05 February 2019

A New Coat of Paint - part the second

Below were my considerations when Apple brought in Ahrendts (2013) to be 'retail chief'. I wasn't impressed. Today we find out I was right. I will say that 5 years, give or take, is longer than I expected.

This isn't going to go well. The data make it quite clear that the high-end cellphone market is full up. With countries, outside the Euro in particular, aiming to aggressively control their exchange rate, it is foolish to assume that US/Euro upper-class exist elsewhere in large numbers. One fiat from the Berserkerstan Central Bank, and all that moolah goes poof!

Angela Ahrendts was able convince the well-to-do that a Burberry coat was only good for one season, therefore only the poor had one. The truly conspicuous consumer must have a different one for each season.

From an interview. What is Apple thinking? Can't imagine a worse fit.

Furthermore, we were almost ignoring some of our strongest assets. Our weaving facility in Yorkshire produced the exclusive waterproof gabardine on which the company was founded. Thomas Burberry had created this fabric and the trench coat design for those early military and exploration commissions. The weaving facility was near the Castleford trench coat factory, in the north of England - fortunately, we hadn't resorted to outsourcing in faraway places. What could be better than an authentic heritage brand with a great vertical supply chain? But we weren't investing in it. We weren't optimizing it.

So, Burberry was the best maker of its products? And Apple, et tu? Round nut, square hole.

Burberry used to have just a few basic styles of trench coats: Almost all were beige with the signature check lining, and the differences between them were minor. Now we have more than 300 SKUs, from capes and cropped jackets to the classic Burberry trench in a range of vibrant colors and styles, with everything from mink collars and alligator epaulets to studded leather sleeves.

Somehow, this just isn't going to work for Apple. 300 different iPhones? What, one for each day of the year? Cellphones aren't coats, for crying out loud! Oh, boy.

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