APPLE, the technology giant that redefined the ordinary consumer’s relationship with smartphones, music players and tablets, appears to be struggling to follow the innovative trail blazed by its late co-founder, Steve Jobs.
It has fallen out of the top ten in the latest Superbrands survey, which assesses the standing of the world’s biggest firms.
Apple came in at No 14, well down on last year, when it was judged to be second only to luxury watch maker Rolex. It is now languishing behind even Andrex, a company known for its toilet rolls.
Brand analysts suggested Apple, under chief executive Tim Cook, was having difficulty maintaining its proud legacy of innovation, which brought to the market devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Although Apple has released new versions of the latter two products, it has failed to ignite public interest with an entirely new piece of tech, despite rumours it is working on a television and smartwatch.
With Apple’s competitors such as Samsung and HTC enjoying increasing success, it has also been suggested the company is in talks with an electric car manufacturer to produce an new vehicle, but only senior executives at Apple know for sure what the firm is working on.
Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the Superbrands council, said: “Apple and the other tech giants have suffered, with Apple particularly struggling to meet arguably unrealistic high expectations.
“It is increasingly clear that in the short-term at least, Apple is struggling to maintain its enviable innovation record in the eyes of consumers while failing to inspire individuals without its hugely influential leader, the late Steve Jobs.”
The Superbrands survey did bring good news for a titan of UK industry, after British Airways topped the list for the first time.
According to Mr Cheliotis, the company benefited from its association with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
Last year’s No 1, Rolex, slipped to second place after two years at the top, while Google went down for the second year running, albeit only from sixth to seventh place. Another major tech firm, Microsoft, fell from third to sixth position.
Social media site Facebook, which was 14th last year, fell out of the top 20 entirely, but Sony – enjoying success with its new Playstation 4 games console – climbed to No 17 from 25th.
Retailer Marks & Spencer retained its place in the top 20, while Boots entered the top 20 for the first time.
Online retail behemoth Amazon.co.uk also made its debut in the top 20.
The Consumer Superbrands ranking has been compiled since 1995 and is based on a survey of 3,000 adults who are asked to consider a selection of brands by the Centre for Brand Analysis.
Susanna Freedman: When Jobs left, it seems some of the fire went too
AS SOMEONE who works in the design industry, I have been an avid Apple customer for years, but lately I don’t feel as aware, excited or connected to the brand.
Is Apple retaining its innovation standards without Steve Jobs at the helm? The man who changed the way we listen to music, work and live our lives was a passionate and autocratic leader, a king of design and a master of innovation. He was the heart and soul of the Apple brand and perhaps without him some of the fire in Apple’s belly has been lost.
In January, revenue estimates were reported to be going down, then came the fall to its lowest position in many years in the Superbrands survey. So what is happening to Apple’s brand and products post-Steve Jobs? Well, the iPad has enjoyed huge popularity, but competitive tablet products are hot on Apple’s heels, with everyone from Samsung to Tesco bringing products to the market, while iPhone’s share of the smartphone market has now dropped globally to just under 18 per cent.
No brand in this day and age can afford to be complacent. Apple will always have a very loyal following, but younger consumers won’t know the story of Apple, or remember the first iPhone. They are casually changeable, influenced by reviews and social media, desperate to be first to try the latest thing, and are not loyal, moving on quickly if their interest is not sustained.
• Susanna Freedman is a brand consultant and head of brand at Emperor