Girls Rule, Boys Droid: Is The iPhone Really A Feminine Phone?

by Cecily Trowbridge

Amidst the recently released specifications of the shiny new iPhone 6 series, more discussion has circulated than ever regarding smartphone preference.

Though the iPhone's smaller, sleeker size has been a selling point in past models, what was previously used as a selling point will be dropped in favor of what seems to be a more popular, larger screen, rivaling Android's line of massive phones.

In February of this year, CNET released an article on a study that indicated women, indeed, prefer Apple products, while men prefer Samsung.

The findings were based on an online survey of an exceedingly modest 1,000 participants, which revealed 45 percent of women preferred iPhone, while men (excluding the 50 to 59 age range) preferred Samsung.

It's not necessarily a finding carved in stone, but fascinating, nonetheless, as the results speak to a common argument made in tech culture. The article states:

The iPhone, to everyone but an Apple lover, is merely a girlie gadget with all the technological sophistication of a 1980s Barbie.

This comment rang of particular interest to me; it mirrors what I've personally witnessed technically-inclined friends opine on the matter. It's not just that they consider the iPhone a woman's product; according to many, the entire Apple brand has been marketed toward women.

There are three resounding arguments for this belief: 1) Products are generally smaller, rendering them optimized for smaller hands; 2) their functions are easier to grasp and they come ready-to-use (gag); 3) cosmetic design is more feminine.

People who "know about computers" and like the ability to enhance a system of their own accord would purportedly shy away from the Macbook in favor of a PC. It's true that there is a major lack of software options applicable to the Mac brand, as well as limited computer model options in comparison to the wide range of PC brands and models.

Upon closer look at major smartphone brands' respective marketing, it's certainly arguable that general strategies, as well as target audiences have been very different.

It's been said that though an apple or a snow leopard aren't explicitly more feminine than masculine, the decision to name products with this line of imagery, versus that which would be more aggressive, robust or "technically related" is an indication of gender targeting.

This isn't too far off when considering that Android's "Droid Does" campaign, which featured a tiny green robot that has since become the go-to mascot for the brand, cost the company $100 million alone in 2009. Investing so much into one singular mechanical cartoon that reflects the kind of toys men played with as children (Transformers, Legos) is certainly sending a message.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the differing social habits of iPhone and Android users.

In 2010, dating site OkCupid released data on its users' sexual habits in comparison to the types of phones they used. Responses from 10,000 users indicated that "a 30-year-old iPhone user has had twice as many sexual partners than an Android user of the same age."

According to The Daily Mail, while most first-time smartphone purchasers do opt for a Samsung, 1/5 of Android owners are switching to Apple. As a matter of fact, Apple took three times as many customers from Samsung than Samsung took from Apple in the past year.

Plenty of other factors may have gone in to Apple's design choices, so one pertinent question can be posed: Did Apple's decision-makers design and market a phone expressly with women in mind? Or did they simply design and market a phone based on the public preferences that existed at the time of iPhone's inception?

It's vital to consider that while fruit and large cats aren't "masculine," robots decidedly are, indicating that it wasn't Apple that constructed a smartphone with one gender in mind, but Samsung. It's all the more arguable that an apple is more neutral than feminine.

Lastly, what does it mean that we make these associations?

The above smartphone preference trends in our society are undoubtedly thought-provoking, but barring the fact that the iPhone simply melds with a woman's life more easily than a larger option, there is no justification to make the assumption that the iPhone is a woman's device -- especially not by using the argument that it's "easier to use."

There are utterly brilliant women in the tech world at present who contradict this line of thought simply by being who they are, and if nothing else, this is a testament to how vital it is that this idea needs to go.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr