29 September 2005

Taking a bite out of Apple

When Apple introduced the ipod nano in early September, it was hailed as a design breakthrough and once again took the ‘MP3’ industry by storm. And at only 0.27 inches thick and only weighing 1.5 ounces, it deserved our attention. It also does the business in terms of capabilities.

The nano stores up to 1,000 songs and promises a battery life of up to 14 playing hours. It also sports new features such as a stopwatch, clock and screen lock features. It is also the first ipod to feature an unplayed podcasts indicator in the form of a small blue dot that appears next to podcasts you haven’t listened to. In it’s first four weeks, it earned gushing reviews from reviewers, industry analysts and all importantly, customers. Stores in London sold out and the stock rose 10% in a week. Not bad.

Then the complaints began to trickle in.

It’s common knowledge that ipods scratch easily. But the nano was attracting more complaints than previous ipods, despite Apple insisting it uses a polycarbonate coating similar to that used by other ipods.

Customers were complaining about more severe scratches and even broken screens. These problems were caused by pulling the nano out of their pockets, in much the same way as Steve Jobs had done at the nano launch. One fifteen year old in the UK complained how he had saved his pocket money to buy his nano and was devastated when the screen suffered a crack within three hours of buying it.

Another nano buyer and Apple fan, Matthew Peterson, set up a website flawedmusicplayer.com. Peterson believed it was important to share his grievances with his ipod nano screen and allowed others to do so as well. Peterson was unhappy because, initially at least Apple refused to acknowledge the problem and when they did acknowledge the problem, they told him it was not covered by his warranty.

Understandably incensed, he opened his website to see if it was an issue with other loyal Apple users. It was. Apple was totally unprepared for what came next. One spokeswoman for Apple attempted to solve the problem by telling nano owners that if they were concerned about scratches, they should spend some more money and buy a protective case! Not a good move. Nano buyers posted comments, pictures and movies of their nano and assorted scratches, blemishes and so on. Soon after Apple changed tack and accepted there was a problem.

Mathew Peterson has since taken his site down after Apple promised to replace any damaged nano.

From a branding point of view, there are a number of lessons to be learned here. One is the response of companies to complaints. Apple has had a couple of good years since the launch of the first ipod and may have forgotten how to deal with unhappy customers. They were wrong to attempt to ignore the problem and hope it would go away. Once they realized their mistake, they acknowledged the problem but refused to accept responsibility. Finally, when the noise grew unbearable, and the stock price lost all its gains of the previous month, they took ownership of the problem. A lot of time, effort and resources were wasted on the wrong responses.

The impact of blogs and the voice and influence of the customer on a brand cannot be ignored. Blogs and increasingly knowledgeable consumers are aware of their importance in the success of a brand and they are increasingly aware of the influence.
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6 Comments:

Blogger Zuki said...

Great work on your blog - it was very enlightening. You've got a lot of useful info on there about Branding so I've bookmarked your site so I don't lose it. I'm doing a lot of research on Branding Exposed and have just started a new blog - I'd really appreciate your comments

7:17 am  
Blogger freenanoipod said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I've bookmark you!

I have a ipod nano site. It pretty much covers ipod related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Question do you have a rss feed link that i can add to my yahoo?
as i cant seem to find it.

9:51 am  
Blogger freenanoipod said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I've bookmark you!

I have a ipod nano site. It pretty much covers ipod related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Question do you have a rss feed link that i can add to my yahoo?
as i cant seem to find it.

11:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want a free ipod nano? visit free ipod nano

10:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

www.getipodsforfree.com has this cool thing where if you just sign up and do an offer, you can get a free ipod

4:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if u want an ipod, you can go to www.getipodsforfree.com and do an offer. follow the instructions and they'll actually send you a freeipod, no joke, there's reviews all over the internet

8:04 pm  

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