Why did Apple's reputation quotient fall from grace?

I have a theory. What's good for Apple investors...

From Reuters Apple, Google see reputation of corporate brands tumble in survey:

Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google corporate brands dropped in an annual survey while Amazon.com Inc maintained the top spot for the third consecutive year, and electric carmaker Telsa Inc rocketed higher after sending a red Roadster into space.

IPhone maker Apple dropped to 29th from its previous position of No. 5, and Google dropped from 8th to No. 28. Apple had ranked No. 2 as recently as 2016, according to the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient poll released on Tuesday.

“Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys,” John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Reuters. “We’re not quite to self-driving cars yet. We’re not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they’re going to do.”

My take: I disagree. The survey period—Dec. 11 to Jan. 12—was hardly a valley for Apple news. The problem, I think, was the news itself:

  • Apple prices new iPhones at $1,000-plus
  • Apple opens new $5 billion-plus corporate headquarters
  • Apple enjoys a $163 billion repatriation tax windfall
  • Apple is surrounded by the usual fog of fear, uncertainty and doubt

If I didn't know better, I'd think that Apple came across to the 25,800 U.S. adults Harris surveyed as too rich and too greedy.

Below: The full Harris 100.

Harris reputation quotient

Click to enlarge.


  1. David Drinkwater said:
    “It I didn’t know better, I’d think that Apple came across to the 25,800 U.S. adults Harris surveyed as too rich and too greedy.”

    And yet, Apple’s P/E ratio is decidedly humble. (Not really disagreeing with you.)

    March 14, 2018
  2. Ken Cheng said:
    If Tesla’s score is soaring based upon sending a car into space, then either the survey is flawed, or it’s not measuring what it thinks it is measuring, or the survey participants aren’t taking the survey questions all that seriously. What about all the delays on the Model 3? That’s not more important than sending a car into near earth orbit?

    March 14, 2018
    • David Emery said:
      But most people don’t actually drive a Tesla, so they don’t know how well (or poorly) they work or are supported. Musk has proven to be really great at ‘information operations’ controlling the narrative around his businesses.

      March 14, 2018
  3. Gianfranco Pedron said:
    Reuters states: “This year, film production company The Weinstein Co made its debut at 99th out of 100 on the list after more than 70 women accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape.”

    That poll result seems to indicate responders may have confounded notoriety with reputation.

    Hard to tell what the ranking order actually reveals if that’s the case..

    March 14, 2018
  4. Jonathan Mackenzie said:
    Harris describes the “reputation quotient” on their website.

    They claim to measure 6 dimensions of corporate reputation with 20 attributes.

    These are
    Social Responsibility (things like Supports Good Causes and Environmental Responsibility)
    Vision and Leadership (things like Market Opportunities)
    Financial Performance (Profitability, Growth Prospects, Low Risk Investment)
    Products and Services (High quality, Innovative)
    Emotional Appeal (Admire and Respect, Trust, Feel Good About)
    Workplace Environment (Rewards Employees Fairly, Good Place to Work, etc)

    Those are the criteria that supposedly combine to put Amazon first, Chick-fil-A fourth.

    I can’t take that seriously. This has nothing to do with my feeling about Apple.

    Social Responsibility. Profitability, Low Risk Investment, Admire and Respect, Treats Employees Fairly and Good Place to Work. If Chick-fil-A and Amazon pop into your head based on these attributes, you don’t know what words mean.

    I don’t have any confidence that the Harris Poll measures what they claim to measure.

    March 14, 2018
  5. Neil Shapiro said:
    I think that Apple’s customer service and retail experience may have a lot to do with that survey. It used to be that when you went into an Apple Store with a problem that the Genius Bar was a great help. The way they used to work was to put the customer first and to go out of their way to help them. Now, what I hear from many people and to which I can anecdotally add my own experience, is that the Genius Bar has turned into customer adversaries. In the past they may have given away more refurbished phones than strictly needed but they kept a lot of happy customers. Now they hoard the replacements and would rather lose a customer than a rebuilt iPhone. I know a little bit about electronics and the inner workings of an iPhone and can attest that while the Genius Bar does not lie they use various, dubious tests and explanations to stretch and bend the truth. For example a friend’s iPhone 8+ was having pretty obvious battery problems. But Apple (three stores) insisted that all was well. I went with him and watched as they ran the test which, as you may know, graphs the battery performance. Well, the battery was just about failing the test, about only 5% within parameters. When I called them on that the response was basically if it is within, it’s within with no attention to real world performance. The guy will buy a Galaxy next time.
    Then, there is the store itself. It is insanely crowded on weekends with no coherent line or idea as to when or how to get best served. On weekdays the employees outnumber the customers and yet there is still no easy way to get checked out or to find out who is helping who and in what area. The funniest thing is when you use the Store app to check yourself out and then try to find someone who will give you a bag! Seriously, the store store experience, at least on Long Island, does suck badly.
    Possibly a bunch of those surveyed had recently tried to get a precious appointment at a Genius Bar, or who had been badly treated by a “Genius,” or who had had to spend an extra ten minutes trying to find someone who could check them out or wait on them, or who has an iPhone that doesn’t work well, needs to be replaced, but is within some idiotic parameter?

    March 14, 2018
    • David Emery said:
      I was thrown out of an Apple Store on that very issue of battery life in an iPhone. When the (so-called) Genius told me “Our software is always right”, that’s when I lost it.

      Wife went back and they did replace her phone. That was the third trip, after doing everything else they told her to try (most of it obviously futile since they didn’t really listen to us the first time.)

      Some of the ‘Geniuses’ are terribly smug and condescending. (Yeah, I’m over 60. But I also have been using personal computers for more than 40 years, and Macs for more than 30 of those years. So don’t treat me like “your grandfather whose VCR flashes 12:00.”) Others are really helpful and know their stuff. It’s “luck of the draw” these days on whether you get competency or condescendence.

      March 14, 2018
  6. Neil Shapiro said:
    David Emery -> Yep, I am 70 and get that Grandfather Treatment as well! Considering my background it is rather silly. I don’t think it is age discrimination so much as Millennial disdain for any evidence of the aging process! LOL. I used to have a go-to guy at one store a few years back who somehow recognized my name (as having run the MAUG Forums on line some years ago). Anyway we got to talking and I told him how I’d been on a subway with Woz in 1982 and he had looked around at the very crowded train and mentioned, “Someday all of these people will own and use a computer.” To which I responded it seemed rather doubtful. He could not talk about theLisa/Mac projects, of course, but he just laughed and said, “Oh, you’ll see what we have planned!” For a couple years I really got great service in that store. But then the store guy headed out to make his own way in Silicon Valley. Now I’m back to being teated with the training–a-stupid-dog voice from the supercilious Genius of the Day! Oh, well!!

    March 15, 2018

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