You’ve got to admire the sheer tech marketing audacity of Apple. Its products have become the hi-tech equivalent of the modern football shirt – fans don’t want to be seen with last season’s gear.
How did we get to the point where smartphones and tablets we spend hundreds of pounds on become almost disposable? I’ll tell you – Apple’s consumer electronics marketing makes people believe they need to replace a product that’s still working beautifully
It boils down to convincing people that they are being left behind, that what was exceptional 18 months ago is less than bog-standard today.
Just as Sir Dave Brailsford turned British cyclists into the world’s best by making tiny tweaks, so is the way with Apple. Incremental changes make all the difference, we’re told.
Remember when fingerprint recognition arrived on iPhones and it all seemed like so much faff? Who’d be so lazy they couldn’t type in their PIN? Now, who has the time for typing in a PIN? Or for using a thumb? Facial recognition, people!
Turning "want" into "need"
Consumer electronics marketing can be about convincing people they want things they never knew they wanted. And with Apple, it goes further – the firm’s devotees don’t just want the new product, they need it.
Consider last week’s launch of the new flagship iPad, the 12.9in iPad Pro. Its octo-core processor is 90 per cent faster than the previous generation’s processor. The tablet can hold up to 1TB of data. It is fractions of fractions of a second faster than an already incredibly fast device.
Last year’s top-spec iPad Pro – albeit with a virtually invisible 10.5in screen (I jest, it’s massive) – was already so quick it seemed to know what you were thinking, and could hold up to 512GB of data. (Remember when you thought you’d never fill that eight-gig iPod?)
There’s no other sector of industry like the tech sector, where tweaks that make a difference that are either almost pointless or all but imperceptible to anyone apart from experts are heralded as great leaps forward.
Trends power-up purchasing
We’re sold on those in a way that makes even the fashion industry, where change for change’s sake drives trends that power-up purchasing, look so last week.
And nobody does this kind of consumer electronics marketing as well as Apple’s trendsetters.
Owning an Apple product has a cachet of cool that other brands whose tech rivals there’s – the likes of Samsung and Huawei – can only dream off.
Apple made home computers look good with the colourful iMac. It made white earbuds a must-have for the discerning music fan with the launch of the iPod.
The company virtually created the smartphone market with the iPhone, even though other brands were there first. And “iPad” and “tablet” are almost interchangeable terms, in the way that “hoovering” came to mean using any make of vacuum cleaner.
Even the Apple Watch – for people too lazy to go into their pocket for their phone – has driven the wearables market like no other product in the sector.
Cool tech marketing
Apple’s products look good, work well, and are reliable. And people line up outside Apple Stores for the first of the new batch to arrive in the way teenagers used to queue for tickets for their favourite band in the days before online ticket sites.
People don’t do that for their reliability – they do it for that Apple badge and the cult mentality manufactured by all that cool tech marketing.
Apple doesn’t always break new ground but what it does is convince people there’s a clear, clean lifestyle attached to its products, even when the gadget those people already have is doing the job beautifully.
It creates a demand where there should be none. Beautiful.
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