OP-ED | THE ROTTEN APPLE?
Well, it has been a long honeymoon for Apple since the days of that infamous hammer throw by the Big Blue slayer. On that day Apple embarked on a quest to create a sub-culture of brand evangelists from all walks of life who were ready to break out of the non-conformist movement and into a space they can call their own. Since those early days Apple has had some product hits and misses, but through it all, the brand loyalists have remain steadfast and proud of the brand they called their own. Many have even grown accustomed to paying a premium for product emblazoned with the Apple logo. It was a badge of honor that stated clearly to everyone “ I am different”…”I think different”…”I am who I am”.
Now, I am not a dramatist by any stretch of the imagination…(well..I guess it depends on who you ask;-), but in my heart of hearts, within my marketing gut, my chakra of branding instincts can’t help to think that Apple’s recent iPhone debacle has done more to damage brand loyalty than anyone would admit. Last week’s price drop was the culmination of a series of missteps of the iPhone that was on a collision course toward the mundane from the very beginning.
Let’s start with the initial pricing scheme (and I do mean scheme). I, as so many other early adopters, felt the price was far too aggressive for a phone that did not have 3G technology, no video capability, no email search functionality, etc. (just to name a few), but as the true loyalist I “was” who might I mention have been part of the brand since the days of the Apple 2C, I bought it because it was Apple and of course it looked so damn good. So I along with hundreds of others, waited on line for hours and forked over my hard earned cash, agreed to sign up with ahhhh ATT Wireless (that’s a whole other story) just so that I could get my hands on a revolutionary phone that many others could not get or, quite frankly, afford. Of course, I was content with that because I did not want everyone to have one… I wanted to relish in the glow of exclusivity. So there I was with so many other cult followers looking at my shiny bright phone as the chrome sparkled in the sunlit Soho skies of NYC. I felt like a Cesar Milan (Dog Whisperer) pack leader!
Fast forward to day 3 of the release, I went into the Apple store to get a $30 case for my chic $600 phone I just brought and noticed from the corner of my eye iPhones stacked as if they were cans of spam behind the cash counters and suddenly I did not feel all that special anymore. For something that was suppose to be exclusive and hard to find all of the sudden it was stocked into a pyramid for all to see, touch, feel and buy! Then I said to myself “well those boxes must be merely for decoration purposes, there can’t be in product in them..that would be stupid to do that…I mean this is Apple right?” So I walked over to a teenager with a badge and an Apple tee and asked “Are those boxes for show?”…as she answered it almost felt like she was speaking in slow motion….”no sir..those are 8G iPhones available for sale…are you interested in purchasing one? At that point I looked at my girlfriend Angela who was with me and I said to her…This is not good! How could Apple get exclusivity marketing 101 so wrong? Hmmmm let me see..does Nike stack their new limited edition dunks in the store front of the local Kicks Spot for all to see and buy? Does Mercedes Benz park a truckload of S600’s in front of their dealerships for all to see and purchase? Does Bose stack their Quiet Comfort Noise Canceling Headsets at the local Brookstone like it was a sample sale? In fact, has Bose ever dropped the price of any of their premium products? Ahh people….have your ever stood in line for the opening of the latest NYC hot spot…sometimes the door person has to say it’s too crowded and we cannot let anyone else in…when in fact there is plenty of space inside. It was at that point when I knew the iPhone was in for a bumpy ride.
Fast forward again….well really only a few weeks after the debut….we read an announcement that Apple is dropping the price of the iPhone a whopping $200!!!! Wow! Just when you thought the brand could do no more wrong…they followed insult with injury!!! All those great commercials, all the teasing, all the poor product demos on Morning Shows all across the Nation…and then….a resounding thump.
So rewind to that day (not too long ago I might mention) when I was in line anxious to get my hands on that sleek iPhone that no one else could get, afford, comprehend…etc, etc. Today that feeling of enthusiasm, glee, joy, exclusivity is official gone and with it a bit of that Apple wonder that I had grown to admire and respect.
Then came the sorry $100 credit to buy yet another Apple product. Sorry Mr. Jobs….I’m not in a hurry to buy right now. In fact, I’m not sure when I will be in a hurry to buy again…because I don’t like getting burned…do you?…good luck in rejuvenating your loyal crew of early adopters….I don’t think they will be early adopting anytime soon since you have made it clear that you will not hesitate to cut prices weeks after any new major product debut.
Hmmm Steve…I wonder why you sold some of your Apple share days before the announcement of the price drop. I wonder why you were so quick to offer a store credit instead of the $200 rebate that you really should be offering us. (which would be okay if Amex accepts $100 Apple store credits in lieu of payment) it almost seems like this was all premeditated…hey…don’t get me wrong…I am no conspiracy theorists…well, I guess it depends on who you ask.
Project 2050 Inc