Apple Loses Cool Factor?

Shock! Horror! Crisis! Apple’s iPhone was not the top selling phone at Christmas – Samsung’s Galaxy S II was. Can this be? What has gone wrong? Surely some mistake?

OK – I need to declare I am not an Apple worshipper. Yes, I have an iPad, which I l love, and an old iPod which I use when travelling, but otherwise I am a PC person through and through.

I tell you this in advance because there is nothing more polarizing that the subject of Apple versus the rest of the world.

Apple users believe they have seen the light and are messianic about the company. Everyone else thinks the Appleites have drunk the Kool-Aid, probably need therapy and gleefully look forward to when the Apple empire’s cool veneer starts to wear thin.

Now there are whispers that that process may have begun. In addition to beating out Apple’s iPhone over Christmas, Samsung, which uses the Android platform, is now the biggest seller of smartphones in the world, according to the latest data.

The train is getting up a head of steam – partly led by Brian Deagon, who predicted in an Investors.com article that “Apple will lose its cool factor” in 2012.

“The iPhone is boxy, flat and feeling stale. The Samsung Galaxy smartphone seems cooler,” he writes. “Smartphones and tablets will become commodity items and Apple will be eaten by the collective Android gang.”

It seems Samsung has managed to do something that eluded others – cloak themselves in the coolness that was previously Apple’s.

The latest ambush ad from Samsung hits Apple users’ “I’m too sexy for my shirt” attitude right between the eyes. The message: while cool is OK, if someone else has a better product, suddenly your coolness looks like your parents disco-dancing in the village hall under florescent lights.

For Apple, the jury is still deliberating on the effect Steve Job’s death will have on the company. Android has very well funded partners and a strong business model. If this sniping continues, Apple will be forced on the defensive.

By now Appleites are frothing and ready to hit their MacBook Air keys to put me down. Well go ahead – but never forget Apple fell from grace once before. There is no immutable law that says it can’t happen again.

Richard Quest, CNN