It will be fascinating to watch how Apple, the masters of digital marketing, handle the latest hiccup with the antenna problems on the iPhone4.
Apple has now stumbled twice in a short time, the first was the furore over the wages paid to employees at Foxconn, one of their major suppliers factories in China, leading to an unusually high suicide level, and now the dodgy antenna story, furiously being stirred by Apples grateful competitors.
The speed that such problems emerge and are all over the user communities has outstripped the response times of even the most sensitive and paranoid of businesses, and now it appears that Apple is going in to defiant mode by using Steve Jobs to front the problem and say, in effect, “all smart phones suffer from the same problem, we are no worse than the others.”
Apple has grown in an extraordinary way for the last decade, tapping in to the mindset of the early adopters to become apostles for their brand and products, and by being consistently first out there with a product that delivers a highly differentiated proposition. The Apple brand is now a very tall poppy indeed, and attracts attention, so they had better be careful that the legions of fans who have fed the myth do not turn around and bite it, because their hero shows themselves to be fallible, and therefore not worthy of being their hero, in fact, it becomes a source of satirical comment that speeds the process of brand erosion.
Such loyalty scorned can turn nasty very quickly.