Monday 6 August 2012

Contemporary Brand - Apple Inc. (Exercise 3)

I realize that this has been done before, however I want to put my spin on things with Apple. I don't so much like the company and what it represents, and I've never paid for an Apple product in my life even though I own a couple(they were all gifts). I'd like to extract the positive aspects of Apple and talk about the things that I do like and seeing as the question in the Assignment requires that I elaborate on changing the brands strategy I thought this was a good opportunity to do just that.

The Aesthetics

I would be lying if I said that I don't enjoy using Apple products solely on how they look and feel. The designers really managed to capture what I believe to be the essence of technology that being simplicity. The products are simple, and they looks simple, and they work. To me that's what technology is all about, I'm not looking for elaborate designs and crowded interfaces, and I'm sure many people would agree when I said that Apple has managed to nail the GUI as well, Windows is quite close, however the downsides are more on the technical side rather than the aesthetic.

Oh iMac
Really pretty is it not, but why?

I think that the designs speak for themselves when it comes to aesthetics, people want to own 'beautiful' objects as much as they want to date the beautiful woman or the handsome gentleman, maybe even more so.
I wont go into discussing what beauty is(that's a whole other essay) I will say that Apple, as far as I'm concerned has extracted the essence of contemporary beauty - the tech is shiny, sleek, minimal, geometric and symmetrical, the lines are contained(meaning there are no random pieces protruding from the form itself) and there is an "all inclusive, all built in" feeling. The objects are also complete, take for example the difference between a PC and an iMac, the iMac really only has 3 components that you need, built in sound and monitor where as the PC seems cumbersome and in most cases does not follow a pattern IE : there are hundreds and thousands of designs for computer cases, where the Mac has had small face lifts over the past decade but remains largely unchanged. I've used a PC for my entire life, only working on a Mac over the last year or so, and even now I don't feel the comfort that I feel with the PC, but that's how it is, the first thing you get used to will often become the one you stick with. It's difficult to change habits especially because I spend so much time in front of the computer. So simplicity is key, as Tim Cook, current CEO of Apple put it :

"We believe that we're on the face of the earth to make great products and that's not changing. We're constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple, not the complex."

And apple delivers the simplicity in the most graceful way, even the stores that sell exclusive Apple products that aren't apple branded aim to stick to a certain aesthetic, like our very own South African FFWD. Take not that the below link to the store leads to a South African version of the iStore, which in fact is just a reseller(South Africa does not have true iStores yet). 

Since we are on the issue of stores, there is one thing that I must address - currently South Africans don't have access to the majority of the content that Apple provides(the following can be observed with iTunes, if the user creates a South African apple id, there is a major difference in the amount of content between South Africa and say for example the US) Okay so this is location based issue and can more or less be solved by faking the location that you are in which I don't understand, why not provide all content for all countries? If there is one thing I would fix it would be that. Moving along.

So Apple products are shiny and feel good but what about the experience? I will say that I disagree with the totalitarian approach they have taken with the products, that being the complete lockout and inability to customize or even repair your own hardware. This is a problem for many users that would like to do some DIY and fix things themselves, turns out that you don't really own any piece of Apple software or hardware that you pay for you're merely renting it. This is the part where I begin expressing my dissatisfaction with the product and perhaps suggesting a few things that Apple could do at least to improve my personal experience.

iTunes, it's a love and hate relationship, it's a free and almost mandatory piece of software that one has to have installed on their PC/Mac to interface with other Apple gadgets. There are alternatives, but the best alternatives cost money, and when Apple releases an update for iTunes, an update to the alternative is also required. I personally found iTunes to be a complete mess, I don't like the way it organizes my music and the program itself is bulky and counter intuitive. 

Sure I might be an idiot who doesn't get it, but is'int the point of apple products supposed to be simplicity? If so then they completely forgot what they stood for when they created iTunes, or maybe I'm just set in my ways.

On the bright side, the branding works, when confronted with the question of whether it makes sense or not all I can say is that the brand is no longer a collection of identities and logos, the brand is working for itself being driven by the community who supports it. Apple has created a cult following, and to an extent I think there are certain aspects of the technology itself that people fail to see. 

Biased Statement of the Day : I think that Apple is cleverly swindling it's consumers by purchasing and repackaging tech with the Apple log. Apple's innovation is definitely not in their technology.

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