What Apple absolutely positively will not do ever

“A recent analysis [SteveJack at MacDailyNews, Nov. 3] suggested that Apple needs to expand the customer base by selling products for less; making affordable products below the iPhone and iPad,” Ron McElfresh writes for Mac360.

“The example given was that Apple should buy BlackBerry. After all, the brand is well known, the price would be low (as in bargain basement), and, well, I can’t see any other reasons,” McElfresh writes. “A Bizarro Apple could sell BlackBerry smartphones and tablets with iOS and expand the company’s domain into the mid-tier of smartphone and tablet makers.”

“Buying BlackBerry is a perfect example of what Apple absolutely will not do ever,” McElfresh writes. “Stick that idea into the same festering landfill where licensing the Mac OS and a selling a cheap iPhone reside. It won’t happen.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: SteveJack responds:

1. My article was an opinion piece, not an “analysis.”

2. Nowhere in my article did I say to buy the company.

3. I simply proposed buying the “BlackBerry” brand. The remaining roadkill up in Waterloo can re-rename themselves back to “Research In Motion” in order to continue trying to sell off their dismembered pieces to suckers and fools. Direct quote from yours truly: “Buy an established brand (on the cheap, no less) and design and market products for mid-tier consumers. There are other possibilities – other brands, creating your own (quite expensive) – but the BlackBerry brand would fit the bill quite nicely. No sense letting a widely-known brand just whiter away to nothing.”

4. Brands cost big money to create. They have value even when tarnished. As recently as 2012, Interbrand placed a value on the BlackBerry brand of US$3.922 billion. Millions upon millions of current and just-recently-former “CrackBerry” addicts roam the planet. The BlackBerry brand is still worth billions and could easily be revived in Apple’s hands. As I said in my article, “Mini Cooper has worked very nicely for BMW.”

5. The point of using a brand other than “Apple” to market mid-tier products was to preserve Apple’s brand while delivering iOS to a wider audience that will be more amenable to buying Apple products next if they’re already on an iOS device instead of slumming it with some fragmandroid POS.

6. Licensing Mac OS to other companies has nothing whatsoever to do with my article. Obviously, marketing mid-tier, Jony Ive-designed iOS products under a “BlackBerry” (or any other brand, existing or created) subsidiary’s label would mean that Apple keeps the money, not Power Computing. Win. Doing so, they would also (1) preserve the sanctity of the Apple brand while (2) significantly hurting the Apple knockoff outfits and (3) sowing the seeds for future Apple brand (higher margin) purchases. Win, win, win.

Related article:
Apple should buy BlackBerry and sell lower-priced iOS-powered phones and tablets under the BlackBerry brand – November 4, 2013

53 Comments

      1. Why buy BB when Apple will soon have enough cash to buy Microsoft ($300B) and could replace Windows Phone, RT, and Windows 8 with cheap Mac hardware and lower end iOS/Mac OS. Three birds with one stone!

        Imagine the faces at Dell, HP, Acer, etc., when the new Apple/Microsoft subsidiary starts seeding Windows 9 and its clearly Mac OS Lite.

        Now that’s what I call an opinion.

          1. For the record, I was giving a parody opinion response to SteveJack’s opinion. 🙂

            My personal opinion is Apple doesn’t need to buy any company its already on course to crush.

    1. Many SteveJack opinion pieces have been quite insightful, even prophetic at times. The majority are logical and balanced, based on a deeper understanding of Apple and Apple’s customers.

      An increasing number of people are fickle nowadays – ready to turn on someone in a heartbeat if they even appear to stumble. The internet has exacerbated that trend because it is so easy to issue a public tirade against others. As a result, the reactive, baser portions of human nature too often end up driving forum discussions.

      1. You’re right in general, but in this case I believe people just don’t like his idea from any angle. The defamatory language is instinctual, hardly more than an emphatic way of saying “No!”

      2. I have to agree. Obviously Jack is no dummy when it comes to understanding the value of branding and makes some very good points.

        Smart businesses have great business plans. They may not be in line with what the “masses” think but that doesn’t mean they are bad plans. Had that been the case, Apple would have closed down long ago because the masses said that is what made the most “business” sense. Right Mikey?

        The questions is, is his opinion in line with Apple’s business strategy? I surely don’t know and neither do any of the people making negative comments on his piece.

        I question how many of these people commenting would have commented negatively when Apple started using Intel chips in the Mac?

        If you make your business decisions by emotion instead of making smart business decisions, you probably won’t be in business long and you really won’t have a business worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

        Agree with him or not, I for one appreciated his well written and thought out perspective.

      1. Exactly! Last summer I saw a Bell & Howell electric toothbrush for sale at a flea market. See how important old ‘has-been’ brand names are now ?

    1. No, everyone would not be using a Blackberry. They would be using an iOS device with a BB sticker on it. So what’s the point? Why would Apple water down its iPhone/iPad product lines to add in another marketing name?

