By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
May 7, 2010

A polling firm tests the question raised this week by the New York Times and ABC News

“Has Apple lost its cool?”

That was the title of a New York Times blog post Wednesday — itself a follow-up on a three-minute conversation between ABC News correspondent John Berman and the Times‘ Nick Bilton the day before. The video, available here and below the fold, is probably not safe for viewing at One Infinite Loop.

But the two pieces raise an interesting question: Has the spate of negative publicity surrounding Apple — the Gizmodo affair, the Flash brouhaha, the rejected apps, the patent disputes, the Jon Stewart take down — done material damage to the Apple (AAPL) brand?

YouGov’s BrandIndex, a public perception research outfit, decided to put the question to something like a scientific test. The index tracks the “buzz” of some 1,100 consumer brands — including Apple — by interviewing 5,000 people every weekday and asking them “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?” Scores can range from 100 to -100.

As the chart above shows, Apple’s buzz with the key 18- to 24-year-old demographic reached its 2010 peak on March 18 with a score of 80.2. Since the start of April it’s been cooling off, and on Tuesday it stood at 66.1.

“Apple has definitely lost some steam with the adult 18 – 34 demo,” says a BrandIndex spokesman, “although they are still doing well.”

How does that compare with, say, Google (GOOG) or Facebook, which have each had their ups and downs lately? See below.

Below: The ABC News video.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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