Apple dumping refurbished Phones in India is so Un-Steve like! It’s so not cool!
In February 2016, Apple launched a U.S. program that allows users to upgrade older iPhones for a small monthly cost. That number could probably be around the 14 million to 15 million older phones that is expected to be traded-in could be refurbished and sent to emerging markets – while of course, Apple has found a way – it is India.
Being a huge Steve Job fan and an ardent follower of every Apple product available till date, I once came across this discovery of Apple’s Marketing Principles as written by Markulla under the direction of Steve Job’s overarching philosophy and later told to the world by Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography
Mike Markulla wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” he wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
Simply put! Its an amazing brand vision and a remarkably clear one.
Now, the new India-Apple charter story goes against all 3 principles. One it is affecting every Apple user’s feelings when we pay $1000 plus for the Iphones that come our way, every time. Two, if you ask me this is an unimportant opportunity, India is not equipped to handle ewaste or rather no on thinks it’s a big deal. And yes it is a ‘slipshod’ idea that it kills the idea of Apple keeping the market ready for its newer and better products later. India is one of the largest Mobile phone markets and this market was well educated on phone technology before a child could speak. So bringing it in with a notion of market education at a lower level and ensuing future brighter and latest models do not work. And affects the overall brand image for its latest and more flamboyant iphones.
An IPhone is an iPhone; it’s perceived as complete, it can’t be less complete at the lower end and really complete at the higher end. Think about it, there is still all the confusion with the IPhone SE vs the Iphone 6S, an iphone 6s user cannot fathom how a similar product is available at a slightly lower price, now it goes beyond you to think that every one around you will have an iphone which is an iphone but not ‘the cool’ latest version or ‘the super complete one’, you waited for, stood in the queue, took part in the frenzy and got all excited when you picked up one.
There are only two reasons why Apple would resort to refurbished iphones in India.
- They plan to create a social impact at the lower level by refurbishing their phones in some way to create a greater purpose at the lower level, may be health and education or creating a solution to the unbanked with a mobile money that will empower people and create greater organized platform for the bottom of the pyramid. And have a buy back when these get obsolete!
- Or have decided the under 2% market of its brand in India is not worth the effort!
If its not one of the two, then its just unlike the principles that Apple is known for. This is a short cut, a set back to staying great as they always meant to be.
It is opportunism at its best. This is ‘ReMake in India’. Not cool!
Just makes Apple one more player who dumped the stuff they did not want, just like the medicines, cars, electronics, clothes, cows and lots more we never knew came our way. As a race we may have grown in obsolete conditions, but should we always be that way is a question that needs to be answered by our policy makers, now stronger than ever.
The Author is the CEO and Founder of BLU, a Singapore based Brand and Communication Consultancy and a certified Personal Brand Strategist. She writes what touches her and what inspires her or something that is relevant to be taken note off. She focuses on Brands both products and people. All views are her own and does not represent any organisation.