05
May 15

One day they’ll understand Apple

Well, okay. Maybe that headline was a bit too optimistic. Let me re-phrase:

They will never understand Apple. Ever.

I suppose we can just chalk it up to human behavior. As the original Macintosh team at Apple liked to say, it’s more fun to be the pirates than the navy. In Star Wars terms, one could say it’s more fun to be the rebels than the Empire.

Given the size of the company today, Apple can easily be seen as both the navy and the Empire. So I get why the sport of finding the cracks in Apple’s armor is so popular.

That said, I remain amazed that so many fail to grasp how Apple thinks and behaves — though they’ve seen the same scenario play out time after time.

One very good example appeared last week in the international edition of USA Today under the headline, “For now, Apple’s in the sweet spot.”

Here, writer Jon Swartz talks about how great things look for Apple at this moment in time — but then warns that Apple “will go soft” just like IBM did years ago.

At least he’s consistent. In October 2012, he wrote another USA Today article titled “Year after Jobs’ death, how high can Apple fly?” With Apple at the top of its game at that moment, Jon focused on the darkness ahead.

Yes, with nearly three years’ worth of wrongness under his belt, Jon dusted himself off and charged once again into the abyss.

The truth is, being wrong about Apple’s future often stems from being wrong about Apple’s past. If you can’t appreciate what led to past successes, it’s tough to see the future ones.

Remember all the negative articles written about Apple in the quiet years leading up to last fall’s introduction of iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch?

The common theme was that Apple had forgotten how to innovate. Samsung was crowned the new king. It was an easy story to tell, because Steve Jobs was gone.

Poor, directionless Apple. All those inventive designers and engineers, taking long lunches and wandering the halls aimlessly without leadership.

That idea, of course, was absurd. The only “proof” offered was that Apple had failed to deliver a new revolution three years after iPad. And that was meaningless, given that Steve Jobs himself took six years to launch iPhone after the revolution of iPod. Yet, with such stories proliferating, more and more people started to believe them.

Fortunately, it all becomes clear in hindsight.

Now we know there was a ton of work going on at Apple during The Period Of Great Whining. Possibly more than at any time in Apple’s history. Now we have new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch.

To me, this just says that Apple is doing a very good job of being Apple. Its mission is to create products that people can fall in love with. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a timetable for such things.

More important, we can now see how Apple’s pace of innovation worked out to the advantage of both the company and its customers.

It was way back in 2011 that NFC first appeared in mobile phones. Apple remained silent, and iPhone remained NFC-less. To many, this was evidence that Apple was not only becoming sluggish as an innovator — it was now officially falling behind.

As Tim Cook once explained, Apple enters a category only when it feels it has something special to offer. In this case, that something special was Apple Pay. This not only required imaginative engineering, it required winning the hearts of the major credit card companies, banks and retailers.

A me-too NFC capability could have happened years earlier. But it would not have been an Apple-quality solution. It would have diminished the Apple brand. What we got in the end was simpler, more secure, and more lovable.

Apple Watch is another good example.

Samsung introduced its Galaxy Gear watch in fall of 2013, about two years one year before the Apple Watch was unveiled. To someone who doesn’t understand Apple, this was simply more evidence that Apple was no longer the leader.

From our vantage point in the future, we see that Apple was simply doing what it’s always done. It was entering an existing market and taking its time to create something that truly stands apart.

With the Gear Watch, Samsung did an excellent job of proving it isn’t Apple. Determined to beat its competitor to market, Samsung did the obvious — it shrunk the phone to wrist size, complete with camera. To them, it was nothing more than a technology challenge.

Apple, on the other hand, did a good job of proving it isn’t Samsung. As it had done with iPod, iPhone and iPad before, Apple studied the category and imagined how great design and functionality could reinvent it. Understanding that watches are both fashion and technology, it developed — and hired — accordingly. Apple Pay was also a critical part of the concept.

So, yes, Apple really was two years behind Samsung in the watch department. And when all the parts came together, it leaped far ahead — where it will likely remain for some time to come.

Is there a moral to this story?

Indeed. And it’s one of the oldest ones in the book. That is: things aren’t always what they seem.

Apple is actually one of the most consistent companies on earth. When you’re puzzled by its behavior in the present, it can be very clarifying to just look at the past.

It’s easy to do — even if many critics seem unable to do it.

  • Bart

    It’s truely amazing to see how every one of your responses just gets more pathetic and desperate, especially considering they started out that way with your original grammar whining.

    Do you think I care what delusion you have next? But, somehow it will even more juvenile and sophomoric than the last.

  • AC88

    “Do you think I care what delusion you have next? No, I just no it will be somehow mor juvenile and sophomoric than the last one.”

    you “just no”? it “will be somehow mor juvenile”?

    Yeah, don’t give up on those ESL classes.

    HAHAHA!

  • But there is a difference: the Apple Watch sucks. The iPad didn’t.

  • Magnificent

    “I only buy products that innovate”
    and
    “I personally do not own something I can call innovative at the moment, though I own both Apple and other devices.”

    That doesn’t sound logical to me !?
    Or maybe you didn’t pay your devices :-)

  • Ray

    Can you provide some data supporting your assertion about Spotify?

    60M+ users with 15M+ paying a monthly subscription and growing

    http://www.statista.com/statistics/244995/number-of-paying-spotify-subscribers/

  • Bart

    What, another grammar rant? Dude, get help.

  • Ray

    Thanks for your very thoughtful feedback, it’s refreshing to be able to have an intelligent conversation on the Internet, usually overflowing with trolls.

    There are two reasons why Galaxy S5 sales have plummeted in the last two quarters:

    1) Galaxy S5 is just not a great product (at least as good as S2 or S3 were at their time)

    2) Apple finally increased the size of their phones to compete with the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines, which until then had almost no competition at the high end of larger screen smartphones.

    Note though that Samsung has surpassed again Apple in Q1:
    http://venturebeat.com/2015/04/28/samsung-takes-back-global-smartphone-sales-crown-from-apple-in-q1-2015/

    And in Q2 the Galaxy S6 went on sale, getting great reviews, and selling much better than the S5:
    “sexiest phone ever, backed up by a blazing-fast performance, stunning display and top-notch cameras”
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/samsung-galaxy-s6-edge,review-2711.html

    I agree that customers are not as loyal to Galaxy as to iPhone. Now, the reasons for this could be multiple. First there are many Android phones, many consumers who buy Galaxy buy it because it is the best Android phone available. Second, the ecosystem lock is more to the Android ecosystem, not the Galaxy ecosystem. Most Android phones use compatible connectors (micro USB ports for instance), data saved in Google’s cloud, etc. So it is easy to change to another brand within Android while keeping the same accessories, and contacts and apps data Third, Apple simply has a stronger brand and consumer awareness than any other phone manufacturer. There are many reasons for this:

    – they are an American company (note that the top 6 brands in the world are American, the first non-American brand is… Samsung at #7). Global media is dominated by American media (think CNN, Bloomberg, WSJ, etc.) so American brands have an in-built advantage as they have more presence globally
    http://www.bestglobalbrands.com/2014/ranking/

    – they had a charismatic founder that was able to rally talented people to build innovative products (the original iPhone being the best example)

    – they mastered doing key product launches as big events

    – for the reasons above they get free advertisement in news programs every time they release a product

    Regarding the watch, I hope it is truly revolutionary as you mention. I’ve seen it, tried it, and don’t feel anything remotely similar to what I felt when I saw the original iPhone for the first time. It’s still unclear to me what is the value proposition. What is your opinion?
    As a watch, it sucks (the screen switches off and you need to lift your arm, sometimes artificially, to check the time). Having another device to charge every day also turns me off.

  • Ray

    Thanks octy for your thoughtful reply too.

    It depends on what you consider disruptive, it is a very subjective term. I think the only product that can be considered disruptive in the mobile industry in the last decade is the original iPhone. Everything else (both iOS and Android) is evolutionary in my opinion. Improvements here and there in quality, features and design with every generation. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a better display, better camera, better processor and better looks than the iPhone 6. Not just my opinion, but the experts’:
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/samsung-galaxy-s6-edge,review-2711.html

    Whether that will make consumers switch? It depends, the ones that are very emotionally attached to Apple, they won’t. The ones that are not emotionally attached probably will. Why would you want to buy a phone inferior in so many dimensions, unless you are either emotionally attached to a brand, or are locked-in to the ecosystem due to a large investment in apps and accessories?

    I do agree that Apple doesn’t target all customers, just a segment that prefers simplicity of choice. And I think you nail it when you say that “Apple locks its customers in by giving them enough arguments to feel happy about themselves choosing Apple products”

    Apple does produce an emotional attachment to their brand, and this is exactly why I avoid getting sucked in. Because once you have an emotional attachment to a brand, you start making irrational choices, like choosing products blindly, without considering the pros and cons of different options, without checking out other brands and possibilities, whether the price is right, whether you will have to throw away expensive connectors that are made incompatible, etc. That’s exactly what Apple wants, to maximize your willingness-to-pay and therefore their profits, and they have been very successful with a certain consumer segment.

    Personally, I prefer to keep my product selection as rational as possible. I will try to choose the product that provides the best features (to me) per dollar, without defaulting to any particular brand. If the best product in a given moment is Apple’s, I will buy Apple. If it’s not, I will buy something else. The quality of products varies over time for any brand, even more in the dynamic tech industry, and therefore sticking always to one brand is by default sub-optimal. Especially when a brand charges always a larger-than-needed margin in their products, taking the money from the wallet of its customers and “fans”… to do what? Hoard $170B+ in cash, build massive UFO-like campuses for their central planning committee, flush it executives with ridiculous pay packages (Angela Ahrendts – $82M last year, Jony Ive… who knows how much) so that they can keep and extend their lavish lifestyles.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/05/apple-angela-ahrendts-pay-list

    http://www.funkyspacemonkey.com/jony-ives-car-collection

    No thanks. I prefer to pay that money to brands that charge a reasonable margin, enough to sustain their business and invest in R&D and the development of their employees.

