Product life cycle refers to an order of stages through which different products pass. Essentially, a product life cycle provides a framework of the typical journey traveled by a product from the time of its launch to the time it phases out of the market. For Apple Inc., the iPhone is the most successful product and makes up the largest share of the company’s revenues. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Apple Inc. has released an iPhone each year. Customers recognize the regularity of the release through the naming alternates between the classic and S version of the phone (Więcek-Janka et al., 2017). Traditionally, the S version comes a year after the classic model. There have, however, been exceptions to this rule, as was evident in 2013 with the release of 5S along with a budget of 5C; 2014 release of iPhone 6 and 6Plus; as well as in 2016 with the release of iPhone SE (Więcek-Janka et al., 2017). In 2017, the company released only one iPhone (iPhone X), XS and XS Max in 2018, XR in 2018, and three iPhones in 2019, the iPhone 11, Pro, and Pro Max (Chen, 2020). All the three iterations of the iPhone target different customers
While most products follow the traditional product life cycle pattern, Apple Inc.’s products do not. In the introduction phase of a product life cycle, most companies keep the product prices as low as possible with a lot of advertising and marketing. Most Apple products, such as the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, keep a premium price, although they do rely on marketing and advertising (Więcek-Janka et al., 2017). Keeping the prices high ensures that the company only attracts the premium segment, which often consists of affluent customers. Each iteration of the iPhone and the rest of the company’s products represent the growth stage of the individual products. Traditionally, new iPhone, iPad, and MacBook models have better sales than the previous models, pointing to the growth stage. Previous generation of products such as iPhone 7 and 8 and previous iPad and MacBook generations on the other hand reach their maturity stage and are phased out.
Positioning refers to the place a product or company hopes to hold in the consumer’s mind. Essentially, positioning refers to the conception of the brand by consumers in that they perceive the benefits accrued at the mention of the company or product. Razak and Zawawi (2017) inform that Apple Inc. uses emotional branding and positioning to appeal to the hearts and minds of the consumer. Apple Inc. reflects this position through innovation, imagination, and design.
At the core of positioning are brand identity, its elements, the product, and communication about the products. The four play a major role in positioning a product and company. Apple Inc. reflects the four through their products and advertisement, all of which present a unique and united front of both the product and the company (Razak & Zawawi, 2017). The unity in product and company has enabled Apple Inc. to position itself as a luxury brand carrying both emotional connection and loyalty for the company and its products among its consumers.
Several factors contribute to Apple Inc.’s emotional and luxury positioning. One of the factors is product design and quality. Since its inception, Apple Inc. produces products that form the epitome of design and quality, keeping a minimalistic yet elegant look for all of its products (Razak & Zawawi, 2017; Więcek-Janka et al., 2017). Apple Inc. additionally adopts the “The less the Better” mantra in its advertisements, keeping them as simple as possible, with clear and straight messaging in line with the company’s simplicity and elegance identity. Apple also banks on brand identity which creates value for money even with the premium prices.
Chen, B. X. (2020). Apple, in a virtual unveiling, introduces a $399 iPhone. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/15/technology/personaltech/apple-new-iphone-se.html
Razak, W. R. A. & Zawawi, N. G. A. (2017). Brand positioning by Apple Inc. International Journal of Business and Management Invention, 6(5), 48-50. Retrieved from https://www.ijbmi.org/papers/Vol(6)5/version-1/H0605014850.pdf.
Więcek-Janka, E. et al. (2017). Apple products: A discussion of the product life cycle. Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, 31, 159-164. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ewa_Wiecek-Janka/publication/319199871_Apple_Products_A_Discussion_of_the_Product_Life_Cycle/links/59e4d6890f7e9b0e1aa87935/Apple-Products-A-Discussion-of-the-Product-Life-Cycle.pdf?origin=publication_detail.