The Apple Death Curse

In 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at the iPhone

“Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan?” he exclaimed in a 2007 interview, shortly after it was released. “That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.”

That was September 2007. Today, not quite five years later, the iPhone portion of Apple’s business alone is bigger than all of Microsoft.

Apple also makes more than twice the revenue as Microsoft ($46 billion to $21 billion) and is more than twice as profitable ($17 billion to $8 billion), according to Q4 2011 earnings.

RIM executives also laughed at the iPhone

Top execs dismissed it as another in a long line of supposed BlackBerry killers, deeming it “technically impossible.” They said “they are trying to put a computer on a phone” and claimed it wouldn’t work.

At the time, RIM had over 50 percent of the smartphone market share. Today it has less than ten, and its stock is in free fall.

iPhones are for old people

So alluded smartphone manufacturer HTC president Martin Fichter.

Speaking at the Mobile Future Forward conference in September 2011, Fichter told of an informal survey he took of his daughter’s dormitory friends during a visit to her college: “None of them has an iPhone, because they told me: ‘My dad has an iPhone.’ There’s an interesting thing that’s going on in the market. The iPhone becomes a little less cool than it was.”

He went on to say, “They were carrying HTCs” (his company’s product) along with Samsungs and some Chinese manufactured phones. This month, HTC posted a 70 percent profit drop and revenue is down 35 percent from last year.

Me? I’ve never said anything bad about Apple, publicly or otherwise, and my revenue and profit hasn’t plummeted. Coincidence? I think not.

You’ve Been Disrupted

Of course, there’s no such thing as the Apple Death Curse. What’s caught RIM and the others in its alligator-like death roll is not Apple, but what the company’s come to representdisruptive innovation.

That’s a fancy term for new products and technologies that disrupt and replace the competition. And, believe me, it’s intentional. From its introduction of the Macintosh in its famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial, to the iPhone and iPad, Apple has always been about upsetting the status quo.

Tech companies like RIM are finding out how quickly disruptive technologies and innovation can overtake you—too quick, oftentimes, to counteract it. But it’s not just the tech sector being disrupted. Small business retailers have been hit just as hard as the big box stores.

Just because you don’t own a retail store, travel agency, or newspaper doesn’t mean you’re out of the woodsbecause there’s one aspect of your business that is being disrupted: your marketing.

Like it or not, disruptive innovation and technologiesfrom mainstream adoption of the Internet to the explosion of mobile and social mediahave changed the face of small business marketing. Now, more than ever, small business marketing sucks.

Marketing has changed. Are you changing with it?

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