What happens to mega-brands that leave competitors in the dust? Bob Gilbreath, former brand manager of P&G’s Mr. Clean and self-styled evangelist of Competition, thinks that they can falter and ultimately fail when their power becomes absolute.
Here’s his take on the ubiquitous iPod:
Today, as Apple is celebrating its success and the failure of challengers with a flurry of hit TV commercials, the company is committing the tell-tale sins of a dictator. For example:
Back in late 2003 when the iPod was still fairly new, the company had several complaints about batteries that would barely hold a charge. The company’s policy was that it did not replace the battery, and that its valued customers should simply buy new iPods. It took a major viral video to get this policy changed.
France now believes Apple has too much power in its iTunes+iPod arrangement. The government of France has passed a law that would force online music stores like iTunes to sell an open music format versus Apple’s proprietary version. France represents less than 5% of Apple’s music sales, and the company is considering pulling out of the market altogether.
Finally, Apple is now in the cross-hairs of sweatshop investigators. A recent report suggests that its Chinese suppliers pay only $50/month for 15-hour days, among other charges. While this is still an investigation, similar charges have weakened the Nike, Walmart and Kathy Lee Gifford brands.