  • Ray

    Regarding Apple’s strategy of focusing in very few products, ksegall, as any strategy it has its advantages and disadvantages, and hence ways to attack for competitors.

    Pros:

    – Simpler to coordinate product design, marketing, launch, maintenance, etc.

    – Lower costs to produce (diversity of product lines, particularly in manufacturing, is expensive due to the needs of customization of production lines, retooling, etc.) -> higher margins

    -etc.

    Cons:

    – Leaves many consumer needs unfulfilled. Any product specification has trade-offs, and the choices made at that stage define the customer segments that will not be fully satisfied.

    – Leaves many pricing points available to competitors (if pricing high, competitors can undercut; if pricing low, competitors can produce more premium products)

    – Low possibility of synergies among product lines (e.g. Apple cannot leverage synergies with living room or kitchen devices since it does not make those)

    -etc.

    Competitors of Apple just need to find consumer needs that are not fulfilled by Apple (given the tradeoff choices Apple makes when producing a single iPhone model). There are many possibilities: phones with removable batteries, with larger or smaller displays, with additional SD cards, with faster-charging batteries, with wireless charging, with curved displays, with ruggedized exterior for business or sports, with Hello Kitty exterior, with alternative OSs (Windows, Cyanogen), with lower price points for simple usage, with large buttons for elderly or kids, with better frontal camera for high quality selfies, with physical zoom in the main camera, with better speakers, with better processor/RAM for gamers, with keyboard for Blackberry users, flip phones with foldable displays, etc.

    Essentially Apple strategy by definition leaves a lot of space for a myriad of competitors to experiment and find new use cases and consumer preferences. Let’s not forget that Samsung found via experimentation the segment of consumers that prefers larger phones, not Apple. If it was for Apple, those consumers will have always remained unsatisfied. So once the pent-up demand for the larger iPhone is satisfied, Android will start once again finding new customer niches and growing its user base. Essentially Apple’s strategy is designed to command a relatively small market share over the long run in any product category once it matures. It happened with their PCs in the 80s and 90s, it’s happening with the iPhone and already with the iPad as well. Because of economies of scale, the ecosystem tilts towards the platform that has larger scale. As an ilustration, Android is already generating more total revenue for developers than iOS because of sheer scale:
    http://recode.net/2015/05/07/android-starting-to-pull-past-ios-in-generating-revenue-for-app-developers/

    Again, this is only reversible with disruptive innovations that create new product categories.

  • Ray

    Yes, it is lagging.

    Samsung has a 14nm processor, manufactured by themselves. It’s around 30% more power efficient than 20nm.

    This is why Apple have had to swallow their pride and come back to Samsung to produce the processor for their next iPhone.
    http://recode.net/2015/02/04/apple-taps-samsung-to-manufacture-next-iphone-chip/

    Btw, the Anandtech tests that you provided for some reason do not include the Samsung flagship phone (Note 4) that was released around the same time as the iPhone 6. They compare the iPhone with older Samsung S5 and S4 phones.

  • Ray

    The iPhone 6 is behind in performance, the combination of a CPU that is lagging and low memory underpowered CPU in low efficiency 20nm (Samsung processor is at 14nm already). It does well in single thread but not in real use cases. Yes, the iPhone is optimized but there are some limits to what you can do. Having one third of RAM and a processor with less cores in an older node is just too much of a disadvantage for the iPhone.

    Here is a benchmark testing the iPhone and three Android flagships. Performance of Galaxy S6 is almost twice (and at lower energy consumption).

    http://media.bestofmicro.com/F/O/495636/original/GeekbenchGalaxyS6Edge.png

    Here is the full article
    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/samsung-galaxy-s6-edge,review-2711.html

    This is a real use test case opening many apps. Galaxy S6 is faster:
    http://bgr.com/2015/03/30/galaxy-s6-vs-iphone-6-speed-test-video/

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  • sk

    but the only product that will and has made money for apple is iPhone. Makes 85% of the profit and 65% of revenues. The timing was perfect with the iphone everyone needed cell phones . Just like what happen to MSFT. Having a mkt cap of 750billion and expecting that the other products will match iPhone sales and profits is not going to happen. iPhone sales are projected to decline from this qtr and none of the other products will makeup for the iPhone sales decline. Also since phone companies are removing subsides for phones people will no longer be buying iPhones every 2 years so slow down is inevitable.

    Other issues with company for investors are EU fines in billions, legal issues with pat. Infringement. Gobal taxes initiatives will put a dent on cash, currency losses with cash held abroad. Cheap smartphones mkt just picking up so cells are going to get cheaper and the they will like become a utility item for people and no one will care what phone they have.

    I think the author does not have enough knowledge to write the articles in a more balanced manner for his readers. Is he been bribed to write this article?

  • Ray

    Regarding Apple’s strategy of focusing in very few products, @ksegall:disqus , as any strategy it has its advantages and disadvantages, and hence ways to attack for competitors.

    Pros:
    – Simpler to coordinate product design, marketing, launch, maintenance, etc.
    – Lower costs to produce (diversity of product lines, particularly in manufacturing, is expensive due to the needs of customization of production lines, retooling, etc.) -> higher margins
    -etc.

    Cons:
    – Leaves many consumer needs unfulfilled. Any product specification has trade-offs, and the choices made at that stage define the customer segments that will not be fully satisfied.
    – Leaves many pricing points available to competitors (if pricing high, competitors can undercut; if pricing low, competitors can produce more premium products)
    – Low possibility of synergies among product lines (e.g. Apple cannot leverage synergies with living room or kitchen devices since it does not make those and does not have control over their roadmaps)
    – Lack of essential building blocks such as semiconductors and display products, which are key to differentiate at the device level. Apple has to shop what is available in the market and whatever companies like Samsung, state-of-the-art component makers and IP owners, let them buy. This is why Apple analyst Horace Dediu suggested that Apple should buy Intel, because Apple is seriously handicapped when it comes to hardware, it cannot compete with leading hardware companies such as Samsung or LG. Its smartphones keep falling behind at the hardware level; they try to compensate via software, but at the end of the day there is only that much that software can accomplish.
    -etc.

    Because of these weak points of Apple’s strategy, competitors of Apple just need to find consumer needs that are not fulfilled by Apple (given the tradeoff choices Apple makes when producing a single iPhone model). There are many possibilities: phones with removable batteries, with larger or smaller displays, with additional SD cards, with faster-charging batteries, with wireless charging, with curved displays, with ruggedized exterior for business or sports, with Hello Kitty exterior, with alternative OSs (Windows, Cyanogen), with lower price points for simple usage, with large buttons for elderly or kids, with better frontal camera for high quality selfies, with physical zoom in the main camera, with better speakers, with better processor/RAM for gamers, with keyboard for Blackberry users, flip phones with foldable displays, etc.

    Essentially Apple strategy by definition leaves a lot of space for a myriad of competitors to experiment and find new use cases and consumer preferences. Let’s not forget that Samsung found via experimentation the segment of consumers that prefers larger phones, not Apple. If it was for Apple, those consumers will have always remained unsatisfied. So once the pent-up demand for the larger iPhone is satisfied, Android will start once again finding new customer niches and growing its user base. Essentially Apple’s strategy is designed to command a relatively small market share over the long run in any product category once it matures. It happened with their PCs in the 80s and 90s, it’s happening with the iPhone and already with the iPad as well. Because of economies of scale, the ecosystem tilts towards the platform that has larger scale. As an ilustration, Android is already generating more total revenue for developers than iOS because of sheer scale:
    http://recode.net/2015/05/07/android-starting-to-pull-past-ios-in-generating-revenue-for-app-developers/

    Again, this is only reversible with disruptive innovations that create new product categories. The smartwatch is an attempt, but so far Apple hasn’t proved that it has provided meaningful innovation to make this product category a long-term success. The Apple Watch seems a mediocre product as a watch (just like most other smartwatches), and has too much functionality that is not really relevant for such a small form factor, not even being intuitive as Apple products usually are.

    https://medium.com/@brianscates/lets-be-honest-smart-watches-are-dumb-ec3b2bdb0d73

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  • Robert Bird

    A lot of people forget that Apple very nearly went out of business in the time before the iPod 3G and iPhone. Microsoft bailed them out (really, right). They ported Office to Mac and made a deal that saw them giving, if I’m remembering correctly, about 400 million dollars to Apple.

    Interestingly, at the time, my thought was that they absolutely didn’t want to port Office to Linux and they were trying to avoid the worst of the monopoly remedies being considered. Apple was less than 10% of the market and definitely weren’t giving it away (unlike Linux).

    Apple is not a miracle company. Eventually the same thing will happen to them as to every other company. They will become too invested in the status quo to adapt. It could take a while though.

  • Nameless Coward

    Microsoft did not bail them out, it was never presented by both parties as such, was it? It was about creating confidence in Apple,
    burying the battle ax. Look it up.

  • ksegall

    You’re only half remembering :)

    One of the first things Steve Jobs did upon returning to Apple was “bury the hatchet” with Microsoft. Apple had a lawsuit in the courts against Microsoft for stealing the Mac look and feel with Windows — and Steve didn’t want Apple to have that distraction when they were fighting for survival.

    The deal was: Microsoft invests $150 million in Apple and pledges to support Microsoft Office on the Macintosh platform for five years into the future. Office for Macintosh had existed for many years previously.

  • ksegall

    And thank you for your thoughtful comments! It is fun to debate with someone who isn’t screaming. (Even though you’re wrong :)

    I don’t disagree with some of your points. I do disagree with the way you assess “why Apple has succeeded.” You touch on some of the most important reasons, but in a very offhand way.

