Apple’s Mocking Copies: The Phenomenon of Copycat Brands

Vatsal Mehta
9 min readJul 1, 2021

From 1984 with the release of the Macintosh with a 3–1/2-inch drive, getting rid of the floppy disk drive entirely in the 1998 iMac, the release of iTunes in 2001, the release of iPhone with multitouch (no physical keyboard) in 2007, no disk drive at all in the MacBook Air 2008, removing the classic headphone jack from the iPhone 7 series alongside the release of AirPods in 2016, 2016 MacBook Pro with only USB C ports, removing power brick and headphone from iPhone 12 series and last but not least bespoke security features across all OS with protecting user privacy from the very beginning of the company, Apple is well known for courageous decisions. Apple’s competitors have never missed any opportunity to mock Apple’s decisions for sake of a few seconds of a laugh from the audience during their product launching keynote and press release on tech-related news websites. I assume you may already know about Any Press is a Good Press. Apple even has received criticism for all the decisions they have made. Criticism helps anyone to deliver better work.

“There is a thin line between mockery and criticism and you should be very aware where you stand.”

Whether you agree or not but the fact is Apple is a Leader and Gold Standard (That’s another very interesting topic for the next story) in the tech industry. Whatever decision Apple takes its affects and influence that particular field/division or the whole industry itself. Apple is remarkably famous for its marketing which is an excellent inspiration for those who works in the marketing industry including me. There are many unique strategies and lessons anyone can learn from Apple’s marketing, always! Great marketing is in the DNA of Apple because of Steve Jobs. As a designer and having a background in marketing in past, He is my idol and mentor. As of now you probably have guessed that I love Apple and yes, you have guessed it right. I am an Apple fanboy not just because they make the best products but as a designer, I like their OS UI, the way they present their products, their presentation skills (watch all the keynote Apple has done virtually in 2020–21) and of course their marketing. Since Tim Cook took over as the new CEO of Apple, I have analysed that Apple almost has never mentioned its competition during product launching and never ever have mock them. I strongly hate Negative Marketing and never consider/recommend doing so because you will face consequences after that. Yes, I do agree that Steve Jobs had mocked many competitions in his time and I hate him for that particular nature and also, he (and Apple) is still facing consequences.

As I mentioned earlier, after Tim Cook, Apple has hardly mocked any of Apple’s competitors, which seems like they have learned from the past, but I am sure that many competitors still haven’t learned even after being mocked by the consequences. Let’s talk about a few consequences so you or the brand(s) you work for will not be embraced by mocking competitors.

  1. Samsung
    The only company that has mocked Apple the most and faced the consequences almost every time. Samsung mocked apple every one-two months by releasing Ads on youtube but let’s start with some big ones.
Credit: Samsung (via 9to5Google)

Samsung posted this when Apple announced that they will no longer be providing the charging brick in the box from now onwards. I don’t know what is the problem in marketing leadership at Samsung but I think they have a strong belief in “Any Press is a Good Press”. To get attention during the hype of the newly announced iPhone, this kind of stunt might have given Samsung little attention and the Samsung fans might have rejoiced as a fan. But we all know that Samsung is very famous to follow what Apple does, which is legally proven. At the launch of the new Galaxy S21, Samsung also announced they are removing the power brick as predicted.

Let’s discuss the second stunt here with a longer span. Samsung made a very hilarious video a few years back mocking the lack of headphone jack and recognisable notch on the new iPhone which you can watch below. If you haven’t watched it then first watch this and later continue reading.

This is not the only way Samsung mocked Apple on this topic as they didn’t have TWS in their lineup like Apple had AirPods at that time. With the Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10+, Samsung started removing the headphone jack from its smartphones and introduced many new TWS after that. Samsung certainly knew that keeping the headphone jack won’t help them to grow the sales of its TWS lineup. About the notch here is the simple explanation:

Samsung hole punch is similar to other manufactures and the iPhone notch helps to distinguish itself from the competition. Credit: Oliur

Samsung deleted the video as now they also selling a flagship device without a headphone jack. The press, who are now laughing at Samsung for deleting the video are the ones from which Samsung gained attention for mocking Apple. Consequence!

2. Oneplus

A flagship killer to never settle. All the Android OEM thinks that mocking iPhone is the only way to make people believe they make good phones compared to Apple but that’s always been the wrong way. Like Samsung, Oneplus also follow Apple and sometimes follow Samsung as well in terms of marketing.

Credit: Oneplus (via Gadget Icon)

Oneplus also mocked the iPhone’s notch and lack of headphone jack. After few years, Oneplus bring the notch in the Oneplus 6 thinking it would look like an iPhone in which Android runs and also might have thought people will also think like them and buy it (LOL). Oneplus also removed the headphone jack in Oneplus 6. Oneplus Introduce its own TWS Oneplus Buds in 2020, too. Oneplus mock Apple during the keynote so they can’t even delete that portion unlike Samsung (ROFL).

