The iPhone 5 is now out, yet the custom of hyperbolic hype across all iPhone generations hasn’t changed much. It seems that the very familiar engineering of both emotions and advertising strategies have not seeped into the global consumer psyche and the collective verve of Apple loyalists are still riding high whenever rumors of a new iPhone release fondly hover around our heads. Are we impervious to the myriad of Apple stages, in its intelligent move to rake in bazillions of profits? Or are we simply being stupid, not minding the clear signals that we are regally hoodwinked while we rest on a faith driven by hallucinatory logic?
Let me conk your heads right this instant.
THE LANDSCAPE BEFORE IPHONE 5
Consider the backdrop of the whole ‘iPhone 5’ theatrical show: The day the iPhone 4S was announced, on October 4, 2011, much to the people’s displeasure over the deliberate contempt of Apple’s denial of the iPhone 5, there already sparked a fierce media hellhole attacking the tech firm’s notorious parsimony of disclosing preliminary information about their device and its failure to unveil an industry-topping gizmo. For some, the iPhone 4S was just the beta iPhone 5. It was merely a step-up from its predecessors; a tedious gap stopper to allay people’s tall expectations.
We waited almost a full year for the encore, and the question is: Is iPhone 5 worth the wait? Were the invested sentiments literally equivalent to how expensive Apple devices are? There’s only one way to go about it: Unpack the new iPhone 5 and demystify its obscurities.
THE BODACIOUS IPHONE 5 RUMORS
Let’s start off with the formative seasons of iPhone 5 rumors: A few months after the iPhone 4S was released, the temperature of the techosphere significantly decreased- probably because consumers were reconsidering the iPhone 4S. But as the Zeigarnik effect in Gestalt psychology would tell you, we remember better things which are left unfinished. This is why, among all the previous iPhone releases, the iPhone 5 probably had the longest stretch of mass and media attention, albeit the unexpected birth of the iPhone 4S. Theoretically, the denizens of the World Wide Web waited for two long years for a single contraption. In the local time momentum, two years in technology is comparative of a decade in general time reference.
WHAT HAVE WE GOT?
Keen eyes on our subject, I will never conceal the poignant truth that the iPhone 5 came out as a massive disappointment. Sure, the iPhone 5 rumors fueled Apple’s chariot of popularity, but the new iDevice lacked the phenomenal innovations that spotlighted the launch of its older generation. Back then, iPhone events were characterized by revolutionary features that raised the bar in the smartphone industry; cases in point are Siri, the Retina Display, the minimalist design and etc.- exorbitant costs, optional.
Which inevitably skyrocketed an inquiry: Has Apple pushed the concept of minimalism to the extremes? The iPhone 5 is only slightly larger than its older sibling, being 20% lighter and 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S. Add to that is the inclusion of the A6 chip and 4G technology. Other than those four critical features, the iPhone 5 starts to lose its sparkle alongside industry-leveling smartphones. In fact, the sum of its chutzpah isn’t all that thrilling. A lot of mobile phone makers like Nokia, HTC, and Samsung already churned out phones with all those features 18 months ago. Yet despite the deluded marketing proposition that wraps the iPhone 5, Apple still exploited its worn-out superlatives and had the gall to call the iPhone 5 ‘the biggest thing to happen to an iPhone’.
That’s the sweetest marvel of Vertical Integration. Revisit your MBA syllabuses.
CAN THE IPHONE 5 COMPETE?
So with all the truths unmasked, how can the iPhone 5, that apparently has no bragging rights, compete with its foils and manage to sell so well?
Blame it on the interplay of several significant factors: Status, fashion, peer pressure, usability, and simplicity. The algorithm of consumer choice heavily calculates the weight of each factor, and determines the relevance of each. Status and fashion can take precedence over the other elements, and a choice is arrived at; or usability becomes paramount which then makes another product the preferable one. Simply put: It’s a set of rigid criteria with malleable values, and it is in this area of study where Apple won hands down. After all, the exceptional knowledge of your demographics is your spring board to the endless pool of commercial possibilities. For years, Apple has spawned an army of hundred million loyalists whose deep faith on a product can come across to others as hallucinatory logic.
