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.

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

Breakout Brands: An Ironic, Yet Necessary, Concept to Apply to the Election

A PR firm in Coral Gables, Florida, called rbb Public Relations has defined a new concept called “breakout brands,” according to Forbes.

Breakout Brands – brands that “focus on the customer and customer’s needs rather than imitating or downgrading the competition.”

That definition comes straight from rbb CEO Christine Barney. Rbb’s examples include McDonald’s, Apple, Toyota, Exxon, and Caterpillar.

More interesting is how rbb applied its new concept to the presidential election. It surveyed 2,141 adults between Aug. 20–22 and asked them 25 questions about these brands, probing how they interact with the companies. The survey also asked about who they plan to vote for.

Credit: Forbes

Romney supporters’ top five brands were: Walmart, Caterpillar, McDonald’s, ExxonMobil, and UPS.

Obama supporters’ top five brands were: Google, Whole Foods, Volkswagon, Starbucks, and GE.

How ironic that a survey based on a concept “that (doesn’t) try to challenge or attack other brands, but rather stand on their own merits” asks about who you’re voting for. I think we can all agree the presidential election has been nothing if not a schmearfest of inaccurate and often trivial ads and claims (need I point you to Obama’s latest Big Bird ad campaign below?), or in other words, the exact opposite of breakout branding.

According to rbb, three elements define a breakout brand:

  1. It forgets chasing and focuses on leading: “Breakout Brands are companies of all sizes and sometimes are already the owners of the top slot.”
  2. Create the future: “They are original, groundbreaking, and inventive.”
  3. Communication first, second, and third: “Consider how many companies try to promote customer service as a differentiator but are loathe to give out a customer support phone number in favor of pushing online FAQ.”

Neither of our presidential candidates have focused on leading. They’ve focused on attacking the other, as witnessed during their presidential debate last week, and while they believe this is the way to win us over, it’s not. If I wanted to watch little boys fight over who tells more lies, I’d become a kindergarten teacher.

As to creating a future, I also haven’t heard much in terms of specific policy that Obama or Romney is going to offer. I know Romney says he will cut taxes, get rid of PBS, and re-erect the white picket fences of the “Leave it to Beaver” era. I’d like to know what Obama has planned, but when I went to his website to investigate, I was only offered posts explaining why Paul Ryan is a liar:

I thought Obama’s website would tell me his plans for the future, but I was limited to a parade of Romney’s and Ryan’s falsities. As a voter who is trying to be as informed as possible, I’m disappointed and more than a bit insulted that the Obama campaign assumes I’d rather read schmear blog posts than a careful analysis of his policies.

And this sums up how both campaigns have failed to communicate anything valuable to voters.

I love the idea of breakout branding. I think companies that do it well know that good branding does not arise from attacking competitors but rather comparing yourself to them.

Remember Apple’s ad campaign from 2005–2007 with Justin Long? Long acted as a Mac and another actor was a PC. While a dainty piano ditty played in the background, they compared themselves. I don’t think any PC users felt ashamed to own a PC after watching these ads. But they did find out something valuable and informative about Macs. And that was all.

How revolutionary.

The Year’s Top 100 Brands

Image

By Shahroozporia

Brands are always wondering how to generate the highest rate of return. Duh. And the Best Global Brands report, released Tuesday, tells us all which brands are most successful.

The top 5 should surprise no one: Coca-Cola, Apple, I.B.M., Google, and Microsoft. Factors taken into account include financial performance and compelling consumers.

The list is significant because it tells less prosperous brands the model they should be following. Customers obviously feel a connection to Coke, Apple, and even those higher up on the list such as Disney and Louis Vuitton. That’s because these brands don’t just put out good products; they know how to adhere themselves in consumers’ memories.

Branding, marketing, and messaging are all siblings. A company that knows how to successfully brand can make grand strides in consumer loyalty and support. Consider Apple. Apple has jumped 15 spots in two years. It was No. 17 in 2010 and No. 8 last year. And now it is No. 2. I wonder when, or if, Apple will ever unseat the dominant Coca-Cola.

Speaking of, I am impressed that Coca-Cola, a foodservice brand, still has more international acclaim and recognition from consumers than the aforementioned technology companies.

Check out the full list here!

Brand Wars: Wal-Mart v. Amazon

Amazon Kindle 4

In a move to protect its own merchandise sales, Wal-Mart announced Thursday that it intends to disassociate itself with Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. This is not a shocking move; in fact, the surprise is that Wal-Mart agreed to carry the Kindle in its stores in the first place.

Brands must protect themselves if they want to survive. This is why McDonald’s does not sell Burger King’s Whopper.

Wal-Mart and Amazon compete for the same customers. Both offer consumers low-priced, accessible goods, and both try to make their “stores” as easy and accessible as possible. While the Wal-Mart and Amazon shoppers likely overlap, one makes a determined effort to drive to a store while another accesses his online.

Wal-Mart has giant box stores, stocked to the nines with popular items promised at the lowest possible price. Amazon prides itself on slashing suggested retail prices and selling much the same stuff as Wally World. Amazon even guarantees free, two-day shipping for users who sign up for Amazon Prime.

Given their competition for the same consumer, my question is why Wal-Mart decided to stock its rival’s brandname e-reader in the first place. Target, too, removed the Kindle from its stores in May, wanting to reduce “showrooming” to customers who turned around and bought the Kindle for cheaper from Amazon.

Even more, the box store model is in jeopardy, and it’s online retailers like Amazon that control the guillotine. Case in point: Best Buy announced it would close 50 stores in April and is refocusing instead on small-format stores.

Wal-Mart continues to carry Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader and Apple’s iPad. I’m sure Wal-Mart still generates sales on both of these items, particularly the iPad, because a Wal-Mart store is often more accessible or less crowded than the Apple store.

But throwing Amazon’s Kindle into stores likely did not generate too many sales for Wal-Mart. In fact, encouraging the Kindle likely sent consumers to Amazon’s website, where they found other items they could order from Amazon, too. The brand was smart to remove a rival name-brand e-reader and focus instead on channeling customers toward electronic purchases such as the iPad that will definitively increase sales.