How Apple Breaks the Rules of Marketing

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Mitch Wagner
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Daring Fireball's John Gruber explains.

Short version: Apple can't reschedule Christmas. 

 

The fall event is important for Apple because it’s the one where they set their product lineup for the holiday quarter. The company prefers to announce new products simply when they’re ready, not when some arbitrary date on the calendar arrives. That’s why they stopped doing Macworld Expo keynotes. They showed this year that they’re not afraid to do a software-only WWDC keynote. But they can’t move Christmas. Apple is breaking profit and revenue records quarter after quarter. But Apple’s best-selling products sell best during the holiday quarter. iOS devices have “Christmas gift” written all over them.

Apple's two iOS products are the iPhone and iPad (and iPod Touch, which is basically a phone-less iPhone). The only upgrade to any of those products this year was the iPad 2. Apple needs some fresh iOS meat for the holiday season. 

 

Claire Condra
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Oh yeah... they're in a class of their own.

Mitch Wagner
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Claire - And Apple pulled out of MacWorld a year or two ago, which ran (or runs?) at about the same time as CES, and was one of Apple's big events of the year. It was a big deal at the time. 

Apple simply no longer needed to attend a conference to attract attention to itself. It had become big enough -- it was PAST being big enough -- to drive attention to itself on its own. Just say the word that Steve was going to make an announcement, and journalists and bloggers come running. 

Third-party software developers were disappointed that Apple had pulled out of MacWorld, because it was one of the few opportunities they had to have one-on-one conversations with Apple's internal developers. 

Claire Condra
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Trade shows are another area where Apple is usually a big hold out -- unless it's their own event, of course. I imagine that their absense is deafening, with all the smart phones and tablets being shown at CES this week. Just another example of the outsider stance.

Hitesh Jain
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What's the need!!!
Hitesh Jain   1/5/2011 11:28:13 AM
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what are we guys doing by discussing the activities of the company....we are actually talking abt it....n apple is a cult brand....it puts itself aside from the other co's who are using social media and in a way it is working till now...may be they havn't felt any need to join the bandwagon....where people  consume less and share more just for the sake....it is working and expanding more on it's basics...i.e. technology and innovation for which it stands....a time may come when apple might use a different approach to get involved in the social campaigns.....they are surely watching all of these...and are not unaware of the trends...being successful is what matters...n when they will feel need of doing so they will do it.

And talking about why they are not open to media is what i think could be their strategy to make people more curious about what's new they will be coming up with* Apple has seen many up's and down's n steve jobs knows it very well that what makes the brand more stand apart.....the co. talks more about art and the benefits of its technology and not about the social campaigns....(They are the market leaders).....which is left for the others to increase their market share.....

smkinoshita
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Apple = Starbucks = Fashion
smkinoshita   1/4/2011 2:58:54 PM
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Apples' products are over-priced -- they're good, but they're not THAT good.  Starbucks has products that are also overpriced, and while they're good they're also not THAT good.  What separates Apple and Starbucks from Microsoft and Tim Horton's (or Dunkin Donuts, depending on where you are) is fashion. 

Apple isn't breaking the rules of marketing at all.  It's simply following different rules of marketing due to the combination of product, brand and fashion.

Now I know Starbucks uses social media -- but the fashion of the Starbucks brand also includes a sort of 'enlightened' ecological elements.  Social media fits with it.

Apple's fashion is more stuck-up.  The commercials I've seen don't go on about how Apple will save the world, protect the rainforests or lift up the downtrodden.  All the commercials I've seen for Apple seem directed towards artists, hipsters, the trendy and fashionable.  It's fashion is far more exclusive, and so the price and secrecy reflect that.

Baruch Hecht
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Professor
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Mitch- I would agree that Apple products are overpriced but they are definitely quality products, at least in my opinion. It does take time to arrive to a points were you costumer is promoting your products, but there's no better spokesperson for your products than your costumers. Remember that when a company tweets and blogs about its products, the public takes all the messaging with a pinch of salt...however, the public does take actual costumers opinion more seriously than when it comes from the company directly. Note that many companies are now employing their costumers to blob and tweet about their products...so maybe Apple is right to leave the marketing to their consumers...and maybe companies looking to gain market share should encourage their costumers to tweet and blog about their purchases.

Claire Condra
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Apple has what some call a “neurological relationship” with its customers, where there’s a real emotional connection -- sort of like a great romance.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: Apple is not a freak...
Mitch Wagner   1/3/2011 7:26:18 PM
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Baruch - Good points. But how do companies get to the point where customers pick up a significant portion of the marketing burden? Is making great products enough?

Note that many people will say that Apple DOESN'T make great products. They'd say that Apple's products are mediocre at best, and overpriced. 

Baruch Hecht
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Professor
Apple is not a freak...
Baruch Hecht   1/3/2011 5:49:47 PM
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I don't think Apple is a freak at all, on the contrary, it has its marketing down to a science. Apple doesn't use social media and other conventional marketing tools because it does not have to. Apple simply let's its audience know via TV, most of the time, that it's coming out with a new product, and knows that its fans will buy the product and tweet and talk about it- so why spend money, time and energy on marketing when Apple could have its own costumers advocate for them? There's probably no better advocate than the consumer buying the product.

If you look at other companies, like Apple, who have achieved the status that their products speak for itself, those companies probably don't market via social media and other conventional mediums because they have the luxury not to have too- their costumers do it for them. If companies could produce products that speak for themselves and sell themselves, then by all means they should follow Apple's marketing plan. 

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