Apple after Steve

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

7 October 2014

Apple in the years since Steve Jobs died

Apple is still transitioning since Steve Jobs died in 2009

It has been a few years since Steve Jobs died on 5 October 2009. Remembering that made me think about the loss we all suffered that day. But, I also started to think about our larger relationship with the Apple brand that Steve founded so many years ago.

Steve JobsApple is still going through that transition. It has not yet found the emotional footing despite a consistent focus on great design and ease of use.

Like many of you, I have bought a new Mac, iPad Air, and pre-ordered my iPhone 6 Plus since 2009. Certainly my interest in what Apple continues to produce is still there. But my love for the brand has diminished ever so slightly.

My hunch is that yours has as well.

Apple has a big hill to climb. Maybe the Mount Everest of brand peaks.

“I miss the emotional tie to an individual vision and no corporate culture has ever been able to replace that intimate connection.”


Apple ASJD (after Steve died)

Before Steve Jobs died, the brand was personal for me. I felt that I had a personal relationship with Steve. In my need to brand my every purchase with my desire to self-define, I bought into the brand of Steve.

I took pride in the company (Apple) that I believed help define me and trusted that my loyalty to Apple was a reinforcement of my trust in Steve’s vision. In fact, it was my personal identification (however egotistical that may seem) with that vision that made it personal (Read about how we use brand to identify ourselves here).

When the rumor mill spun with news and myth about Apple’s next big thing I felt a little of the brand’s glow. When the stock climbed in value it was not just my stock portfolio that grew, so did my sense of justification with my branded loyalty.

If you asked me to state Steve’s vision bad then before Steve Jobs died, I probably could not do it justice. It was enough for me to trust his vision and acknowledge that it was bigger than my poor power to describe it. Apple and Steve Jobs were one in the same to me then.

I feel a little empty

Today, the successful and growing brand is less complicated for me. Steve is gone. Sure I coveted the iPhone 6 Plus but not in the same way I needed the iPhone or the original iPad. I wanted the iPhone 6 for many of the innovations and updates but not for the emotional need to feel I was part of the Steve Jobs mythology. I really like the brand but I no longer love it.

I miss the emotional tie to an individual vision and no corporate culture has ever been able to replace that intimate connection.

As a Brand man, I probably think more about this than the average guy. But I wonder if you think differently than I do. I would surely appreciate your opinion in comments.

Did your connection with Apple change after Steve Jobs died? Do you have the same confidence in the brand that Steve elicited? Are you as excited to hear what’s next from the highly competent folks like Jonathan Ive or Tim Cook?

I’m still an Apple man. But if I only feel the brand’s vision is about a product rather than an idea, I expect that my fervor will continue to wax and wane.


  1. Mike Oz

    I know what you mean, Tom, but I still find that I covet Apple more than any other brand. It’s still emotional, just not as much. I was in a grocery store over the weekend and some blow-hard was trying to convince his son that the Android was still better than the iPhone 6. It took all I had not to strangle him in front of his kid.

  2. Rob Adams

    I agree Tom. I suspect for brand loyal Apple fans, some of the emotional connection is gone. Mike, your experience was interesting. I think for the consumer who isn’t already emotionally connected to the Apple brand, there is less brand clarity these days than when Steve Jobs was alive. It was clear, then, who was a Mac, and who was a PC. Samsung has done an effective job of leveraging that fading emotional connection, by having their talking devices upstaging Siri in touting features. In the absence of that emotional connection, folks like the guy in Mike’s experience can easily be swayed.

  3. Michael Campbell

    For me, the Applewatch embodies the state of Apple. It may become a must-have accessory but I predict not. It is doesn’t strike me as a revolutionary device. I’m interested, but not excited. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, will wait for my 2 year contract to end in fall 2015. ApplePay should make my life easier but it will also have to wait until my contract is up. The iMac I purchased a few months ago is wonderful but incrementally better than the one it replaced.

    I don’t expect a disruptive technology to be released by Apple every other year and the Wall Street lemmings who do need to chill. Disruptive technologies cease to be so when they happen often. That said, some of the magic has faded. I stood in line for the first iPhone but will wait two years between models now. Is Jonny Ive another Steve Jobs? Too soon to say but I don’t know if Steve Jobs had recovered if the headlines would be all that different. If he was still alive I suspect things would, however, seem a little better than they now appear.


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