Please welcome the newly erected ‘He would say that…’ tag as I tread the highly competitive waters of technological alliances. You only have to read the book ‘No Logo’ by Naomi Klein to know how dangerous brand alliance can be. Indeed how false branding is; especially in a technological world where many companies have various contractual agreements to construct the newest gadget.
This post isn’t about fruity Apples (I like those) but the American Apple. The multinational corporation that has, admittedly, revolutionised the relationship we have with our technology.
I have owned iPods. One of the mobiles I use is an iPhone 3GS. During my studies I have had to use eMacs and iMacs. Despite these mostly wholly positive experiences concerning my consumer relationship with Apple this post tackles a deeper problem. That I believe Apple has as a company in the technological world.
Like everybody else today I wait with baited breath for the new iOS4 release for my iPhone. As I am an iPhone 3GS owner I receive all of the benefits this software comes with. However, unlike everybody else I can’t say that I am willing to generate hype about the software. Apple seems to have the power to delude people so much into their products that people cease to recognise the obvious flaws.
Over the years I have owned a number of mobiles; Nokia, Sony Ericson, Siemens. All of these phones have had the capability to multitask, have folders, change wallpapers and a couple even allowed multiple email accounts to show as a single account.
I am simply not impressed. As if my opinion is worth anything but Apple, in my view, relies on a consumer market that is absolutely delirious, ignorant and uneducated about other gadgets.
The hype that surrounds each product release can only be likened to a mass cult following. There is one simple reason for this; Apple has a brilliant Public Relations team.
Apple’s Digital Public Relations
Other software companies like Microsoft (sorry Microsoft), HP, IBM, Acer, Asus, etc, just release their products into the market. There is very little ‘baited breath’, more of a traditional press release and the reliance that nerds will be seduced by high flying specifications. What we have seen in recent years is that technology is no longer about the specifications. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people who own mobile phones and computers know very little about the inner workings of each device. Instead they care about the device’s aesthetics, how it will enrich their life and the price.
Apple understands this and instead works to release products through a series of controlled leaks. They might act as an individual to say that they claim to have found the new iPhone’s accessories in China which suggests the general layout of the device. A prototype might be left in a bar somewhere. Various rumours will be circulated.
The trick Apple play to sell a product is to create a sense of desire in the consumer. This desire (in my opinion) is mostly irrelevant on the actual merits of the piece of hardware. Each time Apple release a product its hardware specifications are never very high, unlike the price but still people buy.
For those of us who don’t worship Apple we can clearly see this. There are many pieces of technology in the world. Apple is but one company, an interesting one but just another technological multinational.
They have some problems…
As much as Apple is prosperous now I believe the multinational will, in a few years, suffer massive problems regarding its consumer relationships. Whilst controlled leaks are now effective, eventually people will stop caring about the hype generated by this. The only reason controlled leaks currently work is because thousands of people are prepared to be vocally opinionated.
This will coincide with the fact that Apple products largely sell themselves off their design. Make no mistake. When Jonathon Ives joined Apple he designed revolutionary ergonomic aesthetically pleasing designs. Like all designs though eventually Apple products will look extremely dated. Their designs have already changed over time but there will be a summit and a drop.
The support for Apple products varies quite a lot. iMacs are typically known to be good for graphic design. Little do many realise that it isn’t actually Apple software used for graphic design, Adobe produce the software. Oh wait. Isn’t Adobe the company that Apple has fallen out with over flash? Oh yes! Can’t Adobe products also be found on Microsoft Windows? Yes! Then why do graphic designers bother buying Apple? I still can’t work this out. You save money by not buying Apple, end up with quicker hardware and an operating system (Windows 7) that has far more support from software companies compared to Leopard.
I’m sure people at Apple are already fully aware of these points and are mind mapping their way out for the future. Apple is a great company but they are not perfect. Their Digital Public Relations strategies are clever, not revolutionary but some flaws still exist. It will be interesting to see how the market continues to change as time goes on.
With HTC products on the rise, Android continually gaining market share and the Windows Mobile 7 launch later this year – competition has never been higher. I just have a feeling that iPhone 4 is below-par this time and the company will lose valuable market share because of this.