The mobile computing market has rapidly evolved in the wake of emerging trends and consistent advancements in technologies. Today’s perception of the mobile computing market is completely different from what it was a decade ago. Technologically apt consumers and even those who are not tech savvy are increasingly seeking connected devices with innovative features that would facilitate work, increase entertainment and aid general lifestyle activities to become more satisfying and easier. In light of the aggressive purchasing habits of smartphone consumers all over the globe, the overall computing revenue within the context of quarterly sales in computing devices have invariably been focused or tilted towards the smartphone industry (Mace, 2007).
Apple’s influence on smartphone industries: the effect on consumer perspective.
While it is obvious that Apple was not the first to enter the smartphone market, its brand of smartphones can be said to have completely changed and reoriented the market dynamics within this ever growing market environment (Grossman, 2007). The obvious gap exhibited in sales, consumer loyalty, brand recognition, market domination etc. between Apple’s brand of smartphones and rival offering is exhilarating. The Brand’s ability to understand market dynamics, the ease of use of the Apple smartphone, the firm’s ability to read the future and understand the needs of its customers has not only won consumers over but put them in a position of great influence in determining the trends and sway of the mobile computing market. Microsoft a rival firm, in its own admission has pointed to the notion that it completely misread the rapidly growing market structure and landscape of the industry, and the firm paid a huge price for this. The computing market it once dominated, holding almost 85 % of market shares was reduced to almost less than half within a timeframe of four years (Mace, 2007). The impact of the strong emergence of the IOS and Apple brand of products was significantly intense on the market that even a large firm such as Microsoft had to go back to the drawing board in its bid to sway consumer perspective back to their favor. In a market that is now highly dominated by Apple, big names such as Nokia, Blackberry and HTC have been quite unable to make significant marks on the perception of consumers, the likes portrayed by Apple.
Given the strategic and massive shifts in market structure and the consumer perception changes within the mobile smartphone industry, it will be highly instructive to critically analyze and understand the elements that has aided Apple in its domination of the smartphone market to the point of completely altering consumer perception in their favor. In this proposed research, it is paramount that certain questions such as “what really drives or facilitates smartphone market performance” are answered. How has Apple managed to become a global leader in this fierce and volatile market and to what extent does the firm’s influence on the market have on consumer perception?
Research Question, Aims and Objectives:
In light of the massive shifts in in the mobile computing and smartphone market, Apple’s influence has been one of great influence within this market sector. This paper proposes to look into the strategic tools employed by Apple to alter consumer perception. We delve into the intricacies of consumer perception and analyze all elements that affect consumer purchasing behaviors and perception using Apple’s branding and marketing methodologies as a case study. The major aim of the proposed research is to critically and empirically look at how Apple as a brand within the smartphone industry has been able to significantly influence market sector dynamics and outcomes. Another essential aim of the proposed project is to determine to what degree, has Apple’s influence on the smartphone market really affected smartphone consumers’ perception.
Apple’s influence on the smartphone market and this perceived influence’s implication on consumer perception is an instructive step to understanding how game changers in any market sector are tilting sales and consumer loyalty in their favor. Though there are many literatures on the topic of consumer perception and Apple’s underlying success over the years, no literature has been adequate enough in analyzing the relationship of Apple’s influence in the smartphone market and how this influence consequently affects consumer perception. In this research we use a theory testing approach via the notions of many journals and academic literatures on brand success and consumer perception. We will use a model or framework which will empirically address the complicated equation of market performance of firms and its implication on the purchasing habits of consumers within the firm’s market sector. The model to be employed in this research will be based on subjective assessments but will be informed by correlated data on some of the core elements and key variables that drive or impact smartphone sales. The model intended to be used in this paper is applicable to the sales of tablets as well, as they are classified under the smart device mobile category. It is assumed that our model will provide us with concise understanding of how Apple’s success in the smartphone landscape has significantly influenced that specific market and how its influence has spread to become a crucial determining factor in the perception and purchasing habits of smartphone consumers. The model will also reveal to a certain degree the shortcomings of some other smartphone company’s relative to the limitations others.
By adjusting the proposed model, and introducing real time inputs and concrete variables, the model could also be used to provide efficient and fair assessments of the future of the smartphone market in terms of sales and the degree to which the market landscape may change. However, a variable such as sales is considered as just one of the very many factors or metrics in this case for consideration. Hence, via the use of the proposed model we will analyze metrics such as profits, revenue, marketing mix and competitive positioning in the smartphone market environment with Apple as our core focus, and use the results obtained to truly assess Apples influence and its market performance. The fact that Apple possesses a significant unit share position with this market sector is a desirable element in the firm’s favor.
