Our friend and consulting partner Bob Liljenwall has always been passionate about Steve Jobs and the Apple brand. Check out his thoughts regarding the upcoming announcements from Apple as well as the attributes that the brand must fulfill to be successful in keeping consumers brand loyal.
We’re waiting … what does Apple have up its sleeve?
Are we breathless yet? Are we tired of the anticipation? Do we sense a letdown? Are we going to see another great lineup of products from Apple? Or is Larry Ellison right … Apple is doomed again?
Questions abound regarding Apple’s next move … and as a student of such events over the past decade, the next bewitching event comes September 10, maybe. Apple is finally going to end all the speculation as to what it has up its sleeve – a new iPhone (5s or 6???) … new OS … new iTV … new iPad Mini … a new iWatch? All of the above or just what? I’m as anxious as the next Apple watcher but one thing Apple is a master at: Keeping secrets. Pundits across the tech landscape are making predictions that 1) we’ll get a new iPhone (# not important is it?), which promises to be a game changer … 2) a new OS … and 3) perhaps a cheaper iPad.
I have been fantasizing about an iTV and I tell my wallet to just be patient … don’t rush out and buy a Samsung … you know that when Apple debuts its long-awaited, long-discussed iTV, it will blow everyone out of the water, even if Steve Jobs is not here (or is he?). Incidentally, you can see “Jobs” – the movie – reviews are in and Ashton Kutcher is Steve Jobs. He perfectly mimics his speech, style, and look but most have panned the movie. (I can’t resist … will see it regardless.)
So, it comes down to Tim Cook, doesn’t it? What kind of leader is he? Can he restore confidence in Apple’s ability to outdo itself again? Can we believe that Steve instilled enough of his passion and inventiveness into Tim to sustain and build upon what Steve created? We hope so. Naysayers like Ellison, however, seem to love the spotlight that generate headlines (he knew his comments would), and from a factual and historical point of view, Ellison was right: We knew Apple when Steve was there; when he left; when he came back; and now when he has left Apple, again. Bottom line: “Apple is doomed,” per Ellison, who has never, ever approached the incredible business achievements of Apple or the brand strength of Steve Jobs or Apple.
Oracle is one of those companies that, while it has built an enormous fortune for Ellison which allows him to devote time at the helm of his America Cup’s racing team … he never touched or got near the passion that Steve Jobs generated for his vision, his company, and for himself. And besides, Larry isn’t even handsome … he spends too much time in the sun on his sailboat and even plastic surgery won’t help. Steve just looks the “part” of one of our greatest inventors of all time. Steve still has the magic, and he’s dead. Ellison never had ‘magic’ – he just looks dead. So why did Ellison take this ‘shot’ at Apple after Steve is gone?
In just a couple of weeks we will know the “rest of the story” … and I am betting that Apple will go over the top. One thing for sure: Carl Icahn is in Apple’s corner … he sees Apple at $600/share, and as of August 16, it was back over $500. But who knows?
Apple drives its business on creating innovative products that produce enormous profits … they don’t discount … they get full margins … they provide quality products on many platforms … and give great customer service. Customers “love” their products. A cult brand? It doesn’t get any “cult-ier” than Apple.
This story bears repeating … as I was walking out of the Pasadena Apple store…and young lad was walking out with me … it was one of the iPad launch nights … store was crowded and buzzing … As we were approaching the exit, I looked over at him and said…”Did you buy anything?” ”No,” he mumbled … ”Well, you know the alarm goes off if you didn’t buy anything!” For a nano second, he believed me. And then he smiled … and I relieved his fears – “I was kidding.”
We all want to buy an Apple something. And come September 10, we will all find out what to buy next. I’m already in line for my new iPhone. Right behind Larry Ellison. – RJL