    By far, the biggest reason for Apple’s success is that they make amazing products. They enter a category that has no clear leader and basically “show them how it’s done.” At which point the competitors start copying. Apple’s specialty has become “making products that people can fall in love with,” which takes an awful lot of technology skill and understanding of human beings. The fact that Apple could “instantly” create the iPad when Microsoft was struggling to popularize the tablet for ten years before is an indication of how difficult it is.

    It’s because Apple has revolutionized so many categories that each new product gets more buzz and anticipation (basically free advertising) than the one before. In other words, they have “earned” the free advertising. Again, extremely difficult to do. In fact, I don’t know of any company that has ever been able to do this like Apple has.

    As an ad guy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had former colleagues describe marketing meetings with clients who want to “create buzz like Apple.” This isn’t something you can create overnight. It requires a track record. Running a clever ad won’t do it. That Apple is able to do it product after product is simply amazing.

    The overall strategy of how to move forward, one step at a time from the near-bankruptcy of 1997, was a particular strength of Steve Jobs. He knew he was investing in the future with every product, and that’s why he insisted on only the highest quality for every element of a new product, from hardware and software to marketing and retail. He knew that what he was building was a cumulative effect. He was uncompromising in these things, and was a master of marketing — understanding that secrecy, and inviting a select few “friendly” journalists behind the scenes, and having an amazing product, all combined to create the buzz effect. It’s estimated that Apple gets many millions of dollars’ worth of free advertising with every new product. You can be sure that other companies are extremely jealous of this. But for the most part, they just don’t have what Apple has. They have to work a lot harder, and spend more, and still not have the same effect.

    Re: the Watch. I’m actually surprised that people are debating whether it will be a hit. Right now, very few people actually have one, and the ones who do seem to be enthralled. This is in contrast to the bloggers who feel compelled to offer their wisdom and find fault. Obviously, there are many things that will improve over time, as was the case with iPhone. But the 1.0 product is pretty seductive.

    Obviously, it didn’t do a great job of seducing you, but it worked well on me. Just trying on the demo models started to get me hooked. And what little I’ve seen of an actual working model on a friend has my inner fanboy aching to have one. In theory, I’ll have mine sometime next week and I’ll be able to give you a more informed opinion.

    Many who criticize the Watch make a similar point to yours. Is there a compelling reason to own one? Is there a killer app? Stuff like that. Clearly these are the very first days for a new platform and thousands more apps are coming. Apps that live in the watch are the speedy ones, and we haven’t even seen those yet. They’re supposedly “coming soon.”

    I agree with one opinion I read that the killer app of Apple Watch isn’t necessarily an app at all — it’s convenience. That’s the whole idea of wearable technology, making information available more quickly, with less effort. One analogy used is that of the information display in a car. By putting a mini-display on the dashboard directly in front of the driver, it minimizes the time one has to look to the display in the center console. Same thing with information that is projected onto the windshield. None of it is “new” information — it’s just presented in a way that is more immediate and requires much less effort. I think that’s a trend that will continue for many years to come, and wearable technology is an example of that.

    Of course, the real challenge is to create a product that does all that, but also gets people to fall in love with it. Time will tell, but I sure wouldn’t bet against the Apple Watch.

    Let’s see how it all works out. I’ll meet you back here in a few months, when there is more data available.

  • ksegall

    You weren’t replying to me, but I can’t resist jumping in with a couple of reactions.

    First, I don’t agree with your statement that Apple appeals to people who like simplicity of choice. Obviously, that’s one part of it, but that assessment overlooks the biggest reason people choose Apple products: they’re very easy to fall in love with. Apple has been extremely good at creating products that strike such a chord in people. You seem to talk about people’s emotional attachment to Apple as if it is something to be wary of, and to resist. But, for a great many people, it’s makes them feel happy with their choice. Steve Jobs was extremely big on the “love” factor. He knew that the customer experience was what keeps people coming back, and evangelizing to others.

    And do not fear your emotional attachment! I hope you don’t apply the same standards to your personal relationships. When you’re emotionally attached, you probably do make some irrational decisions, but you’ll be a far happier person having those kinds of attachments. I like feeling an emotional attachment to technology, just as I like feeling that attachment to cars. Emotionally, I feel great about the car I drive, and I always buy the same make. Rationally, I get that other cars might offer more for the money, but I just love the feeling I get from my car. Because I have that emotional attachment, I really don’t even care to look at other cars when I buy. You can say I’m not being sensible, that other cars might make me happier, and to a degree you’d be right. But that doesn’t make me any less happy, and I’m a very happy driver. This is the power of brands.

    So when you lay out all the rational reasons why you aren’t interested in being sucked into an emotional relationship with Apple, I get it. I’m sure there that many people share your feelings. But people who have an emotional investment in their technology have a point of view that’s every bit as valid as yours. And Apple’s very successful business model is in appealing to those who appreciate, and get attached to, the many different parts of the Apple experience.

    I understand that for many people, buying a product is more of a rational decision. It’s about value for the dollar, getting the most features, etc. And you’re right that there are a great many choices out there to be weighed. Maybe it’s because I’m too close to the industry, or that I have a history with Apple, but I look at it differently.

    When I buy a product, I feel like I’m voting. I think it’s important to reward companies that do the inventing and revolutionizing, and not those that do the copying. I get that when someone walks into the phone store today, they see the wall-full of choices that are available at this moment. Understandably, the last thing on their mind is who invented what, and I don’t fault them for that. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of technology. But we all know that the original Android phone design looked like a Blackberry (http://bit.ly/1zVPgrK). We all know that the tablet makers didn’t have a clue about what people wanted until Apple created the iPad. And we’ll all be shocked if the next generation of Samsung watches doesn’t look a lot more like Apple Watch. So, yes, I do get that there are more feature-rich products out there today, but since I was raised in a creative business, I’m trained to appreciate originality. Like I say, I’m fine with the fact that the majority does not think like I do. But with my purchase, I vote for the company whose values most closely reflect my own.

  • ksegall

    Again, I agree with many of your points, but not others.

    Yes, of course, Apple leaves many openings for competitors to offer things it does not. As we’ve discussed, Apple is not interested in creating everything for everybody — it focuses on doing a few things, but doing them in a way that is extremely alluring.

    However, I don’t see “a low possibility of synergies among product lines.” The signs of Apple’s interest in the connected home have been more than evident. I will be very surprised if major announcements don’t come in the next year or two. This will be in keeping with Apple’s way of entering a market with existing solutions and offering a better thought-out product.

    Most of all, I strongly disagree with your suggestion that if was was up to Apple, consumers would have remained unsatisfied for lack of bigger phones. You make it sound like Apple creates a product, digs in its heels, and will only change when forced to. That’s just not the way Apple works. Apple is always looking to improve upon its offerings, and does so when it sees that market conditions call for it.

    The bigger phones happened for the same reason that the smaller iPad was developed. Apple started a product revolution with its first model, and then, as you say, other companies started looking for ways to carve out a market in certain areas where Apple was weak. That’s good business for them. What’s good business for Apple is to understand market trends, and when they see that there is a potentially big market for a different kind of product (and the danger of customers being stolen away in large numbers by a competitor), they act.

    As I think I’ve said elsewhere, I remain stunned that it took Apple so long to come out with a bigger phone, as it was pretty darn obvious that there was a market for it. Samsung was indeed eating Apple’s lunch in this area.

    I cannot conceive of Apple “holding out” and not making a bigger phone for reasons of pride or arrogance. One day, I hope we’ll be enlightened as to exactly what did happen. The slides you shared recently from the Apple v. Samsung trial, in which Apple says “Customers want what we don’t have,” do indeed offer an insight into how Apple works. But I think it actually supports my contention that there was some reason that forced Apple’s delay. That slide was part of a marketing presentation. It says very clearly that Apple knew it was lacking, and the marketers needed to factor this into the advertising plan until the “problem” went away. I’m assuming that behind the scenes, Apple was working on the bigger phones, but understood that the solution was not coming immediately. The slide did not say “We’re failing to give customers what they want, and dammit, we’re sticking to our guns on this one.”

    Last, about your point that Android is now generating more revenue for developers than iOS. Research does show that iOS owners spend more on apps than Android owners, but yes, by sheer quantity of Android phones, that advantage may not last long. I only caution that the article you cite is the result of just one report. Every time one of these research companies comes out with a report, it is picked up everywhere as “news” — even though most of these things are simply part of the research company’s PR plan. Happens all the time with reports about security threats in the OS X and iOS worlds. This one report seemed to spread far and wide rather quickly, and, given that it runs contrary to the popular belief, it was indeed news. Just two weeks before that report was released, however, the “app store analytics firm” App Annie released its report (http://bit.ly/1zSYtkf) showing quite the opposite. This report, seemingly confirming what most people already know, didn’t spread like news of the other report. So … the truth is a bit fuzzy here.

  • ksegall

    I’ve been caught. Yes, I’m a paid supporter of Apple, but not in the way you imagine. I’m paid because I invested in Apple stock in 1998, and my investment has gone up over 4,000% since. I hope your beliefs have led you to invest in equally profitable companies.

    You, my friend, are a perfect example of the reason I wrote this article. You will never understand Apple. And that’s because you’re determined to rationalize its success as if it were some kind of fluke. One day all this “good luck” will run out.

    Critics have said these things about Apple since the iMac was launched in 1998. That’s a whole lot of wrongness.

    In your head, iPhone’s success must somehow rationalized. It couldn’t be that Apple created an amazing product, revolutionized a huge global category, and inspired the entire industry to copy it. Or that Apple understands what it means to build a beautiful customer experience. No, to you, it was because the “timing was perfect.”

    No doubt the success of iPod, iTunes, iPad was equally unearned. As will be the success of Apple Pay and Apple Watch.

    And if you really see the emergence of cheap smartphones as a danger to iPhone sales, you understand Apple even less than I thought. Apple has never, and will never, make cheap products for the mass market. It targets a niche that will always exist, and will always be the most profitable. It creates premium products for premium customers.

