Not everyone is Fanboi. Typically, the techies amongst us revolt against what makes Apple appeal to the masses. But, there is no questioning their success, they are just short of having $100B cash, sat in the bank, an increase from $15.4B at the end of 2007 (the year the iPhone was launched). They are relatively unique in that they don’t pay dividends to their shareholders, the shareholders don’t care, their investment couldn’t be a safer bet with share prices more than doubling in the past 18 months. So why is this technology giant so successful? I will try and enlighten you.
Steve Jobs was not your average hippy, he was one with tremendous vision. He knew 1 thing better than any of his competitors, how to create demand. I remember growing up in the PC age looking at the old iMacs and G3’s thinking they were really cool, but not knowing what they did or what I’d use one for. They were pretty exclusive to the design community, who even then, swore by them. Then the iPod came along and changed Apple forever.
At the time I had a 16MB Sony Ericsson MP3 player which I was over the moon with. The 11 song capacity meant I could get less music on it than a CD, but it was much smaller and lighter than a portable CD player so I was in. Suddenly a 20GB iPod Classic hit the market out of nowhere. 10,000 songs in my pocket? I bought one immediately. I suddenly realised what the design community had been banging on about was spot on. The minute I opened the box was the start of a buying cycle with Apple that is currently in full flow, 5 ipods deep, 2 MacBook Pros put through their paces, a white Macbook, 2 iPads… the list goes on. The way it worked mesmorised me. Incredibly sophisticated, but equally intuitive. I have never looked at any instructions for any Apple device, when you open the box, you know how to use them.
I have bought into their brand. But what is a brand? It’s not a logo, that’s a badge. it’s not a slogan, that’s, well, a slogan. A brand is the perception of your company or product in the mind of the audience. In my mind when thinking about Apple and their products I think about all the things that I should considering my investment; quality, fit for purpose, cool, desirable, blah blah blah.
And because of these thoughts, because I have used their products nearly 10 years without any of them failing or causing me the same headaches I have experienced with products from other manufactures, I don’t mind paying the premium. Yes, the iPhone 4 is the most expensive standard contract phone, the iPad is the most expensive tablet and my MacBook Pro cost just short of £2,000, but I use these devices every day. They make me more productive, they are reliable, they are innovative, they are the market leaders and well, they’re cool.
Steve Jobs got it right, he never compromised on quality, he dedicated his life to creating a brand that we buy in to, products that just work and a community of people that will stick with the brand as long as Apple sticks to its values. Tim Cook is born from the same stuff, so Apple in my opinion will continue to grow, continue to beat the competition and continue to be the most successful technology company of all time.
As marketeers we can only aspire to what Apple has achieved. We strive to create demand in the same way they have and to do so must drive a cultural shift, across our organisations. Apple have achieved this because their values and company ethos has been driven from the top down with everyone buying in. It’s vital that we work with our business leaders to drive our own innovation, failure to do so will ultimately result in failure, full stop.
The next time you you’re about to launch a campaign, a new product, a new anything, take a look at the buy-in across the company before you hit the button…