Has the iPhone developed a self-inflicted chink in its armor? According to a Mashable story, iPhone loyalty is on a decline. It quotes research firm Strategy Analytics as stating 88 percent of current iPhone owners in the USA were willing to buy another Apple smartphone. This is down from 93 percent last year. Western Europeans responding to the same survey saw a decline to 75 percent from 88 percent. There is a quote in Tom’s Hardware that may explain things.
“There is no doubt that Apple is continuing its success in retaining existing user base while attracting new customers,” said Paul Brown, director of Strategy Analytics’ User Experience Practice, according to a quote in Tom’s Hardware. “However, negative press prompted by perceived lack of recent innovation by Apple has meant we are starting to see some growth in the number of previously high loyal consumers who are now reconsidering whether or not they will purchase a new iPhone for their next device.”
Product innovation is something that has been stressed over and over in Tech PR Review. If you don’t out-innovate your own product, someone else will. Enter Samsung. This company has leveraged countless media stories, user reviews, etc. to try and reposition the iPhone as old news. Its commercials then help drive home the perceptions a lot of people are already feeling.
Then there have been the many negative iPhone articles about product problems that span across multiple devices. This compounds the problem. There’s no doubt that as the king of smartphone mindshare Apple will be the most attacked and it must defend itself. Some companies achieving this level of success make the mistake of starting to use public relations to play more defense on the product rather than to stay on offense. Before Apple can go back on offense more, Apple must begin to address growing negative perceptions. The main one seems to be that the iPhone – even when brand new – does not deliver cutting-edge specifications and features across the board. Reshaping earphones and trying to position this as innovative doesn’t fool anyone. Earphones have been taking on ear-conforming shape even well before the iPhone.
So, it’s becoming no surprise to hear more and more that another smartphone is outselling the iPhone. Apple doesn’t necessarily need to reinvent the smartphone all over again just yet. But, it does need to combat continuing perceptions that what the next iPhone will deliver has already been available in other smartphones for months to a year, sometimes longer. This starts with product innovation – true innovation, not reshaping earphones or your own version of maps. It becomes more and more difficult with each passing opportunity at innovation to do effective PR and marketing if you’re not the innovator.