The late Steve Jobs once stated when asked why he chose the name Apple, that he came about naming it after returning from an apple farm when he was amidst a fruition diet, and the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating” (Associated Press, 2011). Apple is currently one of the most competitive and largest publicly traded companies in the world by market capitalization, and is widely known for its ad campaigns, marketing strategies, and profit margins worldwide.
Whether or not hey practice admirable business ethics is another question, and one that is worth discussing. Apple’s following is widespread, and consumers are regarded as one of the most loyal consumer bases in business. Some compare Apple consumers to a cult following, and question Apple as a monopoly in the technology and consumer electronics industry. Millions of customers continually wait outside Apple stores nationwide the day Apple releases its products. Lines and lines of consumers wait to purchase the expensive multinational company’s products, which leads you to wonder Just what makes Apple such a desirable product.
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Advertising serves its purpose. It’s meant to gain consumers, plain and simple. And it’s our Job as consumers to be knowledgeable on the existence, quality, and price of a product (Goldman, 1983). What brings people to Apple are their manipulative advertising campaigns and marketing models that target, acquire and maintain a massive consumer base. Apple does so by a number of ways. Some ad campaigns run by Apple include the following: pod ads began running upon the release of the first pod in 2001.
The very first pod commercial showed a middle-aged man in his apartment dancing to some music that was playing on his Apple laptop. The pod is then shown plugged into the computer, and the man unplugs the pod and begins dancing throughout the apartment after plugging his headphones into the pod. At the end of the ad, it states “think different. “l Ads then evolved over time, as Apple began to run commercials showing dancing silhouettes of people over pastel colors showing a visibly clear white pod and headphones to the tune of artists such as JET, Amine, 1. 12 and Bob Dylan.
The most notable issue that came out of these ad campaigns involved the shoe brand Lug, who sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple guarding the commercial with Amine’s chart-topping hit ‘Lose Yourself (Atari, 2005). The ad, which is eerily similar to a Lug commercial that had aired years before, features the hip hop artist in silhouette form performing his song, with the background colors and images being a near carbon-copy of the ones from that particular Lug ad. Apple immediately removed the commercial from its websites without any explanation (Atari, 2005). Then came the Apple vs..
PC ads that began in 2006. These commercials featured actor Justine Long (Doglegged), and John Hoagland (The Daily Show). In the commercials, Long played the role of the Mac, and Hoagland played the role of the PC. In many of the commercials, the Mac would demean the PC to give the impression that it wasn’t as cool or adequate as the Mac. The ads in collection were known as the “Get a Mac” campaign, and were discontinued in 2010 campaign is too “mean-spirited. ” (Stevenson, 2006) He also maintains that “smug superiority,” no matter the differences in products, is “a bit off-putting as a brand strategy. (Stevenson, 2006). The culture of the Mac/Apple following is one that truly is unprecedented. Leander Kenney wrote a book in 2004 titled ‘The Cult of Mac’ which gives a shocking in-depth account on Apple “bonbons” and “evangelists. ” It touches on the most appalling and insane methods as to which Apple fanatics express their brand loyalty: from treating new launch/release dates like rock concerts; to obtaining tattoos of the Apple logo and shaving it into their hair (Kenney, 2002). It’s truly a phenomenon. That book was written in 2004, pre-phone and pad. Take that in for a moment.
In today’s society where yesterdays news happened a lifetime ago, and rest information is spread so rapidly, the growing of the Apple brand loyalty continues to spread like wildfire. The argument has been made and maintained by a handful of people (namely, Russell Bell, a consumer behaviorism at the University of Utah) that the Apple following resembles that of a religion, and that Steve Jobs is a savior/redeeming type figure that is worshiped and admired by millions of followers (Kenney, 2002). “The Mac and its fans constitute the equivalent of a religion,” Bell argues. This religion is based on an origin myth for Apple Computer, heroic and prior legends surrounding its co-founder and current CEO Steve Jobs, the devout faith of its follower congregation, their belief in the righteousness of the Macintosh, the existence of one or more Satanic opponents, Mac believers proselytizing and converting nonbelievers, and the hope among cult members that salvation can be achieved by transcending corporate capitalism. ” What’s most shocking about this claim is that really is spot on when considered with an open mind.
It’s basically saying that Jobs is seen almost as a deity, who has a non-human-feeling power over the Macintosh followers. It begs the question as to how this Apple/Macintosh cult got so out of control, and what exactly makes consumers so fanatic about Jobs’ products. The basis of Apple’s ads lies in the idea of evangelism marketing, which entails utilizing word-of-mouth as the main focus in marketing your product. Apple has not only mastered this type of marketing, but has completely changed the game of marketing.
