Apple’s Continuing Need for Worthy Rivals

Chris Matyszczyk, writing for CNet:

Research consultancy Brand Keys has just released its 2017 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. This seeks to find the “category drivers that engage customers, engender loyalty and drive real profits.” It’s based on the views and emotions of 49,168 consumers aged between 16 and 65.

And when he looks at the results, I fear we may see Tim Cook dancing on the tables at some local Cupertino hostelry.

When it comes to the smartphone category, the top driver is Apple. In tablets, it’s Apple. In laptop computers, it’s Apple. Yes, this despite the launch of the somewhat deflating MacBook Pro.

What about online music? Goodness me, it isn’t Spotify. It’s Apple Music.

Even in the headphones product category, Apple-owned Beats ties with LG as the category driver.

Take these results with a grain of salt, considering that Brand Keys is the same outfit that published a piece titled “Apple iPhone 7 Sucks (When It Comes Building Loyalty)” on September 19.

But with the possible exception of music, isn’t it inarguable that Apple leads in all these categories? Who else even could be named the customer loyalty or brand leader in tablets or laptops? No one. You can make the case for Samsung in phones, but I think most observers would agree that they’ve always been Pepsi to the iPhone’s Coke, and their position is shakier than ever in the wake of the Note 7 fiasco.

I think one reason there’s so much consternation today about the state of Apple is simply the fear that their clear leadership in these categories could or already has led to complacency. I wrote nine years ago that it would be better for Apple if they had more competition from design- and innovation-focused competitors, and I think that remains true today. That’s why I consider Tesla one of Apple’s handful of serious rivals, even though they don’t yet (and perhaps never will) compete with Apple directly, other than through the recruiting of talent.