Has everybody just missed what Apple’s doing?
With all the hype about Apple entering the luxury market with the new Apple Watch and haters and fans alike losing their collective heads over the usefulness and cost of something that will be outdated in a few months, it might be that a lot of people are losing site of Apples vision of the future.
So let me chime in with my two cents worth.
A long time ago, pocket calculators were all the rage. They cost a bomb, but you just had to be seen with one. Digital watches took the same drive around the ‘Must Have Item’ circuit. Both these items are literally being given away these days, that is if you can even give them away anymore to anyone who doesn’t think they’re redundant in the face of the Swiss army knife of technology – the cellular phone.
Similarly the iPod has seen its day, with phones filling that function. The humble iMac has given away to laptops and tablets. In tech, products have life spans, not just models, but the entire product itself and with brand name sales sliding for the other manufacturers, and cheap options with the same functionality infiltrating the market, luxury may be the only place to hide.
Is the next 10 years for the cell phone a cheap, disposable device where everything personal and customized is in the cloud so you can jump from device to device without even noticing the transition?
The world has changed, gone are the days where you can create a product and survive selling it for the next 100 years. Some age old physical products will survive, but these days, you need to constantly adapt to the world around you. Even the giants such as Google and Facebook face daily threats by young startups whose ability to pull in audiences is only a click and a viral video away.
There is no more stability for the towering giants like there was yesteryear where you built up an empire and it become virtually unassailable. With the ability for multibillion dollar businesses to spring up overnight also comes the threat, or power depending on whose perspective, to have them crumble overnight if they’re not wide awake.
However, when you become a luxury brand you start opening up a whole new avenue of products, without having to rely on being the most technologically proficient. Regardless of what the product may be, there’s always a willing market, and Apple is already half way there.
A Brand is still something that it takes all that time and effort to build up. It’s the products and the functions and even to a degree the form (if you can afford a billion dollar lawsuit) that are so easy to replicate. The brand has become the empire, separate from product, and it’s the only thing that modern businesses can ever hope to build up.
Being in the luxury segment of brands is something competitors will find a lot harder to replicate and much more expensive to beat than everyone creating what is essentially the same product just with different design features.
These ideas are not new, brand advocates have been screaming this for years, but the trick has been applying them to technology, the one segment that has never seemed to be able to crack it. From pens to watches, you can get them on street corners or pay 10s of thousands for them, but digital has somehow stayed in the cold when it came to this segment. One of the prime reasons for this is technology’s transient nature. By its very connotation luxury equates to quality and durability. The bold and lasting statement of the classic human craftsmanship in luxury watches, is harder to instill in something that feels almost clinical, assembly line like and that will, without a doubt, be followed by a more powerful, improved successor in probably just over a year. It’ll be interesting to watch just how Apple tackles this psychology.
Then again, they might just be thinking that people will like a sparkly version of their products and that’s all there is to it.