Clever or Clumsy? Attempts to Achieve Lock In from Nervous Giants

August 9, 2019

The master of lock in is Amazon. (Lock in means that a company finds a way to ensure that a customer remains a customer. The term, as DarkCyber uses it, refers to the golden age of IBM. Remember that era?)

Apple and Google don’t have the Prime play. But both companies are trying, and their efforts are interesting. DarkCyber finds these “moves” amusing.

First, Apple is going to annoy customers of iPhones who try to get a battery replaced at a non Apple service location. Beta News explains this stroke of genius in “Apple Is Discouraging the Installation of Third Party Batteries by Displaying Battery Health Warnings.” The “you may get harmed” angle is fascinating. The write up states:

While it could be argued that Apple is concerned that iPhone users might install low quality batteries in their handsets, the more cynical response would be that the company is trying to scare people into buying more expensive batteries direct from Apple rather than a third party. This is not the first time Apple has been caught blocking or discouraging the use of third-party components; similar activity has been seen in relation to replacement screens and  home buttons.

With Apple stores becoming less and less friendly, now an iPhone customer has to deal with a click through annoyance and a message from the Apple chief parent. What’s the goal? Simple. Control, money, and interactions with the customer. Yes, some of the ingredients of lock in. Not an Amazon Prime grade play, but it is interesting and a bit sad for some black turtleneck wearers.

Second, the Google has an anti-Prime play. Amazon charges people to become a member of a virtual Costco. Google pays people to join. Here’s how this works if DarkCyber understands the implicit message in “Google Flights Will Offer Money-Back Price Guarantees.” Uber Gizmo states:

Google has announced that they will be introducing a money-back price guarantee feature to Google Flights. This means that you won’t need to worry about finding the best price as Google will refund you the difference. According to Google, “When we predict the price won’t decrease for select itineraries booked between August 13 and September 2, we’ll guarantee the price won’t drop, and we’ll refund you the difference if it does. We’ll monitor the price for you and if the price drops any time before departure, we’ll send you an email letting you know once your flight takes off–so there’s no work on your end.”

Our conclusion: Use our service, and the Google will provide you with an Amazon Prime type benefit for free. Is the benefit free? DarkCyber does not believe that any Google service is “free.” Google wants traffic, and it wants to provide a cash benefit for trusting Mother Google.

What do these two examples suggest?

  1. Prime envy is real
  2. Apple and Google are trying to generate what DarkCyber interprets as “millennial loyalty”
  3. The “plays” are not exactly subtle.

Net net: Apple and Google have adopted “marketing” tactics which call attention to a a subtle shift from a “power” position to a “threatened” position. Prime case examples, right?

Stephen E Arnold, August 9, 2019


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