Apple Computer, Inc. VS Apple, Inc.

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jayeZERO

New Member
Jul 20, 2007
3
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0
#1
A well loved brand has been changing in recent weeks into a well hated brand. Sadly that brand is none other than Apple and people are reeling. Hopefully this post will clearly explain my personal take about how and why it’s happening.

The Building of a Legendary Brand
Over the years Apple has spent a stunning amount of time and effort building their image around certain core elements.
  • The Art of Design: Apple is revered for their elegance and simplicity of design. Their products are intuitive and designed in such a way that you almost always walk away saying, “wow this better than sliced bread.” If you don’t believe this, you should know that Apple products have had the highest satisfaction ratings of any company in the industry, year after year.
  • Easy Choices: Apple’s hardware and software can be reduced is a single word, easy. If you look at their product line, Apple has only focused on helping customers make the “easy and right choice.” They have 2 types of laptops. Macbooks and Macbook Pros. They only have to types of desktops iMacs and then the higher end Mac Pros. Until recently they have only had 3 iPods. The shuffle, Nano and iPod with Video. Now that the iPod Touch has been release there are only two models which are divided by 8gig and 16gig drive sizes. Now there is only a 8gig iPhone.
Apple reduces the product clutter and the same can be said for their software. This makes them very approachable and friendly. This aspect alone has made them legendary. Consider companies like Dell that have what I call product confusion. There are so many choices that most customers end up feeling confused and as they are walking away with their purchase asking themselves, “did I pick the right system.” When people think about Microsoft’s software in any aspect, most us think “over-weight and bloated.” Contributing to this image is usually very slow loading software, no matter how good your processor is.
  • On Schedule: Remarkably Apple Computer was very good at hitting release dates. When they said something was going to be there, it was there. Now as they have shifted into Apple Inc., you might have noticed that starting with their upcoming release of OS X Leopard, that has ended in dramatic fashion. They look much more like Microsoft than Apple. If you missed it when Tiger was released Steve Jobs made a very specific knock against Microsoft’s Vista and how many delays they had, while in the same cycle we had 3 versions of OS X released.
  • Culture of Cool: Look further back than the Mac and PC TV commercials all the way to the 1984 commercial. Apple Computer oozed coolness, freedom and independence that rivaled the brand identity of Harley Davidson. And like Harley Davidson, in order to be cool it was going to cost you. Such was the price (pun intended) of being elite. Add to that mystique that if you used an Apple product you are somehow more like a renaissance person versus being a lack luster uncreative straight-jacketed PC type person. Hence the reputation of Apple users as being rather “Fanatical” on a certain level.
  • Amazing Customer Service: Apple has been known to have terrific customer service. In times past I and others have had Apple go out of the way to ensure that we where satisfied. Apple Computer’s motivation? Make sure that the positive feeling towards Apple Computer was maintained. It was like dating someone that really respected and cared about you. When you experience that kind of commitment and service, you become very loyal and very in love with the brand. Because of that, you are willing to pay more for that product cause you know that you are going to be getting the very best product but on-going service as well.
  • Steve Jobs as Prophet: In a way, Jobs himself has embodied a reputation that was reserved only for Google. “Do no evil.” Jobs since his reinvention over the years has been thought of as the “Perfect” CEO. Part visionary, detail oriented, unwavering and Oracle (as in the vein of the Matrix). The thought of uttering his name and the word “mistake” in the same sentence would have been unthinkable, prior to Apple Inc.
And the Mighty Has Fallen:
That brand loyalty that Apple took so long to build cultivate is rapidly evaporating. The real question is why? There are actually 3 principle reasons that I have come to.
  • New Players to the Mix: Jobs has been working though an odd relationship with Music, TV, and Movie moguls. These companies are notoriously ruthless and for better or worse are rather unfaithful to those they enter into businesss deals with. On top of this, these guys are the anti-techs because Apple Computer broke into their “closed” system. They have a lot of anxiety related to loss of control within the content distribution channels.
While record companies know that they are pretty universally hated, they are also aware that the people that they have signed are very much loved by their fan base. Fans don’t usually get screwed over by the bands that they are into, but rather the record companies that employ them. Sadly people are kind of used to that reality. This same mentality applies towards TV shows and various movie characters. On the other hand, people are not used to having Apple Computer/Apple Inc. in on the screwing them over part.

