Alright, idiotic might be a bit harsh but for someone who alledgely has business reporting & technology reporting experience, however, the dumb question he posed shows an appalling lack of knowledge of not just Apple Computers but the concepts behind branding AND the history of the personal computer market since the 1990’s.
In case you missed it, Bob Keefe’s question and follow up blog post was to ask why doesn’t Apple put Intel stickers on its Macs.
On its most basic level – it does show a complete disregard for the history of Apple Computers and frankly, an embarrassing glimpse into his lack of knowledge for the industry as a whole. If CoxNews sent to him to cover the auto industry, would he ask Ferrari why they don’t make a 2-door coupe for under $10k … or if he covered gardening, would he ask the agriculture secretary of Alaska why they don’t plant bananas?
This is at the SAME news conference where the company introduces a new keyboard where one of the differences is the REMOVAL of the company’s logo on the keyboard – guess it’s hard to add 1+1 together? Was he spending that time in his hotel room crafting his one question and pre-writing his blog lead? This is a company that presents everything as minimally as possible and has never included a third-party app on the desktop or the dock? This is a company that thinks an actual keyboard detracts from the use of a phone so it’s virtual?
He even points out in his blog post that companies pay the PC manufacturers a few bucks per computer because it’s a commodity, margins are low and they will need that extra few bucks to tie them over.
If he actually bothered to learn the industry or look at Apple’ financial numbers, he would understand the PC as a commodity business is the EXACT opposite of Apple’s approach to the marketplace.
And while, we might lose him here in the next paragraphs because they require some in-depth knowledge about the industry he covers … the very reason the PC manufacturers are in a commodity business is that they turned over their branding to Intel.
It was brilliant on Intel’s part. Give us the last 5 seconds of your ad and we’ll pay you 10% back as an advertising “rebate.” Sure, sounds good on the surface but the long term implications is that the ONLY THING consumers remember is INTEL.
(and the ding).
Great for Intel. Consumers started going into computer stores and ask for the Intel. They’re not exactly sure what that means or that Intel makes the microprocessor, they just know that means it’s the “best” PC – after all, everyone from Sony to IBM to Dell to Compaq to HP has the Intel logo and the ‘ding’.
By selling off their own ads and their own computers by stickering them with MSFT Windows and later Intel logos and marks, what they did was diminish their own brand to just a vague morass – and leaving consumers to remember two names, Microsoft and Intel.
The end result is this is the impression consumers saw, interpreted and remembered:
a) every manufacturer promised their was the best – ultimately leaving no impression.
b) we’re the low, low price leader, buy today – now on sale – again, no branding, just look for the price.
And what closed each ad? Intel. And the ding. Like Pavlov’s dogs.
Then on top of that, Intel did a decade full of memorable ads – first touting multimedia, surfing the internet, etc at breakneck speeds (well, it was a vast over-promise but it looked good) and then they even made clean-room suits look cool (the “bunny” ads).
And what closed each ad? Intel And the ‘ding’.
So, you had hundreds of millions dollars spent on PC manufacturer ads that ended with the Intel logo.
And you had hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Intel on branding ads that ended with the Intel logo.
Great for Intel.
But not so much for Gateway, eMachines, Compaq, HP, Dell, etc … of course they needed the $10-$20 from each PC sold with a dozen stickers, they sold their brand for that amount plus the money they took from Intel … which ironically, the more ads they ran to differentiate themselves from another PC manufacturer, the MORE they branded Intel and told consumers –
WE’RE ALL EXACTLY the same.
It’s not outside the box you should look for – but rather what’s on the INSIDE.
So, what was the only deciding factor left for consumers?
Intel doesn’t care if the manufacturers price of retail box PC is $399 or $1,299 – they make exactly the same.
They don’t really care what brand you buy as long as you buy a PC with their chip in it.
So, does Apple advertise by price?
Does Apple advertise that it’s a commodity?
Or is their basic branding message that they are “different” – that they are a Mac?
So, when Bob Keefe of CoxNews really, really doesn’t get something – he really, really doesn’t understand. In fact, everyone’s initial reaction is entirely correct but his question is dumb on the surface AND still dumb when you probe and research underneath it.
It’s literally laughably dumb* and yet also appalling in that it’s utter simplistic viewpoint of the world of business – a throughly & complete lack of understanding of marketing, branding, and the computer industry since 1990.
Having never met Bob Keefe, I’m sure he’s a fine person but as someone who presumably calls himself a journalist, he needs to do a little research before just blurting something out that really puts himself & “CoxNews” in a bad light.
So, I’m sure he’s not an idiot but frankly, it’s hard to excuse & defend a question that is idiotic on many levels.
Of course, fellow journalists feel bad for him and that’s understandable – we can all have bad days but as with his blog post, it’s clear he had already written the lead for his blog post and the dumb question was not just a brain freeze but simply because he wanted an official “counter-point” comment from Apple to fill in the “other side” of the “issue” because he thinks stickers are just stickers.
For a three year kid, stickers are just stickers … but this is a complex issue that seems to have escaped the blurter of the question on every level.
* Audio clip from MacUser.