Apple offers solid evidence that you don't want to lose Generation Y or Generation Z. Android has dominated the smartphone market, and is beginning to over take Apple in the tablet market. How did Apple, at one point one of the most popular companies, experience a massive fall, not only globally, but among young people, especially Echo Boomers?
Let's look at a couple of views that will help us in our case study (if none of the videos load, click on the YouTube button and they'll load):
As Apple watches its company plummet in popularity, let's evaluate why they've failed and what they can do to revive their company - if they want to continue competing. Make no mistake, Apple - like some companies - underestimated the impact of poor marketing and the impact of Echo Boomers. They are paying the price, and if they don't reverse momentum, Android - like Microsoft did with the PC market - will overtake them with tablets and smartphones.
Lesson One: Don't Turn Into A Cult
Your customers are not clones.
We laugh at the Jimmy Kimmel video because it accurately shows Apple users - people who would stand in line for hours for a phone (think about it: a phone). We all have stories of that person who spent six hours trying to get the latest iPhone, or that person who drove all over some city trying to get the latest iPad. We also know that person (or those people, in this case), who boast about what their iPad can do and how it's so amazing!.
While this sounds good in theory, the results are a backlash, and as we're watching, the backlash is often stronger than the initial sell. Fueled by social media (like Twitter and Facebook), these backlashes can quickly hurt companies. Who typically uses social media? Generation Y and Generation Z. Young people realize that no one boasts about spending hours trying to get a Samsung phone, a Blackberry or an HTC. No one spends all night trying to get the latest Kindle, Nook, or whatever tablet. And the truth, that most of us know, is that people aren't going to continue to buy laptops, smartphones and tablets - the market will eliminate one (or more) of that list.
Apple oversold itself. It looked good at the time and they attracted major fanboys, but that same attraction and those fanboys now work against them. Do not become a cult; otherwise, Generation Y will dump you.
Lesson Two: Drop "Having It All"
Popular, yes, but incredibly stupid. Apple tried to overextend itself with its maps. Google offers a popular application for maps, but Apple had to outdo them. Did Apple have years of experience? No. Did Apple know about the market before it tried? No. Did Apple end up with a better product? Uh ... no. In fact, if this article isn't sarcastic and is true (it's hard to tell based on the tone), Apple is probably one of the worst companies in history - it knew it had a terrible product and fired the employee who warned the company that it wasn't ready for the launch. Outside of killing its customers or employees, could a company do something worse? Apple's attitude (if the article is true) essentially says, "&*@#! our customers; they can just deal with the inconvenience." When customers got angry, what did Apple do? Fired the person who said, "Hey, let's just use the product that works" (a very good idea).
Again, assuming the article is true, Generation Y in this media age will find out. Fueled by social media, Echo Boomers will spread word about these disasters and companies will end up with a PR mess. Keep in mind, this hasn't only been true for Apple: ESPN faced a major PR disaster with Echo Boomers because Deadspin called out a hoax that ESPN's journalists couldn't catch.
Lesson Three: Engage, Engage, Engage
Samsung crushed Apple not only because Apple acted like a bully, but because Apple didn't engage with its customers. Samsung interacted with customers on Twitter. They promoted their YouTube video (that you see above this) during their launch. They made their much-smaller-event a more-social-event. People don't use iPhones because they like technology - they use them because they connect to people. Generation Y is one of the most social generations, and companies that don't make effort to connect with them, will lose. Generally, people like people; we're social creatures. When companies start to lose sight of this, they lose us as customers. Generation Y is especially social and they want to see that companies engage with them.
What has Apple done? After making major mistakes, they've tried to hide them, not communicate through social media. They stopped engaging with their customer base, almost as if they wanted to hide in their ivory towers. Apple's social media strategy is one of the greatest disasters of all time, and it continues to hurt them. Again, do not underestimate the impact of social media.
Note here that Twitter is the fastest growing social network because it's one of the few that doesn't encumber anonymity and it's easy to sign up for. Does Apple market on Twitter well? No. Apple, like many big companies, fails to realize that it needs to use these social networks the best (on top of the fact that Twitter offers marketing the best mining potential as anyone can be anonymous without trouble).
How Apple Can Become Number One Again
All is not lost for Apple; it can reverse the momentum and regain the top spot, though the company will have major work ahead of it.
- Apple should immediately drop its "special events" for product launches. These events have fueled the cult by making customers "look forward" to the next thing. The result is that customers just look stupid and people disconnect from the company (especially Generation Y and Z).
- Apple needs to leave their ivory towers, admit their major mistakes, and connect with their customers. No company looks good when it goofs and then tries to pass it off. Apple is a company that's in desperate need of new social media strategists - their entire marketing department needs to be fired.
- Apple should focus on its core products instead of expanding its territory. The truth is that the maps app wasn't going to help them and it turned into a disaster. If Apple wants to avoid losing the tablet market and re-take the phone market, they'll need to re-focus on those core products and avoid expansion.
Updated: The above post mentions an article at Cloudave, which - according to the author at another site - was written "tongue and cheek." Regardless, this does not change the fact that Apple released a product that wasn't ready - depending on who you think is to blame, whether that be the person in charge of the project or the CEO.