Apple's 'Death Grip' Attack Videos: 10 Reasons Why They Will Backfire

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-07-26

Apple's 'Death Grip' Attack Videos: 10 Reasons Why They Will Backfire

Apple is at it again. Like it did at its press conference showing other smartphones that experience antenna problems when users hold them in the wrong place, Apple has released a video showing the Motorola Droid X, arguably its iPhone's biggest competitor, experiencing the same drop in signal that its own smartphone suffers from when users hold the device in a certain way. 

Apple's intentions are now clearly defined. The company wants to stop everyone from thinking that only its smartphone experiences reception issues, and wants to drive the point home that the competition should be dragged through the mud just as much as its iPhone has. But along the way, Apple is only making itself look worse. And if it continues to attack the competition, the company will hurt its own business

Here's why: 

1. Apple looks desperate 

It's certainly not Apple's intention, but by showcasing the competition's problems with signal strength, the hardware company looks desperate. It might or might not be true that the Droid X, the BlackBerry Bold, and several other devices have antenna problems, but that's not the focus right now. The focus is on the iPhone, the device that is supposed to be the best smartphone on the market. Apple shouldn't demonstrate that its smartphone is similar to the competition; it should show how its phone is superior. But it isn't doing that and it's making the company look worse with each new video. 

2. The competition is winning 

Try as it might to show that the Droid X and every other smartphone have the same signal issue, Apple is failing. And along the way, the company is losing to that competition. Right now, the average consumer or enterprise customer would know that the iPhone 4 has an antenna problem. But if someone asked them if they knew that the Droid X had the same issue, the changes are that they would be clueless. Realizing that, Apple should stop trying. No matter how many videos it releases, the average consumer doesn't know (and arguably doesn't care) that the iPhone 4 has competitors with the same antenna problems. Get over it, Apple. 

3. It's unnecessary 

Apple's decision to highlight the competition's reception problems makes little sense. In fact, it's entirely unnecessary. Apple is the kind of company that typically knows how to target customers. It realizes that its consumer base is tired of the same old marketing techniques and it wants something new and fresh. By focusing so much of its efforts on the competition, Apple is looking like the companies that it has bested. It needs to realize that highlighting another product's flaws only puts that device in front of customers that that might not have known about it in the first place. It's doing more damage than good. 

4. It highlights the iPhone 4's flaw 

Make no mistake that the more Apple tells the world about the competition's antenna problems it will only make the iPhone 4's antenna issues even greater. In essence, Apple is telling its viewers that it isn't alone in having antenna problems. All the while, they're hearing that Apple has antenna problems. Enough is enough. The more Apple focuses on the competition's flaws, the more consumers will view it as a bigger issue for Apple. And that's exactly what the company doesn't want to happen. 

Negative Advertising Is for Losers


5. Let it go away 

It's time to just let the antenna issue go away organically. Apple needs to take a step back and realize that it has experienced bigger problems than this in the past. And every time, those issues seemed to go away after the company started ignoring them. Why it hasn't quietly tried to just allow the issue to fade into the background is anyone's guess. Yes, there is a problem. Yes, Apple has come up with a semi-fix. And yes, the competition might have the same issue. Now it's time to move on and deliver better products. By focusing so much of its time on the antenna issue, Apple is making it bigger than it has to be. It's time to get back to selling more iPhones. 

6. It's not the same 

Try as it might to prove that the competition has the same antenna issue as the iPhone 4, it's not working. The savvy consumer and enterprise customer knows that the issues are not alike. After all, if the BlackBerry Bold, which is an extremely successful product, had the same issues as the iPhone 4, it would have been big news when it launched. The same can be said for the Droid X. But those alleged problems never came to light. And most folks who use those products don't report significant antenna issues. So, while those problems might be present, they're not as obvious. Apple should keep that in mind the next time it tries to target a competitor. 

7. Positivity works better 

If Apple has learned anything from its marketing efforts over the past decade, it's that showing positive, fun, and informative ads is far more beneficial to its brand than focusing so much of its time detailing the competition's shortcomings. In many ways, marketing is like politics. The candidate that's behind does the dirt-digging, while the candidate who is ahead shows positivity. Apple is ahead. Why is it even considering focusing on the negative? 

8. It's Microsoft-esque 

The last thing Apple wants to become, especially now that it's the industry's most valuable company, is like Microsoft. Not only would that ostracize its core following, but it would also hurt the company's chances of competing in the market as consumers look for other alternatives. Yet, by being so negative, Apple is looking more and more like Microsoft by the day. Apple has spent years trying to prove that its better in every way than Microsoft. Why would the company give all that back for the sake of an iPhone antenna? 

9. The ego can be dangerous 

Apple has an ego that it needs to keep in check right now. In some cases, the company's swagger has proven beneficial by making its fans believe that its products are better than any other company's. But right now, that ego is hurting Apple. It is too concerned with the way things look, and not concerned enough with the quality of its product. Rather than focus its efforts on the competition, Apple needs to put that ego to good use and start proving that even though the iPhone 4 has an antenna problem, it's a small issue compared to the benefits of using it. Not only would such a move change the dialogue on the device, but it would put Apple back into its comfort zone. 

10. Sales will decline 

Make no mistake that the longer Apple makes consumers think about the iPhone 4's antenna issues, the worse it will be for the company's bottom line. Yes, Apple might have posted its biggest revenue gains in history. But as it continues to fail to show consumers why they should want the new iPhone, the company is only hurting itself. Going forward, it will need to shift strategies, get away from the antenna, and start talking about the benefits of owning an iPhone 4. If it doesn't, sales will definitely decline. 

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