Last Updated Jun 14, 2011 1:33 AM EDT
Introduction of the iPad.
Remember the iPad introduction? After the product was announced, Apple detractors talked about what it didn't have rather than what it did. Many savvy professionals and students I know said to me, "Who needs an iPad? I have an iPhone and a laptop. Who's going to buy one of these?" Brooke Donald, writing for the Associated Press, interviewed me about the product name for her article "Shiny gadget, icky name: iPad jokes fly on Web." Even the French paper LibÃ©ration denounced Apple after my interview gave a positive view of the iPad announcement. In an excellent post by Erick Schonfeld in TechCrunch, the headline reads, "Nobody Predicted The iPad's Growth. Nobody." He points out that the most optimistic forecast was 7 million iPads sold in 2010. Apple ended up selling nearly 15 million units â€" more than double the most ambitious prediction.
Revolutionary marketing lifts the sales of evolutionary products.
When Apple introduced the iPad2, most tech watchers said it was evolutionary instead of revolutionary. Even so, buyers queued up around the world in lines longer than expected (and longer than for the original iPad) for the opportunity to buy an iPad2 sooner rather than later. There are even reports of people selling their body parts to buy the iPad2. Furthermore, Apple's marketing has managed to turn a lowly iPad2 accessory into a featured product by branding it as the Smart Cover with desirable benefits and features to produce greater sales.
Apple's UPOD plan.
I expect Apple has a similar plan for iCloud, iOS5, Lion, and other yet unannounced products. From past experience, Apple has found that an under-promise and over-deliver plan has numerous benefits.
- Sets expectations lower so that the delivered products exceed expectations.
- Helps to avoid tipping off competitors.
- Helps to avoid shareholder disappointment and lawsuits.
- Enables Apple to gauge any negative reactions to the under-promised products.
- Allows the company to respond to these reactions by improving the products before delivery.
- Generates far more excitement and publicity when the products beat expectations.
- Quiets detractors.
In the field of high-technology, so many over-promise and under-deliver that a term has been coined to describe the worst case of this phenomenon - vaporware. Good marketers know that over-promising tends to undermine credibility and tarnish the image of the company. As Apple has discovered, it is more effective to do the opposite (under-promise and over-deliver). An UPOD plan has three main stages where Apple...
- Builds up excitement with their announcements for maximum promotion leverage.
- Provides effective presentations that under-promise performance and withhold surprises -- setting lower expectations, temporarily disappointing some Apple watchers, and providing fuel for Apple detractors (unfortunately for detractors, they tend to mishandle the fuel, crash and burn, and generate more publicity for Apple).
- Ships products that over-deliver -- exciting buyers, accelerating the promotion leverage, and boosting the stock price.
- Steve Jobs: The Power of His Brand Helps Apple Again
- How Steve Jobs Turned the iPad 2 "Cover" into a Hot Item
- How Steve Jobs Became a Master Brander
- RIM's PlayBook Campaign: Why You Shouldn't Disparage Competitors
image courtesy of flickr user, marcopako ï£¿