      Answer: It won’t, because the idea is stupid. The only thing Apple would consider buying from Blackberry is its patent portfolio.

      1. And more to the point, Steve Jobs was quite clear: “To focus means to say ‘No'”

        The designers working on the next BMW body style do not work on Mini styles. Asserting that Jony Ive has capacity to design both Apple and “Blackberry” models means saying “Yes” and losing focus.

  1. What they need to do is drop the prices on the current products, they make what 60% on each sale or something like that. They could start the iMacs at $799 or $899 and up to hit the lower end market with out removing any technology in the current lineup. I think $799 sounds better though. They need a laptop to start around that line as well or $499 would be nice. But it all depends on how much it takes to make the current line of products, which I don’t know so these prices could be way off. I think it would be a win win if they dropped a few hundred on all lines with the same hardware.

      1. And in case you’re unaware, gross margin is how much money Apple makes BEFORE taxes, wages, administrative costs, distributions to shareholders, etc.

        Another way of looking at it is to say that 63 cents of every dollar goes toward the materials used to build the products. The remaining 37 cents/dollar is the money they use to pay their employees, fund their R&D, keep the lights on, etc.

    1. What you need to do is get a clue. In order for Apple to sell laptops at $499, it would have to make no profit and use significantly cheaper parts. Sure, those prices sound great, but they have no basis in reality.

  2. SteveJack’s logic is fatally flawed. He claims the Blackberry brand is worth $3.9 Billion, which is absolutely ridiculous when the entire company was about to be sold for $4.9 Billion. In addition, if the Blackberry brand is so valuable, why in the world would Blackberry sell it to Apple?

    Finally, brands are only valuable if they are MORE well known than your existing brand. For example, FedEx had been building its brick-and-mortar stores to compete with UPS Stores. In order to jump-start its retail stores, FedEx bought Kinko’s and renamed its stores FedEx Kinko’s.

    Apple is not in the same position. The iPhone and Apple brands have a much higher value and consumer opinion than does Blackberry, so no advantage is gained. Blackberry is not known as a low-cost, entry-level market, it is known as a corporate brand (not consumer), so Apple would have to take the Blackberry brand and re-shape it as a low-level consumer brand. IOW, make Blackberry into something it’s not. And then Apple would have to sell hardware at significantly lower prices to have a low-cost, entry level phone/tablet.

    And for what? To make less money per mobile device sold?

    1. Very nicely reasoned, Bizlaw! Thanks for the post.

      Isn’t Apple’s brand worth enough on its own? It now has to ride the coattails of a lesser brand? Did SteveJack and Enderle have a “Freaky Friday” moment?

    2. The key remaining value of BlackBerry is in having a smartphone with a physical keyboard. Apple has proven that a touch-based onscreen keyboard (that appears and disappears as needed) is generally better for most users. However, there are situations where a physical keyboard may be more efficient, or having tactile feedback is helpful. And some users (a small but NOT insignificant percentage) will always prefer using a physical keyboard, if they have a viable choice.

      If BlackBerry is to survive as an ongoing enterprise, THAT is what it should focus on going forward. Making fake iPhones is a “fruitless” endeavor. No one wants a fake iPhone, when they can get a real iPhone for the same price, or a fake iPhone running Android for less. Essentially every smartphone today looks and works like an iPhone.

      THE BlackBerry smartphone should become the world’s best (and maybe ONLY) smartphone that has a physical keyboard and a non-touch screen. Don’t try to copy and compete with Apple (and Android); go where the competition will not go. I think there is a real need for a smartphone that is smaller and more power efficient, as other smartphones (even iPhone) become larger and more power-hungry.

      With a smaller non-touch screen and a keyboard-based interface, that Blackberry smartphone can become the smallest, thinnest, and most “rugged” with the longest per-charge battery life. Make it run for a week (of typical use) without needing to recharge. BlackBerry will not challenge Apple (or the Android collective) using this strategy, but there is a niche for a smartphone that is different in useful ways. BlackBerry can survive and even thrive (without being sold off) by making a smartphone that is intentionally NOT an iPhone.

    3. Totally right, BB is worth very little without the brand so would only sell it if the whole company is going into liquidation. But then wouldn’t they want the patents as well the only other thing of value. Even if it did buy the brand alone, Apple would need at least a year to develop products if it is even feasible along side Apples own product cycle. Now does Apple wait a year to buy the brand or buy it now and keep it on ice? How could that work? In a year either way the brand would likely be worth little in real terms, in fact could be a liability like Motorola. This would be all risk and no real realistic benefit baring supreme luck. What’s worse without that luck Apple itself would be endangered.

    4. SteveJack did not claim the BlackBerry brand is currently worth $3.9 billion.

      SteveJack did not propose that Apple take BlackBerry and make their “low-level consumer brand.” Mid-tier is not low-end.

