So, what might the reaction of that hugely devoted Apple customer base to the suggestion that Apple might force them to take adverts in return for cheaper products? The Independent today (Tue 17 Nov 2009) reported that Apple has filed a patent, with Steve Jobs listed as the first of the 5 inventors, for “enforcement routine” software. The idea being that you get your iPod cheap in return for receiving ads. The clever software ensures that you’ve understood the ad by asking you a question about it. Get the question wrong and the device could be locked.
One commentator described it as “the most invasive, demeaning, anti-utopian and downright horrible piece of cross-platform software technology that anybody’s ever thought of.” So, a positive enforcement of the brand then?
This is the type of behaviour I’d expect from Ryan Air. I understand that I get unrealistically cheap air fares in return for a constant barrage of advertising. I also know from experience that Ryan Air will try to trick me into incurring extra spending or penalty fees if I fail to follow their arcane procedures exactly. That’s fine and my view of their brand compared to Virgin or BA reflects that.
The problem is that Apple’s oh-so-cool brand, with its beautiful , minimalist design, high fashion, high value (and high priced) products seems completely out of place with such a cheap trick. If Apple’s strategy is to go down market to grow their sales, they appear to be on target, but considering the likely impact on their high-end brand, it seems a very high risk strategy.