Apple's scores get to the core of the issues

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Thu, 23/09/2010 - 14:13

Apple has launched two major new products in the second half of this year, the first being the iPad in May, followed by the iPhone 4 in June.

Unfortunately for the market leading company the launch of the latter was beset by technological issues. The recent successes and problems the brand has experienced in the last few months are reflected in ‘Buzz’ scores for Apple and Apple iPhone, which are tracked separately on BrandIndex and are shown on the graph below.

Apple’s ‘Buzz’ score stood at 21pts on 10th May, the first day consumers were able to pre-order the ground breaking iPad. Over the course of the following week scores rose sharply, reaching 28pts on 17th May. Although this increase was marked, the actual launch of the product on the 28th unsurprisingly caused a bigger stir, with scores rising from 25pts to 42pts on 4th June.

Next for Apple was the iPhone 4, which was released on 24th June. Apple iPhone’s ‘Buzz’ score started to increase on the 17th as the hype surrounding the release began to build; rising from 25pts on the 17th to 34pts on the 24th, day the iPhone 4 was released.

At this point, Apple’s problems began and BrandIndex scores for Apple and Apple iPhone started to plummet. As soon as the iPhone was released, problems with the product’s antenna that affected its reception began to surface. With hindsight, Apple co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs may regret advising customers on June 25th to hold the phone differently to solve the problem.

“If you ever experience this on your Phone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

The company changed its tone on 2nd July, admitting it had shown the wrong formula to display signal strength, not only in the iPhone, but on all previous iPhone models. Up until this announcement, the reputation score for Apple iPhone had remained unaffected by the negative publicity. However, after this admission from the company, the measure fell from 25pts to 10pts on 22nd July.

On the day of the launch, scores for the Apple iPhone and the Apple brand as a whole stood at 34pts and 32pts. The fact that within a month they had fallen to lows of -14.1pts to -5.1pts respectively illustrates the magnitude of the brand’s crisis and is the first time either has recorded a score below 0 (i.e. received more negative than positive mentions) on ‘Buzz’ since tracking began.

Nearly three months after scores began to fall, the overall brand health scores (i.e. Index) for Apple and Apple iPhone are only now beginning to reach pre-incident levels, showing how much the story impacted on public’s perception Apple.

Despite this recent turbulent movement, Apple users themselves seem unaffected by the recent bad publicity. In YouGov’s Smartphone Mobile Internet Experience study, Apple continues to have the highest satisfaction amongst its competitors, a higher proportion of smartphone owners likely to recommend as the handset of choice, and a far greater proportion of smartphone users likely to get an iPhone in the future.

Apple and Apple's iPhone 'Buzz' score
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Smartphone satisfaction
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Considered and expected brand of future handset (Smartphone sample)
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People Illustration