The smartphone market environment is consistently volatile and has over time proved to be unstable. It has dramatically changed in the last decade and many analyst are of the opinion the more dramatic changes will be witnessed within the next decade. However, the elements or variable that influence and drive market performance and dynamics are more than likely to stay constant and consistent. A study of Apple’s influence is therefore significant for future references when undertaking an analysis of this particular market.
The paper will primarily be centered on the US and/or Asian market, however it should be duly noted the proposed model to be used in the paper can be adapted for any market region on the globe provided that adequate, appropriate and reliable data is fed into the model. With the use of our proposed model and our clear understanding of the smartphone market environment, this paper aims to answer the research questions outlined in the earlier part of this proposal.
The core context of the research paper will be focused on brand equity or brand influence on specific markets and its relationship to consumer perception. In today’s modern day and vibrant society, consumers have to deal with an array of innovatively branded products and services where simplified or mere branding is inadequate to drive present day consumer perception; therefore it has become paramount that brand innovation should aim to convey either direct or non-conscious experiences to market sector consumers via significantly innovative an interactive concepts (Chang, 2011).
Our paper will review literatures relevant to the subject matter. From the following literatures, we deem to build strong research notions on the issue of brand success or equity and it influence on consumer perception.
Aaker (1991) is of the opinion that the establishment and management of any brand within any market sector should be viewed as a source of competitive edge. In other words, value is significantly added to a brand when such a brand is able to lead its market environment or compete successfully within that market. A large number of researchers (Prasad and Dev, 2000; Laser, 1995; Yoo and Donthun, 2001; Keller, 1993 and Aaker, 1991 &1995) have emphasized a growing interest in the measurement and concept of brand success or equity in lewd of the ideology that it is necessity to influence consumer perception in today’s market place. Brand success as a single element has been validated as a tool to further drive high levels of competitive advantage.
Ailawadi et al., (2003) stresses that due to the influence brand innovation and equity plays in a target market sector, its understanding has led to various points of view on the dimensions of brand equity and its relationship to consumer perception, the elements that facilitate it, how it should be measured or assessed, and from which perspective it should be studied.
Low and Lamb Jr. (2000) point to the fact that a market leading brand or in other words, a powerful brand has the ability to significantly enhance consumer’ attitude strength in association to the brand. Consumer attitude strength is initiated and propagated with the success of the product within its market sector (Belch and Belch, 2004).
To better understand the significance of brand success on consumer perception, it is necessary to have a clear insight on consumer attitude. Uggla, (2001), Belch and Belch (2004) define consumer habits or behavior as the overall activities and processes in which consumers engage in when searching, evaluating, selecting, purchasing and disposing an item to satisfy needs and desires. Dalqvist and Linde (2002) categorized consumer perception or attitude into four categories: Social, rational unconscious and learned (variables that will be discussed within our model) the researchers further stated that these categories of consumer perception or attitudes are represented in three basic steps: Knowledge, Attitude and Action.
One of the core literature that will be used to buttress our research will be Grant (2006) who said “A brand is synonymous to a story. It is a key to drive cultural logic, it establishes continuity and association to ensure that every new initiative is added to the brand’s benefit as brand success is alive in the hearts of consumers and thus sways the purchasing perception of consumers. Apples success is the most significant factors in its ability to influence the market but how does this translate to positive consumer perception of the brand? Grant (2006) conceptualizes a brands success to have implications on consumer perception based on the following factors: Human herd instinct, concept of new tradition, faith, connection (with perceived success of the brand), neo-luxury, excitement, and control. In summary, the notions of Grant in his literature are critically analyzed (theory testing) in our study. Many other literatures will be analyzed and their theories of brand success and the effect of the firm’s influence on the perception of consumers will be evaluated (see reference list)
In this study we aim to validate that brand innovation and success exert a significantly direct effect on consumer perception. Using a critical analysis of Apple’s influence in the smartphone market landscape, we deem to establish that brand equity and success within a stipulated market can equally influence buyer perspective and thus further drive sales. This research is important because brand success, equity and innovativeness have become relevant issues in today’s brand management researches.
Grossman, Lev, “Apple’s New Calling: the iPhone,” Time, 9 January 2007, URL: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1575410-3,00.html
Grant, J. (2006). The Brand Innovation Manifesto. England: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Mace, Michael, “The Shape of the Smartphone and Mobile Data Markets,” Mobile Opportunity, January 2007, URL: http://mobileopportunity.blogspot.com/2007/01/shape-of-smartphone-and-mobiledata.html
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