first now, did they?

The thing about comparing gadgets to Apple products is that most things Apple “invented” weren’t “invented” by Apple at all. They didn’t invent the tablet, they didn’t invent the smartphone, and they didn’t invent the thinnest laptop ever. So why, in the wake of a new product that hasn’t even gotten a chance to prove itself, are we so quick to trace back to these products as an anchor to our claims that these new products are just “copies” of these well-known Apple products?

It’s just that: They’re so well-known. They’re the flagship devices of our generation. While every product Apple has ever released has always had a predecessor by another company, they did something the others did not: they waited. They watched as the others failed and they took note of the key ingredients needed to put together a successful tablet, a successful mp3 player, or a successful computer. Every time a new Apple product was released it took the market by storm. Basically Apple was in the right place at the right time, and will probably have praises sung about them for years to come whether you like them or not.

It all traces back to relativity. It’s the same reason older people or younger people – generations that don’t typically see or care about the differences between iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone – always refer to any given device as an iPhone, or an iPad, or an iPod. For the longest time my own father referred to my no-name brand mp3 player as an “iPod.” It’s kind of like how we’ll say, “Pass me a Kleenex,” when they’re just standard facial tissues that aren’t the Kleenex brand; it’s like playing World of Warcraft any time you’re playing a computer game. It’s like playing the “Nintendo” when you’re playing on a PS3.

An overly popular product took over the market at a prime time for the technology, and now they get to bask in the glory of such impeccable timing.