I recorded a video earlier this week in response to Apple’s MacBook and Apple Watch announcements, where I washed my hands of the tech angst many of us gadget geeks face when discussing Cupertino. Many of us who are now the most critical of the company, were at one time the most passionate advocates of the brand. I myself was an Apple product specialist for a company that sold systems and maintenance contracts to Department of Energy research facilities. The general thesis of my video focused on the realization and acceptance of the fact that Apple is not (and some would argue hasn’t been for some time) a tech company, but is now a full-fledged fashion and lifestyle brand.
Scanning through Apple’s site and ads, we see a company showcasing design in much the same way that a jewelry website would show off luxury, premium offerings. Sure, there’s a tab you can click on to get a full listing of hardware specs, but it’s neatly tucked to the side, while large banners talk about “Reinventing the Laptop”, or how Apple Watch is their “Most Personal Device” yet. Marketing intangibles, statements designed to make you feel good, appeal to you emotionally, but which aren’t quantifiable or verifiable.
While Apple has often been accused of recycling their designs, the tick-tock update schedule of the iPhone is a perfect example, the company has learned an incredibly important strategy from the retail arena. While iProducts rarely change much from year to year, the subtle design changes keep brand awareness high amongst the demographics of folks with money to burn.
When moving from the Black iPhone 5, to the “Space Grey” iPhone 5S for example, this was a clear visual signal that you had spent money recently to acquire the new phone, instead of slumming it with an old phone. A Silver MacBook likely wont stand out much in a coffee shop when surrounded by MacBook Airs, but a Gold MacBook gives up a ready signal that you are on the pulse. It just wouldn’t do to be seen with last season’s Apple gear. We can count on the next MacBook to be a modest iteration improvement to the internal technology, but we’ll likely focus more on a new design accent or a new color option. Continue reading “Apple, Fashion, and Perceived Exclusivity – Keeping Desire High for iProducts”