Not cool, Apple.
There is much to be said about the impact of the ‘cool factor’ on the business of non-FMCG, so it’s no surprise to see that the top 10 brands in the CoolBrands rank of 2016 were all ones that, be it technology, fashion or entertainment content, have user experience at the centre of their business. At the top of the list, the masters of the universe, champions of creative exploration and self expression, Apple.
So it is with a heavy (and quite shocked) heart that I must say, after seeing what Apple has done by taking ownership of Carpool Karaoke, that the ‘uncool brand’ award of the year seems to have just been snapped by non other than Tim Cook’s one and only.
Needless to state the fact that despite its best efforts and having billions of dollars at the disposal of user-centric product innovation plus a bona-fide history in being at the forefront of putting the ‘cool’ in technology (uhm, the world?), ever since Steve’s departure Apple has been losing its cool. Now, they seem to be doing it on purpose.
After watching the trailer, the feeling of irritation and disappointment lingering at the tip of my tongue, I had to ask myself the question: why is this so terribly uncool, annoying and just plain wrong? It’s the same format, featuring even more famous artists, and James Corden is still in it. The problem is, of course, it’s off-brand. Apple has never been a brand to put a price tag on cool, despite putting a price tag on cool products. With Apple it was always a matter of belonging to a tribe where everything was original and creative, and it was democratic, open to all, at the entry price of an iPod.
But what a difference an Apple Music makes.
Apple must have smart people who work over there, one would think. There are dozens of examples to learn from, from Amazon Prime to Netflix, who had to push themselves to create original, category-smashing, helluva entertaining content in order to ‘make you subscribe to them’, for lack of a better term. And yet Apple Music big fat went and did it anyway, in proper party-pooper style: you know that thing you liked so much, now it’s behind bars. Now, you can only see it at a price, an Apple Music subscription. Not cool.
The man who wanted a thousand songs to fit in your pocket would be turning in his grave right now. Why? Because Apple Music, what was supposed to be the next music revolution from the company, is nothing but suit. A me-too, a Spotify me-too.
In a complete opposite way that the iTunes + iPod combo were at the time they were launched, Apple music isn’t user-experience centric, it’s sales-centric. It desperately wants your money, and in return it’s prepared to give you nothing better than what Spotify can. How advantageous for Spotify who are now, through their very first ever ad campaign, big on telling the world how their users make them. And that is what makes them so cool, they champion democratic, user-centric creative exploration (in music). Wait, wasn’t that what Apple was supposed to do?
So here is the lesson of the day, forcing people to buy into Apple Music by appropriating themselves of content will not make it more popular than Spotify. The tech giant must go back to the drawing board and its brand purpose if it wants people’s time and money when it comes to listening to music.
Ironically, putting a price on content is what prevents them from selling it. Or tell me you’ve never been annoyed when you tried to listen to that Taylor Swift tune on Spotify? Apple’s got bad blood, when it just used to be mad love.