On September 3rd, music promoter Stephen Browne posted on his twitter feed a blurred photo of U2 in Dublin suggesting that Apple might be planning to somehow involve U2 in the upcoming launch of the iPhone 6. Rumors were that the new U2 album would be preloaded on the new iPhone. This rumour added to the excitement of the highly anticipated Apple media event.
Like many eager uber-geeks, I watched the Cupertino Apple media event where Apple announced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Apple Watch, Apple Pay and free downloads of U2’s new record.
Apple announced that the record was free. In fact it turned out it cost Apple $100 million for this marketing campaign.
For the past 20+ years, U2 and Apple have been among my favourite companies. Both brands are creative genius. Both brands strive to innovate, and always manage to stay relevant, giving people just want they want and need. With a few wobbles here and there, both have stayed true to their ethos and built upon their core values of excellence in craft, education, inspiration and making the world a better place. This strategy has worked for them.
Ten years ago, when U2 and Apple cashed in on their brands to create a strategic alliance with the Projet Red campaign, it helped Apple sell iPods and U2 sell digital music while at the same time raising awareness and money for charity. It seemed like a win-win.
Since Steve Jobs has gone, I can’t help but feel that the ethos of Apple has changed. Apple’s competition has become much more sophisticated and for the first time Apple struggles to stay ahead of the innovation curve.
Perhaps this is why this Apple event left a sour taste in my mouth and uneasiness in my gut. Some of the strategic alliances over the past year or so leave me to question the intention of the company. I can’t help but feel that Apple has changed its focus and its primary vision seems to be on growth and profit.
Moves like purchasing Beats left the world talking about Apple getting into the headphone market, but this move really had nothing to do with headphones. Dr Dre and Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine are leaders in today’s music industry, responsible for such huge acts like Eminem, Snoop, and Lady Gaga. Owning Beats positions Apple to become the world’s largest record label.
With the introduction of Apple Pay, which gives Apple control over how money is moved from account to account, they now make money on all vertical platforms – from the artistic creation, through the distribution, to the delivery device and now the payment. It controls the whole arena in some of the most socially influential industries on the planet: technology, banking, entertainment and communication sectors.
When a company becomes so powerful we end up with a monopolistic entity that has the potential to shake and even control our likes, dislikes and purchasing habits.
I can’t help but wonder if the man who started it all, the man who gave copies of Autobiography of a Yogi to all of his staff, would have wanted a world where all the power, all the decision making, all the income rests in the hands of a few. I can’t help but wonder, with Jobs gone from Apple, if snakes have infiltrated the garden and the fruit is starting to rot.
Since 1994, Rishi Deva, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new startups to active global leaders.
For more information on Rishi, please visit rishivision.com.