This is all about mind share. As I've pointed out several times in the past few months (such as in the report, 'Apple's Annus Horribilis'), Apple doesn't occupy the same space within consumer consciousness as it once did. A continued barrage of negative perception from all quarters is chipping away at its position as the technological magician at the center of innovation and change.
There's evidence to support this claim.
The most recent UK Superbrands listing saw Apple fall from top place as the most admired brand for consumers.
I take this to mean that Apple is no longer seen as the plucky, small yet powerful, unpredictable brand it once was.
This likely reflects its true position as a company at the top of the corporate pile. The most valuable technology brand is a huge corporation now. People still love its products. It sells millions of them.
The company makes so much money that it is headline news when some super-rich investor decides they want the company to figure out ways to give them even more money to make them even more super-rich, even though such people never once suggest spending any of that spare money on things like curing disease, easing poverty or improving education.
This is dreadful because it means something utterly terrifying: Apple has become respectable. And as we all know, respectable is boring.
Reflecting this stultifying respectability, the latest Superbrands survey claims Apple has become the leading business brand.
Even there it faces significant threat:
"Whilst Apple topped the rankings, Samsung jumped a huge 91 places to join the tech giant in the top 20. This closed the gap between the two, enforcing Samsung's threat to its US rival."
Apple knows it is facing huge challenges. It is attempting to ameliorate these the old-fashioned way -- by being nice to people.
France Telecom/Orange CEO, Stephane Richard, said at Mobile World Congress: "Apple has become more flexible, paying more attention to everyone else, probably a little less arrogant than they used to be."
Apple is feeling the pressure.
"I imagine Apple is feeling a bit like Obama after his first debate with Romney. It deeply believes in its ideas; it just needs to express them more forcefully," writes Segall.
"There are too many smart people at Apple and Chiat to take this lying down. I expect to see Apple do exactly what Obama did. The stakes couldn't be higher, and it's time to recalibrate," he adds.
Perhaps part of that recalibration could begin with a look back at one of Steve Jobs' own maxims as described in a separate item on Segall's blog:
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