Apple hasn’t been a consistent early mover across digital channels, but it often compensates for a late start via its mass appeal and unique retail footprint. Moving forward, Apple’s streamlined product offering may be as much a curse as it is a blessing.
While this “asset” historically has allowed the brand to eschew traditional site navigation tools, the user journey will inevitably grow more complicated as Apple incorporates service bundles and expands online distribution—all while the narrative around consumer privacy continues evolving. Meanwhile, Samsung retains some of the industry’s most sophisticated search and navigation features—a necessary suite of tools, given the brand’s sprawling product assortment. Samsung is also one of the few brands tracked in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Consumer Electronics that goes toe-to-toe with Apple on paid channels—including video and display advertising, search engine marketing and media strategy on leading e-tailer platforms.
Apple may have mitigated late adoption of social channels with above-average engagement rates and rapidly growing subscriber counts, but being a late mover on other digital channels is harder to overcome. Apple was late to the game on Amazon, where competitors and indie brands built an incumbent advantage through sophisticated search and merchandising tactics. Apple surfaces organically against about 37% of computer and mobile keywords on Amazon, representing only the seventh-strongest showing among tracked brands. In comparison, Samsung lands organically against 51% of computer and mobile keywords, representing the second-highest visibility of all tracked brands, and also earns better paid visibility. Apple’s task is even more difficult in categories where its products go head-to-head with Amazon, where the retail giant heavily favors its own product suite.