The Anti-PC PC – Apple Revolutionizes the Product Launch
When Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new iPhone 5 earlier this month during the product’s official launch press conference (PC), it certainly wasn’t a surprise – most of us had seen leaked photos and videos of the phone already. In fact, Apple and its suppliers had more leaks than President Obama’s White House. Even so, Apple positioned the PC as the grand unveiling of a product under wraps for months. Was it really?
The new process for PCs seems be this: allow suppliers and loose-lipped engineers to leak sensitive information during the R&D and manufacturing process to get people talking. Add a few more photo leaks, sprinkle with exclusive videos of identifiable product parts, add a few journalists and bloggers willing to go to press without official comment from the company and let simmer. Then follow up with a cheerful clarion call press conference to “unveil” the product to the world. Voila! It’s a new day.
Apple’s press conference was more a verification of the product’s evolution and a price announcement than a proper unveiling. So, are PC platforms for traditional product announcements in the consumer product world relevant anymore, or are they merely brand building b-roll for media coverage that borders on a commercial? For Apple, press conferences seem to be advertorials – a pop culture phenomenon guaranteed positive coverage. As expected, the announcement of iPhone 5 was front-page news, and since then the media has churned out endless coverage about everything Apple. The cache of stories generated about the company and its latest product, its economic impact, the 400 million iOS devices Apple has sold, the hordes of people who lined up for days on end to get their hands on the product, etc. etc., is epic. That kind of coverage can’t be bought at any price. It’s beyond viral; it’s an epidemic.
So, is the new role of a press conference simply to verify what we’ve known for weeks, or even months? Maybe. For Apple it certainly was. But we listen, we get excited and we buy. These days, Apple’s press conferences are starter’s pistols, fired into the proverbial sky to alert the early adopters to pitch their tents outside their local Apple retailer, buy some beef jerky and Red Bull, and get ready for a nice long wait.
Achieving this kind of media and consumer recognition certainly isn’t the norm. Digital and social media have changed the PR landscape in ways we are still discovering. Apple found a way to dominate several news cycles with the promise of a great product and delivery of one when it counted. They have made their product launches celebrations of the state of the art – a soothing reminder to stakeholders that their blue-chip stock isn’t going anywhere but up and that every single part of the development process is newsworthy – even a sneak peek at the box the product comes in.
Photo courtesy of VanDammeMaarten on Flickr.