Apple’s Evolution Continues. Next Stop: Disillusionment

“Remember the old bit about a General Motors car in every garage? Today, iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads seem just as ubiquitous, especially at Starbucks.”

That’s a line from Roben Fazard’s great article on BusinessWeek about how Apple’s fall mirrors its struggles this year.

Apple’s stock tumbled 23 percent last Wednesday, pushing it to a four-year low to $545. According to BusinessWeek, the one-day misfortune eradicated $35 billion in market value for Apple.

So, what gives? If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’ve discussed Apple a few times over the course of the semester. My most recent post on the company divulged how it is losing face as it inches further and further away from Steve Jobs’ original vision.

The article outlines a few more reasons for discontent:

  • Investors have not yet gotten that mega-dividend they prayed for ahead of the U.S. fiscal cliff.
  • Increased competition, notably from Samsung
  • The closed-off nature of the App Store experience, which is a turn-off to consumers
  • Management discord, particularly after Scott Forstall left the company after its failure to duplicate Google Maps resulted in the laughably erroneous Apple Maps

Apple’s products will not sell forever just because they carry the brand’s name. Competitors will catch up and perhaps pass Apple in terms of innovation, technology, and price. This dip may just be an unfortunate-but-natural deviation from Apple’s grand scheme, but the company should try to forestall this autumn of discontent from becoming a year of one.

As Apple Leaves Steve Jobs’ Ideas Behind, Competitors Catch Up

Let’s be serious: Steve Jobs never approved of the iPad mini. Yet here it is, available for users to play piano medleys of Heart & Soul and do whatever else they’d like on it.

 

Steve Jobs with the original iPad

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage last month during an Apple event and introduced the iPad mini and a smaller MacBook pro, among other items. As Forbes contributor Nigam Arora wrote, there was nothing flashy at this Apple event. No “wow” factor, no introduction of never-before-thought-of products—instead, there were simple improvements upon preordained products.

Why has Apple stopped introducing those mindblowing products? Where’s the mini music player that we all gaped at in 2003 before integrating the iPod into our lives and now being unable to live without it? Where are those flashy laptops with the pretty, indented apple logo that don’t run on Windows and are inherently intuitive? Why does the iPhone 5 have so many issues?

I guess it all leads up to the grand question: Where is Apple these days?

Let’s find a solution. Here’s a crash course in the basics of branding: it begins with defining your company’s personality or identity and building off of that.

Rob Frankel, an author and branding expert in L.A., spoke to BusinessWeek about branding and had some wonderful advice that Apple and Tim Cook may want to consider:

“Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Is the iPad mini going to continue to convince customers that Apple is the only destination for 7 inch? No. Absolutely not. Samsung has the Galaxy Tab. Google has the Nexus. And Amazon has the Kindle (Fire).

As Apple steps further and further from the revolutionary ideas that defined it in the first place—from it’s personality—its competitors are catching up.

Check out this article from BusinessWeek, describing how Samsung is the brand that’s hot on Apple’s tail. In fact, the article reports that Samsung outsold the iPhone during Q3:

“Strategy Analytics says that more Samsung Galaxy S III phones than Apple iPhone 4S handsets were sold in third quarter of this year. Samsung Electronics moved 18 million such handsets, while Apple sold 16.2 million during the three-month period, says the research firm.”

I can’t decide whether competitors are catching up to Apple now because it was only a matter of time, or if it’s because Apple has quit being the innovative powerhouse it once was. What I do know is that when my cell phone contract runs up, I’m considering ditching my iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy—and I never would’ve thought to do that two years ago.

iMessage Goes Down, and Twitter Goes to Town

  1. Around 3 p.m. today, Apple iMessage service went down. Reliability is at the core of Apple’s services. Its brand depends on satisfied customers—and the more often Apple introduces gaffes, such as its faulty Apple Maps app and this iMessaging blunder, the fewer loyal customers will remain.
    While Apple’s brand is known for its unbelievably loyal “fanboys,” there are clearly many vocal users who speak out against the brand when it wrongs them.
  2. kakabadze
    Apple’s iMessage service is currently suffering from systemic downtime http://flpbd.it/KbjvO

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:16:42
  3. kennawilkinson
    RT @TaylorBerger_: iMessage is nice and all when it actually works

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:16:41
  4. Savannah_Lee1
    RT @spoiledbratprbz: Come back to me, iMessage. I’m not going to survive much longer without you.

