It seems that Macs and iPods are selling very well, far better than any variety of hot cake that I’ve come across. How’s Apple managing to achieve this? Sure, some of this is down to Apple’s own marketing machine, which can conjure hilarious (if not somewhat distorted) ads comparing Windows to Mac OS X. But that’s only part of the story.
Backing Apple’s paid-for marketing is a media-fuelled marketing machine that’s built on rumors and guesses. A good 95 percent of these rumors fall into the same category as UFO and Elvis sightings, but none of that matters because each rumor and guess means free publicity for Apple. This is Apple’s perpetual motion marketing machine.
To find an example, look no further than the iPhone. Here’s a device that owes its success to the never-ending rumor mill. In fact, there was so much myth and folklore built up around this one device that I for one was disappointed when Steve Jobs actually unveiled the details.
I was expecting my very own personal mobile OS X platform that would make all my other gadgets obsolete in one fell swoop. Not only that, but I was expecting that the iPhone would also double as a personal jetpack, and so make my car obsolete too, and check me over for ticks come the summer. Then I finally found out that the iPhone was little more than a crippled smartphone platform under the draconian control of Steve Jobs. Sure, the iPhone is high on style, but my Windows Mobile smartphone beats it hands down in terms of flexibility.
However, thanks to all the breathless media induced frenzy, people didn’t care what the iPhone could or couldn’t do, they just wanted an iPhone because everyone seemed to want one.
Now fast forward a little under a year and we now see almost daily speculation as to what the iPhone MKII will bring. Better screen, 3G, better battery (sure needs one), a GPS, better camera, more memory … the speculation just goes on and on and on.
Some of these speculations fall into the “obvious” category (a good example of this is the “the next iPhone will have greater capacity” … Wow! Really?), while others are outlandish (plenty to choose from, I’m not dignifying any of them with screen space). Apple has so far been tight-lipped as far as what the new iPhone will bring (in fact, the company won’t even acknowledge that there is going to be a new version of the iPhone), but the secrecy is no barrier to wild and rampant conjecture and assumptions.
In fact, Apple’s ultra-secret nature is of huge benefit to the company because it has meant the creation of a completely new segment of the tech media devoted to little more than speculating about what Apple will do next.
But it doesn’t end with speculation. Oh no. What amazes me is how a piece posted on one site that is clearly nothing more than blue-sky speculation is then quickly picked up on by countless other outlets and reported as fact. This then is picked up on by other sites and the Apple name is in front of literally millions of pairs of eyeballs by the end of the day. This results in millions of dollars of free advertising that Apple sees, all thanks to being ultra secretive.
While other companies can generate a buzz, no company does this better than Apple. In the past year alone we’ve seen this perpetual motion marketing machine work to sell iPhones, iPods and even the MacBook Air (people who spent good money on that unit really must have their heads jammed real deep into the reality distortion field).
Apple, in short, is a master at playing to the crowds.
But this hype can have a negative side effect. Disappointment. I’ve already mentioned how I was disappointed by the reality of the iPhone compared to the hype – and I already had a pretty good idea as to what the iPhone was going to be like before Steve Jobs told the world. And I’m seeing that disenchantment creep to others.
The MacBook Air has been one product that quite a few people have expressed buyer’s remorse over … although not publically, of course (I find that people are very shy about criticizing Apple products in public).
The ”what will Apple do next?” game is one that anyone can participate in, and there are absolutely no downsides to making a prediction that turns out to be incorrect. So go on, come up with your own wild Apple prediction and join in the fun!