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Once innovative, Apple’s image is bruised by publicity stunts

In Economy, Media, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on October 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Apple CEO Tim Cook sitting at Steve Jobs' right at an event in 2007. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Apple CEO Tim Cook sitting at Steve Jobs’ right at an event in 2007.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The business community can learn an important lesson from Apple – on what not to do. At one time Apple was the pinnacle of panache when it came to unveiling new innovations.

Back in those days, the media and the faithful alike waited with baited breath as the late Steve Jobs glided to the stage in his signature black turtleneck, taking the pulpit from which to spout gospel to millions of faithful disciples. Once there, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, they’d buy just about anything he was selling because it was innovative, new and, above all, elitist.

Since Jobs’s death, however, the company seems to be trying to recapture that fanaticism in a way that seems almost a parody. As hard as he may try, Apple CEO Tim Cook, just isn’t the ‘cool guy’ that Jobs personified on stage. He doesn’t easily pull of the slacker look in an untucked black button-down and jeans. Plus, there is little innovation in what he has to unveil, just more of the same.

Even avid Apple followers have been disappointed with the company’s offerings over the last year. Many snobby Apple-ites seem to think the plastic-bodied iPhone-5C, a unit developed to be cheaper and more colorful, tainted the line, allowing too much riffraff amongst the Apple crowd. Now, if you can afford cell service, you can probably afford an iPhone – not so elite anymore. It’s like the country club admitting anyone who can tie a necktie. How dare they?

The “big unveiling” announcements are, to say the least, becoming tiresome. They were great when there was true innovation to be released – the iPhone, the iPad, etc. – but now, it’s just more of the same thing. Sure, they’re lighter, a bit faster, and offer prettier colors, but there’s really nothing that is substantially new about any upcoming product from the corporate giant.

In the past eighteen months, Apple has seen a decline in sales for its iPhone and iPad devices, partly due to excessive cost. During that time, the company lost market share, slipping from 65-percent down to 50, with Android-based phones and tablet computers now boasting control of the other half, and that number is expected to grow as more applications (apps) become available. So the need for Apple to make another announcement before the upcoming holiday shopping rush was vital. For the business community, however, all eyes should be on Apple’s marketing mistakes right now.

Tablet computers, for example, are in a market that is still coming of age. It’s a critical time for manufacturers, including Apple, who will need to work harder to set themselves apart from the competition. It’s likely they are all making more money from replacement devices than from new sales.

As mentioned earlier, other than minor alterations to existing equipment like extended battery life, larger screens and lighter weight devices, there are very few additions to Apple’s product line. Cost is still excessive for most consumers. A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch screen, comparable to the average Toshiba or Dell laptop, will average more than $2,100 while its closest competitor barely exceeds $1,500 with similar specifications.

Additionally, there are just too many of these unveiling announcements and the format and style just don’t suit the new leadership. There is just no way to recapture Jobs’s methods and energy and they shouldn’t be trying. Overuse of such a public relations event becomes tiresome, not just on the media but on the consumer as well. If Apple is going to make such a big deal out of these announcements, there should be something worth hearing about – lately there hasn’t been.

It seems like Apple is done shooting for innovation but now relies instead on brand loyalty and publicity stunts, such as offering free operating system source code. It might take a while, but without something original on the horizon, new users are going to continue to migrate toward Android and Microsoft devices.