The end of an era, the decline of a brand?

We are all holding our breath in the apple user community at the news that Steve Jobs has resigned.
The news have resulted in apple’s shares falling. Despite that, I hope that the brand will keep to its core values – a bit of a challenge since they broke into the mass market with their revolutionary iMac, iTunes store, the iPod, iPhones, iPads… I’ve had my ups and downs with their brand since they’ve ballooned to occasionally the richest company in the world, or a business richer than America as it was reported the other day.
When they were still much more niche, creatives aspired to own their own mac, the OS was so much more intuitive and slick that it became part of the design process. Being a designer and having well-designed work tools hit a mark and their engagement with the creatives clearly worked and it became the brand of choice for agencies and home offices within the design and marketing industry.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my iPhone and the iPad is pretty cool, too, but the rise of the brand has had some ‘customer support’ downsides. Dealing with the iTunes help team when my account was hacked was a frustrating ordeal to say the least. After days and days I finally had a decent support chap on the phone who not only helped me re-instate my account but also showed a bit of  sympathy and apologised for the bad communication (I have yet to use the song credits I received but it was the gesture that counted.)
My husbands’ iPhone stopped taking phone calls – and since it was out of warranty the best they could offer is a reduced replacement phone – something tells me that if this was ‘the old days’ they would have replaced and investigated it just purely out of pride.
Perhaps we have just been unlucky, as charts like the below (screen shot from the BBC article) show the rapid rise of the brand.

chart for apple growth
A brand on the rise...

We hypothesised for some time now ‘what if’ and when the news hit, I think we were both mainly sad. There are not many people who have revolutionised the way we work, play, think, see, capture and share the world – and do so by creating truly high quality, thought-through products. And despite the above-mentioned reservations I have regarding recent dealings with their customer service and niggles with their products, compared to other equipment they remain much-loved and superior as a brand.
Typing away on my MacBook, I will hold my breath and await the next move. Steve Jobs leaves some big shoes to fill. Should Apple subsequently lose out, perhaps they will address their core market again; it was certainly a winning strategy to target those that appreciate good design and sell them well-designed products at premium prices. It also works as a brand extension strategy where the same people will have no problem spending money on things like iPhone apps where others, such as the Android marketplace, struggle. Statistics show the monetary value of the app store –

  • Android users spend 1/7th of what iPhone owners spend on in-app gaming purchases
  • Android users have an average of 17 apps on their phone vs 28 apps for iPhone users
  • Android users pay for apps much less frequently than iOS users.
So, for the past, thank you, Mr. Jobs. It’s good to hear he’s still around as chairman and we will excitedly await what’s coming out of Mr. Cook’s kitchen. 


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