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The Future of Mobile: Apple's journey from underdog to genius

Apple is no longer the independent, creative genius within the mobile industry, but an establishment player. In the third City Perspectives feature on the future of mobile, Dr Marius Luedicke argues that this leaves a gap in the market for a new 'genius' player.
by Ben

By Dr Marius Luedicke, Cass Business School

Branding theory knows that consumers often imagine brands as people that have certain characteristics. Harley Davidson, for example, is imagined as a rugged and exciting guy, whereas Hallmark is seen as a more sincere person. Consumers also build relationships to these personalities. Some are best friends, others flings, and again others secret love affairs.

Apple: The genius

Apple can easily be seen as a genius type of person. An independent thinker (like Pablo Picasso that Apple used in  their early adverts) who does not care very much about focus group type approach to finding out what people want.

It is precisely through this approach that Apple has found the relationships that consumers build with it are passionate, enthusiastic and almost obsessive. As sales figures demonstrate, the Apple brand was not primarily based on the "underdog" personality that commentators saw crumbling under Apple's growing market dominance, but more as a genius whom consumers expected to be highly successful.

Samsung: The establishment player

The challenger Samsung, in turn, comes across as much more conventional, and less inspirational type of person. Samsung can readily be imagined as a technology buff and profit-seeker who is embroiled in a permanent struggle for winning the race of the most innovative phone makers, no matter how useful these innovations are for consumers.

Whatever Samsung brings to market is tailored to consumers' emerging needs. The relationships that consumers build to such a brand are quite different. Consumers respect and like such personalities, but they are unlikely to love someone who is more devoted to serving their needs than building new, exciting technology worlds they are not yet aware of.

Apple's identity crisis

If this assessment of dominant mobile brands and their relationships is accurate, where is Apple heading? It seems like the near future is a good time for Apple's competitors.

Why? Consider Apple's latest product and advertising moves. The brand is beginning to solicit for buyers: It makes a cheaper looking (although not cheaper costing) iPhone to cater to Chinese markets, it airs advertising spots "for the colourful" that are entirely unoriginal and could have been made by any other phone maker and it announces that consumers want larger phones and suggests that the company might eventually make such products to continue its enormous growth.

These are odd moves for a genius. If this new style continues, Apple will climb down the ladder from its genius position above the mainstream market and turn once again into a

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