After Hours

What do Star Trek and Starbucks have in common (with Apple)?

Star(Trek)bucksWhat do Star Trek and Starbucks have in common? They both used to be cool, perhaps edgy, and maybe even revolutionary. What killed them both? Over-extension of the brand. Put more simply: NextGen, good; Voyager, bad; 100 Starbucks, good; 10,000 Starbucks, bad. That, according to opinions-aplenty sci-fi author David Louis Edelman. You think this has nothing to do with IT? Think again, as Edleman brings it full circle:

"The brand that I find most fascinating to watch today is Apple. Somehow, they’ve gone from being the coolest thing on Earth (the original Mac) to a lame also-ran (during the Sculley/Amelio days) to the coolest thing on Earth again (iMac, iPod, MacBook, etc.). There’s no doubt in my mind that Apple will one day fall — and it’s probably going to be in our lifetimes. In the past decade, Steve Jobs has wisely steered the company towards a more exclusive brand strategy that seems to be working pretty damn well. Keep the prices high. Don’t quite fulfill all the demand. Emphasize the coolness factor. Keep your audience relatively small. Why else would Apple enter the cell phone market with a $500 base model that only the Cool People will be able to afford?"

sMorty71 and I have long held the position that Apple is a luxury brand with no interest in (or ability to) actually compete with Microsoft or Linux head-to-head—and my feelings on Star Trek's devolution are well chronicled—but the Starbucks angle isn't one I had considered before. Morale of the story: Ignore Wall Street, and quit while your brand is ahead.

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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