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Marketing Lessons from the fall of Apple Mac

With our favourite technology manufacturer celebrating 30 years in the game recently we couldn’t help but consider where the brand is today. And, unfortunately, despite loving its kit, even we have to admit it’s not all high sales and huge profile.

OK, before you start accusing us of being out of our marketing minds it’s probably best to clarify a few things. The Great White hope of technology remains one of the world’s most in demand brands, and amongst the planet’s most valuable. Nevertheless, despite forking out for a spaceship-themed new HQ with just a fraction of its plentiful coffers, the future may not be quite so rosy for Steve Jobs’ brainchild.

One look at the recent protests that held up shuttle busses designed to take Silicone Valley workers into the office is proof enough of an impending backlash. If one hasn’t begun already. Of course that wasn’t just targeting Apple Mac staff, with Google and Microsoft also caught in the action. Nevertheless, the reason for this activism paints all three firms in a negative light. Californian’s in the area are, apparently, being increasingly displaced due to soaring property prices resulting from the wages now being paid by these digital giants, and on the whole feel these companies care far more about profits than any word like community.

It’s indicative of a far worse problem that has impacted on the consumer opinion of all things Mac for a few years now. How can the public validate spending more on a computer than many of the people building the parts would see in a year, if the horrendous treatment of employees in those factories is such common knowledge. For a business that tries to sell itself on transparency- the PC for people who hate PCs, straight talking without a ‘Fatal Error’ message in sight- having desperate Chinese microchip packers throwing themselves off buildings because the conditions in their production-town are so appalling doesn’t look good.

Compared to the implied luxury of buying a new iMac it’s a million miles removed. And what of that honest, ‘doing things differently’ stand point? Once an underdog, then a challenger brand renowned for its ease of use, groundbreaking designs and reliability, realistically speaking only one of those remains fully in tact now the firm has achieved its goal of becoming number one.

The more units sold, the more updates and tweaks unveiled for apps and software- many of which are simply to seem competitive- and it would appear the more problems and issues occur with the actual products. Anyone who remembers the bad sentiment surrounding the release of the Mountain Lion OS update a year or two ago will understand the point only too well.

And when it comes to hardware, similarly incremental updates have understandably sent consumers running to rivals who prefer to make their annual unveiling of a new model, when necessary, count. That, and the walled garden approach to compatibility, with Apple’s catalogue notoriously ignorant when it comes to communicating with machines made by other firms. In an age wherein people strive to be seen as individuals this ‘cult of Mac’ is a rather negative turn of phrase.

So what can we take from this? Clearly Corporate Social Responsibility is of the utmost importance in 2014, and despite the fact options for ethical tech are severely limited, the average consumer is no longer in the dark about the dark practices behind these companies. Whether its privacy, control of information or opting for suppliers that pay staff a pittance for 15-hour shifts, there’s no denying an increasing amount of pressure will be placed on firms such as Apple in a bid to force the firm to fall in line with the standards they would have to in the U.S.

Apple Marketing Promises

Meanwhile, any business owner must also understand that marketing promises must be met, and messages believable in order to prevent cheapening a brand name. In this case, customers are promised the best standard of craftsmanship possible in a piece of electronic equipment, built to be intuitive. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the situation, which alone is enough to make us question the overall posturing and positioning.

Not that we want to be seen as hypocritical. The Cunning Plan office is packed full of Mac gear, and people here wouldn’t have it any other way. From iPads and iPhones, to desktop computers, we still believe they are the best products in their class. But that doesn’t mean we’re not still disappointed, and troubled by the sheer volume of negativity surrounding a firm we remain torchbearers for. As such, consider this a very realistic Happy Birthday to a company we couldn’t live without, albeit hope one day we can live better alongside.