an average United States consumer. Her old laptop is on the fritz and she thinks it’s time for a new one. So she starts poking around online for a replacement. What factors will she be considering when weighing her options? Well, thanks to some market research we know what percent of US consumers consider the following options when buying a laptop:
The framework 13 with the least expensive components (i51340P/8GB/256GB/W11 home) is $1,142. According to statista, the average US laptop sold in 2022 was $776. Emily will be paying $366 more for the framework. (I know this is a gross oversimplification which doesn’t account for what each dollar can get in terms of compute, just roll with it)
2. Operating System
If Emily really wants her iPhone to work seamlessly with her laptop the framework has no chance, especially since a macbook air costs less at $1,000. However, if Emily uses an Android phone or is open to purchasing a windows laptop, the framework might be chosen if it scores higher than the macbook in the remaining categories.
3. Easy to Use
Oh no! that framework is disassembled in almost every photo Emily sees, that doesn’t look easy to use at all! Emily, like most US consumers, has never dissected or repaired her own electronics, and the idea of doing it herself is daunting. Going on frameworks website and seeing all the configuration options is also overwhelming. Comparably the macbook, and nearly every other laptop, seems much simpler.
Emily is your average person, not a super user. She, like most average laptop users, will spend most of her time browsing, emailing, and scrolling, with some light gaming (dedicated gamers buy dedicated machines). However, she does want to trust that the laptop she purchases will be fast. For these activities the framework 13 vs macbook vs any other similarly priced laptop would be competent, but the question is how well does framework convince her that she’s buying a speedy machine? The apple website clearly boasts about the macbooks cpu which provides some confidence in their capability. The framework website just lists which processors are used.
5. Battery Life
This is obviously a little outside Framework’s control. Only way they can catch up to the macbook’s 18hrs is getting an ARM chip onboard which is far down the road. For now the macbook is just a better option.
6. Build Quality
The first image on frameworks website is a gif of the laptop in pieces. Imagine Emily seeing that first when she visits the website, what would she think? Seeing a laptop in multiple pieces has historically been a very bad thing which consumers have associated with low build quality (they expect products to stay in once piece). This creates an initial impression of low build quality even though that isn’t the case.
Emily sees the framework 13 weighs 1.3kg and being a US consumer she quickly googles that to determine it’s 2.86 lbs (like I did lol), she also sees the macbook is about the same weight, nice! And while checking out the weight she sees the framework 13 is actually a littler thinner which is great!
8. Hard drive capacity
Emily notices she can choose multiple hard drive capacities and they are comparable between the macbook and framework 13, no sway there.
9. Attractiveness of design
The images of the macbook online are sleek, and there are some nice images of the framework but there are also a lot of picture of the device’s innards falling out. Overall both look solid, the macbook has slightly more rounded corners which seem subjectively more inviting to Emily than the pointer corners on the framework 13.
10. Reliability and Durability
Here the framework laptop should shine thanks to its incredible repair-ability. But there’s one problem, communicating how fantastically reliable the framework is in clean visuals is very difficult. Most images trying to convey this show the laptop in pieces which again, to the average consumer, doesn’t scream reliability.
11. Screen Quality
Emily notices the macbook website’s beautiful screen images with screen specs written over top of pretty visuals. Comparatively the framework website has only one appealing wallpaper image and shows the screen specs in just plain text.
12. Processor Brand
Framework does offer two different types of processors which is great and beats the competition!
13. Availability of Ports
Well this is embarrassing, the framework 13 heavily advertises all the ports it can use but Emily probably doesn’t care about that feature at all.
I love framework and want the company to succeed. I want the average US consumer to purchase these laptops en masse to reduce e-waste, especially since US consumers create so much e-waste. So I was curious if I forgot everything I love about framework and viewed their laptops from an average consumer’s perspective how appealing would their laptops be and how could they be made more appealing. I was not originally intending to compare against the macbook so heavily, but once I hit the OS category that became unavoidable.
I’ve seen companies internally obsess over how amazing certain features of their product are but not realize most consumers couldn’t care less about those features (seeing only 12% of US consumers care about port availability surprised me). I don’t want framework to fall into that trap.
Framework has customers all over the world, and these are just US consumer preferences.
Some of the framework characteristics are not just marketing, they are economic/engineering design choices. Reducing cost, giving the laptop slightly more rounded corners, or adjusting the weight/form factor might be outside the economic/engineering constraints.
These categories certainly cluster in interesting patterns. I would expect those interested in security / data protection probably care a lot less about ease of use. So equally weighing all categories here is again an oversimplification.
I’m sure framework has many good reasons for their marketing decisions (some of which I speculate about below). I don’t mean to be too critical, again this was partially a thought experiment for myself.
I’m a software dev who has 0 marketing experience… so uhm… yeah
Framework is targeting enthusiasts and early adopters while dipping their toes into small/medium business who want the repair cost benefits. They might not even care about marketing to the “Emily” I described, especially since demand is currently outstripping production of their laptops.
One of Framework’s core messages seems to be “framework repair is easy, you can do it too!” which is a fantastic message. This message also serves an important function: without users knowing their laptop can easily be repaired they might still toss a framework into the trash when the screen breaks. However people often try selling broken electronics or just giving them away, and the purchasers/receivers of those electronics will likely know (or quickly learn!) how easy the framework is to repair.
If framework scales well and eventually is trying to market to Emily here are my 2 cents:
Less images of internal components, more images of a sleek, simple to use, durable, high quality laptops.
There is a personal preference split between Android and iPhone users, one wants customization the other simplicity. Why not offer both? Have your main website advertise and sell laptops just like Apple. Clean, simple, elegant visuals. A laptop ready to purchase, no configuring required. Then have a less-advertised option of customizing everything. You don’t need to advertise to use customizing geeks nearly as much, most of us are already obsessed with your product and told all our friends.
I understand Framework might intentionally be trying to convince people they can repair their own laptop, and that’s awesome. But selling more highly repairable laptops will reduce e-waste more than convincing people to DIY their repairs. The geeks will buy the old unwanted frameworks, replace a single component, and now own a fully functional machine.
^For this reason, maybe less images of the laptop in pieces.
The first image on the framework website is a gif of the laptop in pieces (which historically isn’t a good thing in consumer’s minds). The second image of the two laptops back-to-back is near perfection. It’s sleek, modern, sexy, and communicates the high quality of the framework laptop, consider putting this second image first.
if you made it this far, thank you for your attention