Last Friday, I sold my iPhone and in doing so finally de-appled myself. Having been a die-hard Mac and iPhone evangelist for the last four years, it was hard to imagine this day would ever come. As I type this column on my Windows PC and see no devices linked to my iTunes account, I am reflecting on what could have caused the passion and evangelism to fade.
In 2011, 55 million iPads, 37 million iPhones and 16.8 million Macs were sold, helping power Apple to a market valuation of $500 billion (Foresman, 2011). According to a recent report from NPD Display Search, Apple is the largest mobile PC player (which includes the tablets and notebooks) with a share of about 27 percent (Trefis, 2012). With Apple still the king of the roost, let me explain a few reasons why I am not the only one de-appling:
1. Lack of true innovation. Apple’s appeal for me was the promise of game-changing innovation. The iPhone redefined the mobile phone category and the iPad created the tablet segment… brilliant! However, in the race to bring out something brilliant every year, Apple lost its way from focusing on true innovation to being satisfied with incremental add-ins to get a new version every year.
2. Failure to listen to customer. The antenna-gate incident was a classic case of Apple ignoring customer feedback and refusing to admit the issue with the iPhone. Instead Apple issued a statement advising customers to “avoid gripping [the phone] in the lower left corner” when making or receiving a call. Finally, Apple admitted their formula in calculating the signal strength and mistake and decided to issue every iPhone owner with a bumper to resolve the issue. A similar issue happened with iPhone 4S battery life and after weeks of reports of devices overheating and batteries draining in less than 12 hours, Apple admitted the issue and started looking for a solution.
3. Open versus closed platform. When iPhone was launched in 2007 it was a truly revolution… a phone that was truly geared to allow users to harness the power of Web 2.0. With the iOS and the App store, Apple was poised to rule the smartphone market for a long time. However, the rise of open-source Android OS platform has given developers liberty to create a wide variety of apps vs only the ones Apple approves. This means that one iPhone with a number of manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, and Motorola. No wonder, Apple is lagging behind in market share in key markes like U.S. and U.K. (Tinari, 2012).
4. Missing the “why.” One of the reasons I fell in love with Apple products was their clear positioning for their product range. The iPod slogan “1,000 songs in your pocket” was a clear reason for me to buy the product. Compare that with “It’s the best iPhone yet-iPhone 4S” and a “revolutionary and magical product-iPad”, I struggle to justify US$500 to $800 for these products. Moreover, after I have bought these products in the Apple euphoria, I have a hard time reducing the post-cognitive dissonance associated with the purchase.
5. Choice is king. A few years ago, Nokia was the king of the phones. Apple came in and dethroned them by giving consumers a choice of a smartphone. The Android platform is giving manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, and others to do the same to Apple through their cutting edge phones like Galaxy Note and Experia Arc S. Choice is always good for consumers and Apple will need to find ways to expand its product offering to keep us with the choice offered by the competition.
I would like to apologize upfront to any Apple fans who might be offended by my views. Apple needs to go back to its core of true innovation and start giving reasons for people to buy their products. The euphoria of innovation will bring the people in and the “reason why” will keep them with the brand!