Apple®: From Tip of the Spear to Tipping Point?

As of this writing Apple® the former underdog known as Apple Computer is now known more along the lines of Apple the “Indestructible Wonder Company.” It seems as of late to be either morphing or already changed into what it rivaled against for so many years. The over arching corporate empire.

Apple makes fantastic cutting edge products. Nearly every release of a new or updated version of one of its creations quite honestly astounds more people than it merely impresses. If you’re already an Apple user the updates impress. If you’re a former PC user – you’re astonished. To compare a 2 year old iMac or Macbook to a brand new PC or laptop is equivalent to comparing a used Bentley to a new Hyundai for user experience. There’s no comparison unless you argue about such things as the Bentley’s window controls are in the wrong place then one was used to. Which resembles the PC vs. Apple argument these days.

However Apple seems to be losing that amorphous feeling one had when becoming part of the so-called Apple family. Have we stepped from big brother to an even bigger sibling with an attitude? The changes are subtle. Never the less they’re there; and becoming more apparent daily.

Forget the products or features right now but look at the company itself. The relationship between Apple and its customers seems to be changing. And not for the better. It feels like it’s turning from the viewpoint of: “Other computer companies don’t understand the Apple customer” to something along the lines of: “Our customers just don’t understand what we at Apple are doing.”

Here’s a few examples of late that just don’t seem to jive with the so-called Apple culture of just a year or two ago.

Within months of Job’s passing Apple starts paying a dividend to share holders, and re-institutes a policy long cancelled by Job’s of corporate donations to education. This seemed to be a signal that the Job’s viewpoint was clearly no longer sacrosanct. Wall St. and others would now be brought into the fold of attuned attention from management.

Apple made it easy – and made us want to buy and create our music libraries. Again in a way that made sense where no one had before. Yet, we just found out that we really don’t own our libraries. We’re renting them. Most have no idea.

This was brought to life with a law suit now underway with Apple and Bruce Willis the actor. He wanted to pass along his massive iTunes® collection to his children when he died. He was informed when he expires – so does the collection. How that plays out could be a public relation night mare.

Making the switch to the Apple ecosystem was worth it because once you were in it moving anything across devices was simple, easy, and intuitive. Rarely did one need a visit to the “Genius Bar” for help. However now there are instances where the steps to move certain things have become as laborious or as frustrating as some Vista® nightmares. While at the same time hearing from a “genius” that all this crap is actually a good thing for the Apple customer. Maybe they had better start serving alcohol at that bar also.

Apples newest feature Maps has been a disaster. I understand the fight currently taking place between Google® and Apple. I get it. However, are you meaning to tell me that Apple thought this map feature was ready for prime-time? Or was this a stupid foolish cut of the nose to spite its face? There were far too many problems right out of the gate to not have known. This was about Apple first – customer second.

Here is one that I’ll end with that seems to signify the change in philosophy at Apple away from the Apple customer to the Apple corporate empire. The new lightning connector.

Anyone in the Apple ecosystem knows one thing. One connector for everything Apple. Now they changed it. I have no issue with that. But what strikes me as a blind spot in Apple is this small seemingly innocuous piece of hardware will be seen as a symbol of putting corporate profit before the coveted Apple customer.

We all know the markups that are inherent in these types of connectors. Currently you can buy one from Apple for the mere price of $29.00. Yet as we all know this will be available shortly anywhere from some manufacturer for under $5.00 including shipping like all the others. We also inherently know these cost mere pennies to manufacture. This has all the tell tale signs of profit for profits sake.

I’m not one for giving away free stuff nor do I care how much profit a company makes on any product. What I’m trying to show is where I see Apple moving away from attention to the customer to more attention to the bottom line.

Would it not have been seen in the eyes of the Apple devoted a show of appreciation of that support if say they offered a free new connector with every new iPhone® purchased? You needn’t give it to everyone for eternity. Include it to anyone whom purchased at an Apple store. Make it a reason why to bring customers within the Apple fold. Something – anything! Rather than just giving the appearance of now turning everything into a profit center for profit sake. I mean really…$29.00?

That connector cost pennies yet connects thousands of dollars of Apples products or profits to millions and millions of customers. It’s never the big things that get you most of the time. It’s the little detail that’s overlooked that can tick your customers off.

Or is this just the new version of “Think Different?”

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr