Amid a heated battle for market share in the smartphone segment, competition is escalating at a blistering pace. In view of this, it is emerging that the key determining factor in this contest will not be innovation or pricing as many people would want to believe, but rather brand perception.
Is brand that important?
From a business standpoint, brand sits at the top along with human capital and customers. Brand not only creates a point of contact for a business and its customers, but it also creates a business’s identity and further signals its reputation. The American Marketing Association contends that 89% of customers consider brand popularity when choosing similar products.
In light of how important brand perception is, let’s look at the brand strength of each mover and shaker in the smartphone segment.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s brand is cool
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s brand has for a long time been synonymous with coolness. In addition, the element of superiority is woven into every aspect of the company- it is Apple’s unique selling point. This explains why Apple is reluctant to back down from the premium product concept; even in the face of strong opposing sentiments from analysts. The question: What is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) doing to enhance this?
The Cupertino tech titan claimed the top position among its peers in the2013 Temkin experience ratings. Consumers believe that Apple presents the best customer experience. Temkin in particular highlighted that consumers were very emotional about Apple, signaling the level at which Apple connects with its customers.A March surveyactually highlights that at least one Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) product is in about half of American homes.
Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) still largely associated with enterprise
Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) is another smartphone maker with a strong brand. The Ontario-based tech heavyweight is largely associated with its solid footing in the enterprise market. When you mention BlackBerry, the first thing that comes to mind is business. Even in the wake of the Bring Your Own Device concept, which was argued to be the BlackBerry killer, the company is still king among corporate clients. Enterprise has, and continues to be, the predominant selling point of BlackBerry.
BlackBerry is currently leveraging its position in the enterprise market to strengthen the push for increased penetration in the consumer market. It is doing this through the Z10 and Q10. The latter has the traditional Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) qwerty physical keyboard design, and is largely focused at maintaining numbers among corporate customers. The Z10, on the other hand, is fully touch-enabled and aimed at roping in customers in the consumer segment.
Analysts are upbeat about the Q10. Andy Perkins, an analyst with Societe General believes that the Q10 will bring in 1 million of the expected 5 million total Blackberry unit sales in the impending earnings release. Perkin’s outlook echoes thatof many other analysts. This suggests that BlackBerry, despite taking a stronger stance in the consumer market, still sees the need of maintaining the corporate image that it has long been associated with.
Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) rebranding, wants to be the ‘unique’ option
Unlike BlackBerry and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK)’s case is fundamentally different. The Finnish handset maker has had to rebrand. The ‘Connecting People’ catchphrase was purposely put forth to signify Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK)’s overwhelming global market share. However, when it failed to jump onto the smartphone ship in time, the table was turned. It now has dismal presence in the global smartphone market when compared to its peers.