The iPhone launch in 2007 was unprecedented in many ways. There was hype and media attention during the launch alright, but what followed was even more interesting. A six-month window of pre-launch publicity, virtually unchallenged by any competitive activity. According to Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie, Apple generated $400 million in free iPhone advertising between its announcement and launch.
Fast forward to 2014. What a difference seven years make.
We have a spate of speculative articles on what Apple might launch in 2014 – the so-called iWatch being the most written about. That’s not new. Apple has always generated attention from both tech & general interest media. But the difference between 2014 and 2007 is chalk and cheese. Herewith some obvious ones:
Speculation on vapourware vs punditry on an announced product: it’s obvious that aside from a small team at Apple, no one knows what is planned in terms of new launched in 2014. Whether it will be a new category or something that takes forward existing lines is also unclear. Yet, there are opinions galore on what the product should be, could be and as is wont with tech punditry, must be. Known Apple baiters like Trip Chowdhury have already proclaimed the death of Apple if they don’t launch an iWatch soon.
“They only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research.
“It will take years for Apple’s $130 billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant company … it will become a zombie, if they don’t come up with an iWatch.”
Anticipatory moves from competition already: Smart watches like Pebble have got some traction; and so have wearables from Nike and others. Samsung launched a smart watch only with an eye to beat Apple to the market – product readiness be damned. Others have joined the fray and the space is getting crowded. While Samsung’s updated Gear line is based on Tizen, the big play is expected to come from Google with its Android Wear. So whether Apple actually releases an iWatch or not, others want to be caught napping.
Apple’s moves will be on comparison mode: so in effect, tables will be turned on Apple this time, when compared to the iPhone launch. Whatever Apple launches – a wearable device on the wrist, a ring or something else, it will be dissected in comparison to what is already in the market.
Social Media buzz: add to this mix, the unique elements of social media (which was not as ubiquitous in 2007) and you have got a whole new ball game for Apple. There are opinions, taunts, abuses, support and hopes galore across Disqus comments, Twitter and Facebook.
On the face of it, Apple is under tremendous pressure. They seemingly have to do ‘something’ soon and do it right. No other company goes through this kind of pressure and scrutiny when it comes to their products and strategic moves. However, in my view, Apple cares a rat’s arse about what the market or pundits think. I think it is in Apple’s DNA to do what they think is right for the brand. They seem to be in no hurry to launch anything new as per somebody else’s time schedule and expectations. In another context, Farhad Manjoo said that Apple after Steve Jobs is pretty much the same as ever. So while Apple is under a larger microscope now and therefore a different kind of pressure, I expect them to be unmindful of that. What say?