Oh Apple – for so long you were the apple of our eyes.
And yes, the iPhone 5 remained the most popular smartphone in the UK over Christmas.
And yes, Apple made $37.5bn globally in its fourth fiscal quarter in 2013 (even though profits dropped for the first time in more than a decade to a mere $7.5bn).
But things are starting to turn a little sour for Apple among the general public in the UK and US.
First, here in Blighty, there was the news in 2012 that Apple paid only £10m in UK corporation tax on £6bn of UK sales.
Then there were our growing suspicions that Apple is tracking everything we do in a way that might not be wholly innocent, as well as getting us to sign our lives away with Ts&Cs.
Then there were the revelations about the tax avoidance scheme Apple was using last year, enabling it to avoid paying UK corporation tax on billions of pounds of sales here thanks to some clever accounting and an office in Ireland.
And this week alone Apple has been hit by three big fails likely to accelerate these first signs of possible rot…
Apple now has to fork out $32.5m compensating parents whose kids have inadvertently gone spending-mad on apps.
News broke today that Apple has been slammed by a $32.5m bill because it let US children download vast volumes of in-app add-ons without their guardians’ permission, and needs to compensate the parents.
The US Federal Trade Commission has ordered Apple to make the payments after it deemed its billing practices unfair.
We’re talking about paid-for in-app stuff here, like extra features and levels in games and “power-ups”, which can cost anything from a few dozen pence to a few dozen pounds.
Lots of kids have been clicking on the add-ons willy-nilly as they play around with their phones – racking up mega bills in the process.
One child had spent a staggering $2,600 just on a virtual hotel for cats and dogs.
The FTC said Apple had failed to make the billing authorisation process clear.
The ruling is just Stateside at the moment, but the precedent has been set. We could well see much more of claims and fines like this around the world this year.
Apple is no longer a top 10 UK brand.
|YouGov BrandIndex UK|
|6||Marks & Spencer|
YouGov’s BrandIndex report tells us how popular various brands are in the UK each year.
Apple has had a presence in the ranking for quite some time, most recently holding the number-six place in 2012 with the iPad.
In the 2013 ranking Apple is nowhere to be seen in the top 10 brands in the UK, suggesting our former technology beau is getting the consumer cold shoulder.
Apple has just had to remove a hugely controversial plastic surgery app aimed at kids.
Earlier this week there was a major furore over an app called “Plastic Surgery for Barbie”, which is just as nasty as it sounds.
The app was marked as suitable for children aged nine and over.
It involved virtually performing a variety of plastic surgery procedures on an overweight cartoon figure to make her slimmer and change her face.
Yesterday Apple was forced to remove the app from App Store following media outcry.