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  • Ray

    ksegall, It’s interesting because you actually admit that you choose Apple products because of an emotional attachment, ignoring competing products, even if Apple might be falling behind the competition with inferior products. For how long will you do that?

    I disagree completely on your point about brands. Emotional attachment to a brand is definitely something consumers should be wary of and resist.

    The job of the head of Marketing of any consumer product company is exactly that: get consumers attached emotionally to their brand, so that they act irrationally and don’t make objective choices, prioritizing always products of its brand regardless of product merits or the specific consumer needs.

    “Steve Jobs was extremely big on the “love” factor”. Of course, any marketing manager in a consumer products company knows that consumer emotions can sell more. If consumers love your brand, they’ll ignore the weaknesses of your products and will be willing to pay more and pay repeatedly for your products. Steve was a very skilled manipulator, the events to present his new products are a great example of that. He presented features and technologies that already existed in the industry as if they were new and great. He knew most consumers lack that technical knowledge so he could get away with that.

    CPG companies are masters at this kind of emotional manipulation, because their products are difficult to compare technically. Therefore, they essentially rely on
    advertisement, brand association with celebrities, packaging, retail experience and other tricks to get consumers attached emotionally to their brands. Procter & Gamble (Gillette, Oral-B, Tide, Duracell, Pantene, etc.), Coca-Cola (Coke, Sprite, Powerade,etc.), Pepsico (Pepsi, Lays, Tropicana, etc.), Unilever (Axe, Dove, Magnum, etc.), they are all masters at this game.

    Consumer Electronics companies (just like automotive companies) produce high-tech products so it is not so easy for brands to confuse consumers, at least not all
    consumers. There are plenty of measurable technical specifications (pixels, dB, power, etc.), obvious product attributes (size, shape, color, materials, design, etc.), and reviews in specialized media (CNET, Toms Hardware, etc.) to cut through the marketing noise and provide objective comparisons along multiple dimensions that matter to consumers. You can probably give credit to Steve as one of the industry leaders who brought the emotional manipulation of the CPG industry into electronics. Not sure a merit to be very proud of.

    Of course I don’t apply the same standards with personal relationships because there is a big difference. A brand DOES NOT LOVE YOU BACK. In fact, it doesn’t care that you exist, unless you send them money, in which case it might provide you some temporary enjoyment (new product or service), so that you send them money again in the future. A brand is essentially a group of people trying to maximize profits in its given industry by providing some kind of product or service. If it’s successful, it gets to continue maximizing its profits. If it’s not, it goes bankrupt and disappears, letting other companies that are better at maximizing profits take over their market share.

    The fact that you chose a car only based on the brand is definitely something I would not be proud of. I don’t understand your justification: “This is the power of brands”. This is exactly the “power of sects” as well. They provide “happiness” as long as you are loyal to them and conform to their way of living and thinking. Dare not to pay your dues, and you will learn how (not) reciprocal their love is.

    “When I buy a product, I feel like I’m voting. I think it’s important to reward companies that do the inventing”. If that was the case, you would be buying Motorola handsets, a company that has actually invented many of the wireless technologies that you have in your iPhone. Or Samsung, which has invented many of the essential technologies that you enjoy on your iPhone too and is a global leader in invention patents granted:
    http://www.statista.com/statistics/278790/number-of-us-patents-held-by-tech-companies/

    Believe me, there are many other inventive companies besides Apple. I know it seems hard to believe as an Apple fan. But there are. And many. And some of them are even more inventive.

    I have already acknowledged that the iPhone was a great innovation, and I give great credit to Apple for that. I think this is the best product they ever created, that truly revolutionized the mobile industry. But they started developing this product a decade ago. The iPad is essentially a large iPhone, utilizing same basic innovations (capacitive touch screen, virtual keyboard, same app store) so it wasn’t revolutionary in the same way. They’ve been coasting on the iPhone innovation for many years already, with its star product already falling behind the competition for the last 3-4 years.

    Case in point: the iPhone frontal camera has a whopping resolution of 1.2 Megapixels, in the age of selfies (are we in 2010??). This is another example of poor product management choices, Apple reacting to the market needs too late (just like their reluctance to increase their display size) . I understand that Megapixels are not the only quality measure for a camera, and Apple keeps repeating that over and over to justify some of their poor choices for a supposedly “premium” smartphone that costs $700+. I know Apple fans will also agree that 1MP is enough. Hey, you have to cope with your emotional choice and “be happy” until the next iPhone with a better frontal camera is out, right?

    Btw, did you know that Samsung and Sharp invented the phone with a camera? Have you ever given credit to them?
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/camera-phone-history/

    I don’t think you’re a fan of technology, you’re a fan of Apple as you have admitted. If you were a fan of technology you would buy the best technology available. Instead you admit to buy Apple products even when they are inferior, because you are connected emotionally to Apple. Apple is a good company at integration, design and marketing, but it does not create most of the basic inventions that it monetizes with its products. It didn’t invent the microprocessor as we know it today (Intel), it didn’t invent the graphical UI computer (Xerox), it didn’t invent the cell phone (Motorola, Ericsson), etc. Apple has leveraged and copied many competitors, just like they have copied Apple as well. Typically the least successful competitor copies the most successful competitor, this is a normal dynamic. For example, it was comical to see Tim Cook on stage saying that he had been waiting all his life to be able to make a call from his wrist. Well, he didn’t have to wait that long, that was possible already a year earlier with his competitors’ products.

    Apple, just like any other company, borrows from its competitors, and takes cheap shots at them as well in their marketing.
    1) Of course Apple has leveraged the knowledge gathered by its competitors in the wearable space to design the Apple Watch, it is quite obvious. Interchangeable straps, square design, touch screen, glance-able notifications, ability to take calls, heart rate monitoring, fitness companion, all launched and available in the market already.
    http://www.android.com/wear/

    I’m actually quite disappointed because I thought Apple was going to launch something truly different as they did with the iPhone, but they haven’t. Essentially their watch seems to have the same basic flaws that other smart watches already in the market, plus the strange flaw (for Apple) of adding too many features and making the UX confusing. Waiting for app developers to see if they can fix this.

    2) Tim Cook loves to talk on stage about the malware that invades Android. Cheap fear-mongering: don’t leave the Apple ecosystem or a world of insecurity awaits out there, great propaganda in case you thought of switching! Don’t ever think of leaving safe communist Russia for a crime-ridden democratic Western world! It’s just gets so silly. I’ve used Android for several years and haven’t had a single problem with viruses or malware. Not a single problem, I guess I must be very lucky living in dangerous Android country and not getting mugged!

    I’d say that because you were raised in a “creative” business, you probably appreciate superficial originality (design-related) but don’t appreciate enough technological originality (scientific-related), the one that takes years of R&D efforts, massive capital and human resource investment, years of experimentation in a lab, trial and error and all the effort associated.

    Also, there is a happy middle between being an Apple fan, that will always and forever buy an overpriced product with an Apple logo no matter how inferior it is, and an Apple hater, who will not give any credit to a company that has innovated greatly with some of their products. I’d say most reasonable people fall in that happy middle.

  • Ray

    @ksegall:disqus, It’s interesting because you actually admit that you choose Apple products because of an emotional attachment, ignoring competing products, even if Apple might be falling behind the competition with inferior products. For how long will you do that?

    I disagree completely on your point about brands. Emotional attachment to a brand is definitely something consumers should be wary of and resist.

    The job of the head of Marketing of any consumer product company is exactly that: get consumers attached emotionally to their brand, so that they act irrationally and don’t make objective choices, prioritizing always products of its brand regardless of product merits or the specific consumer needs.

    “Steve Jobs was extremely big on the “love” factor”. Of course, any marketing manager in a consumer products company knows that consumer emotions can sell more. If consumers love your brand, they’ll ignore the weaknesses of your products and will be willing to pay more and pay repeatedly for your products. Steve was a very skilled manipulator, the events to present his new products are a great example of that. He presented features and technologies that already existed in the industry as if they were new and great. He knew most consumers lack that technical knowledge so he could get away with that.

    CPG companies are masters at this kind of emotional manipulation, because their products are difficult to compare technically. Therefore, they essentially rely on
    advertisement, brand association with celebrities, packaging, retail experience and other tricks to get consumers attached emotionally to their brands. Procter & Gamble (Gillette, Oral-B, Tide, Duracell, Pantene, etc.), Coca-Cola (Coke, Sprite, Powerade,etc.), Pepsico (Pepsi, Lays, Tropicana, etc.), Unilever (Axe, Dove, Magnum, etc.), they are all masters at this game.

    Consumer Electronics companies (just like automotive companies) produce high-tech products so it is not so easy for brands to confuse consumers, at least not all
    consumers. There are plenty of measurable technical specifications (pixels, dB, power, etc.), obvious product attributes (size, shape, color, materials, design, etc.), and reviews in specialized media (CNET, Toms Hardware, etc.) to cut through the marketing noise and provide objective comparisons along multiple dimensions that matter to consumers. You can probably give credit to Steve as one of the industry leaders who brought the emotional manipulation of the CPG industry into electronics. Not sure a merit to be very proud of.

    Of course I don’t apply the same standards with personal relationships because there is a big difference. A brand DOES NOT LOVE YOU BACK. In fact, it doesn’t care that you exist, unless you send them money, in which case it might provide you some temporary enjoyment (new product or service), so that you send them money again in the future. A brand is essentially a group of people trying to maximize profits in its given industry by providing some kind of product or service. If it’s successful, it gets to continue maximizing its profits. If it’s not, it goes bankrupt and disappears, letting other companies that are better at maximizing profits take over their market share.

    The fact that you chose a car only based on the brand is definitely something I would not be proud of. I don’t understand your justification: “This is the power of brands”. This is exactly the “power of sects” as well. They provide “happiness” as long as you are loyal to them and conform to their way of living and thinking. Dare not to pay your dues, and you will learn how (not) reciprocal their love is.

