Monday, 30 January 2012 06:57

Apple's Myth Machine Slowly Coming to a Halt

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despdThere are many things that bother me about the way the media portrays things and how this portrayal develops corporate myths that are then bought into by the consumer market. One of these has always been the superiority of Apple products over the rest of the competition. The myth all started many years ago when Apple manufactured everything they made here in the US pretty much by hand. They were a boutique dealer and could afford to take the extra time and effort to get all of the details right. However, all of that changed when Tim Cook arrived on the scene.

Back in 1998 Cook joined Apple after spending a short period of time at Compaq as VP for Corporate Materials. He came on board for Apple in the position of Senior VP for World Wide Operations. During his run in that position Cook decided that he could save Apple some serious money by removing their manufacturing arm. This one move removed all of Apple’s factories and most of their warehouses. This moved production to factories in China alongside companies like Dell (and yes Compaq). At that point Apple’s products pretty much became just like the rest. Yet for a long time they maintained their quality edge in their marketing material (Apple finally stopped making that claim around 2008).

The problem is that many in the media continued to keep up the myth despite knowing that Apple products were made in the same factories as Dell and others. The claim changed from ‘”better made” to “better components”. Now with the advent of the tear down websites and the listing of every item inside Apple’s new products even that myth is getting harder and harder to maintain. The fact of the matter is that Apple’s products are just like the rest in the market in terms of hardware and basic design.  Where Apple can gain an edge is in their software. They have the benefit of being able to code for a very limited set of hardware components. This makes it easy to optimize your code and produce a solid and stable OS.

Now, the reason that I am bringing all of this up is that Apple is now under pressure for some comments made by executives about their choice to keep manufacturing with Foxconn despite concerns over employee welfare and even human rights considerations. There has been a growing consumer movement against Apple products over the conditions at the Foxconn factories. The same media outlets that struggled to keep the Apple myths alive are now working very hard to keep up their support of Apple with comments like; If you are going to boycott Apple, you should boycott Dell too.

Comments like this from large news sites are a serious concern as they miss the entire point of the consumer unrest. The conditions at Foxconn are only the top of the pile when it comes to Apple’s recent treatment of the consumer. The market is waking up to the way Apple has done (and is continuing to do) business. The numerous lawsuits to stifle competition, abusive use of the US patent office, and the large margins on their products (that are made just like everyone else’s) are in this mix too. It is the unfortunate fate for many companies that believe their own marketing. It was one thing to pull this off when Steve Jobs was in the Captain’s Chair. After all, Steve was a true visionary and as one of the co-founders he was part of the original vision. Now, we have Tim Cook who has worked for Compaq and IBM trying to sell the Apple party line. The message now comes out as marketing, it is not the same and the market is waking up to this fact.

Apple will continue to sell their products to many, many consumers, but I would not be surprised to see some of the hype and mania that we usually see over Apple devices die down as more and more competitors win against Apple in court and are able to sell competing products for less and more information gets out about Apple’s corporate policies. It will be much harder to maintain the mystery and myth that Apple has relied upon for all of these years.

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Read 2200 times Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2012 13:55

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