To start, I am an Apple fanatic. We have no less than 15 apple devices in our home, including all five of us on iPhones, four of us on MacBooks, three of us with iPads, Apple TVs and countless iPods in drawers throughout the house. We also have more than 800 apps on our devices have spent thousands in the iTunes store. So, it is with sadness and a bit of disbelief that I now have to admit something that I never thought I would: Apple is no longer a leader. Apple has become a challenger that now needs to look up to other leaders across the multiple categories it competes in and figure out what to do next. And the answers aren’t clear.
Yes, Apple has the largest market cap in the world (although it continues to plummet). And yes, the App store continues to be a cash cow. But in the war for perceptions, the war for coolness, the war for technological ingenuity, the war for who is most clever or who garners the highest degrees of anticipation, Apple is falling way short. And if Samsung, Windows, Google Android, Amazon and others have anything to say about it, Apple will never reach that leader perch again.
In fact, making fun of Apple is becoming a sport for all of the above by making them seem out of date, made for “old people” or just plain old “uncool.” And the tech giant isn’t doing itself any favors with its new “Made in California” campaign. Some see the ad as similar to Chrysler’s heroic return ad, “Made in Detroit.” But Apple’s campaign signals desperation – it’s nothing like Chrysler’s and isn’t nearly as effective.
Made in California is positioned in a softer, gentler, dream-like manner, with a narrative intended to inspire. It attempts to reinforce the connection the company has forged with people through products that surprise and delight. I see it as a frantic, faux-patriotic yearning for a time that is long gone, targeted to no one in particular, trying to reclaim a positioning from years’ past with no new innovation to back up the claim (with the exception of the iPad mini, which has already been successfully de-positioned by Kindle and Samsung).
And once I started going down that path, I actually started to think that with this faux-nostalgia, Apple was trying to take us all back to the “1984” ads and a more aggressive and exciting Apple. But sometimes getting the old band back together may not get you the results you are looking for—who remembers the Spice Girls at last year’s Olympics?
Bottom line, brands are built on deeds and actions, not words. In fact, I’m left wondering what Apple’s done for me lately and hoping against hope that they’ll follow this benign campaign with the kind of kick-ass innovation that will leave customers and pundits like me gasping for air. You know – making touchscreen Apple TVs or finding a way to slip Siri, along with other technology, into an Apple watch. But there are no signals that this is coming, and with Apple signaling is everything.
Thus, Apple seems to be seriously close to slipping into challenger brand mode here, looking up to the leader in the category and wondering what they can do to usurp a new dominating leader’s position. Whether it is the iPhone looking up at Samsung, iRadio looking up at Pandora/Spotify, or iWatches looking up to Nike, Apple needs to come up with several silver bullets to build back lost relevance and ultimately inspire, influence and compel once again.
One Forbes’ investment columnist suggests Apple may be Sony from 20 years ago. That’s not a good place to be, as Samsung, LG and others will all tell you (with smiles on their faces, naturally).
Apple’s Fall From Leading To Lagging Brand – Forbes
apple – Google News