Did Apple Blow the iPhone’s Launch?

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Putting aside the issues about how the iPhone is a locked device and whether Apple actually owns the iPhone brand name (or whether it’s Cisco, The Internet Phone Co.), a big question that must be asked is whether Steve Jobs and Apple have badly stumbled out of the gate from a public relations perspective with the iPhone’s launch. In other words, here you have Jobs confidently striding on stage to finally unveil the much-anticipated iPhone only to have the world start to push back on a number of issues after the initial euphoria evaporated.

It’s pretty stunning given how savvy Jobs has been over the years in terms of manipulating the Apple message. Apple is cool; Apple isn’t Windows; Apple has street cred; Apple isn’t evil; Apple is user-friendly, the iPod is ultra-cool, blah, blah, blah. You really have to ask whether Apple pulled the trigger too early on the iPhone before all its ducks were in a row properly. The growing concerns about DRM, the iPhone’s closed environment, and the ability to not use third-party apps suggests Apple didn’t think everything through as well as it should.

So, what happened? Did Apple jump the gun too early – something that has some credence given the iPhone is six months away from actually seeing the light of day. What couldn’t Apple have waited another two or three months so that many of the sticky issues that have popped up in the past week couldn’t have been resolved? Did Jobs/Apple believe something dramatic had to be produced MacWorld? I don’t know about you but the iPhone backlash seems so, well, un-Apple. For more, check out Gizmodo, Michael Parekh and Tom Raftery.

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  • http://www.creativetraction.com/blog Duane Brown

    Maybe Apple could have waited two or three months but then that wouldn’t have been Apple’s style for sure. No iPhone this year would have meant less wow at MacWorld. Sure people would have still wrote about MacWorld, but not to the degree I see everyone, tech fan or not, writing about this phone. Even my friends on Facebook are getting into it. I’m not sure if you are right or wrong Mark, but either way this has been a very un-Apple like week for them indeed.

  • http://www.redflagdeals.com RyanRFD

    I think some backlash was inevitable. The announcement had been anticipated for so long and that amount of hype will always be followed by a backlash.

    It has DRM, well so does the iPod and it seems to sell all right.

    It’s a closed environment. Probably 10% of general consumers even understand the implications of that.

    It’s expensive, but so was the iPod. It will just help increase it’s power as a status symbol. For the first few months, it will probably be fairly difficult to get anyway.

    If we compare it to the recent video game console launches, the Wii had it’s own backlash in the couple of months after it was announced, but what it did and what Sony failed to do is capture the imagination of the public. I think the iPhone can (if it hasn’t already) do this.

  • http://beyondthebleedingedge.blogspot.com Andrew

    If the launch day is ‘x’ Apple had to go public with it ‘x – 3/4 months’ as they have to file the device with the FCC for approval and that is a public process.

    Cingular wants to start selling this ASAP I would imagine as they probably dropped a fair chunk of change writing an overlay to the network allowing for Visual Voice mail and the other pieces that will follow it. What is really interesting is Apple (a unknown in the mobile handset business) was able to force a carrier into applying some Voice 2.0 pieces (network level API’s etc) whereas no other handset manufacturer has had the guts; or the will, to make them do it.

  • http://www.tomrafteryit.net/ Tom Raftery

    Thanks for the link Mark.

    Personally, I hope Apple learn from all the bad press and tweak the iPhone to address the issues which have been raised.

    Also, I think this is an incredibly exciting looking phone. Finally we will get phone with an interface so easy to use Joe Public will finally be able to do things like email and browse the web from a phone.

    It is fantastic to see the Symbian/Windows duopoly being challenged.

  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    I guess every new product has its glitches, issues, troublespots but you’d think a company as marketing-savvy as Apple would have figured them out so they could avoid the backlash, which appears to be gaining momentum.

  • http://pxltd.typepad.com Stephen Hayward

    Great conversation starter Mark,

    I am a little surprised that people are surprised on the closed operating system. Apple has often started off that way and then once items are stable quickly allowed others to jump in, from my limited exposure.

    The sad part about the launch was this was one of those times along with the last song and dance that he was dammed if he did or dammed if he didn’t. The buzz has been so strong, I am not sure he could safely hold anything further back.

    In hindesite, the last couple of quarters have not been as nice as previous as Apple has tried to enforce their own i*** property rights and here they are the ones getting beaten up on it. Maybe they thought they could fight this in parallel in court, who knows.

    One thing we can be sure of. The UI of the phone has just made a sudden shift thanks to the gang at Apple.

  • http://alfredo.octavio.net/ Alfredo Octavio

    The big difference is that Steve Jobs is not an Mobile Phone User. He doesn’t know about phones the way he knows about music. Think about it, the iPod is mediocre at best at everything else it does, it only excels in music. The iPhone will fail as the Cube did.

  • http://www.taylanpince.com Taylan Pince

    Nope they didn’t.

    People will talk, good or bad, doesn’t matter… Then they will all buy an iPhone when it comes out.

  • http://www.itinfusion.ca Casey Woods

    Apple has 6 months before that device is rolled out to the public. That is a lot of time for the developers to make changes and for the marketing folks to get things in gear. I honestly don’t think that the price point or the fact that it is locked in to Cingular is gong to be that big a deal to the Mac faithful. Apple has already proven that a well designed and marketed product can be sold for a premium price. The “cult of Mac” has been dying for a device that interoperates well with Mac OS X and now they have it. Now way this ends up like the cube.

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