Anker: A Case Study for Quality

Nick Statt profiles the mobile accessories company Anker for The Verge. As someone who dreams to set up a consumer electronics firm one day, this was an encouraging and exciting read.

Of course, given that it’s somewhat hastily written as Verge articles tend to be, something rubbed me the wrong way:

 
It may be surprising that Apple sat idly as the accessory market ballooned around it; it took the company years to develop its own battery case for the iPhone to compete with Mophie. But Apple has always favored high margins on premium products, even the cables and earbuds it sells in the Apple Store.
 

The Verge continues to misunderstand Apple. Up to this point in the article, battery cases weren’t mentioned, and what makes cases different from standard packs is that there’s greater opportunity for first-party integration there, given that it’s meant to be used while attached to the phone for extend periods of time. I think Apple saw and capitalized on that opportunity with their battery case. With making a battery case came also the opportunity to solve this design problem: making it feel better in the hand, which they seemed to have solved with the shape of their case.

All of the major problems with battery packs mentioned beforehand that Anker took on were all technological. Nothing Anker achieved seems like an opportunity Apple really missed. I know it’s exciting to imagine Apple making affordable battery cases that charge fast and work well, but for better or worse, that’s just not Apple. For the most part, they haven’t and wouldn’t sell a product that they think didn’t deserve its premium, and the battery pack form factor doesn’t have enough friction points for them to address, unless they had focused on just the tech like Anker did.

That said, Anker and Apple can co-exist and sell their own things — what a concept, right? 

On a lighter note:

 
Silicon Valley is full of breathless mission statements designed to inspire and justify the power and influence of technology, like Apple’s famous “think different” slogan, and Google’s ominous and now defunct “don’t be evil” mantra. Facebook, back in 2012, celebrated its billion-user milestone with an ad comparing the social network to chairs, bridges, and even nations.

Anker has never aspired to such grand ambitions. “At Anker, we can’t exactly help you unwind,” the company admits on its Amazon sellers page. Instead, Anker takes a more straightforward approach by solving the inevitable problems technology creates. “Say goodbye to first-world tech woes like oppressive low batteries and limited ports,” the page says. “Say hello to an easier, smarter life.”
 

Silicon Valley always has its sights set decades into the future, which I think necessitates companies like Anker to solve the problems we have now, even the small, seemingly inconsequential ones like how to keep our phones alive for the day and have it be a pleasant experience. Quality still sells.