Apple is not a global company

Imho, this is purely my subjective personal opinion. But too many small datapoints seem to demonstrate that Apple does not think of it self as a global company or brand. Not that it isn’t, it is. But does Apple know this?

I always end up surfing a lot just before the newsletter is due to go out on Monday and today this observation struck me as I was scanning wide swaths of headlines. Why?

It’s stuff like news about Intel’s $1Billion investment in emerging markets. HP’s strategizing for India and China, and Apple still doesn’t have a good enough bollywood song mix in iTunes. Everyone rips their own CD’s in India, or in the desi diaspora. And they’re the ones buying the Shuffles, the Nanos and the rest. "We just got our iPods" is a proud family boast.

And you don’t really hear about Apple doing anything outside of the United States. Their focus, their branding, their new advertising, it’s all focused to their domestic market target audience. Sure, the iPod ads were in the Paris Metro, but that’s not what I mean. It’s the orientation of the messaging that is so  ‘valley centric’ you could say.  Now, is this the ‘brand promise’ they want to sell around the world?

BestBuy has not yet been able to sell its iPods with much success on
the local market. While the tiny white earbuds of MP3 players are
practically ubiquitous these days in American and European cities, they
have not caught on here because the Customs Authority has classified
the iPod a consumer electronic good, instead of a computer accessory.
As a result, instead of a 10% sales tax by itself, BestBuy pays an
additional import duty. The Apple Center is supposed to help that
problem by playing up the iPod’s chic.

I don’t know. On the one hand the Apple iPod has catapulted this brand into the stratosphere, but it’s market share is still in the single digits globally. And at home. This strategic analysis says that Apple does better where it has no competition. That was with respect to entering the mobile phone market where it would face intense global competition. But it’s increasingly visible and dismal track record in areas such as sustainability, recycling, customer service, even design – you couldn’t change the battery in an iPod – points to a growing hype around the brand that just isn’t justified anymore.

True visionaries would be eyeing the long term future. The future, in this case, points to increasing cocreation, sustainability, social responsibility and empathy. I don’t see this anywhere near Apple.

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One Response to Apple is not a global company

  1. Kesava Mallela says:

    I think iPod and iTunes (for that matter, ID3 tag format) are poorly designed for bollywood music for the following reasons…
    1. Songs from Bollywood (and other industries like Tollywood, Kollywood…) have atleast two artists or more aptly ‘playback singers’. Hence iPod ends up showing multiple artist categories for the same artist like
    i. ‘Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar’,
    ii. ‘Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle’,
    iii. ‘Kishore Kumar’.
    iv. or even ‘Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar’
    Needless to say, some of the best sold albums by AR Rahman have atleast four artists a song. One needs further ehtnography to find out how bollywood music is classified in listerners hearts and minds.
    2. Playback singers (artist in iTunes) are different from the composer by rule. More importantly, the song gets recognized often as the movie’s superstar’s instead of artist or composer. Yeah, the name of the movie;s superstar is prominent keyword in people’s minds. (Shahrukh’s song, Rajnikanth’s song, Amitabh’s song, Chiranjeevi’s song….). iTunes or iPod doesnt even account for this factor which is inherent in bollywood music.
    3. Some of the info fields in ID3v2 like Genre have no relevance for mainstream bollywood music. Its all the same: ‘filmi music’.
    4. Neither CDDB nor Indian recording companies nor major online Indian musicsites have consistent spelling for the artists. You get to see about six different spellings …’AR Rahman’, ‘A.R. Rahman’, ‘AR. Rahman’, ‘AR Rehman’, ‘Rehman AR’, ‘AR. Rehman’….you get the picture.
    5. In India, one gets to buy all the 6 tracks of an album for 99c (INR 44.5).
    A bigger question is…..Isnt India a Tier-3-4 market at the bottom the pyramid? Immense commodification of music CDs and abysmally low prices of them at less than a dollar are the very proofs.
    Isnt iPod and iTunes a Tier-1 product or one that encourges and thrives on Long Tail ?

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