Apple used to be the “cool” brand and used this positioning in their advertising to help establish one of the biggest brands in the world. However, analysts are downgrading Apple while the tech media is promoting new Windows laptops and desktops over Apple Macs. What is going on here?
As David Carnoy over at CNET said “I’m not sure that “Apple just handed Microsoft the keys to the kingdom,” as my colleague Sean Hollister wrote shortly after Apple first unveiled the new MacBook Pros. But those high prices on MacBooks have certainly opened the door to folks to look elsewhere for a more affordable lightweight laptop that has the added appeal of doubling as a tablet.
Sean Hollister takes it a step further “Here’s the truth: Apple’s new MacBook Pro isn’t for pros. Not all of them, anyhow. It’s not for photographers who quickly offload pictures from SD cards, or writers who need a comfortable keyboard. It’s not for businesspeople who plug into TVs and projectors to show off their PowerPoint, or video editors who need a lot of graphical muscle.cIt’s not for artists and graphic designers who use pens or touchscreens to do their work — or anyone who needs more than 16GB of memory.”
Apple’s lack of innovation is costing them dearly. Google now has the best rated smartphone, Microsoft has the best rated desktops and the new Windows laptops can be hundreds of dollars cheaper, and more powerful, than Mac laptops.
What happened? Put simply Apple committed a huge mistake: they allowed competitors to catch up to them while consumers are asking “why should I spend the extra money for an Apple logo?” For example, Best Buy was selling the entry-level Surface Pro 4 with an Intel Core M3 plus a keyboard for $600. By comparison, Apple’s beautifully designed M3-powered 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,300. More and more people are not willing to shell out the money for an Apple laptop because Microsoft has closed the gap.
This is a case study which needs to be analyzed by business schools and marketers everywhere. While Apple is still hugely profitable many should be asking if Apple’s best days are behind them. They have focused too much on the mobile market and neglected the desktop and laptop market for way too long and it’s showing.
The key lesson? Even top brands have to be aware that competitors are always just a couple of steps behind.