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Heavy is the crown: Is Apple its own worst enemy?

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Reputational blowback?: Apple’s litigation strategy affects its own brand and reputation

Samsung brand on the upswing

Polling by YouGov shows that Samsung has already recovered from the recent Apple v. Samsung verdict. Actually, Samsung’s “buzz score” rating has surpassed Apple’s.

Sustainability and reputation issues are dogging Apple.  Many took to Facebook and Twitter to fling abuse at the company, some saying that the brand had become everything it had once stood against.

Have you “heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or by word of mouth,” asked YouGov. The company then assigned a score depending on responses positive or negative.

YouGov’s charts are clear evidence that Samsung’s brand has risen and Apple’s has fallen.

It’s hard to gauge what effect this will have long-term, especially considering the momentum Apple has behind it, but it’s clear that its brand has taken a beating. In an August 28th post, Siri, What’s “sustainability”?, I asked questions about Apple’s strategy: Specifically, that they don’t seem to be speaking to the broader audience that now is focused, like a laser, on Apple.

On September 6th, Forbes wrote about Apple’s dive suggesting Apple’s secret talks with Google might have been strongly motivated by the reputational blowback from Apple v. Samsung, which is looking more and more like a strategic mistake.

Clearly, Apple’s campaign of aggressive litigation added to consumer’s concerns: Not to mention the sustainability of their supply chain. But is Apple listening?

Is the pattern of immense hype (hype that may have slipped out of their control) generated by Apple in the media going to increase the volume of blowback? Is Apple at or close to its zenith in profitability, or, from an investor’s point of view, the ascendency of its stock price?

Credit: Forbes

“Apple has turned into the exact product they were against in the 1984 Super Bowl Ad.”

— Twitter user

Meet the new boss. More litigious than the old boss?

Sentiment against Apple was overwhelmingly negative post-verdict. Some have seen this coming for a long time. The hype is so extreme right now as the iPhone 5 is released that it’s impossible to know what the fallout from Apple’s own self-induced reputational damage will be.

Tech consumers change their minds in what looks to a long-term investor the blink-of-an-eye. The media, while generating an immense amount of hype is also giving birth to stories that portray Apple as Goliath, a big bully, unfeeling, unthinking and a poor listener.

Apple has followed a pattern of knowing it’s right when it comes to business strategy. So far, that strategy’s worked very well, but what leadership should consider is gravity.

The weight

The gravitas of investor and consumer sentiment accumulates and acts like a social David. And we all remember what David did to Goliath. In fact, didn’t Apple base its marketing strategy on being the “little guy” taking on Goliath?

Now, David pulls back his digital sling of zeroes and ones. Take a look at how Apple’s been trending on Google+, (at the time of writing).

There’s also the fact that it looks like both HTC and Samsung will sue Apple over LTE and try to block the iPhone 5. He who lives to litigate dies by litigation?

Meanwhile, HBR points out that Google’s spending on R&D, despite what many may think, dwarfs Apple’s as a percentage of revenue. Perhaps Apple’s just giving the people what they want: Perception of innovation over actual percentage of dollars spent on innovation.

If word-of-mouth is the greatest form of marketing, the social cybersphere is talking loudly, it’s consumer-generated (though more research is needed on these consumers), and it seems to be sounding off against what it perceives to be a heavy distortion field placed over the marketplace. Perception is reality.

Regardless, satirizing Apple has become a popular sport. When will their be an app for that?

If the new standard for the anti-Apple forces is: “Innovate don’t litigate”, then Apple in pursuing an aggressive strategy of litigation may have undone some of the reputational capital it’s worked years to build. Heavy is the crown.

But also, heavy is the hype. Apple may be going down a different yet parallel road that Facebook knows all-to-well. There’s a fine line between exceptional marketing and public relations and creating the Frankenstein monster.

Still, there’s a lot of momentum for Apple. But we’ve learned that out-of-control hype can be a double-edged sword. We’ve also learned that when stock performance doesn’t meet the enormity of expectation the decline can be huge.

Facebook’s decline of 50 per cent was pretty much as large as that of BP. And Facebook didn’t leak any oil.

Still, Apple has concrete numbers.

Does Apple Marketing and Public Relations feel ecstatic about a brand that convinces people old is new (see Jimmy Kimmel)? Does this soaring rocket of hype escape Earth’s atmosphere or like Facebook fall back held by the force of gravity?

Maybe the question is simply:

Is Apple its own worst enemy?

Jimmy Kimmel Confirms People Love the New iPhone 5, Even Though They’re Being Pranked With an iPhone 4S

Apple releases iNothing  – Video

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2 Responses

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  1. When a new article becomes available, I would be interested in reading more.

    Best

    September 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    • Thanks! Sign up by email, RSS or Twitter, and I’ll come to you.

      johnrondina

      September 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm


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