Most smartphone brands are worthless

New research from IHS Markit reveals that, beyond Apple and Samsung, people aren’t loyal to smartphone brands.

This conclusion is based on a multinational survey (US, Brazil, UK, Germany, Japan, and India) conducted last year, in which IHS asked punters how they go about picking a mobile. The most common reason was the hardware, which is reassuring, and on the whole it found that people were less brand loyal ask they earned less money.

A big reason for that last trend will surely be the fact that the brand that attracts the most loyalty is also the most expensive – Apple. The only other brand that HIS found people expressed a large degree of loyalty towards was Samsung. It’s presumably no coincidence that these two companies spend far more money on marketing than any of the others.

Apple and Samsung combined claimed a customer loyalty rate of 69%, while all the rest could only manage 33%. When two thirds of your customer base are disloyal, it’s fair to say your brand is essentially worthless in that context, especially since a lot of brand loyalty can simply be attributed to inertia.

“Apple and Samsung have worked diligently over many years to build their brands, spending heavily on marketing and advertising to maintain a strong following among consumers,” said James Allison, Analyst at IHS. “As a result, these two companies have been able to erect competitive bulwarks that insulate them from the pressures faced by other brands. For companies not named Apple or Samsung, conditions in the smartphone business are intensely competitive, as companies battle over a few percentage points of market share without the benefit of a leading brand name.”

IHS didn’t give specific brand loyalty numbers for Apple and Samsung but it seems safe to assume Apple’s is higher. How much of this is down to brand alone, however, is debatable, since IHS seems to consider upgrading from a phone of the same brand to be evidence of brand loyalty. Since Apple uses a different OS and content ecosystem from all other smartphone makers, for many of its customers moving away from it is just too much hassle, so their ‘loyalty’ is more a matter of pragmatism than sentiment.

Google takes the fun out of new Android versions

Once a year, everyone used to gather around and have some fun guessing the name of the next Android, but Google is being a bit of a buzzkill with a refresh naming the next edition ‘10’.

Naming Android updates after deserts and tasty treats was a geeky quirk which brought a bit of sunshine, albeit for a short period of time. It is up there with the URL for the website of parent company Alphabet (, or the first doodle being of ‘Burning Man’ because that was where most of the office were on August 30, 1998.

But Google had to kill the fun.

“This naming tradition has become a fun part of the release each year externally, too,” Google said in a blog entry. “But we’ve heard feedback over the years that the names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community.

Perhaps this is the end of ‘fun’ at Google as the company becomes increasingly corporate. Just like the removal of the ‘Don’t be evil’ clause in the company’s corporate code of conduct, perhaps this is a sign Google is growing up and the internal workings of the business will be more ‘appropriate’ for a company of its stature and influence.

There is of course a logical explanation for the move, but it is not as fun.

In some countries around the world, ‘L’ and ‘R’ are indistinguishable, while some deserts are not universally popular. For example, a pie is not thought to be a sweet treat everywhere, while the marshmallow would baffle some (For the Brooklyn Nine Nine fans out there, ‘what is this glutinous monstrosity in front of me’).

“As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world,” the blog states. “So, this next release of Android will simply use the version number and be called Android 10. We think this change helps make release names simpler and more intuitive for our global community.”

Fortunately, the team is not ditching the friendly robot which so many people associate with the Android brand. It’s getting a bit of a facelift, but here to stay (hopefully!).

Mission Difficult: Cleaning up Zuckerberg’s image

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised a quest down the digital highways to make himself more visible as the PR machine attempts to save the company’s brand.

Posting on his own Facebook page, Zuckerberg has stated he will host a series of discussions and debates concerning the role of technology and the internet in tomorrow’s society. Each of the events will be hosted on one of Facebook’s platforms, taking place every couple of weeks, as the usually publicity shy CEO attempts to reverse a very damaging 12 months for the brand.

“This will be intellectually interesting, but there’s a personal challenge for me here too. I’m an engineer, and I used to just build out my ideas and hope they’d mostly speak for themselves,” said Zuckerberg.

“But given the importance of what we do, that doesn’t cut it anymore. So I’m going to put myself out there more than I’ve been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the trade-offs we face, and where we want to go.”

Facebook’s impact on 2018 has been highly publicised and, more often than not, negative. For all the influence which the platform has on today’s society, the nefarious, ignorant and abusive side was showcased more than anything else. Whether it was executives knowingly pushing unethical features onto the consumer, suspect influences on incredibly important elections or failing to uphold promises to user privacy and data protection, 2018 was not a good year for the business.

Perhaps one of the most interesting chapters in this story has been Zuckerberg’s role of inaction and inaccessibility. Just when Facebook needed an influential figure to stand tall and confront the difficulties faced, Zuckerberg retreated to the shadows, compounding the problem. To date he’s refused to attend certain meetings with politicians and avoided taking responsibility for his company’s failings to the general public and the transformation of society.

