High expectations almost always create an unwinnable situation for those that draw them. Miss the target, even if just a by a little bit, and everyone talks about your failure. Meet or exceed them, and you’ve only given the people what they thought they were getting, which, sure, they might appreciate, but it’s very unlikely to excite them.
The only way to win in the high expectations game is not only meeting or exceeding but demonstrably and quantifiably blowing away even the loftiest predictions. It happens, not often.
Such has been Apple’s 2015.
The iPhone 6 was one of those rare cases of taking the high expectations unhittable fastball and launching it right back out of the park. Everyone expected the iPhone 6 to succeed; no one quite expected it to be the runaway juggernaut internationally that it turned into.
But 2015 also saw the launch of Apple Pay and Apple Watch — both of which hit the market with a tsunami of buzz but maybe didn’t quite live up to the hype. The Apple Watch situation remains in the air, and the final verdict for it — like many high-end consumer goods — really won’t be clear until the trial by fire that is the holiday shopping season has come and gone.
But, as yet another round of reports demonstrates, Apple Pay is just not sticking the landing when it comes to merchant and consumer adoption. Reports filled the Web on Apple Pay’s troubled times following a Bloomberg report — based on PYMNTS/InfoScout data and a survey from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech — that indicated that, by and large, the people who can use Apple Pay, don’t.
And that has been the dominant Apple narrative this week and the one driving most Apple watchers and payments peeps to their crystal balls and tea leaves looking for what’s next when it comes to Cupertino and its payments platform. But while the world was obsessing, Apple news rolled in and on and perhaps offered a somewhat clearer glimpse of the shape of things to come for the house that iPhone built.
And Speaking Of iPhones
The downbeat Apple hits just kept on coming from Kantar this week, which also released data that indicates that the iPhone saw its share of the market for smartphones shrink in the U.S. between June and August. These days, 28.4 percent of phones in the market are Apple, down from 30.5 percent over the same period in 2014. That also represents Apple’s lowest market share all year.
That’s not great news for Apple, but it’s not entirely unexpected either. Since Apple’s new models generally release in September, consumers are less into snapping up the old latest edition.
"While a month from now may still be too early to report initial sales numbers for the new models, we can say today that 11 percent of iOS owners told us in August that they plan to replace their current phone in the next three months, and 87 percent of these have told us that Apple is their preferred brand," Kantar Chief of Research Carolina Milanesi said in a statement.
And while its market hold in the U.S relaxed some, the company picked up Chinese market share, jumping to 19.4 percent of the market from 14.3 percent since the same time last year. International gains on the whole were strong this summer, with a 4.6 percent pick-up in Germany, a 5.8 percent increase in the U.K., a 6.7 percent jump in Japan and a big 8.5 percent in Australia.
On the flipside of that equation, Android picked up share in the U.S. but declined in other global regions, as it was reportedly more strongly affected by competition from local vendors. This is particularly true in China.
The question remains, however, what the next collection of figures look like, as it will reflect the launch period for the new iPhone 6s in the U.S.
Apple Pay, Apple Watch And A Peanut Butter And Jelly Marketing Campaign
Since Apple Pay and Apple Watch are both struggling to capture any bonafides as genuine hits, why not combine the efforts in introducing both to the marketplace a little more aggressively?
This is a question that it appears that Apple has asked itself and then answered by tinkering with the marketing for Apple Watch — and Apple Pay to a lesser extent.
Starting earlier this week, Apple has decided to release Apple ads with a more in-depth focus, specifically on the capacities of the watch to add to users' lives. There are six new ads in total, focusing on the various special watch features like messaging, fitness, maps and, of course, Apple Pay.
The ads have a “nostalgic feel” and feature one or two characters having their lives made better by Apple on minimalist pastel sets.
They even have whimsical names.
In one commercial (highlighting messaging), a man sings a charming song to his lady. The title of that ad: "Sing."
The Apple Pay-focused commercial focuses on a mom with more tasks than hands. It’s called "Sprinkle" — probably because “Ice Cream Fail” did not capture the appropriate sense of whimsy.
The ads represent something of a change of direction from the original run of Apple Watch ads, which seemed to be more focused on very attractive people in a series of scenic and exotic locals worldwide connected by all the wonderful ways a wearable can improve your life. The commercial, "Rise," as you can see below, is oddly inspiring.
The new line is less soaring and more practical.
We all may hope to someday need an Apple Watch/Apple Pay to buy the most perfect latte imaginable in the most beautiful coffee shop on Earth with inspirational music swelling behind us. It is an ad that speaks to who we all want to be.
The new ads speak to who we all actually are: people who’ve been in the presence of a child who has just dropped ice cream and have been willing to pay any price to make the howling screams stop. The Apple Watch is not so much an aspirational product in these new ads, it’s a practical product, at least partially, because paying is one of the things you can do with it.
This week certainly left more questions than answers. Will the 6s live up to the hype and reverse Apple’s falling market share (and prickly share price)? Will consumers start seeing the Apple wearable as the sort of necessary life tool that their iPhone has become — and even if so — will anyone ever want to use either of these things to pay?
What is clear though is that Apple is still pushing and still trying to end 2015 with three unlikely mega-hits, instead of just one.