    “When I buy a product, I feel like I’m voting. I think it’s important to reward companies that do the inventing”. If that was the case, you would be buying Motorola handsets, a company that has actually invented many of the wireless technologies that you have in your iPhone. Or Samsung, which has invented many of the essential technologies that you enjoy on your iPhone too and is a global leader in invention patents granted:
    http://www.statista.com/statistics/278790/number-of-us-patents-held-by-tech-companies/

    Believe me, there are many other inventive companies besides Apple. I know it seems hard to believe as an Apple fan. But there are. And many. And some of them are even more inventive.

    I have already acknowledged that the iPhone was a great innovation, and I give great credit to Apple for that. I think this is the best product they ever created, that truly revolutionized the mobile industry. But they started developing this product a decade ago. The iPad is essentially a large iPhone, utilizing same basic innovations (capacitive touch screen, virtual keyboard, same app store) so it wasn’t revolutionary in the same way. They’ve been coasting on the iPhone innovation for many years already, with its star product already falling behind the competition for the last 3-4 years.

    Case in point: the iPhone frontal camera has a whopping resolution of 1.2 Megapixels, in the age of selfies (are we in 2010??). This is another example of poor product management choices, Apple reacting to the market needs too late (just like their reluctance to increase their display size) . I understand that Megapixels are not the only quality measure for a camera, and Apple keeps repeating that over and over to justify some of their poor choices for a supposedly “premium” smartphone that costs $700+. I know Apple fans will also agree that 1MP is enough. Hey, you have to cope with your emotional choice and “be happy” until the next iPhone with a better frontal camera is out, right?

    Btw, did you know that Samsung and Sharp invented the phone with a camera? Have you ever given credit to them?

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/camera-phone-history/

    I don’t think you’re a fan of technology, you’re a fan of Apple as you have admitted. If you were a fan of technology you would buy the best technology available. Instead you admit to buy Apple products even when they are inferior, because you are connected emotionally to Apple. Apple is a good company at integration, design and marketing, but it does not create most of the basic inventions that it monetizes with its products. It didn’t invent the microprocessor as we know it today (Intel), it didn’t invent the graphical UI computer (Xerox), it didn’t invent the cell phone (Motorola, Ericsson), etc. Apple has leveraged and copied many competitors, just like they have copied Apple as well. Typically the least successful competitor copies the most successful competitor, this is a normal dynamic. For example, it was comical to see Tim Cook on stage saying that he had been waiting all his life to be able to make a call from his wrist. Well, he didn’t have to wait that long, that was possible already a year earlier with his competitors’ products.

    Apple, just like any other company, borrows from its competitors, and takes cheap shots at them as well in their marketing.
    1) Of course Apple has leveraged the knowledge gathered by its competitors in the wearable space to design the Apple Watch, it is quite obvious. Interchangeable straps, square design, touch screen, glance-able notifications, ability to take calls, heart rate monitoring, fitness companion, all launched and available in the market already.
    http://www.android.com/wear/

    I’m actually quite disappointed because I thought Apple was going to launch something truly different as they did with the iPhone, but they haven’t. Essentially their watch seems to have the same basic flaws that other smart watches already in the market, plus the strange flaw (for Apple) of adding too many features and making the UX confusing. Waiting for app developers to see if they can fix this.

    2) Tim Cook loves to talk on stage about the malware that invades Android. Cheap fear-mongering: don’t leave the Apple ecosystem or a world of insecurity awaits out there, great propaganda in case you thought of switching! Don’t ever think of leaving safe communist Russia for a crime-ridden democratic Western world! It’s just gets so silly. I’ve used Android for several years and haven’t had a single problem with viruses or malware. Not a single problem, I guess I must be very lucky living in dangerous Android country and not getting mugged!

    I’d say that because you were raised in a “creative” business, you probably appreciate superficial originality (design-related) but don’t appreciate enough technological originality (scientific-related), the one that takes years of R&D efforts, massive capital and human resource investment, years of experimentation in a lab, trial and error and all the effort associated.

    Also, there is a happy middle between being an Apple fan, that will always and forever buy an overpriced product with an Apple logo no matter how inferior it is, and an Apple hater, who will not give any credit to a company that has innovated greatly with some of their products. I’d say most reasonable people fall in that happy middle.

  • Most people who know anything at all about the era pretty much say what you just said, a lot of which is either misleading or untrue.

    I don’t know how close to actual bankruptcy Apple ever was. The main source we have is Steve Jobs, who was playing up his role as Apple’s savior. I don’t doubt he was Apple’s savior, but anyone who successfully turns around a company tends to overstate the situation they faced — at the time, Apple had a lot of cash on hand and very little debt; it could easily have survived simply by firing lots of people (this is the traditional turnaround model in US business). The thing that Apple actually did was fix its product line (four quadrants; good, better, best), reduce inventory, and repackage the tech they already had in a cute shell (the iMac). Oh, and they fired a lot of people.

    Another brilliant move on the part of Jobs/Rubinstein was how they dealt with the Copland fiasco (Copland was supposed to be Mac OS 8, but it died a long, horrible death — much like Microsoft’s Longhorn in the 90s). They simply released a slightly improved, slightly prettier version of Mac OS 7.6 and called in System 8. Problem solved — users don’t care. (Microsoft did this years later with Windows 7 — they simply fixed the obvious problems with Windows Vista and called it Windows 7.)

    Microsoft’s “bailout” settled a lawsuit where they were caught literally copying source code from Apple into their Video For Windows product. It was mutually beneficial — Jobs wanted to have Gates’s public backing (including updates to Office and Internet Explorer), and Gates wanted Microsoft not to be seen as a monopolist. The fact these things came out so soon after the announcement means they were in the works for years.

    Microsoft didn’t so much “port” Office to the Mac as update the Mac version of Office (most of the office applications started on the Mac (Excel and Powerpoint were Mac-first). Word started on DOS, but Word for Windows was more of a port of Word for Mac than an update of Word for DOS.

  • I meant to say “the aughts” for Longhorn.

  • But Apple managed to outpace all its rivals when it was anything but dominant (never more than 10% market share) and didn’t have Steve Jobs.

  • ksegall

    I’m pretty sure you and I are the last guys reading and commenting here, but what the heck…

    I think you’re projecting your own standards onto the consuming public. What’s “best” is highly, highly subjective, and there is no right or wrong. You look at features, while I look at the user experience.

    You know a lot about technology, but (with all respect) you don’t seem to know much about marketing. You seem to think of it as misinformation and manipulation, and that Apple is “fooling” people the way it announces and markets a product.

    The truth is, marketing cannot turn a bad product into a bestseller. There’s an old saying in advertising: “Nothing kills a bad product faster than a great ad.” That is, marketing is useless unless the product is good. The last thing you want to do is draw too much attention to a product that people won’t like.

    So when a new Apple product launches, and sells out quickly, and continues to be backordered for many weeks and months, it isn’t because Apple is fooling people. It’s because the buyers love what Apple makes. The word of mouth is highly positive, and the buzz surrounding the product gets louder.

    The reason Apple products do so well is the user experience. In general, people love the design, integrated hardware/software, the ecosystem, customer service, the “walled garden” feeling, etc.

    Being focused on features, these things clearly don’t tip the scale for you. That’s fine with Apple. They do not aim to please everyone. They aim to please premium customers who believe that what Apple offers is worth a premium price. This is Apple’s business model. And this is why Apple, at last report, was taking over 90% of the profits in the smartphone category (http://bit.ly/1efkVdK). Apple’s business model is what has turned it into the most valuable company on earth. That’s a fact that cannot be argued.

    So what you do argue is that Apple’s business model isn’t sustainable, that one day it’s all going to catch up to them. People will “wise up.” That’s basically the same argument Apple critics have made since the launch of the first iMac in 1998—about 17 years’ worth of misdiagnosis. Obviously, one day Apple’s domination will come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. But I suspect that when that day comes, the signs will be far more obvious than they are today. Apple is currently firing on all cylinders.

    Next topic. I don’t think you’re being fair—or consistent—when you characterize Apple products as lagging. Obviously, you can find features in Android phones that you won’t find in iPhones, but the opposite is also true. There are “firsts” on both sides. Apple’s firsts have included Siri, Touch ID, Apple Pay, etc.

    You contradict yourself when you say that iPhone was a great product, but you then use the same product as an example of Apple borrowing ideas from others (like the camera). iPhone is actually a perfect example of Apple doing what it does best — pulling together technology from multiple sources, designing it into a beautiful object, and creating a great user experience with well-thought-out software.

    Apple didn’t invent Siri or Touch ID. They bought the companies that did the inventing. They bring in components from many suppliers, as does every manufacturer. They also engineer their own hardware breakthroughs (unibody design, new MacBook keyboard with butterfly mechanism, etc.) to further enhance the experience. This is how Apple creates products that are “lustworthy.” This talent isn’t something that shows up in your spreadsheet of feature comparisons—but it is something Apple customers can’t get enough of.

    It’s interesting that you praise iPhone for what it did, but then sort of dismiss iPad because it’s just a bigger version of what came before. Not sure how you can minimize iPad, given that it single-handedly created one of the biggest new technology categories we’ve seen, and spawned legions of imitators.

    You look at it as you do because what Apple did in creating iPad was kind of obvious. The iPhone had been a huge success, but it was limited by screen size, processor power and battery life. iPad simply removed those restrictions, and developers went wild with it. This may not fit your definition of innovation, but iPad was one of the biggest technology revolutions of our time.

