Is Apple losing its shine?


It’s been a trying time at Apple Inc. in the 12 months since its co-founder Steve Jobs passed away. On the face of it, everything is rosy with attractive products, record profits and increasing sales. However, it may surprise you to discover that under the successful public image, Apple is actually facing many issues. While their problems may be tiny say compared to Nokia or Panasonic who are racking up huge losses, there is some concern that Apple may be losing some of its shine.


Firstly, there have been two recent high-profile departures from senior management. One, a Jobs protégée, was dismissed after refusing to publically apologise for the poorly received Apple Maps. Until recently he was also responsible for Siri and had been instrumental in the creation of the iPhone software iOS. The other departure was a new recruit from Dixons in the UK, someone Apple thought was the best person to run their retail business. He was only in the job for 6 months before Apple realised their error. Neither person, it seems, fitted the new ‘post-Jobs’ Apple management style.  Following the release of, in my opinion, some below-par products in the last six months, the current management now need to all sing from the same hymn book and show that Apple has not lost its way without its former captain.


Take the iPhone 5. All new phones have problems, but the current list for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 includes a case that scratches easily, the poor Apple Maps function and numerous WiFi problems. Other new features which Apple has been so proud of, including panoramic photos and replying to calls with text messages, aren’t new at all to other smartphone users. Most other smartphones also have a feature called live widgets. This is where useful information is displayed on the screen without the need to start Apps. So at a glance I could see my appointments, new emails or the latest share prices. An iPhone doesn’t do this.


Recently, the big news for Apple has been the launch of the iPad mini - with a not so ‘mini’ price tag! This is a product competing with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7, but must make you wonder why Apple is now following the competition and not leading it! The latest iPad (the 4th one) was also recently launched without much fanfare, in a very un-Apple way. The new features are predictable and while there are a few worthwhile additions, it seems that Apple may be struggling on the innovation front.


Apple’s biggest strength has always been in Marketing and when cracks start to appear here, you know something is wrong. Back in the summer during the Olympics, Apple aired three TV adverts in the US which seemed to make fun of their own customers. The whole campaign back-fired and, whilst they say no publicity is bad publicity, I don’t think Steve Jobs would have been too impressed. More recent UK adverts seem to highlight the observation that Apple appears to have run out of new ideas. Meanwhile other competitors, without the fanfare and gloss of Apple, are slowly inching their way back into the market.  Could it even be that people may realise that there are equally good or, dare I say better, alternatives to Apple but without the Apple price tag? The next 12 months are going to be very interesting as Apple tries to regain a bit of its former shine.


© Peter Johnston, ByteSupport Ltd  2012.