FAITH AT WORK
Many times in the past, a lot of tech analysts sneered at Apple’s lucky stranglehold of the electronics market. One notable remark came from the Economist, saying that Apple should be wary of another tech juggernaut- Google, with the Android phone makers, especially Samsung as its sworn long-standing enemy. The statistics delivered the statement with an artery-clogging panache:
"Android’s share of smartphone sales rose from 24% in 2010 to 66% in the first half of this year; Apple’s grew four percentage points, to 20%, over the same period."
What the Economist failed to capture was that even before the iPhone classic made waves in 2007, various business and tech presses ridiculed and dismissed the ‘touchscreen’ notion as poisonous and unprofitable. Bouncing forward, it is clear that Apple has proven their assumptions wrong. And many times, at that.
Meanwhile, the Android market shows signs of stability and further growth. However, this also entailed a lot of setbacks. A quick trip around the pages of GSMArena.com and Gadgetreview.com will show you how Android-infested the smartphone market is today, to the point that the powerful operating system already runs into fragmentation. Some Android phones are mutually incompatible with the latest content and applications.
Though Apple did experience the same problem with its devices especially the iCloud service on older generation iPhones, it now keeps its devices and services in a highly-controlled biome- the majority of the iPhones now run on the second most recent version of iOS. And now that the iOS 6 is launched, I wager that the uptake for it will soon transpire.
If truth be told, Apple only holds 20% of the market. But it gets 3/4 of the profits. That’s right! 75% of the profits of the entire mobile industry came from Apple’s treasure chest. This is a company that has only been playing for six years, trundling the veterans like Samsung and Nokia, then totally eclipsing the industry’s little leaguers like LG, Sony, Motorola, RIM, and etc.
THE SUPERCHARGED BRAND ICON
In one of the articles I wrote, I once mentioned the unmistakable value of brand equity. This marketing terminology reminds me of a powdered juice advertisement aired almost five years ago. It was a local product and its distributors did not cater to the international market.
“In the TV ad, a powdered juice seller is having a bad day because she does not have many customers. People pass by without even throwing a sidelong glance at her goods. Suddenly, she thinks of a way to increase the marketability of her product. (Of course, this is implied by the ‘flashing light bulb’ icon stamped above her head!)”
“Brandishing a banner that bears the brand name of the product she is selling, she hangs it above her cart. Not too long after, people begin to flock to her cart and she successfully sells powdered juice like no other day. And she lives happily ever after… (I suppose).”
Brand equity is a marketing phenomenon or effect that accrues to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have the brand name. Meaning, consumer’s knowledge of the brand is a considerable factor in making sales. If a brand name has a special meaning to the consumers; if it peppers a sense of solidarity and connection to the buyers’ psyche, the argument on quality is not as essential. What has been a top significance becomes second fiddle to the customers’ outlook. Ladies and gentlemen- this is the magic of brand equity. And this is what makes Apple a long standing juggernaut in the computing and electronics field. Hook the hearts of the people and you can make millions.
Despite the fact that the name ‘Apple’ has been a monumental success in the smartphone and computer market domain, the tech giant has fulfilled the great promise that the phenomenon of brand equity hails. Apple rises to accept the enormous challenge of living up to its name at all costs. Moreover, the highly ingenious, superbly ergonomic, and aesthetically well-ranking gizmos that Apple engenders are meant to exceed the expectations of the growing cult of Apple fanatics and loyalists. These products are fundamental for the company to keep their records looming over other mobile enterprises.
THE LITERARY EQUIVALENCE
Contrary to what its moniker suggests, ‘Apple’ chose a name that does not border on ugly pretenses: Their products’ names would testify such integrity. The iPhone is iPhone; iPad is iPad, Mac is Mac. Though this amounts to Apple’s incapability to innovate names, at least it has the decency not to aspire for the astronomical- to the high sounding semantics of a seemingly insignificant gadget. It is not a Lumia; not a Droid; and certainly not a Galaxy. It is just well…an Apple.
Though if you are a biblical scholar, you would see Apple as a metaphor of the world, alluding to the unidentified ‘fruit of knowledge of good and evil’ coaxed to be eaten by the wily serpent (representative of Satan) and devoured by Adam and Eve (symbolic of humanity). Of course, one would have to question his skills of inferences before one makes such ridiculous claims. Nonetheless, we got the point: Apple is the world, but only present in our minds. And we succumb to its overwhelming pressure and weight.
With all the stuff that makes Apple a hit among customers, how long can it sustain its victory? I gather it is still very early to presage things, but as long as Apple aficionados don’t lose the devotion, any chances of slogging are, for the moment, impossible.