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What makes an iPhone launch such a big draw

Apple has created a cult following that reached phenomenal levels since the unveiling of its iconic smartphone brand in 2007.

 |  5-minute read |   30-08-2016
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The next iPhone launch date is finally out. It is going to be September 7. The press invite and the Apple website say so. We cannot say it will be named iPhone 7 because the rumour mill has thrown "iPhone 6SE" as well as the next in the series.

With this announcement, the public and the media frenzy will reach atmospheric levels. The Apple iPhone just saw the first decline in its quarterly sales figures since its first launch and so there are speculations that the iPhone would come with something big - like its form, thickness, interface. It may even have an all-glass body.

The iPhone is still the undisputed leader of smartphones globally but that tag may come under threat unless it offers something that is a game changer.

Also read: iPhone 7 could end Apple's dream run as a smartphone giant

Apple's profit basket has shrunk, for the first time in the last 13 years as the quarterly financial results announced in April 2016 show. It was driven by a massive drop in iPhone sales - the first time ever in the iPhone's history. And it was massive - 10 million units - from 61 to 51 million units a year ago.

The Apple story since 2007 has been an iPhone story - the smartphone that took the world by storm - registering stupendous growth year-over-year from 3.7 million units in 2007 to 231 million units in 2015. It has been a staggering growth of over 600 per cent. In fact the world's biggest listed company is solely dependent on the iPhone for two thirds of its revenue. The iPhone has made Apple the biggest corporation on earth.

apple-embed-2_083016105149.jpg The Apple logo hangs in a glass enclosure above the 5th Ave Apple Store in New York. 

Media outlets, Apple watchers, bloggers, consultants and experts have been speculating that September 9 would see the next iPhone launch; someone said it would be September 16; someone else said the next big Apple launch will be held on September 29. Forbes said as latest as August 26 that the next iPhone was going to be launched on September 9 while Fortune said September 16 would be the launch date.

Apple is different and Steve Jobs was different

No communication professional can ignore the massive global appeal each iPhone launch generates. The extent of coverage that it gets is beyond the organising capacity of any public relations agency or groups of marketing communication professionals.

What Steve Jobs gave to the world is a case study for every communication expert to deliberate on. It is incredible how the iPhone became a global brand with revenue surpassing overall turnovers of tech companies like Microsoft and IBM.

Also read: Why there's little difference left between iOS and Android

Globally or even in India, the Apple event to launch the next iPhone is expected to be the top trend of September 7, 2016.

Going by precedent, the event is likely to figure in the top trends on many social media sites. What Jobs gave to this world - a product that was elegant in its beauty, smart in its operations, blockbuster in its innovations and premium in brand visibility - took the world by storm.

Jobs was different for the way he created a visible brand around the world. Apple has created a cult following that reached phenomenal levels since the iPhone's launch in 2007. What added to it was the personal touch given to the product and its launch event by Jobs.

Apple knows that it is such a strong brand that people like to identify with every product that it makes because they believe that if it is Apple, it will be a quality product that would define the category. It gives top Apple executives, first Jobs and now Tim Cook, opportunity to focus solely on the human interface, on telling how the next iPhone is going to be even more user-friendly while launching every iPhone at their favourite arena - the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

It has been the highlight of every iPhone launch event that it has been people-centric and not product-centric. Apple shuts down its online store before the launch event to keep people across the world glued solely to the event. The result? Millions of iPhones are pre-ordered within 24 hours after booking is opened. Some 4.5 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours and the first week shipment figures zoomed past ten million units. The pre-order figure for the 2014 launch stood at around four million units.

Brand power

The iPhone launch event is the top-ranked trend on every social media platform across the globe. The September 9, 2015 launch event to introduce the iPhone 6 and 6S Plus was a top Twitter trend globally that shows how intense it becomes when it comes to the final hours of the iPhone launch event. News channels go live with the event in the most of the countries. Twitter and Facebook generate an intense buzz of opinion.

The iPhone, in fact, has become one of the most suitable examples of our times on "how brands can affect campaigns/public relations exercises around them". And when the world says that iPhone alone earns more in revenue than the overall turnout of its nearest competitor, it sums up the central point about the brand in one word - perfect.

The iPhone is the perfect brand to weave any communication package around it and like any "perfect" brand, Apple doesn't put much effort on the "promotion front". Though its ad expenditure was around $1.8 billion last year, nothing much is known about its public relations/corporate communications expenditure. Every media outlet, big and small, is always ready to catch any information related to Apple launch events, especially when it is iPhone.

Writer

Santosh Chaubey Santosh Chaubey @santoshchaubeyy

The writer is a journalist working with India Today TV.

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