Bulletin 8 June 2018 – Apple and the decay curve of brand difference

This week’s plan to write about WWDC was thwarted when I realised there was not much to say…


OK, that’s not quite fair. The plans around Augmented Reality look very interesting, though they are ‘just’ software enhancements and not unique to Apple. The speed-ups, streamlining and additional usage controls in iOS are very welcome, as is the fact that CarPlay supports other apps than Apple Maps. The new features on the Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV look useful. 

But it’s all a bit, you know. Like that party you go to when you expect food, and someone comes round with a tray every now and again, but it’s not quite what you want, so in the end you nip out and get a sandwich. Or the shop you go in towards Christmas, which all looks like it should fulfil all your needs, but in the end you can’t see one thing you want to buy. 

I’ve written before about how many technology companies, and indeed darlings of the platform economy, benefit from a sudden release of potential value. Uber managed to link together drivers and passengers for example, missing out pesky and anti-competitive taxi corporations, as well as avoiding (until recently) niceties such as passenger safety. 

These opportunities come from the law of reducing bottlenecks which arise as a technology increases in capability and reduces in cost. But they have a best-before date: that’s the nature of commoditisation. It’s also the nature of fashion, which is not a coincidence. 

It’s not hard to remember what technology looked like in pre-Apple days: beige or grey, clunky and thick. In large part, it did not attempt to be cool: exceptions such as Sony differentiated against the blandness of, well, just about everybody. Apple made tech cool, at a moment when it was not the norm. 

But, frankly, now it is. Apple’s USP is no longer that it is the coolest, nor that it is the most innovative or leading edge: the days of pulling a laptop computer out of a flat envelope are over. Of course it has ongoing credibility, but it is more Audi than Tesla. 

Perhaps it doesn’t matter: with one of the world’s biggest corporate cash piles, it is not going anywhere soon (but then, that didn’t slow the demise of Sun Microsystems, when it became the dot in dot-bomb). However, the rationale upon which the organisation’s rebirth was founded is no longer differentiating. Which is food for thought indeed. 

Just the one article this week.


The missing element of GDPR: Reciprocity

Blah Blah GDPR… As I was walking down the high street this morning, it suddenly clicked that yes, finally, stuff about people was being treated as such, and not just some sanitised view that we call ‘data’. Data is difficult to abuse, but people it is more straightforward. So I welcome the ongoing debate and activity (which largely boils down to: what’s your privacy policy?), at the same time as questioning its scope and future-safety.

Bulletin 8 June 2018 – Apple and the decay curve of brand difference

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