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Guest Column: Apple, the loser of the next round of Branding and Strategy

Guest Column: Apple, the loser of the next round of Branding and Strategy

Author | Tom Cyrus | Tuesday, Jan 27,2015 8:06 AM

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Guest Column: Apple, the loser of the next round of Branding and Strategy

If a company does not seek to increase its market share, it probably means that its managers are frustrated with everything and they want to leave their business forever. Increased market share can be one of the reasons for the increase in profit, reputation in the market, increased liquidity and saving in production costs as well as the logistics. This looks tempting, doesn’t it?

Temptations in the business world are more what can be imagined and unfortunately there are also numerous examples for them. The example that I want to examine today is not a newly established company. In fact, in many cases it is remembered as a successful example. However, it seems that the stories they tell about its success in branding are not valued anymore.

Unlike its previous trend and despite the fact that Steve Jobs in 2010 called its big smartphones hammers, saying that no one would buy big phones, Apple stops designing its popular and elegant smartphones and instead offers its big phones to the market, which is so big that many people cannot figure out if this is a phone or a tablet iPad which many have called it the iPhone because of being capable of having a SIM card. This shows that Apple has decided to make a hue and cry with a temporary increased market share than working more and reconsidering its branding plans. It has, nevertheless, forgotten that companies which roar loudly today will moan in stealth tomorrow!

Apple has forgotten that Steve Jobs was right when saying that it is you who must create a product and sell it to customers, not that customers tell you what to produce and what to do! Apart from the fact that in 2010 Steve Jobs was wrong claiming that NO ONE is interested in big phones, this company had, however, managed to create a difference by producing small smartphones due to this innate dogmatism seen in Tim Cook in Apple these days. When companies just listen to the sound of excitement in the market for sales rather than long-term objectives and their true nature, it is not far from imagination that the new iPhone will be so big next year that it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Perhaps, you want to say what the difference is. However, through this, Apple managed to reach a unique sale once more. Now, how much is the size of a product important? The problem is that if you suddenly change the size of a product this much, which you've introduced as the concept of that product, Samsung which was not the winner of sales record has then managed to send you off the main road. What was the temptation to leave the market? To increase the market share!

In a word, Samsung infected Apple and it transmitted the syndrome “we produce everything for everyone” (a dangerous virus which has already killed Daewoo) to its iPhones. So, it is not illogical for Apple to have significant primary sales.

In its recent move to increase the market share of the new iPhones, Apple used this formula:

Changing the nature + increasing sales = increased market share

But it is important that increased market share with the Apple formula can have long lasting consequences. Does this formula have such an important feature? This formula had been tested years ago as well. Years ago in the Wild West, some claimed they had elixir of youth and eternal life, while those claims have nowadays changed to penis enlargement and height increase pills. But it is important that in statistics it is indicated that only a few people still believe in such stuff. If there were statistics showing that how many people every day lose their belief in such things, the issue would be much clearer.

By making a noticeable change, Apple could draw the attention of many of those digital fascinated, the youth and even those who wish to show off their things. But what is the difference between the new products with the previous ones? Simply, by considering the details and news after the release of the iPhone 6, we can say that there is no significant change in this version compared with the previous ones. Now that the hue and cries and the fever of the Apple’s new product have died down, we can evaluate it more precisely and objectively. No, do many people line up to buy the iPhone 6 iPhone 6 plus?

The created difference was more a difference in appearance. A difference such as the skin color is only a huge difference for some racists, but from the perspective of genetics and intellectuals, it is so small that sometimes it cannot be seen. If genetics cannot take the wind out of illiterate racists‘sails through time and increased collective wisdom, then Apple will be able to mention the greatness of its products as an important and sustainable feature.

In his book, the Purple Cow, Seth Godin speaks of a graph in which the users are divided into 5 groups. The first group includes innovators, a small group that is even willing to buy your pilot products. Basically, not the applicability, quality nor brand of the product is important to them; nevertheless, having and testing that product is important to them more than anything else. But no matter how much the first group welcome buying your product, masses of the society have no interest in buying them. Contrary to innovators, there is a small group of users called laggards. These are the very people that are fussy and somehow traditional who are not willing to test any new product unless they find a particular usage for it (like the time people moved towards digital cameras from the analogue ones). The important fact is that if this group accepts buying your product and becomes a fan of it, it’s due to the fact they have come to you through talking to two big groups of users in the society, that is, the define early and late majorities, and thus your product will finally affect the market and make the history.

So far, this theory seems interesting and is of course welcomed by everyone. In Purple Cow, Seth Godin makes a mistake where Apple has. As the title of his book suggests, he regards creating a change superficial. If this claim about changing the appearance were true this much, the Mercedes Benz and of course Google would go bankrupt! In contrast, however, look at Yahoo which has repeatedly changed his appearance. Although Yahoo gained more users and traffic for a short time by changing its logos and appearance and the news they broadcast in the media, such changes are more like using narcotics. As long as the effect of the dope is in, everything will be okay. But what if the dope sellers want to take a day off tomorrow?