This movement into evangelism marketing started with former Apple employee Guy Sukiyaki, who is now known as the father of evangelism marketing. ‘ Sukiyaki is the former Chief Evangelist of Apple computers and was the one who introduced evangelism marketing to Silicon Valley in the early years of the Apple (McConnell, 2005). “The Job title (of evangelist) already existed at Apple when I got there, so I didn’t invent the title. The way it was initially used was not the way I Just described, I. E. Of getting people to get more people.
It was used more in the evangelistic sense of preaching, pounding on the pavement, getting the Job done, taking the battle to the customer – all that stuff. And that’s the sense. It was kind of a good way of saying that this is a real intellectual sales and marketing kind of hype job” – Guy Sukiyaki. His description of the marketing strategy and position he held is very thought-provoking. He mentions “taking the battle to the customer,” which is ironic to note considering the customer is your best friend and biggest tool when it comes to spreading the word of your product.
There are clearly two ways to look at Sukiyaki’s role within Apple, and you can either criticize or Justify this type of customers use their own free will to spread the word and promote the product to other potential customers, and that customers aren’t forced, nor are they provoked to do so. Customers freely choose to promote Apple products to their peers. But do they really? The pessimist would argue that Apple manipulates its customers into buying into the brand as a whole, and continuing to purchase products out of blind loyalty to the company, not because they need or really want the products.
A recent study from Conic’s All-America Economic Survey stated that 50 percent of all US contain at least one Apple product. Let’s put that into perspective a bit. Of those 50 percent, almost 25 percent intend to buy another Apple device in the upcoming year, while 10 percent of households that do not already own an Apple product will have one at some point in 2012. It also said that 55 million homes have at least one pod, phone, pad, or Mac, and on average, households have 1. 6 Apple products per household.
Not to mention, almost 1 5 percent of households had between three and four Apple products, while nearly 10 percent of households had five or more Apple products (Kahn, 2012). The key to the effectiveness of the evangelism marketing is, as previously discussed, word of mouth. So who exactly are the target customers that Apple is getting hooked? According to that ZINC All-America Economic Survey, roughly 63 percent of customers in the 18-to 34-age and 35-to 49-age groups call homeless Apple users. As you can expect, the percentages decrease to 50 percent for the 50- to 64-age group, and eventually 26 percent for 65- and up age.
This is logical due to the correlation between age and use of technology. It is also predictable that the vast majority of Apple customers are working-class users earning around $75,000 a year. For instance, only 28 percent of people who earn $30,000 yearly own an Apple product. However, 77 percent of people who are making $70,000, own an average of three Apple products (Kahn, 2012). “It’s a fantastic business model – the more of our products you own, the more likely you are to buy more. Planned obsolescence has always been a part of the technology industries sales model, but Apple has taken it to a whole new level. – Hart Research Associates’ Jay Campbell What Apple is doing is pretty remarkable. They have a stronghold on the technological market by targeting young generations to be drawn into their products. Their advertising is spot on and really builds up the product, and they have an overwhelming aura of superiority that seems off-putting but really builds a strong customer loyalty. While doing this, the customers all feel compelled to spread the rod and recommend the products (because granted, they are both really cool and are top of the line products) so that more and more people are beginning to buy into the Apple brand.
As this is going on, Apple is getting the younger generations hooked so that they can have their parents buy them the products while they are young, hence benefiting in the short term, while getting them hooked so that when they get old enough to make their own purchases, they remain loyal to the brand. What Apple is doing truly is brilliant, but again, it raises the question whether or not all their business practices are totally ethical. The ethics of a company can be analyzed by starting right at the top with the Chief Executive Officer, or CEO.
Here we have Steve Jobs, one of the most influential people of this lifetime, and the poster-boy for the Apple brand. What he has accomplished is known by millions, and as an innovator, out from both current and former Apple employees about Jobs that might shed him in a bit of a different light. It starts with Jobs’ personality. Many knew him to be very rude, hostile, and overbearing. Some said he was manipulative, aggressive and some even called him a bully (Tate, 2011). So his personality was a bit off-putting; everyone as their flaws and nobody is perfect in this world, but that doesn’t mean his company was unethical, right?
Well, that was not the only problem within Apple. Many people disagree with a lot of the things Apple does as a company, including the protection Apple places on the content it sells through the Apple/App Store, and the inability to share the products. Other companies that sell digital music allow the customers to do with the products as they wish once purchased; unless they are illegally mass distributing on POP sites and such. Jobs was also very uncomfortable with the idea of free speech, apparently.
