/ Technology

Apple – has it all gone pear-shaped?

Apples and a pear

For decades Apple was the underdog. Now its following, which began almost as a cult, has made it the world’s largest tech company. But has Apple become a victim of its own success?

When I returned to my family last weekend even my mum knew about the iPhone 4’s reception saga – it was mainstream news. Would this have been the case if the issue had been detected on a Nokia handset?

Regardless, I doubt that ‘antennagate‘ will have a long-lasting impact on Apple. The pitch forks may stab around for a while, but soon they’ll be placed back in their respective sheds.

There’s a negative buzz around Apple

Importantly though, the Apple iPhone’s buzz score (a balance based on consumer’s positive and negative comments) has sunk from May’s 35.5 to a pitiful 2.2 in July. Even the number of people willing to recommend the handset has halved.

And it wasn’t the iPhone 4’s reported problems that really shook the brand – it was the way Apple dealt with them. Telling users to hold their phone in a different way and deleting negative comments from its forums began to turn Apple into the Big Brother company it once despised.

The company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, was seen as the Apple of so many eyes, but of late he’s come across as slightly defensive. Has the Apple turned sour? Sure, giving out free iPhone 4 bumper cases is a positive step, but it looks like the bigger Apple gets, the more villainous Jobs becomes.

Yet Apple’s profits haven’t changed – in fact they reached epic proportions in the company’s last quarter. And with the iPhone 4 being Apple’s most successful product launch, ‘hold it the wrong way’ comments will soon ripen into long lost fairy tales.

Love, hate, but never indifferent

There’s an old adage that says brands want to be loved, don’t mind being hated, but indifference spells disaster. Recent events might make some of us despise the brand, but at least we’re taking part. And although the iPhone assimilation may momentarily slow down, Apple’s loyal fans will always stand by.

At the iPad launch, Stephen Fry told me that the frenzy surrounding it was akin to a new album release from Lady Gaga. A duff single isn’t going to destroy the love affair – so I don’t doubt Apple’s recovery will be swift. Roll on the next Apple iPhone.

What's your opinion of Apple following its iPhone 4 issues?

I couldn't care less. (43%, 256 Votes)

I've always loved Apple and I still love it. (31%, 187 Votes)

I've always hated Apple and I still hate it. (15%, 91 Votes)

I used to love Apple, but now I hate it. (8%, 47 Votes)

I used to hate Apple, but now I love it. (3%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 599

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MarkXA says:
30 July 2010

My wife has an iPhone 3GS and I have one of the HTC Android phones. Now, she really loves the iPhone, but speaking as both the one who pays the bills and the one who has to sort things out when they go wrong (I’m looking at you, iTunes!) I have to say that not only does the HTC seem equal or better in all important respects apart from the number of apps available, it also blows the iPhone out of the water as regards value for money.

Also, going back to the original point of "is Apple’s image tarnished", while she had no particular opinion on Apple at first (having simply chosen the iPhone on the basis of playing with her friend’s one) she does view Apple as rather arrogant these days. Once her iPhone won’t hold a day’s charge any more and she has to replace it, she’s definitely considering switching.