There is of course nothing wrong with being shy or not enjoying being the centre of attention, but it comes with the territory when you are leading one of the most influential companies on the planet. Zuckerberg’s inability to tackle problems head on, sending minions instead or just not turning up at all, escalated the criticism and was a PR disaster.

By refusing to be accessible, Zuckerberg completely undermined and contradicted the concept of Facebook as a platform. He’s also damaged his relationship with rule makers at a critical time. Rules and regulations will be changing over the next couple of years as governments look to take more control over the OTTs. With millions being spent on lobbyists every year to try and encourage a more favourable regulatory landscape for Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg seems to be undermining these effort by antagonising politicians.

If Facebook is to return to yesteryears image of admiration and respect, not only does it have to clean up the platform, ensure data privacy and better protect its users, it has to ensure its CEO is sending the right message and its business practises are more transparent.

Not many people trust Facebook on the whole today and Zuckerberg’s reputation has been damaged. Something need to be done and this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Cisco and Huawei inch up the Interbrand top 100

Brand consultancy Interbrand has published its latest ranking of the world’s strongest brands and given Cisco and Huawei minor promotions.

In last year’s assessment Cisco had the 16th most valuable brand, while Huawei came in at number 70. In the intervening 12 months Cisco’s brand value has increased by 8% to $34.5 billion, taking it to 15th place ahead of a waning GE. Meanwhile Huawei’s brand has apparently become 14% more valuable and now contributes $7.5 billion to its success.

Huawei was so happy about this that it issued a press release. “In the next industry cycle, technologies like AI, 5G, IoT, and cloud computing will become more and more important,” said Zhang Hongxi, Huawei’s Corporate Marketing President. “Huawei delivers more value and creates a better experience for customers by integrating AI, smart devices, networks, and the cloud.” Cisco didn’t bother.

Measuring brand value must be a tricky business since brand an inherently emotive, instinctive concept. A summary of Interbrand’s methodology can be seen below. It combines financial data, which is easy to measure, with an index that claims to measure the portion of purchasing decisions attributable directly to brand and another that attempts to quantify brand loyalty.

Interbrand methodology

In essence it seems to get the raw financial data and then tweak them up or down according to how Interbrand perceives the value of the respective brands. The resulting ranking seems to correlate much more closely with market value than it does revenues or even profitability, which stands to reason since share price is heavily influenced by investor belief in the company’s ongoing performance and growth.

Once more there’s no sign of Nokia or Ericsson on the list, which makes you wonder how much of Huawei’s brand value is derived from its consumer devices business. Apple has been at the top of the list since it launched the iPhone and Google is consistently second. Amazon’s brand value has apparently increased by 56% since last year, allowing it to overtake Microsoft and Coca Cola for third place. There are no operator brands in the top 100 despite Verizon and AT&T making vast profits.

Tech firms dominate Millennial Rankings for positive buzz – YouGov

Netflix number one, Spotify number two and Primark number three; who doesn’t love cheap pants though.

For the second year in a row, Netflix has topped the list of most positively talked about brands in the UK according to market research firm YouGov. Claiming the crown is certainly a positive, however the technology industry took seven of the top ten spots in the list.

“Netflix’s popularity shows no signs of abating,” said Michael Stacey, Marketing Insights Manager at YouGov. “The streaming service continues to expand its offering, as well as investing in its own ‘Netflix originals’. By its very nature Netflix’s content invites discussion, and YouGov’s rankings show that the brand has certainly harnessed the power of word of mouth recommendations to gain a loyal following among a younger generation of viewers.”

While the research was limited to 18-34 year olds and what they have discussed in favourable terms among family and friends, it is perhaps a good measure of the tomorrows dominant players. This demographic is a key one for many advertisers because of the potential in years to come. Creating a favourable relationship with those individuals today with almost certainly benefit these businesses tomorrow.

Aside from Netflix and Spotify, the top ten featured Apple, Facebook, iPhone, PlayStation and AirBnB. Unsurprisingly for the demographic, budget brands also featured, Primark and Ikea, as well as everyone’s favourite chicken nugget vendor McDonalds.

Interestingly enough, Google made positive moves in this years’ rankings with the Pixel brand. This uplift was partly down to word of mouth as well as internet sentiment, perhaps suggesting positive experience with the device as opposed to those simply being swayed by engaging advertising or PR stunts.

What is worth noting is this is only a measure of the positive things which have been said about the business; YouGov does not data about the nasty stuff. This is pity, reputations are more easily destroyed than enhanced, and we suspect Facebook might not feature as highly is this was factored into the equation.