Apple just needed to have a look at the fact that some people chose its smartphones due to their unique size. If they lose their loyal to this company, which is not something so simple, they won’t be definitely so loyal to spend a very large sum of money on cellphone which they cannot even put it in their jeans pocket, despite the fact that their old cellphones have somehow the same function as the new product. Apple, however, seems to have forgotten that people whose suits have big and secret pockets are the customers of Microsoft which derided them and those small pocketed jeans wearers are in fact its customers.

But what did Apple gain in this competition in which it kept its chin up by changing size? Actually it gained some things which Samsung had already gained, (the very things that Steve Jobs had ridiculed in 2010)! Accordingly, in my opinion, Apple’s understanding about the competition in the smartphone market has been built wrongly. Hopefully, though late, Tim Cook found about this issue by announcing that "not Samsung but Google is Apple's main rival”.The decline of iPhone’s market share in smartphones is not because of its size and appearance but for the inflexibility of the iOS.

With such a folly, Apple has put itself at the risk of a hard failure. By emphasizing on the value and brand positioning, it has forgotten what its value had been in minds of customers and instead it has entered a completely copied phase. Only two things cannot compete counterfeiting and copying. First, your relationship with your customers, and second, the brand you have. Think about this important factor seriously: the way in which you’re going ahead, Samsung and iPhone are supposed to be exactly the same, without any serious competitive advantage.

But let's see how Apple became the Google’s rival overnight. Some time ago, I was reading the history of medieval European imperial powers, one of their military tactics drew my attention. To attack a large castle, enemy forces sent forces in order to set that castle on fire before knights reached there. Those forces passed the gates of the castle as spies or secret agents and set key points on fire so that the defensive power of the enemy is weakened. Then archers shot fiery arrows toward the castle and then the way was paved for the knights.

Although Google’s power in the world of search engines and emails was nothing compared to that of iOS, it utilized its smart medieval strategy. It sent the saboteurs and arsonists lead by Samsung into Apple’s castle and then it itself invaded the castle. Google’s becoming a rival for Apple was not overnight. Apple was so busy with legal disputes with and ridiculing Samsung that it forgot that the chance killing a giant is when it is still a child.

Steve Jobs was right. Not a lot of people show interest in buying large phones. But if they are supposed to buy small phones, those with the android OS are more fortunate than the iPhone. Aside from the flexibility and easy use of android, the added values made available for users having android smartphones are more significant.

Anyhow, Google could confuse and weaken Apple with its powerful android punch in the previous round. But, Apple is supposed to come off the ring as a smashed loser. This is while Apple had the opportunity of taking its iPhone out of the ring after the rest time of the previous round like a champion who was suffering from injuries. In this situation, although the cup was given to Google and its android, Apple could have more chance to remain in the minds of his fans with its iPhone forever. At least, for me the new iPhone is more like Rocky who has got Botox.

When the iPhone 6 was unveiled and the media were speaking of it, one of the strong proponents of the iPhone who is the author of an online journal updated his status and emotionally wrote:

“Although I am pleased with my current iPhone and now I'm not going to buy the iPhone 6, some critics have broken my heart as a fan of Apple. The iPhone will always remain in my memory as a premium brand because I have so many memories with it.”

In response to him, I immediately wrote: “But I have some bad news. Apple is lost on the middle of the way of thinking differently and thinking foolishly”. Today, the past of a brand is no longer important. The future creates differences because I’ll never forget the first time gained access to the Internet years ago; it was Yahoo that I used as the search engine. But Google has done something that I can’t remember the last time when I search something on Yahoo! Although that writer deleted my comment, I don’t think it has helped the iPhone for becoming the best. The second round of competition of iPhone and its rival is imminent and the doping that it has taken by negligence for a long time to increase the market share will soon die down.

About Author

Tom Cyrus is an Iranian born marketing theoretician, strategist and author currently residing in Germany. He is one of the most recognized marketing experts in Iran who has spent most of time and concentration on marketing in the Middle East. In July 2012, Al Ries referred to him as the most capable marketing specialists in the Middle East. In September 2012, the magazine Trade World, which is published in Iran, also introduced him as the most capable marketing expert in the Middle East.

Following what he used to teach to others in the field of global marketing, he changed his name from Toomaj Fraidoony to Tom Cyrus in 2010.

However, he does not believe in localization of the marketing. One of his most important activities is interviewing with prominent marketing experts from all over the world, analyzing and scrutinizing marketing in the field of promotion in the Middle East and publishing it in the media of the region. 

Tags: Apple | Tom Cyrus

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