Since getting into the wireless telecommunications the problem has only been exacerbated. There are a whole host of issues to contend with and this is counter-intuitive for Apple and their customers.

Heretofore screwing customers over has been repulsive to Steve Jobs. He doesn’t enjoy screwing people over. My suspicion is that the combined pressure of not only the Music industry but also TV, Movie moguls and the Cellular companies has him (probably) off balance. He does not have the same type of leverage that he’s use to.
  • Maintaining the Ecosystem: It might surprise some people, but Job’s himself likes closed systems, just like the industries that he’s dealing with. You don’t believe me? How many music/media players do iPods currently work with? Which is more important, the chicken or the egg, the music, TV show, movie and wireless revenue or the Apple hardware that it can live on? Job’s clearly wants both and conceptually the marriage of content and hardware is a ecosystem that he strongly desires to protect.
This desire for the closed ecosystem is costing Apple Inc, big-time at this point. To everyone’s surprise Steve Job’s has not been his usually smooth self. As a matter of fact, he looks unusually sloppy and awkward.

Jobs sloppiness and current ineptitude has culminated in something known as “firmware update 1.1.1” of all things. Apple willfully rendered a 400 to 600 dollar product inoperable for those who “unlocked” their phones (fortunately I was not one of those people). In point of fact is was kind of an odd way of Apple saying “you don’t own that technology, we do.” On top of that, the update rendered third party applications such as native IM, nice tools like dictionaries as non-working, even on locked phones. That stinks.

This is a ugly move on Apple Inc.’s part because they themselves are not developing the applications that customers desire. In point of fact the iPhone is somewhat weak on the apps side. While there is a lot of coolness there are some nice practical things missing, like simple “cut and paste.” I cannot fathom why there is not Instant Messaging built in. Where’s the Adobe “flash” in the web-browser. One would think that if they closed a door that they would take care of customers themselves. They have terribly fallen down on enhancing the feature set of the iPhone (also I think they probably over gutted the iPod Touch). While the WIFI music store is nice, there are a whole host of apps that I would like to have instead, since I use my iPhone as a productivity tool.

On this point, I think Apple Inc. is making an mistake, because third party applications increase the viability and value of the product. By their current actions, they have actually reduced its usefulness. This makes them look like a bunch of rookies. This is sad, sad, sad.
  • Beyond Core Competency: I think in moving from Apple Computer Inc. to Apple Inc, they have moved outside of their core competency and look rather clumsy, foolish and almost vindictive (e.g. bricked iPhones).
On every positive element that Apple Computer used to help build their brand, Apple Inc. has undermine or undercut themselves and by extension, long-time and short-term Apple product users. It’s painful and extremely disappointing. Does Steve Jobs have plans to turn the boat around? I’m not really sure, since the Apple boat has gotten so big. But I must say like the curse, we are living in interesting times. It’s not enough to just be smart, we also have to be wise.

// Jaye
 

eufo

New Member
Bronze
Aug 22, 2007
67
0
0
Miami
#3
jayeZERO, you made some very great points.

Apple, Inc. has an opportunity right now to not only please its long-time users, but to impress its new users and those of us who have had a very long hiatus from Apple.

I believe the iPhone is/will be a critical link to show the world just what Apple is all about. I've heard it on here and I've told it to people myself; if Apple can impress me enough with this iPhone, I will consider a move back into their computer line. So far, its been lackluster, but I'm going to give them a full year to blow me away.

If their solution is to wait 6 months and buy their new iPhone @ $599, I will walk away for good.
 

Pucho

New Member
Sep 29, 2007
2
0
0
#4
My take on the whole apps thing is the AT&T is extremely concerned about too much data use in their networks. If I had native IM on the phone, I'd be on it all day!
 

DRabbit

New Member
Bronze
Jul 2, 2007
383
0
0
#5
My take on the whole apps thing is the AT&T is extremely concerned about too much data use in their networks. If I had native IM on the phone, I'd be on it all day!
Well you actually bring up a good point. Since some of the apps that were talked about most - at least it seems to me - were IM aps that used data, I think it's more likely that AT&T was unhappy with people finding a way to go around SMS fees. In other phones, at least from what I know, if you used the build-in IM app it counted as texting. That may not be true for all carriers, but I honestly don't know.

