Apple's brand has been on an unparalleled ascent for the last decade. In fact, it was the strongest riser on Interbrand’s 2011 Best Global Brands ranking.
With so much value growth, and an unrivalled fan base among global consumers, I have been getting an increasing number of questions from journalists, brand leaders and acquaintances on what could possibly be next for the Apple brand.
It's a good question. Ask yourself, what more could the Apple brand do for you? We know that iCloud is coming, and that the brand will have to face the challenge of re-translating its unrivalled physical product experience to a service offering, but what lies beyond iCloud? Looking for an answer in the personal electronics landscape has left many people guessing. Sure, the iPods, iPhones, MacBooks and iPads could get thinner, sleeker, and faster but after re-inventing the music industry, revolutionizing the mobile phone market, accelerating PC evolution and creating the tablet market, a future of evolution would certainly be the death of Apple as we know it.
Apple has to find a new frontier, where its proposition of humanizing technology and thinking different can change another industry forever.
Imagine what would happen if Apple were to enter an industry that is over 150 years old, boasts the highest proportion of truly global brands of any other sector, an industry that has created modern civilization as we know it today, and where all the existing brands have been practicing strategies of incremental innovation for the last decade? Add to that, an industry that has drastically changed customer priorities, introduced technology that is available but not widely accepted, and is now a global market controlled by approximately 10 global behemoths for the last decade?
Yes, imagine if Apple entered the automotive market with a revolutionary product that breaks the boundaries of current electronic mobility standards and sets a new design language and user interface benchmark?
This idea is not as far-fetched as it may initially sound. Apple claims to have the firm’s three most innovative products ever in its pipeline. These can hardly all be evolutions of the current products, and Apple has brand credibility that, if intelligently leveraged, can tie into some of the most important drivers for automotive customers: desirable design, enjoyable user experience, user interface, strong brand reputation, high re-sale value. Customers have long used their cars to express their personal tastes and preferences to the world around them, and we would be in complete denial if we would say that Apple products have not taken on a similar role in recent years.
From a brand credibility perspective, breaking open a highly saturated market with an irresistible product that takes a leap none of the existing players are willing to take, sounds like a copy of what Apple did to the personal audio devices category and the music industry in general. Additionally, Apple's credibility in consumer electronics could give it unparalleled credibility in the electric vehicles segment if positioned correctly.
Because the future of mobility has not been claimed by any of the existing automotive brands, it could (still) be Apple's for the taking. Imagine a vehicle that has unparalleled driver experience and comfort designed around the humans, not the machine. An electric vehicle that finally propels electric mobility to a new level. A new standard in urban and long-distance mobility that leaves old-automotive in the rearview mirror.
Turn the question around: What other brand besides Apple do you think could credibly bring around such a revolution?
While I am not a tech expert and will leave the philosophizing about possible product specifics to readers, one thing is clear to me: there could be a huge opportunity for Apple in the automotive industry if they set out to re-define the category and claim the future of mobility.
Whether you think this idea is far fetched, or logical, I know I would not be surprised if I woke up to the news that Apple has bought Tesla to acquire the technology they might just miss to make all this happen.