Credit: UPDATE NEWS

3. Google

The only company with its own OS (Android) and hardware (kind of) just like Apple. The only two biggest smartphone vendors in terms of OS. Currently, you have the only option to choose from either Android or iOS. As Google started making Pixels, I expected that they certainly won’t follow other Android OEMs in terms of design and marketing but I was wrong. Google also joined the bandwagon of the Apple Mocking Club.

Thanks to Google, now we have the best in class nighttime photography feature in our smartphones. Pixel’s Night Sight feature was a distinguished feature from iPhone and other android smartphones at that time. Google shared the below reference during the keynote and some other TV commercials to make fun of Apple.

Credit: Google (via u/TheRandomYoutuber)

I am an iPhone user for many years now and to be honest even without the night sight feature, the iPhone XS surely wasn’t taking this kind of bad photo which Google has shown. It’s like Google representatives bring down the Auto Exposure line down to the bottom so that photo from Pixel looks 1000 times better. A year later with the launch of the iPhone 11, Apple introduced the Night Mode and crushed the Pixel’s Night Sight feature with better nature looking night photo rather than an overexposed and artificial look of Pixel’s Night Sight. Apple’s Night Mode is now a Gold Standard in smartphone night photography. Sorry I didn’t mention the ProRAW. I leave this topic to you.

Credit: Google (via 9to5mac)

THE HEADPHONE JACK.
Again. Yes. This bandwagon almost every Android smartphone maker has followed and fall with a face on the floor. At the launch of the first Pixel phone, Google mocked iPhone and a year later Google removed the headphone jack in Pixel 2. Nice!

4. Apple

Yes, you read it right. It’s my responsibility to be as neutral as possible and tell you the story of both sides. Apple welcomed IBM in 1981 with a full-page newspaper ad.

Credit: Apple

If you read the ad then you can say that Apple wasn’t mocking IBM, but from my perspective, Apple shouldn’t have mentioned only IBM as there were many competitors in the PC world. As a result here are some consequences Apple has faced:

Credit: Facebook, Fluxport (Wireless Charger Maker) and Tapit (NFC Provider)
Credit: Bitcoin or whoever made this Ad and Rdio reworks Apple’s classic “Welcome IBM” ad to welcome them to the streaming music industry.

Mac Vs PC Ad

Credit: Apple

This is the funniest ad campaign Apple has done at that time. Apple isn’t making fun of a particular brand but considering the whole PC market. Apple has stopped the ads after few years but brings back the PC guy at the time of launching the M1 Macs.

Apple certainly making fun of Intel and Intel can’t digest losing Apple as its customer and the performance and efficiency of the M1 chip. Now Intel brings back the Mac guy and portraying him like he is switching to PC.
Here Intel also faced consequences as they are not the only one making chips (Hi, AMD!) and the laptops with Intel chips have type-c ports with dongle life.

Alternative Link

When we say PC, it’s commonly referer to as Microsoft Windows. Microsoft also has made few commercials mocking Apple. Here are some:

Whether you are Apple or any other brand, if you are mocking your competitor, be ready for the consequences. I strongly don’t recommend following this mocking strategy but if you still wish to do then don’t mention the brand or its product name directly.

Solution/Suggestion

I do understand that it’s very hard to compete with Apple’s popularity and its fan loyalty across the globe. The strategy of mocking Apple may help the brand to get some attention for a short span but in a longer span, it will hurt your brand reputation as we have seen few examples above. So Vatsal, what’s your solution/suggestion?

Credit: Samsung-New Zealand (Via Myself)

Sometimes the competition does come up with a very unique and impressive strategy. Samsung-New Zealand came up with this brilliant idea called SAMSUNG iTest (they should have come up with a better name something like Samsung Experience). Follow the instruction and BOOMMMM. A Samsung One UI inside the iPhone. It literally works like a Samsung smartphone. You will get demo messages and even a call (not a real one) as well. I love this idea and it’s still on my iPhone despite I am an Apple fanboy. You neither have to go to the Samsung store nor any other way to experience the Samsung One UI. From this kind of method, competitors can able to win few customers or at least impress fanboys like me by still maintain their dignity as a brand.

I am not able to recall any other example of a good marketing campaign against Apple except the Samsung iTest. If you can recall any campaign then kindly share in the comment section. It would be very helpful for me to expand my knowledge.

There is a one powerful dialogue in the movie “Green Book” which is my personal favourite and I am altering it to match this blog subject:

“You never win with mockery. You only win when you maintain your dignity”

And lastly, I am finishing this blog with Kunal Shah’s (Founder of CRED app) tweet:

Credit: Kunal Shah

Share your thoughts in the comment section and correct me if I have said something wrong. Appreciate this blog by giving claps and if you don’t like this blog then well, Medium has no dislike button. Dislike button should be mandatory.

Have a Good Day! Regards,
VM

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