If/When we get iChat, it may follow a similar model where IMs count as texting. For those with unlimited texting it doesn't matter (I use AIM-to-SMS on the iPhone already and it requires no modding). For those who don't want to pay for texting/IMing, well it pisses them off.

All speculation of course...

But it does open up the argument of unsupported, untrusted apps to a whole different level of discussion. For example, if a hacker developed an app that was like Limewire and you could WiFi free (illegal) MP3s onto your phone, and sync into your iTunes, it would certainly hurt the WiFi iTunes store financially. It's within Apple's right to protect that interest by closing the "hole" that was allowing these 3rd party hacks/mods to begin with.

Of course, none of this takes into account other arguments like what having unsupport, untrusted software on a device can do to it... introduce new bugs, conflict with the OS and it's security, etc... and the fact that it's not surprising Apple doesn't want, at least for now, those kinds of apps on the iPhone. That's what development kits are all about... creating rules so the software writers don't go mucking up the device and/or creating instability for future firmware updates. Since Apple is still developing it's own software and fixing bugs in the existing software on the iPhone, you could make the argument that it at least makes some sense they haven't opened it up for 3rd party applications yet.
 

wrhutch

Member
Bronze
Jul 9, 2007
457
0
16
Pottsboro Texas
#6
jayeZERO, you made some very great points.

Apple, Inc. has an opportunity right now to not only please its long-time users, but to impress its new users and those of us who have had a very long hiatus from Apple.

I believe the iPhone is/will be a critical link to show the world just what Apple is all about. I've heard it on here and I've told it to people myself; if Apple can impress me enough with this iPhone, I will consider a move back into their computer line. So far, its been lackluster, but I'm going to give them a full year to blow me away.

If their solution is to wait 6 months and buy their new iPhone @ $599, I will walk away for good.
I completly agree with you. Hopefully Apple will now begin serious work on new apps for the iPhone.
 

Pucho

New Member
Sep 29, 2007
2
0
0
#7
I completly agree with you. Hopefully Apple will now begin serious work on new apps for the iPhone.
But see that's the thing, I'm positive we will see new apps for the phone. Hell, i can even see a mini-suite of iWorks, iLife and such for it. But it will always be by Apple, and only by Apple. They have a number of reasons to "limit" the machine, we can only speculate on what those were; but regardless, what they did was really really bad form. I insist, they should at least provide some sort of "fix" if not downright service those phones.
 

jayeZERO

New Member
Jul 20, 2007
3
0
0
#8
The Short version

Way too long to read. Can we get the readers digest version please?
Apple appears to have lost it's direction and is not taking full advantage of their mobile version of OS X. I hope they get back on the stick and get their soul back and bring us some really useful productivity tools in our iPhones.

How's that (lol).
 

iPastor

Member
Bronze
Aug 10, 2007
95
0
6
Virginia
www.myspace.com
#10
Apple appears to have lost it's direction and is not taking full advantage of their mobile version of OS X. I hope they get back on the stick and get their soul back and bring us some really useful productivity tools in our iPhones.

How's that (lol).
While the idealist in me would love to see Apple turn this product rollout to the good, the realist in me says corporate soul is an oxymoron and this will get uglier. When the bottom line becomes the sum of corporate vision then it is a death knell for inovation and originality.

On a personal note while I enjoy my iPhone for what it is, I would like to see this product fulfill its potential, it would seem though that the profit motive is more important than the product motive at this point in time.
 

jayeZERO

New Member
Jul 20, 2007
3
0
0
#11
On a personal note while I enjoy my iPhone for what it is, I would like to see this product fulfill its potential, it would seem though that the profit motive is more important than the product motive at this point in time.
But one would think that with all the added third party application development that that would enhance profitability for the iPhone.

When someone said that ATT is probably worried about all the added data traffic does not make sense to me. They offer plenty of smart phones with that feature IM, video and other data-centric apps created by third party vendors. I cannot figure out for the life of me why they and Apple would want to close the door on development.