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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Jobs’

Looking back and forward on 5s Journey

In Apple, brand-building, iPhone, retail, Steve Jobs on September 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

The journey is over. And it is now beginning. I have my 32GB Gray iPhone 5s in hand … and I am warming up to it. If you really want to experience it before you buy it, download iOS7 and you’ll get the (almost) complete look/feel, which takes time getting used to. I hated the color and font scheme of iOS7 but my passion to get the 5s overcame my dissatisfaction with the look I had on my 5 after downloading 7.  Thought the pastel/light gray scale was very inappropriate and still do, but I am getting used to it. If you need glasses to read your screens on your iPhone, you’ll need them for sure on the 5s.

But back the journey. As you may have read, I canceled my phone order for a gold 32GB when I realized that I could actually get one on 5/20 at the Pasadena Apple store (instead of waiting until Oct. 8). They still had plenty of gray 32GB in stock … and the wait was a very tolerable 45 minutes in line. The Apple sales people were extremely helpful, courteous and gave me all the time necessary to feel comfortable with some minimal training. The entire transaction took less than 20 minutes, and it was seamless. I was, indeed, thrilled I made the right choice to stop by for a second time at the now infamous Pasadena store (where fights broke out early 5/20 with homeless stand-ins who were cheated by a rather unscrupulous creep who refused to pay them to stand in line for 10 hours). The line at Apple was 3 times longer than when I got inside … apparently word spread that they had some inventory – AT&T had only 64GB.

iphone-5s-loveWhy am I so passionate about this?  Brand marketers love people like me – we put up with lines, some dissatisfaction with the product, and still plow forward through what most people think is insane. This is what Steve Jobs has done to me and millions more. Is the torch passed?  I think so. Business Week had a great cover “What Us Worry?” – showing CEO Tim Cook and his two henchmen – Craig Federighi and Jony Ive. But like I said earlier, “it’s too early to tell.” I can tell you this:  It’s fast. Video and photo quality are the best ever. Downloads are quicker. New pull-up that gives you immediate access to key programs is brilliant. And thank God for iCloud – all apps and programs perfectly preserved.

So far, the Journey with Apple has been a real treat, actually. Well that’s not totally true. My girlfriend, Julie, wasn’t particularly happy with me waking her up on 5/20 at 4:45 a.m. to run me down to the Apple store (some 5 miles away) to see how the line was (too long) … and she continued to comment on this ‘sacrifice’ during the day. “Yeah, but haven’t you had fun telling all of your friends about your ‘experience’?” “Of course …” So, I just provided her with some great story-telling fodder … so she benefited, too, wouldn’t you say?  She agreed. – RJL

Apple debuts new stuff … is it enough?

In Apple, mobile & tablets, Samsung, Steve Jobs on September 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

A sage marketing professional said that when someone asks you how it’s going, a safe answer always is:  “It’s too early to tell.” For no matter what the question is…this response always seems like a very intelligent answer, especially when commenting on Apple’s release of its new phones and iOS7 today.  The cat was already out of the bag weeks ago, as reported in BTN, so today’s event was really anti-climactic.  Anti-climactic for several reasons:  1) really, no new product was introduced and it’s been two years since Steve Jobs departed and we haven’t seen a new product, only updates and enhancements; 2) there was no home run – a bunch of singles and perhaps a double … and Apple left players on base; and 3) the ‘brand vote’ was negative – the stock didn’t go up, it went down – 2.28 percent loss in overall value today (9/10). Touch ID

#3 is really not surprising.  Carl Icahn touted Apple as a stock near $600 and there have been buy recommendations for $525 and $540 before the event … .so the fact that Apple went down is a bit depressing if you’re an Apple lover … “how could you leave me?”  But the reality is that until Apple makes a major move with something new besides cosmetic and interior system improvements, people will question Apple’s vision.  Yes, the new enhancements are quite nice – such as finger-print ID … faster processor … longer battery life … and better camera.  And a cheaper phone will help Apple in China.  But Apple does not appear to be a forward-thinker these days, and it pains me to write this.  The Samsung people must have smiles on their face … although the iPhone 5C could give them trouble in China … but we’ll see.

It’s really too early to tell … until Sept. 20 when Apple starts putting the iPhone 5S and 5C in people’s hands.  I will most likely trade up – always do because I love my iPhone and trust Apple…and that’s the core of the Apple brand – customers who love their products and trust them.  Do Apple people want bigger screens?  Perhaps, but frankly, I love the way my iPhone fits in my hand – and I have short fingers, so a wider phone would not help my experience.  And besides, Apple’s legacy and quality of design simply cannot be matched by the Galaxy.  Just can’t.

