Monday, October 01, 2012

Why Are People Angry at Apple?

In last two weeks, Internet was flooded with articles, blogs & videos on Apple's blunder with Maps and other bugs. The customer reaction on Apple's iPhone5 launch was not what was expected based on previous launches. So I took a deeper look as to why people gave a negative response to iPhone5 in the media, but the sales numbers indicated otherwise - Sales of iPhone5 broke all previous records.

After deeper analysis, I found a few startling facts:

1. The most loyal customers were the ones screaming the loudest.
2. Customers are still buying Apple's iPhone5, but they are not as excited/happy about it as before.
3. This is an early warning to Apple to fix a few things.
4. Apple is behaving like a Goliath & People despise Goliath.

Apple has cultivated an eclectic mix of customer - from techno geeks, businessmen, & artists. These customers are also the most demanding customers. So when Apple makes small mistakes, they get very angry, express it very vocally and have the means to express it loudly. The geeks, artists & journalists - in particular have the ability to shout the loudest in the Internet world, and have used it to raise their voice of complaint on product's short comings.
Also see:
Apple is Losing its Innovation Edge
Apple loses its way with Maps

In last five years, Apple has not developed iPhone's user experience. When iPhone was first introduced, it heralded a new era of multi-touch interface and opened a new world of Apps. Since then Apple has done little to improve the user interface and user interactions on iPhone. The only commendable enhancement was 'Siri'. Apple has not fixed various 'quirks' in the product - like the need for iTunes to mange iPhone, limiting 5 iOS devices per user account etc. As a result, for the most demanding customers, Apple is not innovating enough, customers are getting bored and are irritated. So when a small thing such as Maps fails, customers are getting agitated and are making big noise about it.  Apple's customers are bored after 5 years of the same user experience. Customers are looking for something that is new & exciting.

Apple is also slowing down the pace of product innovation and is now seen as a laggard than a leader. To illustrate, consider this:

1. Apple iPhone was not the first to support 4G LTE & still does not support all forms of 4G.
2. iPhone is copying Samsung with a bigger display.
3. iPhone was not the first to have multi-core processors. Apple lags behind Android phones when it comes to CPU & Memory capabilities.
4. iPhone's memory of 16GB, 32GB, & 64GB was good 5 years ago, but with faster Internet and millions of apps, the iPhone is running out of memory, and iPhone does not allow extending memory.
5. Power users want true multi-tasking, and iOS does not deliver.
6. Business users are finding several limitations on device security & usability.
7. Apple still does not support stylus inputs - like Galaxy Note.
8. Apple lags Windows 8.0 in terms of support to Office suite, and Windows 8.0 has better integration with other Windows based business applications.

With this kind of limitations, Apple cannot hold on to its claim of Technology leader and command a premium market position. (See: Apple's market positioning)

Apple's iPhone is falling behind in terms of technology and usability when compared to its competition. So many of Apple's leading customers are unhappy and are making big noise about it.

iPhone now has a much wider customer base, and Apple's tight control over the App market space is not helping. Apple's insistence on 'Disney' like standards was good five years ago, but as the customer base grew, not all customer like to toe the 'Disney' line. Customers are demanding access to a much wider choice of apps and app market places. Customers now want access to a much wider range of apps & access to multiple App stores. People don't like to be constrained by Apple's restrictive & closed market ecospace.

Lastly but very importantly, Apple public behavior against Android is making people hate Apple. American public in general like the notion of supporting the little 'David' against the fight with  'Goliath'. For a long time, Apple portrayed itself as the 'David' in computing field and customer went with it. So when iPhone was release, iPhone was the 'innovative David' and consumers embraced it. But in last two years, Apple is behaving more like Goliath, suing every other Android phone vendors - who are much smaller players in US market. All the legal disputes are done in public domain and Apple is going after Google's free Android has made US consumers belch in disgust. The nastiness of Apple's behavior in the legal disputes is making a serious dent on Apple's image in the minds of US consumers.  So when the new Goliath makes a small error, people are jeering at Apple .

Apple has been extremely successful in last 5 years. Now, Apple is the world's largest technology company, the worlds most valuable company and is no longer a little maverick who was challenging the dominance of IBM/Windows. Apple now dominates the market and is being seen as the new Goliath - which could be very bad in terms of public image and customer relations.

Closing Thoughts

The recent public outburst against Apple was just a warning sign of some deeper problems in the iOS world for Apple. Slow down in the pace of innovation and having a very restrictive terms is creating user discontentment. If these problems are not addressed immediately, Apple will lose its prominence in mobile computing space.

Also see:
1. Apple's market positioning
2. Apple is Losing its Innovation Edge
3. Apple loses its way with Maps

1 comment:

chickenrudy said...

Good points all, but you didn't mention a thing about cost. I love my iphone4, but when a company that's pulling in billions in profits changes the cable, and then wants $29 for the adapter, that's pushing it. That "little thing" opened up my eyes to all the other money grubbing apple does, and cancelled my decision to buy an least for a while.