The love affair with Apple is over. Now the real customer relationship with Apple can begin.

Posted by on Jan 12, 2013

Apple_loveWe all know what the first stage of love is like. An emotional surge that overwhelms our logic and reason. Life doesn’t seem complete without the object of our affection in your life.

Sound familiar, Apple users? I’m among them and I’ll admit it.

It’s a phase in love where the person you love can do no wrong-even when they are. For a while, many Apple customers felt this way about Apple products. Despite disheartening product facts and products with some features that rivaled or even exceeded Apple offerings. Steve Jobs and Apple became viewed more as Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory than a tech company. The public and news media that toured his factory, saw products being shrank with a ray gun and instead of saying “that’s strange” or “how does that make the product a better one?,” we collectively said: “Wow! Don’t know what that means, but great!”

This is a common fallacy among technology companies and the public. Viewing a company technology as magic factory. A mysterious force unshackled by having to show true product value or proof for its market valuation (see Facebook).

Problem is perceiving technology as “Magic” gets people to applaud slight on hand tricks and credits presentation over the actual mechanics or metrics showing the true breakthrough nature of the technology platform. If you think about it, the last re-invention-level technology offered by Apple was the tablet itself. The iPad. And that was over three years ago. Everything else has been a feature add. No different than feature adds of new car models. Neat, but something most don’t herald as breakthrough.

Yet during the last three years until recently, Apple stock climbed to way over 700 and people stood in long lines to buy iPhones and iPads. An event that people outside the love affair likely viewed as a cult-like or Zombie-like love. The best example was the Samsung commercial that depicted a person waiting in line for the new iPhone raving about how the new phone now has the headphone plug on the bottom of the phone–then he pantomimes that that change is mind blowing.

Problem is with that kind of love…it ends. Or should I say, like most love affairs, transforms. That intense feeling levels out and becomes more realistic. You start evaluating the relationship by the actual value it provides. And it looking for true value, the flawless partner starts showing flaws. Suddenly you notice:

The battery doesn’t last
The podcast app takes a doctorate degree to figure out
Apple maps is, well, challenging

The spell is broken and investors and consumers are now looking for value from their relationship with Apple that is causing both to do the unthinkable. Question. Evaluate. Complain. Apple’s stock has dropped from 705 to around 530. Customers are looking a little closer at other competitive product offerings.

That’s a good thing. For you. And your (technology) partner. Because your partner now knows they can’t coast on their past anymore. They have to focus, listen and provide value to keep you in the relationship.

That’s a true relationship. And that’s where we are with Apple. Or at least I am.

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