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Apple has undoubtedly changed the face of the tech world, and the company has cultivated a loyal following while contending against its rivals. But they’re about to put their brand positioning to the test as they introduce their newest product since the Apple Watch: the HomePod, due to release in December 2017.

The new Apple HomePod poses a challenge to other voice-controlled speakers currently on the market, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, despite their similar functions including spatial awareness, advanced sound technology, voice recognition, and mobile apps.

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All it takes is Apple’s brand positioning and loyal cult following to set their new products apart from the competition.

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The force of Apple’s brand—arguably the supreme manufacturer of 21st century technology—significantly strengthens the appeal of the HomePod.

The HomePod’s ultimate goal (to “reinvent home music” as a “breakthrough speaker”) only bolsters Apple’s authoritative positioning, a powerful stance on the project of combining the right blend of smart speakers and good music—something that, according to Phil Schiller in a recent presentation, has not been achieved yet.

Not until the HomePod. Or is this true? By virtue of originating directly from Apple, the HomePod may seem to have certain advantages. But do all consumers believe this?

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According to Schiller, Apple’s signature A8 chip also allows the HomePod to have the “biggest brain” in any speaker. However, even with the hype—the HomePods’s reception among potential customers has been lukewarm.

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Our prediction? HomePod will be a success—but not due to its claims of breakthrough technology and features. The brand awareness of the Apple name and customer loyalty will be the true reasons behind its success.

What do you think?

Source: https://www.apple.com/homepod/

It’s been a summer filled with big news from big companies: we first heard about Google Alphabet, Facebook Livestream, and Apple Music. So it seemed only appropriate that Amazon would chime in by summer’s end. Lo and behold, on August 15, news about Amazon exploded in the media, but — cue the warning sign — it didn’t come from the company itself. Rather, it came in the form of a workplace culture exposé via The New York Times: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.

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The lengthy piece draws upon interviews with 100 current or former Amazon employees. It seeks to exemplify the ways in which Amazon has evidently become a dystopian pit of despair, where employee skills are sucked up mercilessly until they leave the company, pushed to a nervous, stressed precipice from which they might never rebound. (Yeah — there’s some drama to it.)

The Times has received 5776 comments on the article (at the time of this writing). Likewise, numerous opinion pieces and news segments have since discussed the article and its implications passionately and at length, branching out from the Amazon work environment to include Amazon’s ongoing warehouse issues, the secrecy and work ethic at fellow tech giants, and opinions surrounding America’s work culture overall. It even elicited a response from Jeff Bezos himself, Founder and CEO of Amazon. In his memo to “Amazonians,” Bezos dismissed the allegations leveled in the Times article and urged employees to come forward if such disastrous anecdotes were indeed true.

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Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon

What was shocking from a PR & marketing perspective was the lack of quantitative data. While Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld underwent time, effort, and thorough reporting to gain insight into the experiences of 100 current or former Amazon employees, the purely anecdotal piece leaves us wanting employee retention charts. Cristina Alesci, CNN Money Correspondent, echoed this desire for data, but pointed out that while Amazon is public regarding values and goals, they are historically tight-lipped with internal data.

This article represents the glorious, incendiary power of the media. The reactions received — surely both anticipated and unanticipated — and the amount of attention the article has garnered overall are validating for us as media liaisons, as marketers and as press relations people. We know (and this article is proof) that print is not dead, that the ever-evolving mediascape is as powerful as ever, and that press continues to work wonders.

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In a gutsy move, Amazon.com recently attempted to tackle the beast of Black Friday with its highly touted “Prime Day”. This step in Amazon’s attempt for online domination convinced consumers to sign up for Amazon Prime, the company’s online-subscription shopping service. Subscribers were granted access to one-day deals on July 15th covering everything from designer clothing to in-demand electronics. So was Amazon Prime Day Christmas in July?

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Well… apparently not. Despite a 93% increase in U.S. sales, only 42% of social media mentions were positive. And we’re not talking about one or two tweets, people. CNN reports that Prime Day generated about 200,000 social mentions. People took to social media to display their frustrations about how all of the good deals sold out within seconds and what remained left a lot to be desired. (I mean, who doesn’t love waking up at 3:00 am for 15% off a VCR rewinder and dishwasher detergent?)

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What started out as a great plan to build Amazon Prime’s subscription base turned into a public relations nightmare and campaign mockery as people compared Prime Day to the futile Lady Edith from Downtown Abbey. The hike in sales was offset by people’s disappointment; it is safe to say that the motivation to get up for Prime Day 2016 will be frighteningly low. While the failure of Prime Day won’t be encouraging Amazon to close the program’s doors any time soon (Prime reportedly has millions of subscribers already), it sounds like they need some PR professionals to clean up their social media mess and build up some better hype for next year. I know of a certain public relations firm in Boston that could do the job…

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