iPhone was first, but so was Motorola.

September 19, 2013

The iPhone was described by Steve Jobs as “A revolutionary mobile
phone…[and] a breakthrough Internet communications device."

It literally changed how we thought about a cellphone. Instead
of being a better phone, iPhone was a better internet device. It pioneered a
diverging category of cellphones called touchscreen mobile internet devices.

Motorola invented the category of cellphones. Nokia brought cellphones
to the masses. BlackBerry invented the keyboard phone for email. Samsung
brought better designs. iPhone invented the touchscreen internet device. Motorola’s
Droid and Samsung’s Galaxy launched touchscreen devices running Andriod.

What is really striking about iPhone compared to other
cellphone brands is the consistency in their design and simplicity of the
naming. Each phone has the same look and each new model focused on one or two major improvements sure to generate lots of buzz.

Designing hardware that has a visual identity is an important part of
branding. The design of the iPhone is its visual hammer. While each year brings
a better device with more features, the general look of the phone and name of
the phone remains the same.

It’s a strategy Motorola could have used with StarTac or
Razr, but never did. Instead they launched too many models, sub-brands and never
stayed focused on the high-end. Plus they added their Motorola name to everything, a name that was connected to car radios not cellphones. It just goes to show you, even if you invent and pioneer a category it doesn't mean you will stay the leader. You need to make wise choices when it comes to branding especially as your categoy diverges.

Motorola copy

Now comes the iPhone 5C – "C" is for colors? But most think of it as the cheap phone. Could it be Apple is making some of the same mistakes that Motorola did?

The iPhone 5C is a departure from the classic Steve Jobs
playbook. First Apple launched two phones at once. It is always better to focus
on one at a time. Second, they launched a cheap phone under the iPhone name and
number system. I’m not saying Apple should not have gone after the lower end of
the market, as time goes on there is opportunity at the top and bottom, but
usually not with one brand name. Apple needed a new name for the 5C.

Time will
tell how much it hurts iPhone’s prestige. But just remember, bad branding decisions
can easily turn today’s cult brand into tomorrow’s clunker if you don't stay focused and true to your brand.