Apple & FBI

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Tim Cook’s Battle with US Government is a masterful Marketing campaign that reinforces apple position in the David vs Goliath debate. A crusade, that reinforces rather that repositions apple as “a staunch advocate for our customers’ privacy and personal safety,”

This new David vs Goliath confrontation is merely the latest skirmish in an ancient war that once saw Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs, attack IBM, Microsoft and even Apple when he was outside the organisation. “Being hard doesn’t scare us,” Cook told the audience at Apple’s annual meeting. He’s not bluffing. Bloody-mindedness is part of Apple’s DNA.

Apple’s refusal to comply with a court order asking it to unlock an encrypted iPhone owned by terrorist Rizwan Farook also provides a major example of a rare positioning tactic – taking an enemy. Most marketers attempt to convince consumers what they stand for by communicating that message directly. Smarter brands look for an organisation that stands opposed to what they represent and then deliberately pick a very public fight with them to bolster their position in the market. Ryanair fought the big airlines to emphasise its competitive, cheaper credentials. Ben & Jerry’s took on Häagen-Dazs in the 1980’s to communicate its independent spirit and authentic origins. Now Apple combats the US Government to emphasise its liberal, independent streak.

Consumer privacy is already a core competence of apple.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which publishes an annual report on the big tech brands has consistently rated Apple as a “six star” operator, meaning the company adheres to all of the policies of transparency and privacy that the EFF considers best practice. That’s a significant competitive advantage over rivals like Google & Microsoft (3stars)  and Twitter & Facebook (four stars). The fact that all of these brands have recently announced their support for the stance that Apple has taken merely strengthens Apple’s position and its perception as the market leader.

This is a smart attempt by Apple to bolster its brand and further maintain its competitive position in the market. The fact that FBI and US government have backed down reinforces that factor even more.

Author: Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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