    And it wasn’t just that iPad was a hit product. It succeeded where others had been failing for more than ten years. People weren’t exactly rushing out to buy the Microsoft Tablet PC in 2000. Bill Gates himself explained the success of iPad vs. the failure of the Tablet PC: “Steve did some things better than I did. His timing in terms of when it came out, the engineering work, just the package that was put together. The tablets we had done before, weren’t as thin, they weren’t as attractive.” (http://bit.ly/1KFceU4)

    Smart man, that Bill! He hits the nail on the head in explaining why Apple succeeds. It identifies a category in need, it pulls together the technology necessary to make a product, and it creates a user experience that will actually turn people on. Microsoft had the talent to build a tablet, but lacked the talent to make it “attractive.” This is the difference between a failed product and a mammoth hit. It’s hard to create a product people will fall in love with. And to do so consistently, repeatedly, over a long period of time, is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

    Last, you have frequently pointed out that iPhone sales are slowing down now that the pent-up demand for larger phones has been satisfied. Not so sure about that. Since you made those claims, these articles appeared..

    http://on.mktw.net/1EDGiLd
    http://tcrn.ch/1Llf4yE
    http://on.mktw.net/1Scs8em
    http://bit.ly/1ScsbXG
    http://on.mktw.net/1EDGiLd

    Last, about your emphatic “a brand does not love you back” comment. Again, I think you don’t appreciate the relationship that people have with the companies they love. Of course they don’t receive the same kind of love they might get back from another human being. And of course companies act as they do to make money. But this is the essence of “brand relationships.” In Apple’s case, customers do feel that Apple cares about the customer experience, because it continues to innovate in the ways that it does. I know quite a few people who rave about their experiences at the Apple Store, feeling like Apple went beyond the call helping them solve one problem or another. Personally, I have had two occasions where, without my even asking, the Apple Store gave me a brand-new replacement product even though my device was several months out of warranty. I don’t expect that kind of treatment from any company (nor have I ever received it), yet I’ve experience this with Apple. As much as an entity can care for a customer, I believe Apple does. Having a great experience is the “love” that customers get back from Apple. Just as they they do from other companies they love.

    A company thrives because it knows how to make great products and it knows how to market them. Apple has been pretty darn good at both. That’s how a company creates an emotional connection with customers. Not all customers on earth — just the ones who believe Apple shares their values.

  • Ray

    THE POWER OF MARKETING

    Of course Apple, as any other consumer company, tries to “fool” consumers into blindly chosing their products over their competitors’. You can use the feel-good word you prefer (enchant, persuade, influence, etc.) but the fact is the same: try to enhance your brand or product in the mind of the consumer so they already choose without considering the competition.

    I’ve seen myself and my friends or family trying to rationalize things that they bought that didn’t make sense. It’s such a common concept that it even has a name: post-purchase rationalization. I’m not immune to that, because I’m human too. Having said that, I’m very aware of that and try to minimize the influence that marketing has on my purchases and important decisions in life in general. I’ve personally seen friends who owned an iPhone 4 or 5 trying to explain me rationally how it made much more sense to have a small smartphone rather than those “big Android smartphones”, only to see them rush to buy an iPhone 6+ as soon as it was available. Such is the power of emotional attachment to brands. Others who were able to be more objective had already switched to competing Android or Windows smartphones, benefiting from a better experience for the last 2-3 years.

    I agree that marketing cannot turn a bad product into a bestseller, but that does not take from the fact that it can turn a good product into a bestseller even though better products are available. Saying that marketing does not have absolute power does not mean that marketing does not have significant power, especially over less rational consumers.

    I have a friend who works reporting to the CEO of a famous premium fashion brand, and they way he put it is quite clear: “we sell a dream”. We take a good bag that costs $100 to produce and sell it for $3000. There is no good moral here. Just a company trying to maximize profits with marketing and branding efforts.

    THE POWER OF THE HALO EFFECT

    I agree that Apple is very profitable, that’s a fact. What is not a fact are the conclusions that some people derive from that. Such is the power of the halo effect: if a company has great business performance, most things must be positive about it. In fact, it does not mean that Apple has better products, or more ethical behavior, or doesn’t copy other companies, or is cleaner, or is more innovative or, etc.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_corporate_profits_and_losses

    ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, Gazprom, Nestle and many other companies have generated profits larger or in the order of Apple’s, and as you’ll agree that doesn’t mean that they have better products, or are more ethical, or don’t copy or any of the other attributes that the halo effect makes you attribute to Apple.

    In fact companies with significant unethical behaviors have become very profitable, as profitability is often in a trade-off with ethics.

    Profits are generated by charging prices that are in aggreggate much higher than the aggregate costs your company has. That’s it. There is no moral implication.

    Most people will find that companies that charge a 10% margin on their products are more ethical that companies that charge a 40% margin. From the point of view of business logic, the latter company is a “better business”, but from the point of ethical behavior towards its customers, the former would be voted by most people.

    INNNOVATION

    Apple has been a very innovative company on the balance, no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean that other companies don’t innovate or just copy. Apple stands on the shoulders of giants such as the inventors of the microprocessor, of UNIX operating system, of flat screens, etc. And Apple copies whenever it has to to keep its products competitive in the market, just like any other companies.

    The iPhone was to me the most innovative product, particularly due to two key innovations:

    1) Open app store, that essentially change the structure of the whole mobile industry, taking power away from the operators and giving it to independent developers that in turn added value to the iPhone

    2) Multitouch user interface that removed the need for a keyboard in previous smartphones and made possible to have a much larger usable screen in a small portable device

    I don’t dismiss the iPad, it’s just not at the same innovative level as the iPhone. It just leveraged those two key innovations above and used them in a larger form factor. Just like Samsung did not innovate at the same level when it created the Galaxy Note, as it is a larger smartphone with a new UI tool. This invention is not at the same level as the original iPhone also. What I’m supporting here is objectivity, not irrational judgement of merits of a particular company just based on emotional attachement. Credit when credit is due, not always just because.

    I think everyone can agree that the iPhone was a Tier 1 innovation, while the iPad was not. This is just applying logic, there is nothing negative on Apple. It’s just that the iPhone was a revolution of the mobile industry.

    I agree the iPad was launched when the technology was ready.

    IPHONE SALES

    The links you posted do not contradict the thesis that many industry analysts and I believe that the surge in iPhone sales with the 6/6+ model is due to 1)Larger Screen and 2)Entry into China largest carrier.

    Can you explain why they contradict this thesis on your view?

    I read equity analysts reports in detail and they track where the growth is coming. Of course to the average Apple fan, the growth is just because all consumers are finally coming to terms that Apple’s products are always superior. It was just a matter of time I guess.

    BRANDS RELATIONSHIPS

    The fact that you and many other fans choose products only based on the brand, and don’t even take the time to compare them objectively with competing products in the same category when making a purchase decision is an issue because:

    1) You might be missing out products that have better features suited to you.

    2) You are failing to reward the work of many talented designers, product managers, engineers and scientists who work in other companies and, believe it or not, once in a while come up with products that are actually better than Apple’s.

    Essentially, it is bad for you as a consumer, and it is bad for the industry and the world as it removes incentives for Apple to improve even its own products.

    The ultimate strategic goal of any for-profit public corporation is to make the largest profits possible. This is why the major institutional investors buy stocks of public companies, to make more money which they do if the company increases its profits. That’s it. It’s not about love or anything related to that. Some companies find that getting consumers to “love” their brand is very profitable, so they spend money on that (marketing, branding, PR, etc.). A company does not really “love” you, but of course wants you to believe that because it increases its profits. End of the story.

  • mo

    عميلنا العزيز لا تتردد فى الاتصال بنا على ارقامنا الاتية
    0500205720
    شركة دليل المنزل تهتم

    نقل اث
    اث و
    نقل عفش
    وتنظيف
    المنازل
    وجلى البلاط وكشف
    تسربات المياه
    و كشف تسربات

    الغاز
    ورش
    المبيدات
    ومكافحة
    الحشرات
     والترميمات وعزل
    مائى
     للأسطح والخزانات وحمامات السباحة وتستخدم الشركة اساليب متطورة من عملية
    تطوير الذات و تحسين الكفاءة لتقدم خدمة كاملة الي عملائها و تحصل على اكبر قدر من
    التميز بافضل جودة وافضل اسعار لاشك ان المنافسة قوية ولكن توجد فرصة كبيرة للتميز
     سنصلك اينما كنت فنحن نعمل على مدار الاسبوع . نحن الأفضل للأننا نخدم الافضل .
    تعتبر دليل المنزل افضل شركة لكشف تسربات
    المياه بالرياض
    و افضل شركة نقل اثاث
    بالرياض
    ومتخصصون في كشف تسربات المياه
    في الرياض
    و مكافحة حشرات

  • ksegall

    I think you’re in some denial about the validity of—and the importance of—marketing. You seem to see marketing as a way to fool customers into sticking with a brand without considering the options. You think consumers should simply look at features and price, and make a clear, rational decision.

    This is business. And marketing is by necessity a huge chunk of a company’s overall budget. Countless “superior” products have failed simply because they weren’t marketed well.

    I don’t mean to sound condescending or defensive (I’m an ad man, dammit!), but marketing—like technology—is a bit science and a bit art. You need to be strategic and creative to get people to notice what you have to sell, and to make it appealing enough to pique their interest. Apple has always been very good at marketing. Other companies seem to have their ups and downs. Samsung in particular has had moments of greatness (like the ads that made fun of people lining up at the Apple store) and moments of total embarrassment.

    A company’s most valuable asset is its brand. That’s the sum of everything you know, hear and experience from a company—product design, reliability, features, marketing, social media, etc. Apple regularly tops the lists of “most valuable brand” and “most loved brand” because it pays attention to all of the above. And the result of having a strong brand is having loyal customers.

    You may think Apple customers are being bamboozled, but the customers don’t feel that way. They’re among the most loyal customers in the world—not because they’ve been hypnotized, but because they’ve been delighted. They really like the Apple experience. That’s why they keep coming back, and that’s why they evangelize to others.

    I’m sure you’d prefer living in a world where companies were simply straightforward about their products and features, and trust customers to buy what they’re selling. That’s not the real world. Many companies (and politicians) live and die by their ability to market their products, and create some kind of emotional connection with their customers. If the connection you felt for a company was only due to the features in their latest product, you’d cease being a customer the moment you saw a better product elsewhere. That’s why it’s important to build customer loyalty. You want to give people an experience that’s so positive, they’ll look to you first when they’re ready to buy again.