      SteveJack already told you “for what” as per:

      Obviously, marketing mid-tier, Jony Ive-designed iOS products under a “BlackBerry” (or any other brand, existing or created) subsidiary’s label would mean that Apple keeps the money, not Power Computing. Win. Doing so, they would also (1) preserve the sanctity of the Apple brand while (2) significantly hurting the Apple knockoff outfits and (3) sowing the seeds for future Apple brand (higher margin) purchases. Win, win, win.

  3. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall too many instances of where one company has bought another company’s “brand” and been successful. In fact, I can’t think of any.

    Consumers tend to be turned off by “improvements” made by new owners to old products… or don’t like what is really a different product being marketed under the name of another one.

    BMW didn’t just buy the Mini Cooper brand and place it on rebadged BMWs… which is what SteveJack is saying Apple should do. From the info I gathered, BMW is actually building Minis.

    1. “BMW didn’t just buy the Mini Cooper brand and place it on rebadged BMWs.”

      This is NOT what SteveJack is saying Apple should do.

      “BMW is actually building Minis.”

      SteveJack quite clearly suggests Apple actually build BlackBerrys, exactly like BMW does Minis.

    1. It appears that the Macalope has taken SteveJack’s article to task as well. http://www.macworld.com/article/2061914/macalope-weekly-solutions-in-search-of-a-problem.html

      How did I remember AMB and not the Macalope?

      The only thing worse than SteveJack’s article is his defense in the MDN take, particularly point #6. Apple will not sell junk. BlackBerry is clearly a junk brand. No design by Ive can get around BlackBerry’s junk status.

      To all those who say that SteveJack will one day be correct: I’m very certain that Beleaguered BlackBerry will be gone before Apple’s brand worth is out of the top 5.

  4. SteveJack, a basement blogger who tries to call the shots after they happen. No, Apple will never buy the BLKBRY brand and make devices under the name. It makes zero sense. Apple has one vision and one philosophy. Doing as you suggest would make them into a different company and one where profits would be eroded.

    1. He normally makes sense. I thought he just had an off day. I know I’ve posted things online only to realize the next day that it was stupid and my reasoning was totally wrong. I figured that’s what happened yesterday, until he posted this today defending his opinion piece.

  5. MDN’s obsession with car analogies is finally revealed as simple-minded pablum? Great – took long enough!

    Can we all agree, once and for all, to stop making these comparisons? Apple may well be a premium brand, but their business model has little to do with BMW or Buick or Porsche. Just shut up about it already.

  6. Way back in 2008, I knew that SteveJack was failing to see the future with his take on cellphone photography:

    Why does iPhone 3G have rear-facing 2-megapixel camera, lack iChat?

    I am a ‘real photographer’ and I have always had the best DSLRs available, but I knew that his post was very short sighted and time has proven this correct. I have a 20 x 30 matted and framed print above my iMac that is spectacular and nobody can believe I captured that image with an 8MP iPhone. That’s why we were clamoring for a better iPhone Camera Steve.

    I’m sure he has been right about plenty of things but cellphone photography and buying Blackberry is a huge swing-and-a-miss.

  7. Whenever I see either a headline or opening sentence of an article that states, “Apple should do…” or “Apple should buy…” I stop reading. Immediately.

    I’m reminded of the old adage that those who can, do. And those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym. Punditry, of which SteveJack is guilty as charged, is quite similar.

    If a pundit were really smarter than the collective brain trust at Apple, he or she would be running Apple. But they aren’t.

    The only value I see in RIM is its patent portfolio. Otherwise, it’s a dead company walking. Why buy debt and declining market share to merely own a tattered brand? That is not how Apple works. Instead, when Apple makes acquisitions, it’s typically tiny companies you never heard of that possess either a promising technology that can be bought on the cheap, or a patent worth owning, or people who run the company worth having on-board. That’s it.

    Mega-mergers (think AOL-Time Warner train wreck) are loved by investment banks and lazy business hacks. But besides the “synergies, aka, firing of thousands of now-redundant employees to save money, big mergers are a disaster, and I loathe “synergies.” You should too.

    Memo to SteveJack or whoever you are: enough punditry already. Stop. It. Now. Please.

    There. I feel better now.

    1. Dear supercilious dumbass,

      SteveJack did not suggest a “mega-merger.”

      Learn how to read:

      2. Nowhere in my article did I say to buy the company.

      3. I simply proposed buying the “BlackBerry” brand.

      It couldn’t be any fucking clearer.

      There. I feel better now.

  8. SteveJack,
    If your original opinion had been better written, you would not have had to defend it, explain it, and restate it again in the six-paragraph response above.

  9. I think all of Apple’s efforts should be developing services (payments, then Siri/search) and luxury products (iPad Pro, iPhone Pro, iWatch, etc.)

    Integrating a huge company is way too much of a hassle for management.

    1. Buying a brand name is not “integrating a huge company.”

      People who can’t read and understand simple concepts, yet feel entitled to post their stupidity bother me.

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