Apple Inc. Fourth in FutureBrand Top 100 Index; Voice Messaging Seen as Killer iWatch App

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The Apple Logo is Pictured at a Retail Store in the Marina Neighborhood in San Francisco
The Apple logo is pictured at a retail store in the Marina neighborhood in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014. REUTERS

Apple Inc. has been beaten by Google, Microsoft and Walt Disney in the FutureBrand Top 100 Index. Consumers were asked to rate brands based on their experiences. Research firm Futurebrand seeks to "define and deliver future brand experiences."

According to its list, Google was rated first followed by Microsoft as top strong brands. Apple, the world's most respected brand according to institutions, came in fourth place after Walt Disney. The firm gathered its data from the 3,030 informed consumers in17 countries.

FutureBrand said it uses "adaptive conjoint analysis" in ranking the current and future trends, strengths and weaknesses affecting the different regions and industries. The Top 100 Index is based on consumers' brand perception. FutureBrand asked consumers if a brand has built a strong emotional connection, provided an engaging experience, made lives better, had a clear vision of the future, redefined a category and delivered a sustainable value.

Among the top 10 brands in FutureBrand's list, most were composed of tech companies with Samsung and Intel following Apple in the rankings. According to the research firm, the brand of tomorrow has "strong perceptions of its purpose in the world with the experience it delivers."

FutureBrand global head of technology Tom Adams said the brands shown in the Top 100 Index are "able to transcend the positions dictated by opinions of their financial worth."

Voice messaging a "killer app"

Meanwhile, analysts still consider Apple stock a "buy" with a price target of $100. Steven Milunovich, a UBS Securities analyst, said a voice-messaging app may become a "defining feature" in Apple's rumoured iWatch.

Apple Inc. is widely expected to release a wearable device as the industry is projected to grow with the entry of Google's Android Wear. The iWatch is said to focus on health and fitness applications. According to Milunovich, health applications are still considered as significant selling points for the iWatch, but he believes a voice messaging app could make Apple's wearable device "big."

In Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June, the company launched voice messaging capabilities to the Messages app running on iOS 8. With iOS 7, users can dictate a message, but it will be sent and received as text. The iOS 8 can enable users to record a voice message by touching a new microphone button, record a message and send it as a voice message.

The analyst believes giving the iWatch the same ability makes sense since it will make it easier for users to send a voice message from a device already on their wrists while pulling out their iPhones from their pockets. 

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