​Jeff Kagan: Apples Next iPhone X Branding Dilemma

Jeff Kagan  |

Apple  (AAPL) has branding dilemma with their iPhone X smartphone. They have painted themselves into a corner and created a branding dilemma they must now solve. Think about it. What is Apple going to call the next iPhone? The last two new iPhones were called iPhone 8 and iPhone X. This new iPhone coming out soon won’t be the problem. All they have to do is put an “s” on the name. It’s the next iPhone released in 12 months that has the problem.

This year, the iPhone 8 will likely be called iPhone 8s. Nothing new here. The iPhone X could also very easily be called iPhone Xs. However, the real problem comes in the next version of the iPhone. So, Apple faces a very interesting new branding problem.

Either way there has to be some pain. Will Apple take it on the chin this year or will they wait till next year? Waiting will only make the punch in the gut stronger, so I’d recommend they take the weaker punch this year. We’ll soon see what they choose to do.

Apple Faces Interesting iPhone X Branding Problem

First, it’s important to remember what the current iPhone X means to Apple. When it was launched last year, they called it the iPhone 10. But in writing it said iPhone X. Apple called it the iPhone 10 and I think that’s what they had in mind going forward. However, this mixed branding issue is about to start getting confusing.

The marketplace voted and now calls it the iPhone X, not iPhone 10. That’s where the branding problems comes into play. This is the corner Apple painted themselves into.

So, what will the next iPhone X be called? If it was called the iPhone 10, then the next could be called iPhone 10s. However, what comes after X? This year could be called iPhone Xs, but what about next year? That’s the problem.

Will Apple Call Next One iPhone Xs or iPhone 10s?

I think Apple could dodge the bullet this year because they can simply call the next version iPhone Xs. However, my thought is they would be better off biting the bullet now and calling it iPhone 10s now. That would settle this growing brand problem. Waiting another year solidifies the brand X in the mind of the marketplace even further making even more painful to correct.

This is a learning moment for other CEO’s and marketing VP’s. Learning from other company’s mistakes is better than learning from your own.

Be very careful with your branding. It can take years to build a brand and you can lose it all in the blink of an eye.

So, here’s my prediction. I hope Apple will move beyond the letters and go back to numbers when they unveil the new iPhone model. They will have to spend time and money, re-educating the marketplace. Going forward they will deliberately talk about the iPhone 10s. After that, they can keep doing what they have been doing.

Of course, another solution is Apple could stick with the iPhone X brand going forward. That works only if there is a way to tell the versions apart. So, if that’s the case, how will they differentiate the iPhones one from another?

Right now, the only real question is, will the next device be called iPhone Xs or will it be renamed iPhone 10s? At this point, who knows.

This is not the end of the world, but it does raise an important issue of how important it is to think years ahead every time you launch and name a new product or service. Even Apple, who has been doing this for many years, stumbled.

If Apple Stumbled Over Their iPhone Brand, So Can Other Brands

Either way, Apple will have to take a branding hit, either this year or next year. I hope they take the hit sooner rather than later. Either way, next year will more than likely be called the iPhone 11. Then again, who really knows for sure until the announcement is officially made.

Bottom line lesson every executive must learn. Don’t mess with your brand. It could take on a life of its own and take you in new directions you never intended. Always look ahead.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.

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AAPL Apple Inc. 170.42 -0.38 -0.22 24,626,814 Trade



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