I was just sitting there, watching it in disbelief. The new Apple commercial, there was something odd about it. It created this odd psychic friction in my mind. Something was different about this one. But what was it?
Apple’s noise canceling technology, “so when the world gets noisy, calls sound better,” the voiceover proclaims. Link to video.
I wrote it off as a fluke and went about my day, but then I saw another brand new Apple ad. This one was gushing about the thin-ness of the new iPhone. Link to video.
And then another ad showing the panoramic picture taking. Link to video.
And then another showing how to send bunch of pictures using Apple’s PhotoStream feature. Link to video.
The shift became clear, Apple was rotting at its core.
On surface, these commercials “feel” a lot like the old ones. Simple, elegant, understated.
But there is a subtle yet monumental shift in the direction that reflects the change in leadership, and it’s exactly the kind of shift Simon Sinek warns against in his book, Start With Why.
Since Apple’s inception, Steve Jobs was very careful to imbue his organization with something deeper than features, and the old commercial spots reflected this intent.
We all (should) remember 1984 commercial showing a young woman running into an auditorium with a sledgehammer and busting the metaphorical status quo.
“Hello, I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC” ads didn’t list a single feature. Instead, they focused on how cool Mac is, and how stodgy PCs are. And those ads were unbelievable successful.
But my favorite Apple commercial from the Steve Jobs era was the one showing Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, and other “crazy ones, misfits, rebels, troublemakers, round pegs in the square holes…the ones who see things differently” Think Different ad spot.
Steve Jobs has worked his entire life to imbue Apple products with meaning beyond mere features, and it’s the reason –according to Sinek- why Apple has been such an enduring and transformative brand.
Apple is in the business of changing the status quo. Case in point, iPod.
iPod portable music player made sense for a company like Apple because it aimed to disrupt the old music distribution model.
Apple’s unprecedented success in this regard stands in stark contrast to Dell’s complete failure. Dell entered the portable music player market, but no one knew Why? And that included Dell.
Organizations which are able to clearly define their Why, the core purpose, the driving force behind their existence, are the organizations which benefit from insane loyalty bestowed upon them by their supporters.
On the other hand, organizations who’s core purpose is to make money, end up competing on price, features, and marketing gimmicks, in order to drive sales.
Apple is being reshaped from an organization with a clearly defined sense of Why, into an organization that is competing on price, features, and marketing gimmicks.
- We all know that Apple will lose the price point contest.
- The features are often below the industry standard,
- and marketing gimmicks are a crapshoot.
It’s all about girls, man…
When the cute girl at Starbucks who tosses me a glance as I pull my MacBook Pro from its bag, will think that I’m the crazy one, the misfits, the rebel, the troublemaker, the round peg in a square hole…the one who thinks differently; then I am willing to pay the premium, and even wait for Apple to catch up with its technology.
But if Apple forces me to compare them with other device makers, then they just might lose me as a customer.
In this last scenario, Apple losses a customer, and I lose a glance from the cute girl at Starbucks. And nobody wants that to happen, isn’t that right, Apple?
My recommendation to Apple leadership is to pick up Simon Sinek’s book, study it, and make Steve proud. Because the way things are going, you’re doing it wrong.