Past employees have spoken to the idea of a “culture of fear and control around communication. “3 Apple Bobs) implemented a “Worldwide Loyalty Team” that specializes in tracking down leasers and confiscating mobile phones and searching computers (Tate, 2011). An unidentified former Apple employee named “Tom” noted that: “Apple has these moles working everywhere, especially in departments where leaks are suspected. Management is not aware of them,” Tom said. “Once they suspect a leak, the special forces?as we call them?will walk in the office at any hour, especially in the mornings.
They will contact whoever was the most senior manager in the building, and ask them to coordinate the operation. “4 A member of the investigative team tells one of the managers to instruct all of the employees to remain at their desks for a procedure. Then, promptly, the employees’ cell phones are taken away at the same time. If the employees then need to use their cell phones for any reason, their calls and text messages are monitored while the procedure is going on. The majority of the phones are phones (conveniently), and they all get backed up onto a computer for further examination.
The employees are also asked to unlock their phones and disable any privacy settings so they can look at the phones recent activity (Ditz, 2009). “They back up everything and go through all the other phones’ text messages and pictures. If you have porn in your phone, they will see it. If you have text messages to your spouse, lover, or Tiger Woods, they will see them, too. Just like that. No privacy, no limits. ” – Jesus Ditz, 2009) This all may seem like a lot, but it’s technically considered voluntary. That is, if you would like to volunteer to keep your Job.
If you don’t want to part ways with your cell hone, you get politely escorted out by security and receive a large invitation to never come back, or you simply get investigated as to why you don’t want to give up your phone, according to Tom (Ditz, 2009). A couple of examples of Apple not taking too well to leaks include an incident in 2005 when the company sued a 19-year-old flogger for breaking the news on the Mac Mini, even though the reported information was 100 percent correct. Apple eventually led to the blob being shut down forever. In 2011, Apple sent in two private security agents into the house of a
San Francisco man and threatened both he and his family with immigration trouble as a result of the company scrambling for a missing phone 4 prototype. The man later said that they appeared to be law-enforcement officers but never said they were private citizens Manson, 2011). Apple would argue that secrecy and exclusivity are Business ethics would beg to differ. Apple has transformed from a cheerful and non- threatening company to one that demands confidentiality and has implemented investigations that have led to a Foxing employee suicide stemming from an interrogation about a lost prototype device (Herrmann, 2009).
These types of practices are what make Apple a company with lots of dirty little secrets. In no way is that type of malicious invasion of privacy, and excessive and over-the-line interrogation acceptable. As for the actual releases of their products, Apple is notorious for being on sort of a “launch schedule,” as I will call it. Generally, they release products in generations around the same time of year, lending one to wonder if they are withholding technology from their loyal customers. The pessimist would certainly say so. From 2007-1010 Apple released new “generations” of pods in the second week of September of every year.
They come out with a new Macro every year. The pad has had a new generation come out every year since its release. phones come out in forms of 36, and ASS, making tweaks on the same model phone and releasing it as a new product. Apple has even marketed the same phone in a different color. Yet they continue to draw millions of people waiting outside of Apple stores worldwide. Ultimately, with all things considered, I think Apple is a very controversial company. On one hand, it’s the most dominant and innovative company in the technology industry, has created hundreds of life-changing products for consumers to make life easier and more fun.
It’s CEO, while no one is perfect, is one of the most influential people of our time period, but has committed his fair share of mistakes. Factoring in everything from the evangelical marketing, to the brand obsession and loyalty, and the “Worldwide Loyalty Team” of investigation, I think overall, Apple could do a lot better in running their company ethically. And it starts at the top. For one, they need to tone down their propensity to overact about leaks. While it may make Apple more competitive, it’s already the foremost authority on the technology industry, and can afford to have its products leaked every once in a while.
Also, the privacy of its employees should be respected. By all means, on work related computers at the office, monitoring activity is tolerable. Sifting through personal photos and text messages is not. Neither are the interrogations by Apples “secret service. ” While I see no real fault in the usage of evangelical marketing, it certainly has implemented its burdens on families where members of the household and children insist on acquiring Apple’s new product releases, and has led to cult-like practices and worship of the late Jobs as some sort of technological deity.
With Jobs now deceased, it will be interesting to see how Apple moves forward as a company, and if it continues some of the unethical and questionable practices we have Just touched on. As I stated, Apple is an outstanding company that produces fantastic products and has a fairly flawless business plan if the goal is bottom line and profit margins. But as far as doing it cleanly and ethically, that may not be the case.