Apple Imitates Google (Which Copied Apple)—And Fails

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmano has bet $100 million on Apple's turnaround. (A relative term, since the company still earned nearly $6 billion last quarter.)

I might be tempted to wager $100 myself, except that Nasdaq won't let me purchase a quarter share of stock. 

But if Apple is really going to mount a renaissance, it will need to do more than launch a new blockbuster product, or create a new category. It also needs to retool its advertising, which, like its technology, no longer stands apart. 

Apple thrived on being the underdog, the anti-establishment brand, the alternative to ubiquitous—and unfriendly—PCs. But Apple won that war long ago and the company hasn't shifted its strategy to win on the new battlefield. 

This new ad (above), promoting the iPhone's camera, is a good example. Sweet and charming? Sure, even if the ad closes with a self-justifying boast: "Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera."

But Google is now winning this slice-of-life war with Apple-like ads like "Dear Sophie," "Martin Van Buren" or "Mangobbler" (a personal fave), all of which are now making Apple look like the copycat rather than the pioneer. 

I once wrote here on Mental Shavings that "you can't out-Apple Apple," and I was wrong. Now Apple has to out-Apple itself, starting with a new ad platform.