Lara's Log

An Apple Rant a Day

Posted on: July 18, 2010

For those who believe branding is all hype and no trousers, have a look at how Apple used to brand itself.  (My personal favourite is the one with the different fruit and car crash sound effects. WTF?)

While we’re on the topic of Apple, the recent decision of Apple to issue out cases to all the people who bought the latest iPhone 4 isn’t that unusual when you consider they already caved to public peer pressure about the cost of the iPhone way back in 2007 (thanks Pete for the reminder!).  Though officially it was advertised as a holiday promotion, and a new iPhone was due out only 5 months later, the important thing to take from this is that early adopters got a $100 rebate, but only after they kicked up a fuss like a squeaky wheel with rusty hinges. That seems (to me at least) have been what has happened in the recent iPhone 4-gate.

From all accounts (i.e. the three people I spoke to at the recent Edinburgh Coffee Morning Beer Evening who had an iPhone 4 to hand) the problem really is over estimated. Not one had anything bad to say about the shiny new device (it was indeed shiny and very pretty).  Which begs the question why all the recent hub-bub about the lack of phone in the new iPhone? A hub-bub which resulted in £6.5 billion get wiped off the brand’s value, might I remind.

Here are my thoughts on the situation

1) a problem does exist but people’s expectations of Apple products is to such a standard now that if something doesn’t work 100%, it gets ravaged.

2) It’s an iPhone – the clue is in the name. It’s a phone first and if a phone doesn’t work as it should, for whatever reason, it deserves to get ravaged. In fact US consumer magazine, Consumer Reports, has come out and said it can’t recommend the iPhone.  Incidentally, Consumer Reports says it still can’t recommend the product even after Jobs & co have said they will send out bumper cases to help alleviate the signal problem – here’s why.

3) Personally I think the hub-bub massive has a point. As the above link to Apple’s earlier adverts efforts have shown, Apple wasn’t always the coolest binary unit on the block.  They’ve come a long way in the branding department. Unfortunately, their PR department is still in solitary confinement (probably for talking too much).

Here are the facts: the iPhone 4 was launched on the 24th of June (UK), with a known issue.  When this known issue began to gain traction on the interwebs, Mr Jobs said “it’s a problem that “affects “a very small number of users,” and that the issue can be avoided by not touching the phone in that area” (Consumer Reports).  Not a particularly conciliatory tone by anyone’s standards.   Now they’ve fully acknowledged there’s a problem and that it should be up to them to fix it. But only until September and they can’t guarantee refunds for people who have tried to fix the issue themselves (i.e. by buying a case themselves – not attaching another antenna to their heads).  What’s more, this has taken them until the 16th of July to admit this. However, anyone who’s worked with an Apple for any length of time (this was my first expirience of a mac)  knows that User Friendliness came in to the game pretty late on. With that in mind, this statement, which came out almost 4 weeks later, is kind of ‘on message’ for the Apple corporation.

Apple has survived the binary school playground and come out as the geeky kid turned cool. Where PCs won people’s hearts for their ease of use, Macs are now winning their hearts for their design (and damn good branding and advertising campaigns). I just wonder how long people will continue to harbour this ‘unreasonable love’. If Apple aren’t more proactive with their attempts to talk to the lil’ people, they may find themselves sitting alone at lunch time once more.

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