The teens want the latest, greatest phone that speaks to their generation. Samsung’s Galaxy and Microsoft’s Surface have recently introduced new and never-before-seen devices, whereas the first iPhone has almost not been changed since it came 6 years ago. “Teens are telling us Apple is done,” says Tina Wells of the youth marketing agency Buzz Marketing Group.It was unthinkable a mere 12 months ago that any teen would prefer any phone to an iPhone if given the option. But past is gone.

iPhone for oldies
iPhone for oldies

Apple is also playing hardball in the court of public opinion, according to an advertising executive who works with Samsung, “The litigation floodgates are open and Samsung definitely wants to go to war, so they’re more aggressive than ever with their media for that prized [youth] demographic.” To this end, Samsung has spent millions of dollars over the past few months on an advertising campaign that paints the image that the iPhone is for old people (parents and late adopters) and teens should move onto the “next big thing.” Another key strategy used by Samsung has targeted Apple culture — rather than the brand itself — to illustrate how absurd it is to wait in line for a smartphone.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion (RIM) is attempting to move back into the youth space, and has aligned with a few youth-oriented brands, including Extreme International, to develop Blackberry-specific apps and mobile programs aimed at 16-20-year-olds.

Still, teen marketing analysts say Apple’s fate lies more with itself than with what its competitors are up to. “Everything moves in cycles and you can’t rest on your past glory. You’ve got to evolve to maintain relevance. Apple just needs to focus on innovation and teens will come back,” says Wells.