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:17:33
  5. _lauradoe
    RT @yhpaige: imessage isn’t working? http://pic.twitter.com/AMX593AK

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:19:44
  6. Brodsto77
    RT @Canadagentleman: Seriously Apple? One of the worlds largest tech giants & you can barely keep your messaging service running? #iMessage

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:21:50
  7. _leemitchell
    thought it was only blackberrys that had problems with the network, not apple!

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:25:44
  8. paige_ashleyy
    I guess Apple decided that we should all go Amish for the day.. #iPhoneProblems

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:30:21
  9. A consortium of Tweeters believe Apple’s brand has been mishandled and weakened since Steve Jobs’ passing in 2011.
  10. LeeRoge
    apple have gone down hill since Steve Jobs died.

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:22:42
  11. peteypabz92
    RT @realmisacampo: I’m pissed that Steve Jobs passed away. Apple is really, really effing up my iPhone love. Dropped the ball, dropped the ball.

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:29:38
  12. mywayorBUSHWAY
    Wake up Steve Jobs, we got a problem with iMessage down here.

    Sun, Nov 18 2012 14:23:56

Yahoo Fumbles with Fantasy Football on Sunday

Yesterday, as I walked toward Union Square to meet a friend around 1:30 p.m., I was continually forcing my phone to re-launch the Yahoo! Fantasy Football app. Was Cam Newton going to score another TD? How many TD catches would Torrey Smith have against the Oakland Raiders? And most importantly, was I going to beat my opponents in my two leagues?

I had no way to know.

Yahoo’s fantasy football—one of the most popular fantasy football services, next to ESPN—went down around 1 p.m. Sunday, leaving millions of users stranded with no way to adjust their teams or check stats as the games went on. I know, I know; fantasy football is not the end-all, be-all of life. It’s just a fun pastime  But it’s one that some people take very seriously, and a handful bet a lot of money on, and its consistency is required.

This fantasy football blackout speaks to a larger issue at Yahoo. The internet giant’s third quarter earnings were $1.089 billion, slightly above expectations and 2 percent above year-to-year numbers. But the lackluster earnings reflect the lackluster expectations.

Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, has not yet been able to capitalize on the high expectations that surrounded her ascension to CEO in July. She spoke in October about Yahoo turning its focus to the mobile side, noting it had fallen behind leaders in the industry.

It’s true. Yahoo failed to change with the times, and like many companies of the dot com era of growth, it hung onto its old ways until they threatened to destabilize the company entirely. Yahoo is tweaking its homepage these days, scheming to find the best one to roll out in December. So, changes are coming, yes. The question is, are these changes enough? Will they reposition Yahoo in a style such that the brand can live up to its former expectations?

And more importantly, amidst Apple and Google, do people still care?

#PendingLarryQuote

  1. On Thursday, Google’s Q3 earnings premiered on the SEC website hours earlier than planned. Whoops. But the bigger shocker? In place of an obligatory quote from Mr. Page, the report read: PENDING LARRY QUOTE. The Twitterverse, as you can imagine, enjoyed suggesting what that quote might be.
  2. scotthensley
    RT @inbaggiowetrust: “Hey at least we aren’t Facebook, right? Riiiiiiiiight?” #pendinglarryquote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:18:02
  3. cloggiefx
    $GOOG blaming the printer, it is always someone elses fault #pendinglarryquote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:23:11
  4. JakeScottIII
    Googles taking a hit after that unfortunate misfire. I might even buy some stock but that’s #PendingLarryQuote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:24:31
  5. hainsworthtv
    Shares of $RRD extend decline after $GOOG blames firm for early SEC 8K release that sent shares -9% (still HALTED). #PendingLarryQuote $$
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:24:41
  6. DonitaPrakash
    “Oops, I didn’t really do that did I?”, says Page, with his finger on the send key. #pendingLarryquote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:26:06
  7. srabil
    Apparently Google says RR Donnelley is to blame for premature earnings release … someone’s having a very bad day #pendinglarryquote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:38:25
  8. ryanbatty
    Feeling 4 #PR colleagues @ $goog. New or experienced, we all fear a #pendinglarryquote moment. Old process collides w/ 24/7 networked world
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:43:30
  9. savitz
    Google’s Q3 miss just cost Larry Page $1.8 billion. Maybe he had a quote, but they couldn’t print it. #google $goog #pendinglarryquote
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:58:20
  10. ldignan
    RT @savitz: Stock market meme du jour: #pendinglarryquote. Thanks, Google!
    $goog #google http://pic.twitter.com/UChdgp7G
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 10:58:39
  11. aram
    Whew, Mitt lucked out. It seems that #pendinglarryquote is the new #bindersfullofwomen.
    Thu, Oct 18 2012 11:43:16