On the 5th of October, 2012, it has been exactly one year since the former CEO and founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, lost his fight against cancer.
His death echoed around the world and raised the question whether the technology giant could retain its leading position on the global market. For what does the future hold for Apple, if along with Steve Jobs the innovation and creativity died that is the foundation for the many Apple products, which in the eyes of many have revolutionised their everyday lives? Will we have fewer innovations and poorer Apple products, riddled with errors and technologically inferior compared to the competitors, as critics are saying about the iPhone 5? The question does not have a single or simple answer.
But even if 5 million iPhone 5 had been sold already within the first week of the launch on September 12th, 2012, then another story is waiting to be told according to Martin Lindstrøm, brand futurist and advisor for many years to some of the biggest companies in the world.
"The numbers behind the 5 million sold iPhones have not been calculated as previously done, and there hasn't been the same hype with the corresponding long lines around places selling the iPhone 5, for instance in Hong Kong. All in all there are small signs that the launch of the iPhone 5 will not be as successful as with the previous models. At the same time you can tell that Apple is trying to convince the world that the company is 100% unaffected by Steve Jobs no longer being part of Apple."
Martin Lindstrøm does not doubt, however, that Apple stocks will continue to skyrocket for the next year or so, but at some time it will start going in the other direction. At the same time, fear is spreading among fangs of being conned by Apple:
"I spoke with a lady the other day, who has written in her will that her husband must continue paying for her mobile phone subscription. She was simply afraid that all her pictures would disappear, when she died. This is an example of how Apple customers are becoming aware of how much they entrust the company with. Despite the great user friendliness Apple products give you, you also surrender a lot of control over your personal data," Martin Lindstrøm says.
Politics kill creativity
When Apple conquered the mobile phone market with the iPhone, it was the obvious underdog in comparison to the established players on the market, such as Samsung and Blackberry. That has changed, though, and so Apple can no longer take advantage of the sympathy that you get from being the underdog.
Samsung, who is Apple's biggest competitor on the mobile phone market, has begun using the same tactics as Apple did, which is to utilise being the underdog.
Apple today is so obviously far from being an underdog and has instead become a symbol of an extremely well-run and successful business. But this development could become unfavourable to the brand Apple, if the original focus is moved too far, which signs suggest is happening according to Martin Lindstrøm.
Martin Lindstrøm elaborates that with the death of Steve Jobs, the fate of Apple was put in the hands of Tim Cook, and where Steve Jobs was the enigmatic and charismatic leader, who kept a vigilant eye on the company and demanded absolute perfection, Apple under Tim Cook has changed personality into a company run by politics, and as a result thereof, people will attempt to gain more power in the organisation at the expense of the creativity and innovation, which has otherwise characterised Apple.
"Tim Cook does not have the same clout and persuasive powers that Steve Jobs did. And it will have consequences. The same thing happened to Walt Disney and other great American companies, when the new generation took over. It causes problems that the former head had such great importance to the company. Steve Jobs was a genius, and Tim Cook does not have the same charisma. Overall you might say that the change happening to Apple, where politics matter more and more, eventually will kill the creativity in the company."
Until the end, Steve Jobs was fully focused on the company he helped found - a business that today is worth more than 650 billion dollars.
But to Steve Jobs it was about more than just money. He was a multi-billionaire, but his original focus did not change - he still wanted to create revolutionary products with high user friendliness, and he cared more for creativity and innovation than politics.
“Is there anything better?”
Although according to Martin Lindstrøm there are signs around the world that the hype around the iPhone 5 is not at the same level as previous years, the situation in Denmark is apparently exactly the same as the previous years.
The night before Friday, September 28th, 2012, a young man was thus lauded as the first in the country to get an iPhone 5 after having stood freezing in the autumn cold for several hours in Copenhagen with lots of other fans. Applauses followed his triumphant walk out of the store with the trophy held high.
The question is whether the death of Steve Jobs has meant that the hype will recede globally, and if even hardcore fans will start to look elsewhere for other products, when the criticism of the iPhone gains ground.
Among the points of criticism being discussed widely after the launch is the error-riddled map application of the iPhone 5, the lack of a Youtube application and that fact that some users have even experienced the paint to be flaking.
Both in respect to the lacking map application, full of spelling errors and showing people the wrong way, as well as the missing Youtube application, it is a matter of the software itself of the phone. The question in this context is whether Steve Jobs would have accepted such a lacking map application was made available to the users. Furthermore, the iPhone 5 did not offer anything of such revolutionary proportions that could otherwise have upstaged the competition - as it has been the case before.
As Martin Lindstrøm says: "Fans will start to wonder: 'Is there anything better?'" And here the answer could be Samsung Galaxy S III with its open platform and access to, among other things, Youtube and Google Maps. Of course there is also criticism of the Samsung Galaxy S III. (Watch the video below).
But by changing you will be rid of some of the previously mentioned problems of the iPhone 5, and some would say you get more value for your money. On that note, the iPhone 5 will be the most expensive iPhone compared to the previous models.
"But even if you in this way gain freedom and more value for your money, it is at the expense of usability and the significant fact that you will not be as cool with another product than an iPhone in your hand. The level of coolness for other phones is by definition lower than an iPhone," says Martin Lindstrøm.
But according to him there are hints that exactly that might eventually change.
"In the last 5 years, Samsung has gathered capital and expertise and has hired some of the best designers in the world, and the company is in this way a bit like the crocodile lying in the water by the shore - ready to strike. I would not be surprised if Samsung begins to take the lead."
Facts about Martin Lindstrøm
Age: 42 Home: Sydney, Australia Childhood: Born in Skive, but left Denmark in 1997. Occupation: “Brand futurist”, presenter, author and through many years advisor to some of the biggest companies in the world. Was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2009. Author of the bestseller “Buyology” and its sequel “Brandwashed”.