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Monday, Sep. 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm

A Bruised Apple in the Age of Speed

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 17th, 2007

bruised appleHave you heard about Applegate? This past weekend there were interesting comments by Danny from Beyond Madison Avenue in regard to our coverage of Apple’s $100 refund policy. Apple’s loyal, early adopter customers who purchased the Apple iPhone in the first few weeks were up in arms. These customers always felt comfortable moving as fast as Apple demanded in adopting change. What happens when that momentum is disrupted?

I’m a Mac convert. Jeffrey and I even made the decision earlier this year to move our whole company over to Macs. As with any technology, there are pros and cons (e.g., running Microsoft products on our Macs). Nevertheless, we have really fond feelings about Apple and are part of its loyal fan base. We think more companies should make the switch, but we agree with Randall Stross’s column “A Window of Opportunity for Macs, Soon to Close“.

As Apple becomes more mainstream and appeals to a larger audience, they’re experiencing serious brand erosion. Brand erosion rarely occurs all at once. It’s more like Chinese water torture. As Apple expands its customer base beyond the traditional hardcore fans, they will have less goodwill to rely on.

Apple’s also come under scrutiny for some of their recent deals and pricing strategies. As Danny points out:

I AM, however, annoyed by the Starbucks partnership. Starbucks is past its prime. It’s days as a Purple Cow are long since over. They’re on every street corner and their once glorious commitment to the experience doesn’t hold water in the slightest anymore. And, on top of that, this partnership doesn’t do any good for anyone other than Apple and Starbucks. How often have you been sitting in Starbucks just itching to buy whatever song is playing?

In spite of these issues there is still plenty to learn from Apple’s marketing and customer service philosophy and strategy. Apple’s response to “Applegate” — where they decided in a virtual heartbeat to offer early iPhone customers a $100 store credit — provides important lessons about the Age of Speed in which we live. We need to react, and conduct business at that same level of intense speed. If you need to make a decision, make it fast.

Hat tip to my friend George Silverman, another Mac convert, who pointed to a blog by Steve Chazin, a former Apple marketing and sales executive whose ebook, MarketingApple: 5 Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine, sheds some light on Apple’s success. According to George…

[Apple has] helped the customer make Better Decisions Faster: not only faster in buying, using, recommending the product itself, but also helping the customer use that product to make better decisions faster in their lives. (Continue reading “The Secret to Apple’s Success“… )

Over email, buddy Vince Poscente (pick up a copy of his new book The Age of Speed: Learning to Thrive in a More-Faster-Now World) explained it like this:

When you’re a $19.3 billion company, the tendency is to move at a glacial pace. New decisions require internal meetings, executive briefings, leadership councils, cross division memos and corporate hand wringing. But Steve Jobs and company made a nimble, flexible, fast decision.

When early adopters screamed and wailed following the price drop, Apple announced a $100 rebate for loyalty and understanding. This is something Apple didn’t have to do. But customer loyalty is part of a Mac customer culture.

Sounds like an obvious decision no matter what size the company. But it is harder than it looks. Just remember Kodak when they invented the digital camera in 1994 and then proceeded to embark on a multi-year plan to introduce that new fangled technology.

Competitive companies jumped on Kodak’s lack of agility. Now Kodak is still playing catch up.

And playing catch up has never been Apple’s style. Retaining customer loyalty is the name of the game and speed was the essential factor in making the radical decision to cut the price of the iPhone.

Need more time to be convinced about the significance of speed for today’s customers?

In a national survey conducted by Vince, he found that different age groups rate certain kinds of technology as more important than sex. Abraham Maslow might be turning over in his grave learning that the basic human needs might now include technology designed to supply instant gratification, but instant gratification is at the heart of consumer expectations and corporate campaigns designed to meet those expectations.

  • A majority of those 18-29 were most likely to give up sex for a week instead of their cell phone.
  • People 30 to 61 chose their abstaining from sex for a week over missing out on their high speed internet connection.
  • Those over 62 would rather give up sex for a week than live without their precious email.

Don’t have the time to do it right?

Your customers don’t have the time either. Google results speak volumes: Results 1 – 10 of about 19,400,000 for “better e-commerce experience” took only 0.14 seconds. They’re literally less than one second and one click away from goodbye.

We can help. If you think you don’t have time to do it right, reach out and we’ll be happy to prove you wrong. Still waiting? ;)

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Comments (7)

  1. [...] See more… [...]

  2. [...] with the iPhone-price-drop controversy behind us, will the competition continue bruising Apple? Stay [...]

  3. [...] I just came across this really interesting post by Future Now’s Bryan Eisenberg that examines the price drop and subsequent apology/refund I described above — along with [...]

  4. [...] A Bruised Apple in the Age of Speed [...]

  5. Well, if you think that was bad, wait until the refunds for all the videos people could not watch due to no sound! F’ing Apple!

  6. buy ebook internet marketing strategy…

    Keep up the good work….

  7. As of this last month iPhone sales have nearly doubled. It appears that the american consumer is more than ready to handle the iPhone and all it’s features!

    -Jason

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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