This CNet piece gets at the power of community in igniting brands and, in this case, the iPhone.
But a passionate, almost evangelical base of supporters makes any marketing campaign easier. Apple's reliance on a horde of loyal fans thirsty for information is the catalyst for its marketing.
The ability to activate a community and have them ignite demand will be a critical differentiator for all tech companies going forward. Some of the things Apple did right:
- A big bang launch that maintained suspense by holding back as much as it gave away
- A carefully managed content flow
- Kept the message simple - it's an iPhone
- The listened to what we wanted and delivered with finesse
- Stayed true to the brand - absolutely
- Made it about what the technology does for you, not what the technology is - capturing our imagination along the way
- Leveraged the community
These are just some of the things they did right. On #3 - they didn't get overly smart - it's the phone you've always wanted. There is something else about Apple's communications - almost a humble showmanship that really attracts you to their story.
Interestingly, the piece also gets at the new dynamic of launching technology. We've seen a shift from transmitting a "payload" on launch day to an ongoing conversation (#2).
Apple is launching the iPhone at a time when content aggregation sites like Digg, Techmeme, and even Google News can put a potential customer before hundreds, if not thousands, of possibly interesting stories about the product. All Apple has to do is trickle out information every now and then, as it has done in the weeks leading up to Friday's launch, and watch the frenzy take hold.
At the end of the day I wonder how much of this is to do with filling a massive void in the consumer's mind. The last time I remember a frenzy on this scale it was for Windows 95. Everything that preceded it was simply so bad a gaping space was waiting to be filled. Today it is the same in the consumer device space.
The carriers seem to want us all to have a little bit of something good. You can have a Blackberry Curve - but without integrated Navigation or WiFi, for instance. Apple has lined-up against the space created by the restrictions imposed by carriers and filled it pretty much completely.
Marketing programs, clever PR and community activation aside, nothing really beats giving people what they want.