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Tech scribes not tired of predicting people are tired of Apple

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • January 14, 2013 - 12:30 PM

Today’s Apple-is-doomed-doomed-I-tells-ya tale comes from here. I don’t trust any sources that uses “Teens” as a category. What the 19-year old finds interesting is different than what the 13-year-old wants. Half the economy consists of catering to the various differences between 15 and 18. So when we hear that “Teens Sour on Apple,” I think someone’s trying to get ahead of the Apple-is-over story before it becomes conventional wisdom.

Note: people interested in that eternally fascinating comment thread subject, Why I Hate That Platform You Like, are encouraged to head right to comments and start talking about “fanbois” and “Kool-aid.” Make sure you spell Microsoft with a dollar sign! 

Here’s the article.

When you want to know what's cool, you ask a teenager.

 You have to ask her nicely or she will scowl you into oblivion or patronize you into a painful purgatory.

Oh not that. Couldn’t bear to be patronized by a teenager. What do they think is cool now?

Teens have decided that Apple is, like, so over. If you want to be a veritable cooleratus, you want to be seen with a Samsung Galaxy phone in your hand or a Microsoft Surface laptoppy tablet stuck under your arm.

Uh huh. Says who? Let us check Forbes for the whole story.

Ultimately, in the eyes of today’s youth, massive popularity has watered down Apple’s coolness. “Teens are telling us Apple is done,” says Tina Wells of the youth marketing agency Buzz Marketing Group. “Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X and older [Millennials], but I don’t think they are connecting with Millennial kids. [They’re] all about Surface tablets/laptops and Galaxy.”

The signs that youngest smartphone audience has cooled on Apple have been steadily accumulating over the past few months. Apple, for instance, dropped several spots or remained flat on several teen brand opinion polls, including marketing agency’s Smarty Pants’ Young Love survey.

Let’s go to Buzz Marketing.Take a tour through the site, where you find that Today’s Youth like to sit on the ground and point at computer screens, or sit on skateboards while on break from the Tentative Smile class. They also like to smear paint on themselves for no reason except that’s what the voices up in the corner of the room tell them to do. There may be more examples on the site, but every page generates a pop-up begging you to sign up for their email, perhaps as a reassurance to clients: see how relentlessly annoying we can be? Imagine this level of annoyance working for your brand! 

As for the SmartyPants Young Love study, which rates things on the Kidfinity Score, McDonald’s is the top brand, followed by M&Ms, Oreos and Doritos. Spongebob is number #96. Pepsi is #91. Apple is #32. Target is #88. The iPod is #7. This suggests that a child’s understanding of “Brands” is different than an adults’, no? Kids may not care about “Apple” if they’re under 10, but they get the product name. Back to Forbes:

While 67% of affluent teens still say they intend to purchase an iPhone as their next upgrade, reports Piper Jaffray, Samsung pulls in second with a strong 22%. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that it was unthinkable a mere 12 months ago that any teen would prefer any phone to an iPhone if given the option.

Doomed! Sell everything! Look, Samsung’s doing great, and Apple needs the competition to avoid becoming a large fat brand coasting along on goodwill and a sizeable installed base. But you have to be a wee bit suspicious of analyses that go on to say:

Meanwhile, Research In Motion (RIM) is attempting to move back into the youth space, and has aligned with a few youth-oriented brands, including Extreme International, to develop Blackberry-specific apps and mobile programs aimed at 16-20-year-olds.

Oh man. If RIM’s back in the picture, everything’s different. Next you’ll tell me Nokia had a good quarter. What’s that? What’s that you say?

On Thursday, (the Nokia CEO) delivered unexpected good news: a profit. Sales of its new smartphone line, the Lumia, powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, soared more than 50 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to preliminary financial information.

 In what was seen as a make-or-break quarter, Mr. Elop said Nokia would break even or turn a 2 percent profit rather than report a loss as large as 10 percent, as analysts expected.

So Europeans are turning away from Android phones or insisting that the OS have Finnish roots. What does this mean for Samsung? Or Apple? Nothing much. I can’t speak for the youth market, except:

A) If they decide that something isn’t cool anymore, the unbearable pain and sadness of carting around Apple products may plague me for up to three seconds, after which I tell them to get off my lawn, because I’m running the sprinklers from my iPad here and I’m just about to turn them off. Unless you want to run around in the Apple-controlled water and cool off. Oh that’s right Apple isn’t cool anymore, is it.

B) Observation of the youth I know from being the parent of tween tells me that the iPhone is still the most devoutly revered object. A kid who has a large Samsung gets laughed at for the phone’s size, and it’s now the central attribute used to mock her at lunch. I forgot my tray, can I use YOUR ENORMOUS PHONE?

One last thing from that first story cited. It was talking about kids were all about the Surface today, remember?

This will surely explain why Microsoft had large numbers of Glee-ful teens dancing away in the launch ad for the Surface.
It may not explain so well why the Surface hasn't yet sold in limitless numbers.
One of life's mysteries, that.

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