There was more to Apple’s ads than a simple slogan. ‘Think Different’ rallied the Mac faithful, set the Mac apart from Windows PC riffraff, and gave Steve Jobs’ second coming a public license to do something new and exciting.
Unlocking The Secret
We can argue the merits and benefits of an advertising campaign until the cows come home to roost (I buy metaphors on the bulk plan), but there’s something special about a creative business that’s backed up against the wall with little to lose.
Once the Mac business was solidified, Apple set out to bet the farm on the future. That meant a limited, no-nonsense product line, Apple Stores, the iPod, iTunes, and from that the future came rolling in the door with a switch to Intel Inside, the iPhone, App Stores, iPad, and next year, Apple Watch.
Can you name another company that is in a similar position that Apple was in back at the turn of the century?
T-Mobile comes to mind right away, under newly minted CEO John Legere, widely credited with halting the slide of the 4th horse in a three horse race, building a better network almost overnight, and, by becoming the ‘uncarrier’ his company put a knife into the heart of those crazy cell phone plans from AT&T and Verizon.
How did Legere do all that so quickly?
His list of choices was simple and not unlike what Jobs faced upon his return to Apple. Do or die. Get creative. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. John Legere took Steve Jobs’ ‘Think Different’ keys and put them to good use in remaking T-Mobile from 4th place also ran to a force impacting the company’s much larger competitors to a scale that doesn’t match the company’s size.
T-Mobile is engaged in focus and simplicity and, as it did with Apple once Jobs’ returned, it is paying off. Buzzword compliant terms like uncarrier, and zero down, zero interest for the latest phones resonate with customers. Also resonating with customers are terms such as; free data for streaming music, data rollover month-to-month, no long-term contracts, paid early termination fees, unlimited family plans, free tablet bandwidth, pre-paid plans that rival StraightTalk and others, and hotspots without a fee.
To be honest and fair about it, T-Mobile still tucks away a few details in the fine print of each plan and advertising promotion, and the U.S. network doesn’t cover the same territory as Verizon and AT&T. It’s a business, and the company needs to make money while it grows.
The similarities between T-Mobile’s current position and that of Apple back at the turn of the century are striking.
So, why doesn’t Apple just buy T-Mobile? As much as we’d like to see everything done the Apple Way™, the math doesn’t work (though we can appreciate Apple’s influence on other companies). Other carriers wouldn’t be too happy about Apple becoming a competitor instead of their most popular vendor.
I wonder how the executives at Lenovo, Acer, Dell, HP, Asus, and others felt about Microsoft entering the PC manufacturing business with the Surface Pro?