Everything is Marketing – Apple….Enough with the Love-In!

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Lessons from Apple on weathering mistakes.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar 

I love Apple products.  We are Apple-ed up to the armpits at home.  They have changed music, wireless and computers for ever.  Steve Jobs is unquestionably a legend.

But enough with the Apple love-in!

With the recent criticism of the new Siri app, how much slack is the consumer willing to give when a brand continues to frustrate?  Oh yeah kids, I SO went there; I said Apple and frustrate in the same sentence.  Sacrilegious?  Hear me out:

Apple Newton – one of the first ever Personal Digital Assistants (PDA).  The main feature was its handwriting recognition capability.   But it got mixed reviews, was often inaccurate and was ultimately discontinued in the late 90’s.

Antenna on the iPhone 4 – remember this fiasco?  Steve Jobs’ response was rather arrogant and he had to back track.

Customer service is hit or miss.  And the chaos that’s the Apple store…don’t get me started.

And now it’s Siri, the vaunted killer app that’s underwhelming many.  Here’s a great article on gizmodo.com where Siri is put to the test.  I did my own test asking Siri to convert 1 kg to lbs.  Sure, she’s got a lovely voice but she couldn’t do what I thought was a simple request.  And from Apple I certainly expect more.  Aren’t THEY the ones that have created the expectation for perfection?

Taking a bit of a detour, here is an ad by Samsung taking pot shots at Apple.  Hilarious.

Okay, despite all this and the fact that there’s a bit of dominatrix in Apple, the brand has miles of slack their fans are willing to give. But will it run out? Remember the 3 Times Rule: you can screw up 3 times before your fans turn on you.  We expect Apple may get twice as many chances.  We’ll be watching.

The question for your brand is does it have a deep and wide reservoir of goodwill?  Great brands are like a great friend:  you trust and accept them, faults and all.  And you are willing to over-look their mistakes.  Look at Ford, McDonald’s, Starbucks – they are so trusted they can shoot themselves in the foot and come out stronger than ever.  What about Coke and their current white-can mess?  We’re all laughing, but they’ll recover too.  This time.

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  • Trichardson

    Corporations should be held to the highest standards. They’re more than just stand alone individuals
    so they should be pressured by consumers ruthlessly. People never
    demand enough. The cult like loyalty of apple fans is really sad. Do I
    own at least three Apple products? yes. Do I believe they are quickly
    becoming the next Microsoft, no doubt whatsoever. These companies are
    like athletes, training hard, pushing the envelope and hungry while
    their young. Then they get old, get famous, and get soft.

  • Mraheja

    Love the provocativeness guys!  Although I agree you don’t ever want to intentionally frustrate consumers – here are 2 thoughts on HOW the love in could continue. 
    1 – At the beginning of our blogging days – several of us wrote about failing fast.  The idea that it’s ok to take risks and fail (assuming you learn quickly and move forward).  I think Apple has built up this kind of credibility which is why they get such a break on their first versions of products.  I bet Siri will be the same…and if they can’t solve the problems then they’ll let it die.
    2 – I like how your last paragraph mentions how it’s possible to turn a mistake into something that actually builds your brand.  Here’s the link to the o.b. example which is such a brilliant piece of marketing.

    http://www.obtampons.ca/apology
    What would be the siri version of that?

  • Amber

    You both make very provocative points!  Agree Manoj, companies SHOULD take risks.  We all benefit.  Love your blog on that topic BTW http://www.sklarwilton.com/resource-centre/blog/be-brave-go-fail-at-something-today

    However, when Apple makes a mistake…man, it’s damn expensive for the consumer! 

    Tasman, maybe taking these risks keeps Apple hungry and young.  IF they ever decide to take the safe route, well, that’s when they get fat.