Early this week I read an article about Apple hype and what Google and others in the technology industry could learn about a powerful public relations machine from the master. Here’s how it played out and Apple’s secret weapon to generate and manage hype.
First, the iPhone 7 was considered by technology writers to be a big failure before it was even announced. Then, Apple announced and launched iPhone 7 and it turned out to be another big hit with better-than-expected reviews, and strong sales.
To be honest about it, nothing has changed each year since the iPhone was announced early in 2007 and launched later that year. The critics howled at everything that was wrong with the original iPhone, while customers who actually used it, loved, and critics who tried it found it worked better in many respects than whatever they used before.
That’s the way it’s been since 2007. Every year we get a new iPhone. Every year technology critics howl with disfavor about how the new device will fail. Every year customers love the new models. Every year critics– most of them– change their perspective in acknowledgement that Apple’s iPhone just gets better.
What about all the Apple hype preceding a new iPhone release? Jason Hiner has a theory.
Apple did little to counter the negative press and speculation leading up to the iPhone 7 announcement. In fact, it wouldn’t have been unlike Apple to have leaked the information earlier in the year that the iPhone 7 wasn’t going to get a major redesign the way most new iPhones do every other year.
The gist here is that Apple may have leaked low expectations for iPhone 7 knowing it would beat the expectations into a pulp and customers would love iPhone 7.
Under promise, over deliver.
Instead of a barrage of hype about how great the iPhone 7 would be, Apple did as Apple has done every year. No hype. Nothing. Apple just waits, announces, releases, and customers who buy new iPhones are happy.
Hiner thinks Google and other technology gadget makers could take a lesson from Apple’s under promise (remember, the hype you read prior to an iPhone’s launch doesn’t come from Apple) then over deliver (give customers more than what they expect).
Instead, Google, Samsung, Amazon, and others hype the hell out of their new products before launch and after, assuming that customers will love what their internet spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations told them would happen. Then, when the products hit the streets, customers all to often are ‘meh’ because reality does not match expectation.
For example, Google Glass was all the rage until people wore it and saw it. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 had incredible hardware specifications but I’m certain that exploding batteries wasn’t on the PowerPoint presentations. Amazon’s Fire Phone was heralded as yet another iPhone killer but it died quickly as the device wasn’t as cool as Amazon told customers it would be.
Compare those common scenarios Apple.
What does Apple say prior to an iPhone’s launch? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Whether Apple leaks information to dampen expectations may never be known (imagine the noise and outcry if the company were caught doing what Samsung has done many times), but the methodology remains the same. Critics lambast what they haven’t seen or used. Then Apple announces a new iPhone. Then customers and early (sometimes seeded) reviewers sing the praises, and sales skyrocket.
Is that success because of hype? If so, where is the hype? It doesn’t come from Apple.
hype 1 |hīp| informal
extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion: she relied on hype and headlines to stoke up interest in her music.
• a deception carried out for the sake of publicity.
verb [with object]
promote or publicize (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits: an industry quick to hype its products.
The reality is this. With Apple, expectations are exceeded and that makes customers happy. So, Google, Samsung, and Amazon might do better in the marketplace if they made products that exceed customer’s expectations.
Google is an advertising company that pretends to be a technology giant, so it announces new products that fail to meet expectations. Samsung could meet future customer expectations just by building a smartphone that doesn’t catch on fire. Amazon could build a gadget that customers love so much that they buy them in such numbers that Amazon is proud to announce.