Last weekend when I blogged about the latest Apple above-the-line campaign I was being a little disingenuous in that I was judging the new campaign on Apple's current positioning without looking forward to a direction of travel which I believe this brand is potentially (and must in my view) embarking upon - that of premiumisation even beyond their current premium level. So why do I say this ? Well the harsh reality of satisfying an investor community which will always demand more growth. That growth can obviously come from expanding the product offering (iWatch ?), expanding the base of their business (increased competition from the likes of Samsung is a threat here), increasing price points AND creating a more discernible range of price points.
Apple has always been a very "democratic" brand. Look at the iPhone - it is available in two colours (black or white) and in three memory sizes. It used to be an item, which in the hands of the owner communicated differentiation from the masses but now it is the preferred choice of the masses. People aspire to the brand a little less but that does represent a huge opportunity for Apple to start to stretch the offering to recapture the imagination using say material differentiation, limited editions (with caution) to support a higher price point.
And I wonder if the hiring this week of Paul Deneve provides a little support for this view. An alumnus of Apple in the 1990's he has had a career in fashion and luxury culminating as the CEO of Yves Saint Laurent. His new title of "Special Projects"* suggests a pivotal role - certainly the Apple retail experience is now growing tired - it is like walking into a school gymnasium, if you don't time your visit well it's a crush and an environment which has stopped communicating Apple's values - potentially a starting point for him linked closely to new products ? Time will tell.
It is merely an opinion but sometimes when you are cornered the only way is up !
*NB The use of the phrase "Special Projects" is masterful in the corporate world. Used in relation to a new hire it really does suggest this new blood is going to have a great influence. In relation to an existing employee it usually means they no longer have a productive role and the special project scope is...their exit.