Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow; but one day and for the rest of it’s life…
Apple is another BlackBerry just waiting to happen.
Before you say it, yes, I know that the iPhone 5 sold in record numbers. I know that Apple’s stock price recently hit record highs and is currently anywhere between $650 and $700 a share. My view is also not based on high profile problem with Apple maps, or the fact that the iPhone 5 sales fell short of expectations. I’m saying it because a company that, under Steve Jobs, knew how to market – under Tim Cook seems to have forgotten everything it knew.
It started with the marketing of the iPhone 4, didn’t improve with the 4S and with the 5 – well, let’s not talk about the marketing for the iPhone 5! If you don’t believe me, here are just a few examples:
- Apple posted a 6 minute video making the point that the iPhone 5 has been ‘completely redesigned’, even though it looks exactly like the iPhone 4/4S – just a bit longer and thinner.
- The Apple “design” video seems more like a parody than many of the parody videos out there!
- Apple is now using phrases like “cross-collaborative effort”, “seamless integration between hardware and software”, “manufacturing processes that are our most complex and ambitious” and “the variances between products we now measure in microns” that justify the process rather than explain why consumers should buy its products.
- The iPhone 5 TV adverts are awful!
- “Our all new maps application is fantastic.” Really?! Are you sure about that?! – Actually, they were not… Tim Cook now suggests you download another maps app until they sort theirs out!
- Apple’s response to the maps disaster was a shambles. Tim Cook’s apology was too little, too late, and the message – see point above – was pitiful.
- Steve Jobs would never have apologized for the Apple maps disaster. Steve Jobs would have never shipped Apple Maps until it was ready.
- Apple claims Siri can do more… that is, I assume, if it can understand you!
- The iPhone 5 was, if we believe the rumours, two years in the making. Two years, and the best they could come up with as reasons to buy were changes measured in microns?!
- What happened to the legendary Apple secrecy around new products. Anybody would think that the marketing team had been spending too much time in bars these days.
- Apple is using the same excuses in response to complaints about purple flares that it did about the antenna problems on the 4. Telling consumers “you’re holding it wrong” every time there’s a problem just won’t wash.
Apple can, and I suspect, will continue to develop products that people want to buy for the foreseeable future. How much longer they’ll be able to persuade consumers that their products are superior to those of their competitors is another thing entirely. While this won’t matter in the short term – hundreds of millions of consumers are paid up members of the Apple ecosystem and will find it incredibly difficult to leave any time soon. But, unless the company rediscovers its marketing magic – and quickly – many will do so, albeit grudgingly. Just ask my wife. Disquiet and dis-satisfaction with the brand will grow, moving it slowly towards a tipping point that will result in a sudden and very dramatic collapse.
For a company that used marketing so effectively to create a “Reality Distortion Field” that could persuade people they needed products they didn’t realize they needed, this is serious. When people start to see behind the distortion field – think about the Wizard of Oz – the magic evaporates very quickly. For a business like Apple, that sells on magic, it’s a precarious position to be in. When consumers stop ‘buying’ the magic, they stop purchasing the products. If, or more likely, when that happens, Apple is toast!
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