    I’m sure you’re wincing at this point, because you dislike marketing, and you wish companies would simply compete by technology alone. No offense, but you’d make a terrible CEO. Winning new customers and keeping them loyal is the bottom line in business, and that involves more than just making a great product. It involves building relationships—and some companies are much better at this than others.

    What you observe—and resent—is that Apple’s customers are so loyal to the brand, they tend to buy Apple’s products even though there might be better choices available to them. It defies logic.

    Well, that’s why brands are important. It’s human nature to buy from the company you feel attached to. The problem for Apple’s competitors is that the strong Apple brand wasn’t created overnight. The intense loyalty Apple now enjoys is the result of a series of ultra-successful products it’s delivered over the last 17 years.

    You’re absolutely right that loyal customers defended Apple’s decision not to make a bigger iPhone, and then embraced it when the bigger phones arrived. You can look at those loyalists as being blind, or you can look at them for what they are—people who’ve had great experiences with Apple products in the past, and who trust Apple to deliver the best experience going forward. They have a relationship to the brand that’s tough to shake. That’s just good business.

    I once had a personal brand experience that illustrates these forces at work. I’d been a Sony TV fan my whole life, and then one day (long ago) a salesman made a pitch for the RCA TV. It had more features, cost less, it had a bigger screen, and the picture looked fantastic. It made me feel dumb for having spent more for Sony previously. So I bought it. Then, right after the 90-day warranty expired, the picture tube died. Man, did I regret that decision. It did nothing but make me appreciate the Sony brand even more. And of course I immediately replaced the dead RCA with a new Sony. I had a relationship with a brand I loved, I gambled on another, and I lost. I’m sure a ton of Apple customers feel the same way. Because they’ve had a great experience with their Apple devices, they’re hesitant to move to something else, even if it might look tempting. It’s the strength of the Apple brand that keeps them loyal. Again, that’s just good business.

    You can say it’s all based on perceptions, insecurities, fears, whatever—but these are the realities in the consumer world. That’s why companies who have built powerful brands, and have built loyal audiences, enjoy a huge advantage.

    Onto a few of your other points—

    You say that marketing can’t save a bad product, but it can turn a good product into a hit, even if better products are available. Not so sure about that. But it’s not exactly relevant to this discussion, because we’re not really talking about “hits”—we’re talking about revolutions. And marketing does not create revolutions. Marketing’s job is to fan the flames of a great product. It’s people’s reactions to the product experience that generates all the buzz and lust. Revolutions can’t be blamed on Svengali-like advertising.

    You say that Apple is innovative “on balance,” but that Apple “stands on the shoulders of others” and copies others to stay competitive. That’s a horribly dismissive view of what Apple has accomplished. This is feeling like a discussion we’ve already had. Of course Apple uses technology created by others, but it also uses a lot of technology it creates itself. Apple’s skill is in its ability to combine all that advanced technology into beautifully designed, high-quality hardware, controlled by equally elegant software. The result is a product that delights people—and delight is not something that can be measured by feature lists. There were plenty of other options available to people when iPod and iPhone came along, but they weren’t scoring very high on the delight meter.

    Creating products like this is incredibly difficult to do, and Apple deserves a ton of credit for being able to build things that make people say, “Damn, I want one of those.” If this were easy to do, why aren’t other companies building products that create new markets and inspire others to copy?

    Your answer to that question might be “There are plenty of better products, but they haven’t been marketed as well.”

    To that, I say (A) No product is clearly superior to others, since there are so many features to consider these days. Even when iPhones were stuck with small screens, they were first with plenty of other features, like Siri, a reliable Touch ID, and Apple Pay. (B) I know you hate to hear it, but marketing is a critical part of business. If other companies can’t get it together to market their products better, they deserve the consequences. (C) As we all know, Apple is not interested in selling to everyone. They sell to those who appreciate the Apple experience. Apple has a tiny market share in phones, but currently has over 90% of profit share (http://tcrn.ch/1IaYsZA). They also take over 50% of the profit in PCs and tablets.

    You may not approve of Apple’s business model, but as the data has proven for many years running, it’s the most successful business model in the history of technology.

    Last, about the iPad. I’m kind of stunned with your assessment that iPad wasn’t on the same “innovative level” as the iPhone. That theory is consistent with your thinking, but the reality supports mine.

    Like many critics who responded to the original product unveiling three months before iPad went on sale, you dismiss it as just a bigger iPhone. Yet that bigger iPhone disrupted the PC industry in ways no one imagined possible. Between Apple and those who followed Apple’s lead, hundreds of millions of tablets have been sold. In 2014 alone, 233 million tablets were sold. iPad was a “Tier 1 innovation” by any standard, with tablets having replaced PCs for a huge percentage of the world population.

    In the case of iPad, Apple again demonstrated its ability to assemble technologies from multiple sources, and design a device people could fall in love with. With the technology available, any company could have built such a device, right? But none of them did. And of course the same is true of iPod and iPhone. Designing a product that truly delights customers is very tough thing to do. Having the technology is only a piece of the puzzle.

    Remember, Apple isn’t trying to delight every customer on earth. They’re trying to delight people who buy Apple, and involve them even more deeply in the Apple experience. Through marketing and by word of mouth, the customer base grows. It’s never about the specs—it’s always about the experience.

    Re: the links I posted in my last comment. Those links were not meant to contradict your theory that the surge in iPhone sales was due to the larger screen and the China market. They were meant to contradict your theory that the surge was already behind us, and Android would soon be outselling iPhone again. These articles, and others published around the same time, had the numbers to show that iPhone domination of the market would be continuing for the foreseeable future. The numbers can’t keep growing forever, but it’s hard to call this a temporary surge.

    Last, you say that the ultimate strategy of every for-profit company is to make the largest profit possible. And that getting people to “love” their brand is what makes money, so that’s why they spend money on marketing. But there is no actual “love” coming from the company itself.

    In my opinion, based on my personal experience with Apple and other technology companies, I think you’re quite wrong. Working with the other technology companies, it was always clear that profit was the motivation. We were judged by the clicks we could generate. Inside Apple, I never met a soul who believed their mission was to generate profit. Of the thousands of articles and books written about Apple by those with experience inside the company, I can’t remember a single one that cited profit as Apple’s priority. Be very clear, Apple wants and needs to make a profit, because it’s a business, and profit is what funds its ability to keep exploring and making new products. But Apple fundamentally believes that the most effective way to make a profit is to make products that delight its customers. It’s the customer experience thing again. Steve Jobs said this, as have Tim Cook and Jony Ive. You can dismiss it as nonsense, or just another part of Apple’s marketing misinformation, but this is one of the reasons I have such respect for Apple. This is how Apple delivers the “love.” It focuses on creating a great experience.

    I get that you’re the kind of customer that doesn’t believe being loyal to a brand. You prefer to examine all the options and go with the one that scores the most points in your evaluation. Just be aware that brand loyalty is a major consideration for every company, because there’s no guarantee they’ll always win on features with every product they create. Building a brand is the best investment they can make for the future. You can bet that the competitors only dream of achieving Apple’s high level of customer loyalty—because it’s a longterm strategy, and it rises above any specific device.

  • MacServiceGuy

    This is critical: Microsoft absolutely, positively DID NOT bail apple out. Steve Jobs bailed apple out with NeXT and his utterly masterful takeover of the board and subsequent refocusing. The idea that Microsoft bailed Apple out was a news meme that caught fire and remains a constant thorn in the side of those who were wide awake at that time. 1) the shares they purchased were non voting 2) the money, in the larger scheme of things, made absolutely no difference (apple wouldn’t have died without it) 3) Ken is totally correct: it was about burying the hatchet and focusing on what mattered ( I have to admit, as I watched that keynote I thought steve had lost his mind. In retrospect it was an utterly brilliant move). 4) But to be fair, in one sense it was a bailout – but it was a two way bailout… for apple, it wasn’t a money bailout, it was a credibility bailout. The public , and quite frankly most of us die hard mac people who were honest, were concerned apple was going to die. APPLE BAILOUT: Having a behemoth like Microsoft publicly commit its core product to the mac for 5 more years was what Apple needed, not the money. MICROSOFT BAILOUT: And Microsoft, under an unfathomable amount of scrutiny at that exact moment for unfair trade practices and massive anti trust violations/accusations, desperately needed apple to survive.

    Having said all that… I could have lived without the massive Bill Gates head on that huge screen above steve during the keynote.

  • Ray

    I haven’t denied the importance of Marketing, it seems you’re just attacking a straw man. To the contrary, I’ve said that Marketing is very effective and therefore consumers should make an effort to not let it guide their reasoning, and instead try hard to objectively pick the optimal product that best serves their needs.

    “This is business. And marketing is by necessity a huge chunk of a company’s overall budget.”
    So what? That does not make it a moral endeavor per se. Governments also spend by necessity a huge chunk of the country’s budget on weapons, and that does not make the arms industry something to admire and praise morally. Companies spend money on Marketing because it’s a weapon that helps them win the battles for market share. That doesn’t make marketing moral or good for consumers. Marketing is designed not to help consumers make optimal decisions but to make them choose the brand that pays for the marketing, regardless of their merits. That’s what they hire you for.

    I won’t take offense at the comment regarding me making a terrible CEO, because it’s just silly. “Because you dislike marketing” – This is not about liking or disliking, it’s about understanding the role that something has. Depending on your position, that can be positive for you or negative for you. As a CEO it is positive as it increases sales of your products or services. As a consumer, it is generally negative as it is designed to influence your decision towards one direction regardless of merits.

    “Apple’s customers tend to buy Apple’s products even though there might be better choices available to them”
    Some customers do, and that is bad for them. Essentially they are spending their money in a sub-optimal product, when there are products in the market that would satisfy better their needs. So this is good for Apple (they profit from these customers), but bad for the customers.

