/ Technology

When it comes to tech, Apple’s the best of “British”

If I asked you to think of a modern British technology brand, I expect you’d struggle. America and Japan are at the top of the tech tree, with brands like Apple grabbing Britons’ hearts more than anything home-grown.

Pure… that’s the only popular UK brand I can come up with. They seem to be few and far between, although Which? Computing’s Sarah Kidner reminded me of Novatech, a British PC manufacturer.

They’re so rare that foreign tech brands now represent modern British life. Apple, Sony and Microsoft are the three technology names that Brits most identify with, or so says a “time capsule” survey by BritainThinks. By the way, those brands top the survey in that order, with Apple in first.

Apple means the most to Britons

It’s all about being an iBrit at the moment, whether it’s picking up a Mac, Pad or Phone (without the lowercase ‘i’ those words look a little less iConic, don’t they).

Apple also happened to come out on top in our recent computer satisfaction survey of 10,000 Which? members. Apple received the highest customer scores, with 94% for desktops and 93% for laptops – way ahead of the competition.

Sony came second for laptops (72%) and third for desktop PCs (79%). Which American or Japanese brand came out in second spot for desktops? Actually, it’s the good old Brit brand Novatech that Sarah mentioned above, with a customer score of 80%.

Of course, since Microsoft makes computer software, not hardware, it didn’t feature. But it’s still dominating in the former space – a massive 86% of Which? members’ PCs run Windows.

Where home-grown brands have done well is in retail. Britons identified most with Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the time capsule survey. Cadbury topped the survey’s food category, but it’s now owned by Kraft. Heinz and Kellogg’s took the other two food spots – both from the other side of the pond, despite being central to British kitchen cupboards.

The future of Apple

Anyway, back to technology. Brits are clearly Apple nuts, willing to spend huge dosh on iWares. However, Steve Jobs’ recent resignation as Apple CEO might impact the company’s dominance.

It’s been a long fight for Apple to top the tech brands, with Microsoft always being a step ahead. In 1996 Steve Jobs said: ‘The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago’. Back then Apple was worth just $6 billion, compared to Microsoft’s $250 billion. But the tables have now turned – Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s biggest tech company in 2010.

Still, without Jobs at the helm, we’ll have to see how Apple performs in the future. Will it still be Briton’s most loved tech brand? I expect Apple will be in the hearts and minds of British consumers for a long time to come, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a UK tech company coming close to its reign.

Inthesilence says:
25 August 2011

Whilst not well known we should not forget ARM. ARM I hear you ask? Cambridge based manufacturer of chips used in Mobile Phones and Computers – in fact the most widely used 32bit chips in the world. Sadly not as “shiny shiny” as Apple but a true British success story nonetheless.



Funny you should mention ARM – Which? Tech editor Andy Vandervell just tapped me on the shoulder and mentioned them. They’re definitely a major British tech brand, even though they’re more behind the scenes. Good spot 🙂


Agreed on ARM – After all mobile Apple tech (and almost all mobile/tablet tech) is based on their processors – Plus now they have the Windows 8 nod from Microsoft they have even more opportunity to expand their licensing base. Just worried they will get eaten up by a bigger fish.

There are some other chip tech companies like IMI which are used by Apple as well which deserve some recognition.

Tweetdeck is UK based (although now part of Twitter) – Huddle is a cloud based collaboration tool doing very well – Mimecast is all about email archiving and continuity and well lauded – Plenty of tech companies and skills in the UK – but all will probably be eaten up by bigger overseas players at some point, but who can blame them when you get top dollar?

Rightmove also deserves some recognition for it’s total dominance of it’s market and a decent amount of innovation.

For me top tech brands are really now based online


Inthesilence says:
25 August 2011

Another oft forgotten brand, that I believe has a promising future ahead of it, is Novatech. I bought one of their top end laptops in early 2007 (a Core2Duo 2.0ghz machine) for University. 4 years, 1 graphics card and 3 DVD drives later it still works like a dream and runs Win 7 beautifully. It has more heart and soul than a plastic shrouded Dell and when I took it in for a repair it was clear why – the chassis was incredibly solid (justifying its 3.3kg weight!). The repair guy informed me that unusually it was far more upgradeable than most laptops due to its design and because of its solid build would last for years. On several occasions liquids were spilled on it (not by me!) and it survived and even came back to life! After surviving 4 years of intense gaming, encoding, downloading and being left on for very extended periods it has become a bit of a faithful friend. So Novatech – another forgotten British brand?


I did mention them in the Convo – but you’re right, even they slipped my mind. They perform very well in our customer satisfaction tests for desktops, ahead of Sony.


Thought it would be interesting to mention that when you look at the rest of the survey, Apple is the most important brand overall to Brits – and that’s including food, retail, etc – not just tech. Sony’s next, with M&S in third. Technology seems to be defining Brits at the moment.

Gerard Phelan says:
27 August 2011

Apple products are more “British” that might be obvious. Products such as the MacBook, Ipod, Iphone and Ipad were designed by Jonathan Ive an Englishman hailing from Chingford who learned his trade – Industrial design, at Newcastle Polytechnic. He has been named as one of the most influential Britons abroad. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Ive


There are several British hi-fi brands, Linn, Naim, Cambridge Audio….


Absolutely, but these are makers of expensive high quality products with a fairly small number of users.