Apple was rumored to have the iTV in the wings – but it was a no-show.  And when that does happen – I suspect next spring – it will restore some of the lost luster on the Apple brand.  Yes, the Apple brand lost some buzz today … sorry to say.  I remain loyal but am still waiting.  A good friend, Robert Page, sent me this rather poignant quote from Steve Jobs this morning which bears passing along to you:

 “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.  You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it … A vision for Apple [is] ‘What incredible benefits can we give the customer?’ … I think that’s the right path to take.” – RJL

Steve Jobs dips into Apple’s brand equity to answer critics….

In Apple, brand-building on July 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm
Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

by Robert Liljenwall

How strong is Apple‘s brand?  Count the numbers – more than 3.3 million iPads sold in the past two months….Apple is selling the new iPhone4 at the rate of 4 million per month….Apple becomes the nation’s second largest corporation (the largest tech company ahead of Microsoft) in terms of valuation, second only to EXXON Mobile.  Overall, between the iPhone, iPad, and iPodTouch, Apple is selling 6.85 million IOS devices a month or 42 percent more than Android.  This is a battle of classic proportions between Apple and Google, and it ain’t over yet.

But let’s talk about brand equity=.  How does any company deal with adversity and controversy about its behavior or product failure?  We can all take lessons from British Petroleum on how NOT to conduct crisis management.  Also, we have learned from Johnson & Johnson’s masterful handling of the Tylenol scare in February 1986 when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning in Tylenol capsules.  Johnson & Johnson immediately pulled the product from all shelves.  It was, indeed, a brilliant and gutsy move to take their most popular brand off the shelf.  It preserved their brand leadership for the past 25 years.

What did Steve Jobs do when their antennae wasn’t working the way they said it would work on the new iPhone4?  He held a much-anticipated, well-attended news conference.  No recall.  No apologies.  He explained this was a very common problem with all cell phones and his expertly designed Keynote slides demonstrated that the actual failure was so minor that it was within so-called industry standards.  Steve did offer a free phone guard to keep your sticky, electric-generating fingers and hands off of his iPhone so the antennae would work.  Besides, he said, all cellphones have the same problem. There, take that!  And what did his competitors say:  “Hogwash!”.

This is what we call in the brand business – a brand equity withdrawal.  If your company has a strong brand – you can get away with this once in awhile – not all the time, of course.  But Apple has been performing so spectacularly these past few years, it is hard to argue with Steve Jobs or Apple’s overall financial (re: brand) performance. The numbers don’t lie:  These are consumer votes, and they not only vote with their feet, but with their wallets.  Apple stores are grossing over $4,000 a square foot around the world (average) and it’s the highest of any retailer in the world.

When you go into an Apple store, as I did yesterday to finally pick up my iPhone4, I was amazed that in the middle of a workday, the place looked like the character shop on Main Street at Disneyland.  (I can’t recall someone asking Steve Jobs after his news conference….”where you going?”  “To an Apple Store!”).  Every spare experiential station was full with people standing in line to try out the new iMac (just came out) or the iPad or the iPhone.  Gold cards were flying out of wallets.

Let me tell you a cute story….After getting my new iPhone4 activated (“do you need a bag?” the kid in the blue shirt asked me?  “No.”  I wanted to show off the new iPhone4 box it came in).  I’m walking out the store – hated to leave, but just before I reach the doors, this young gentleman is walking next to me.  I look at him, and whispered…”Did you buy anything?”  “No, I didn’t.”  “Well,” I said, “you know, don’t you, that the alarm goes off if you didn’t buy anything.”  He stopped and looked at me, surprised at what he had heard.  I stopped, too, cracked a faint smile, and we walked and laughed our way out of the Apple store in Pasadena.  Me?  I had my new iPhone4 and damn happy about it.  The kid?  He’ll be back.  He told me Mom had to approve it first.

Apple’s brand equity?  There is probably no company on the Planet right now who has more equity in their brand than Apple.  And in Steve Jobs.  If you want a good, ol’fashion cry about the success of free enterprise, read Fast Company’s current article on Apple.  You’ll find out why Apple epitomizes the best of American ingenuity, creativity, business success, and why the Apple culture is to be emulated.

OK, so you think I’m biased.  I am.  I admit it.  But what was amazing to learn that my perception of the Apple brand is that its customers are similarly attracted to other classy, sophisticated brands.  I teach Brand Management at UCLA Extension and we talked about the Apple customer – what are their values?  What other brands would they be attracted to?  We came to the conclusion that an Apple iPhone user is the same type of person who would want to own a Porsche.  Fast Company came to the same conclusion.  I used to own a Porsche….but my needs have changed.  I own a Toyota Tundra (small ouch) to pull my Airstream (another fabulous brand)….but I damn sure am going to own Apple’s latest iPhone.  Can’t do without it.  And neither can the other millions who couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new iPhone.  If anyone knows that, it is Steve Jobs.  He knows his customers.  He has turned a “want” into a “need”.

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