    Things are good or bad depending on your role or relative position. Case in point with marketing:
    – If you are a for-profit company, or an investor in that company, marketing that sells more of your products is good, because at the end of the day your top strategic goal is to maximize profit. Apple has done a very good job at that.

    – If you are a consumer, marketing is not good for you because essentially it has been created to influence you to choose one brand over its competitors with any psychological tricks that might work, leveraging all the cognitive and emotional biases that we human beings have. Beautiful images, music, sex, celebrity endorsements… anything goes to influence consumers. Apple uses all these tricks, just like other companies do. Marketing is not on the side of the consumer, but on the side of the brand that pays for it.

    I agree Apple has been very successful with marketing, that helps them sell their products well when they are better than their competitors’, and also when they are worse. Samsung also recognizes the importance of marketing, and they spend a ton of money on it. In fact, they are one the brands that has done a better job at this in the last few years, going from #21
    to #7 in just a few years, becoming the top-ranked global brand not from the US (a remarkable feat taking into account they come from a small middle-income Asian country and have been able to jump over long-standing brands from commercial powerhouses such as UK, Germany, France or Japan).
    http://www.samsung.com/my/news/local/samsung-rises-to-no7-in-interbrands-best-global-brands-2014-report

    The iPad is not at the same level of innovation as the iPhone. I’ve explained very logically why (the two key disruptive innovations, touch UI and app store, where invented in the iPhone, and reused in the iPad), instead you just say “reality supports mine” without providing any supporting data or argument. The fact that a product sold X units does not make it more or less innovative. No one I know considers the iPad at the same level as the iPhone (which coincidentally is the product from which Apple derives most revenues and profits still today). The iPhone is obviously a larger innovation than the iPad, if iPad is Tier 1, then the iPhone is Tier 0 (?). You fail to understand that not being number 1 doesn’t mean being bad. The number 2 or number 3 are great in any category. Just not as good as the number 1, but better than most other.

    Apple once in a while launches revolutionary products (iPhone) and sometimes copies competitors to stay relevant (larger iPhone, Apple Maps, Apple Music, etc.). There is nothing “horribly dismissive” about this, it’s just reality backed up by facts. Apple is a good company, they have their bright moments, but they also have their moments where they’re fighting to stay relevant. Music streaming is just another of those moments they are going through today, as they just copied Spotify.

    In terms of marketing, Apple, like most other for-profit companies, sometimes relies on positive marketing and sometimes relies on negative marketing (FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) techniques.

    There are many classless examples of Apple’s CEO trashing directly not only the competition but consumers who are “dumb or wrong enough” not to spend their money on Apple’s overpriced products, starting with the “humorous” campaigns of the PC guy and more recently with FUD over Android, Google, Facebook and any other company they compete with:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/technology/what-apples-tim-cook-overlooked-in-his-defense-of-privacy.html?_r=0

    Not only that, but it seems they might be engaging in questionable and downright illegal actions to crush smaller startups like Spotify. Apple in fact reminds me a lot of Microsoft in the late nineties, when they where using and abusing their market power crushing smaller competitors and innovation overall to push their agenda and maximize profits. Hence why governments are already starting to look at their actions:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/technology/2-states-look-for-collusion-between-apple-music-and-major-labels.html

    The #1 mission of Apple, as any other for-profit company, is to maximize its total profits. This is the top strategic goal of ANY for-profit corporation. All the other strategic goals derive from that one. This is what drives the stock price, and what drives investors to buy Apple stock. Because if Apple increases its profits, the stock will appreciate. The “love” from consumers is the way Apple maximizes its profits. All companies know that the most effective way to make a profit in the long term is to make products that delight its customers. Believe me, all companies and employees I’ve consulted with work with that belief, it is not exclusive to Apple. As a consumer, I’ve been delighted by products from Sony, Samsung, Apple, Mazda, Bose, Adidas, Focal and a long list of brands.

    Believe me, the CEO, the CFO, Investor Relations, and the Board of Directors of Apple talk about profitability all the time. Because that’s their job.

    Of course brand loyalty is a major consideration from every company. I know that, and every company knows that. Brand is essentially reputation. And it is gained by building good products repeatedly plus clever marketing and other techniques. Apple has done that, and other companies have done that too. Coca-Cola for instance has been the top consumer brand for many years until recently.

    You keep talking about profits, as if that validates morally Apple. By your standards, Bill Gates must be the most moral person in the world. By your standards, Fannie Mae, ExxonMobile or Gazprom must also be some of the most moral companies in the world.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_corporate_profits_and_losses

    Profits are profits, they don’t mean anything but that the company has been successful at maximizing profits. There is no morality to be found there.

    Again, you seem to be enchanted with Apple, partially because you own Apple stock (so you make money when Apple profits from consumers – sometimes thanks to their great products and sometimes thanks to their great marketing that exploits consumers’ cognitive and emotional biases), partially because you had Apple as a advertisement client, partially because you like Apple as a consumer.

    That’s fine, but simply beware of the halo effect, you seem to attribute many positive qualities to Apple that they simply don’t have just based on the positive qualities that they do have. Brand is a key driver of this halo effect, but brand value can change quickly. You might have a short memory, but just 4 years before the last brand ranking, Apple was not even in the top 10:
    http://bestglobalbrands.com/previous-years/2010#?sortBy=rank&sortAscending=true

  • ksegall

    Thought I’d forgotten you, didn’t you!

    Well, this has been a fun debate, but I suspect that we both have better things to do. Unless you’d care to surrender, I propose a ceasefire. This will be my last comment, and you can have the last word if you wish.

    I get that you see the value of marketing. It’s just that you also make so many comments that demonstrate your disdain for it. You say it is misleading, it is not a moral endeavor, and it’s “designed to influence your decision towards one direction regardless of merits.”

    Maybe the real problem is that we have differing views of the buying public’s intelligence. You seem to believe that people are misled by marketing pitches and often seduced into buying an inferior product as a result. I disagree — because people aren’t just listening to one company’s pitch. They’re exposed to many. Every company puts its best foot forward, and people can weigh the evidence.

    Does that give a company more skilled in marketing an unfair advantage? Nope. Every company understands that marketing is essential to its success, and every company is free to build the smartest marketing group it can. If Apple’s advertising is more effective than others’, it’s not Apple’s fault. It just means Apple is executing that part of its business better than the others.

    But marketing is only one factor in the buying decision. A bigger one is a buyer’s previous experience with a company. If you’ve been delighted by a previous purchase—quality, service, design, functionality, whatever—you’re predisposed to buy from that company again. Loyalty is something a company must earn. People are also very much influenced by friends, family and colleagues, and a company that delights its customers creates great evangelists for the brand.

    So, in general, I think people buy quite intelligently. They trust their own experience, they trust the experience of friends and associates, and they listen to the marketing pitches from all companies combined. To believe that Apple is somehow misleading people is to deny that all these other influences exist.

    This is why I keep talking about the customer experience. It’s not just the products. It’s the the advertising, retail experience, the packaging, technical support, the whole shebang. If customers are happy, they don’t usually jump ship. If they stick with one company, it’s not because they’re stupid or oblivious—it’s because they’re happy.

    All this aside, you talk about “superior products” as if it’s a question of black and white. It isn’t. If you compare Apple and Samsung phones, each has features the other does not. So which one you prefer depends on what’s important to you. You cannot say that people are ignoring a superior product, because superior is such a subjective term in this industry.

    You seem to have big problems with the way Apple markets, so I’m curious to know what Apple says or does that you find so distasteful. When they talk about specs, they do so accurately. When they sell on an emotional level, they recreate scenes that are made possible by the use of their products, things that customers are likely to care about. (Although, if you read my latest post, you’ll see that I don’t even like those commercials.)

    I’m surprised that you mentioned the Mac vs. PC campaign in a negative light. It is the single best and most effective campaign Apple has ever created. Certainly that’s the opinion of the majority of marketing professionals. It used humor to make competitive claims without being nasty. It created buzz. It got people talking about the platform that owned only 3% of the market, and helped grow it back up to 10%.

    I apologize if you felt I was insulting you with my comment that you’d make a bad CEO. That was actually meant as a light-hearted quip, since you had spoken negatively about marketing, and marketing is so important to a company’s success.

    I am still dumfounded that you claim iPad was not a revolution. I’ve literally never heard anyone say this. Innovation is not necessarily something nobody has ever seen before. It’s a combination of technologies nobody has ever seen before. Apple found the magic formula, based on iPhone technology, and created the product that spawned an entire industry.

    About FUD. I have never heard Tim Cook talk about consumers being “dumb or wrong enough” not to spend their money on Apple’s overpriced products. That claim startled me enough that I watched the entire video you referenced (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7VqU-Zjwp4). Tim says nothing of the sort — and he is speaking to the developer community, not the general public. His only negative remarks about Android are about fragmentation (which is true) and the fact that it leads in malware (also true). It was the right message to deliver to this group.

    Last, I disagree once again with your opinion that Apple’s #1 mission is to maximize profit. I believe that Apple is different from most competitors in that it prioritizes on making great products, in the belief that profits flow from there. If you believe that business is business, and at the end of the day it’s all about profit, I’m sure that’s enough to make you roll your eyes. But the truth is, companies operate on a set of values, and they are distinct from one another. What I experienced inside Apple was night and day from what I experienced in many other companies.

    Last, I don’t point out Apple’s huge profits to validate Apple’s morality. I use it to validate Apple’s approach to business. As you point out, every company has to be concerned about profits, and every company follows a business plan that will lead to profits. The fact that Apple is the most profitable company on earth is pretty convincing evidence that Apple has a very smart way of doing business. And its profits do validate that statement.

    That’s why I’m always surprised to see so many articles written saying what Apple is doing wrong, or chastising them for some terrible business decision. The company has certainly screwed up big time at a few points in its history.

    That’s all I got. Go ahead and take your whacks! Hope to see you in another thread some time.