Apple’s Present Struggles to Compete with Apple’s Past

by Jeff Wiener on September 12, 2013

We all knew that the torrid pace of expansion and the exponential rate of innovation of the smartphone market couldn’t last, at least we should have known, because the ironclad reality of business is, it never lasts. While smartphones have enjoyed five years in the limelight, with consumers lapping up every new advancement and salivating over every new feature, that blazing youthful passion we all had for this new and exciting market has, unsurprisingly, turned into the slow burn of a maturing relationship.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Apple because of Tuesday’s veritable snooze fest, for while the company’s marketing machine will try to ram the hype down your throat that the  new iPhone 5S and 5C are the greatest inventions since sliced bread, the truth is, there simply wasn’t that much to look at. But again, it’s really hard to compete with Apple, particularly when you are Apple, as everyone will always compare what you’re doing now to the great things you used to do, and that’s a fight a company like Apple simply can’t win.

In fact, with every minutia, every jot and tittle as the ancient saying goes, of the company’s Tuesday release event being scrutinized, analyzed, and reported, what was arguably one of Apple’s most significant product refreshes in years was received with little fanfare, particularly from Wall Street, evidence, as CNET writer Charles Cooper notes, that “smartphones now belong to a maturing industry with little sizzle.”

Following Tuesday’s glitzy over-publicized release event (although even Apple’s ‘glitz’ seems to have lost a thing or two) the response from Wall Street was a veritable ‘shrug,’ the company’s share prices dropping by 2 percent. While Apple’s stock had seen consistent gains leading up to the event, as the market saying goes, “buy on the rumour, sell on the news.”

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple’s two newest smartphones were somehow deficient or disappointing, quite the contrary actually, they just didn’t satisfy both the market’s and the consumer’s insatiable desire for something new, something edgy, and thus what were two fairly strong offerings seemed lacklustre, blasé, and boring. Simply put, both the iPhone 5S and 5C are strong upgrades, but they’re not spectacular innovation.

But again, the fault of a such a negative perception around these two phones lies not with the phones themselves, representing strong upgrades to the company’s iPhone line, but with the marketing machine itself, as not only were all the rumours leading up to the event absolutely spot-on (I think we all knew what to expect), but that anything that could have added a little sizzle to the release was noticeably absent: no mention of wearable technology or Apple TV.

Further, Apple’s marketing for these two devices has been so over-the-top that its really hard to take them seriously, as bandying around words like “absolutely beautiful,” “incredible” and “brilliant” about devices that are truthfully nothing more than strong upgrades smacks of desperation, not innovation.

So here’s a bit of advice for Apple, particularly if the company plans to continue these annual incremental upgrades: lose the over-the-top release event, lose the propaganda-fueled  marketing campaign, and lose the desperate need to spark fiery passion in our hearts. Just because your phones don’t have the ability to WOW us like they used to doesn’t mean they’re not quality products, but your stubborn refusal to recognize that our relationship with our smartphones has evolved into a mature slow burn comes off as desperate, immature, and more than a bit annoying. At least that’s how I see it.

{ 3 trackbacks }

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