In case you haven’t heard the news, once again Apple managed to misplace one of their new iPhone prototypes in a bar. Let the conspiracy theories roll, and let us one of the many skeptics to chime in on the subject.
The theory is that Apple deliberately lost the phone to gain lots of free publicity while inflating the demand for their new unreleased product. It makes perfect sense for Apple to do this and they have lots to gain by letting a new iPhone slip into the hands of the unknown. It seems they did more to publicize the event than to keep it buried to avoid embarrassment of their employee’s ineptness.
If it’s true, this is a move that is not unprecedented in the business world, and seems to be happening more frequently and more quickly dismissed by consumers, who now seem to laugh off deceptive business practices. It reminds me of the well-known stories about how The Beatles (talented though they were) were artificially promoted into stardom by their manager, Brian Epstein.
Epstein personally purchased 10,000 copies of their first single in order get The Beatles on the music charts. He also hired swarms of screaming teenage girls to attack the group when they appeared in public, and of course hired photographers to document the sensation.
Demand is like that. The more that something is desired the more attention it gains and the more demand it gets. Apple is the number one company in the world because they are the best at creating demand for their products. Apple computers are indeed great, but arguably not absolutely the best. This can be most easily be demonstrated by the enormous lines that gather to be the first to buy on the day Apple release a new product, even though everybody knows the first release of anything is clunky and buggy.
These people line up without even knowing what they are going to get. Apple uses the rumor mill advantageously to spread information and disinformation about their products for their fans and competitors to debate over. At least Apple must be commended for staying out of the vaporware business that is the standard modern practice of so many technology companies. Cleverly, by the time they announce what their products have to offer, they already have people waiting in line.