iPhones unwavering grip on American teens

Why do American teenagers feel compelled to purchase iPhones?
Hadrien de Martel

In the American smartphone industry, consumers typically have two choices: Apple or Android. Android phones have become the more popular choice in the rest of the world mainly due to their affordability, but in the United States, the iPhone still reigns supreme, especially among teenagers. So why do American teenagers feel more compelled to purchase an iPhone despite their hefty price?

In investment banking firm Piper Sandler’s 46th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens® survey,  surveyors found that 87% of the 9,1993 US teenagers surveyed reported owning an iPhone. 

Some argue that the reason for the iPhone’s dominance is Apple’s ecosystem. The Apple ecosystem is a term used to describe the connection and integration between different Apple devices and services. Services like Airdrop which facilitates the process of switching files from device to device, and iCloud which stores files are examples of this ecosystem. Users are compelled to continue using Apple products because they work together easily.

For some Palo Alto High School students, the reason for their continuous usage of iPhones is much simpler.

“I’ve had an Apple phone my entire life and I’m really used to the way it is,” sophomore Nuri Hafizi said.

However, others argue that the reason for Apple’s control over the smartphone market in the United States is due to anti-competitive conduct, business practices that prevent or reduce competition in the market. 

For example, texting between Android phones and iPhones uses SMS (short message system), an outdated system from the 1990s, and early 2000s instead of the current standard, RCS (rich communication service). Not only is SMS outdated, but it also does not provide any encryption whatsoever, and videos and images are also lower quality.

The Department of Justice is currently suing Apple for this exact reason. It argues that Apple has allegedly decreased the quality of cross-platform messaging, and disrupted the growth of applications that would facilitate the process of switching smartphones.  

One area the DOJ is targeting is Apple Pay. Currently, Apple restricts outside developers from creating their own digital wallets, and the DOJ argues that this traps users within the Apple Wallet. 

Another reason especially felt by teenagers is the status surrounding ownership of an Apple phone. Android users are sometimes made fun of for not owning an iPhone, and differences such as green text versus blue text make Android users feel excluded.

At its core, green text and blue text are only used to show what type of messaging service is being used, but now there is a stigma surrounding green texts. People who text with Androids are shamed because of the color of their messages.

“Apple has created a culture within the area of technology where if you do not have an Apple phone, you are not at the same level socially as someone with an iPhone,” freshman Oakley Koegler said. “This makes the vast majority of people choose to use iPhones over other phones.”

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