Q: What's the best way of getting people to stop taking you seriously?
A: Take yourself seriously
Somewhere along the line, Apple lost its sense of humour. Those of us who've always used a Mac smiled knowingly at the Mac's Megan, the laptop-hunter whose Microsoft suitors couldn't give her a fast, bug-free computer. And when Apple welcomed Windows 7 with a commercial that not-so-subtly reminded us that previous versions hadn't been so fast or bug-free either. We knew that Apple's time would come. Sooner or later, everyone else would catch on, and we'd have been there first. Apple was just better at making stuff.
The ads were cute, cool and hip, and laughing with Apple made us feel like we were cute, cool and hip too. But now, we're laughing at them:
Both Samsung and Somersby target Apple's Achilles heel - its wildly enthusiastic staff and a fan base that both companies portray as naïve at best, gullible at worst, taking both the product and themselves far, far too seriously:
"I could never get a Samsung. I'm creative"
"Dude you're a barista"
Like, get real - and that's where Somersby comes in. With "Less apps, more apples". What makes the ad particularly funny (and viral) is that, like Tina Fey's satirical annihilation of Sarah Palin, it uses the victim's own words ("dual core", "one-click"), and mimics their behaviour perfectly.
On a recent trip to a London Apple Store to get someone to take a look at my iPhone 4s (battery fails in cold weather - sound familiar?), the Genius bar took an impromptu break for a spot of high-fiving and whooping. Justin Bieber was in town at the time, so I guessed that he too had come in to get his battery checked out.
Alas, no. My Genius, who'd taken a break from my boring iPhone to make his own whoop, told me that one of their staff had "moved on to another store, and we love to give teammates a great send-off". Meanwhile, dozens of customers with, collectively, tens of thousands of pounds-worth of defective kit, waited glumly for the 'great send-off' to finish so they could go home and re-install their iPhone as new. "That usually fixes anything that's kinda wrong".
Next to me was a customer with two phones; an iPhone 5 and a five-year-old Nokia with a one-inch screen. During our 25-minute wait, we swapped tales of iWoe. "Battery life" he told me. "I get four days out of this old piece of junk, and not a whole day out of the iPhone 5". Not so hi-5, I joked. But really, it's no joke.
We've bought into Apple because they promised us perfection and gave us product design that made a lot of sci-fi gear look more vintage than retro. Perfection at a price, yes, but one we were willing to pay; so much that, last year, Apple was worth "more than any other company in history".
But now everyone seems to have got (and gotten over) their iPod/Pad/Phone, and Apple's customer service sucks from the moment you're out of warranty. Losing their way with Maps made them, for a brief moment, a laughing stock, and made their stock worth a whole lot less.
Clearly, the latest wave of Android phones - with the Galaxy S4 being the most obvious - poses a serious threat to Apple's previously unassailable position as purveyors of perfection - it looks as though they may no longer be better at making stuff - at least, not stuff that everyone wants.
But more seriously for Apple is the fact that loyalty to its brand is attracting satire, a mode of humour defined as "the use of [...] ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity". Having built their fortune on a reputation for providing smart devices for smart people, they'll not be seeing the joke at all.