Why has Apple's reputation taken a nose dive?

The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient shows Apple falling from 5th to 29th place since last year. Why?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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When a company falls 24 places in a reputation survey, you know something is wrong. But what?

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It's not just Apple that suffered. Google also fell twenty places, from 8th to 28th place. Retaining the top spot once again is Amazon.

OK, so what's going on at Apple? Well, a few things spring to mind.

First, the methodology of the poll. Here is what Reuters had to say:

"The poll, conducted since 1999, surveyed 25,800 U.S. adults from Dec. 11 to Jan. 12 on the reputations of the 'most visible' corporate brands."

So, reputation translates into visibility, which in turn translates into what companies spring to people's minds.

John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, offered Reuters a possible explanation for why Apple and Google tanked so hard:

"Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys. We're not quite to self-driving cars yet. We're not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they're going to do."

That's an interesting idea, but it's not one that I can agree with. After all, many of those adults will have bought new Apple hardware (Apple sells a lot of iPhones at the tail end of every year), or may have been polled on their iPhones or Macs. And the last time I looked, plenty of people are still using Google services every day.

I think the reason for the drop is more to do with the lack of buzz and maybe that Apple as a brand is being overshadowed by the iPhone. "Apple iPhone" has given way to just 'iPhone." The same could be said for Google services. The company has taken second place to the products.

There was no end of hype in the run-up to the unveiling of the iPhone X in September of last year, but I was surprised just how quickly that buzz faded away into a dull hum by the launch date. Sticker shock, and the gap between the launch of the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X, no doubt threw a dampener on things. While there's no doubt that the iPhone X has sold well, we didn't get any of the usually boasts from the Apple PR team, which we would have expected if it broke records.

2017 was also a pretty bad year for Apple software quality.

Just over the last few weeks of the year, we saw both macOS and iOS hit by several high profile bugs. And what's worse is that the fixes that Apple pushed out -- in a rushed manner -- themselves caused problems.

And this is just a selection of the bugs that users have had to contend with over the past few months. I've written at length about how it feels like the quality of software coming out of Apple has deteriorated significantly in recent years.

Now don't get me wrong, bugs happen. There's no such thing as perfect code, and sometimes high-profile security vulnerabilities can result in patches being pushed out that are not as well tested as they could be. But bugs, especially high-visibility ones that get a lot of press coverage, are going to put a ding in any company's reputation.

Here's what I wrote back in December of 2017:

"Apple owes a lot of its current success to its dedicated fanbase, the people who would respond to Windows or Android issues with 'you should buy Apple, because that stuff just works.' Shattering that illusion for those people won't be good in the long term, which is why I think Apple needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the run up to 2018 and work out what's been going wrong and come up with ways to prevent problems from happening in the future."

Apple, maybe the time to take that long, hard look at yourself is here.

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