Is Apple’s Strategy Backfiring?

Is Apple's Strategy Backfiring?Last summer, Apple was involved in a high-profile lawsuit against Samsung. The case made the press for a week or so until Apple won around $1 billion dollars in damages from Samsung. Apple won their argument that Samsung copied and infringed upon their technology and design patents. The story quickly lost favor in the press after the verdict, but Apple has pursued this kind of lawsuit all over the world for at least the past six months. Recent developments are starting to show cracks in the seemingly impervious armor of the Apple brand, proving no company is 100% safe, especially when they stray from what they do best.

Apple Had More than Everything Going for Them

Apple’s solid brand presence, in the minds of US consumers, did most of their marketing work for them. They had been enjoying stellar sales of their iPhone 4s, computers, and iTunes products. They were dumping loads of cash into patent litigation and lawsuits all around the world to protect their products and stifle the competition.

The iPhone 5 release combined with new iPads, laptops, and other product updates made Apple look like kings. Their stock price soared to over $700 at one point. But this morning, the US struck a blow to Apple’s patent ambitions.

According to Reuters, “the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday temporarily invalidated the ‘pinch-to-zoom’ patent, which had been contested at the trial in August.” Not too long before this loss for Apple, Samsung won a “preliminary invalidation of Apple’s ‘rubber-banding’ patent” as well. That’s two straight patent losses in a row.

It’s also likely that Apple will fail to convince any judge to follow through on a permanent injunction for over 20 Samsung phones in question in the trial. Chris O’Brien with the LA Times tells us that the judge who rejected a ban on Samsung’s sales “essentially said Samsung’s patent violations were trivial.” Uh oh!

Where is Apple Now?

These last two legal setbacks come not long after other setbacks Apple has faced in the competitive market. The recent disaster and public backlash from an inadequate Apple Maps app was a rare misstep by the company. It wasn’t just a minor misstep, either.

When Google announced its new Google Maps App for iOS, only then did many iPhone users update to the latest iOS 6, which used to only have Apple Maps support. When you have your main competitor determining when your loyal customers update your software, you know you made a mistake.

These aren’t just silly little observations about Apple and its strategies, either. One look at Apple’s stock will make you raise an eyebrow. As of the latest check, Apple’s stock is down from a high of $705 to today’s opening price of around $530. A simple Google search of “apple stock” shows the following headlines: “Analyst expects Apple stock to drop to $270,” “Apple Stock has No Middle Ground,” and “Apple’s shares swallow biggest loss in four years.” Those aren’t quite encouraging headlines for a company labeled the most valuable company in the world a few months ago.

Back to the Basics

Chris Maxcer has a great opinion piece on Tech News World about this whole situation. The article’s title “Hey Apple – Make Innovation, Not War” sums up his message extremely well. Chris raises some harsh questions: If it weren’t for all of this patent litigation sucking up “energy and mindshare” wouldn’t Apple have been able to create a respectable maps app? Wouldn’t they have been able to release a new, truly unique Apple iTV? Wouldn’t they have been able to produce a much more innovative iPhone 5?

I’m with Chris here. Apple makes wonderful products, there’s no doubting that. People love them. Sure, I understand the importance of all of these legal issues, but I think Apple is overemphasizing them. Consumers want the Apple brand. They want them to focus on making products that wow them and that they fall in love with using. They don’t want them sending an army of lawyers around the globe.

Things don’t have to be complicated (nor should they be!) for you or your clients, like Apple’s business environment over the last few months. Focus is vital to any campaign and any business. Stay focused, don’t slack off, and stick to the tactics that work – your quality content will do the work for you. It seems this would be an ideal time for Apple to be reminded of this.

What do you think about the recent troubles facing Apple?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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