Wednesday, November 1, 2017

iPhone X Media Strategy and Early Reviews

Tripp Mickle (via Hacker News):

Apple Inc. departed from its traditional preview strategy for what it bills as its most important new iPhone in years, prioritizing early access to the iPhone X for YouTube personalities and celebrities over most technology columnists who traditionally review its new products.

Dan Frommer:

It invited a handful of YouTubers you probably haven’t heard of to its fancy penthouse in New York, gave them some early hands-on time with the iPhone X, and let them publish their videos a day or more in advance of the official reviews. (It also let Wired/Backchannel’s Steven Levy write a “first first impression of the iPhone X” post because Steven Levy. It also gave one to Axios co-founder Mike Allen, who had his nephew play with it. And Mindy Kaling for Glamour. And The Ellen Show.)

John Gruber:

I totally get including a bunch of YouTubers, and seeding review units to celebrities. YouTube is how young people get their news and reviews, and Apple definitely wants to reach young people. But I don’t get restricting real reviews to just three publications in the U.S. Leave me out of it, personally, just for the sake of argument here.

Benjamin Mayo:

I think the Monday YouTube iPhone X videos were a shambles. Not because they were YouTubers, but because Apple didn’t give them sufficient access to create interesting and engaging videos.

Every Apple-sanctioned hands-on posted on Monday was the exact same, incredibly generic, rough overview of Animoji, Face ID and the bigger screen. Each video was shot in the same New York City location and felt incredibly scripted by the invisible hand of Apple PR, with restrictive guidelines on what they could talk about and limited time to handle (and shoot) the product.

Matt Alexander:

The upset, although I’ve not seen it written explicitly, seems to be that the traditional crowd feel better equipped to provide a critical analysis of Apple’s new flagship, product-line altering product.

And, although that’s true, it’s worth bearing in mind that Apple’s goal isn’t for you to produce a multi-thousand word treatise about the Face ID mechanism for your audience of people who are statistically most likely to have already pre-ordered the product.


Simply put, they’d create a crashing wave, of sorts, of press around the product, which would enable them to control and manipulate consumer perception of the news, regardless of how more technical reviewers may feel.

Lesson learned from the Apple Watch Series 3 launch, the tech press created a huge amount of uproar about the device being unable to maintain an LTE connection.

Apple (9to5Mac, MacRumors):

After testing iPhone X, reviewers from around the world are giving their impressions of its beautiful 5.8-inch Super Retina display, TrueDepth camera, Face ID and Animoji. Read what they’re saying about the future of the smartphone.

Zac Cichy:

I guess “let the product speak for itself” is dead. 🤷🏻

More early review roundups: John Gruber, 9to5Mac, MacRumors, MacStories.

Update (2017-11-07): John Gruber:

In short, Apple wants control over the narrative for its products, and in-depth reviews are mostly out of their control.

They can’t have it both ways though. Apple yesterday posted “iPhone X: What Reviewers Are Saying” to their Newsroom blog, but most of the quotes were from “reviews” which were written by people who’d only spent a few hours with the phone.

Christina Bonnington (via John Gruber):

What all this means: Apple needs to focus its marketing efforts on millennials, teens, and wallet-controlling female buyers if it wants to expand its reach in the U.S., where Android controls 65 percent of the market.

It would make sense then that a few years back when I left WIRED, with its older, male-dominated audience, to head up tech coverage at Refinery29, which targets millennial women, I not only received an Apple review unit that year—I got one of the coveted early review units. (Other women-focused publications, such as Vogue and Teen Vogue, have also been getting early iPhone review units.) This year’s iPhone X reviews continue that push. Mindy Kaling is a millennial female icon who’s smart, savvy, and digitally connected. Giving her an iPhone to review, from a marketing standpoint, is positively genius. And The Ellen DeGeneres Show, one of the highest-rated daytime talk shows, has a strong audience of female viewers aged 25 to 54. Giving the phone early facetime ahead of its Friday launch was also a shrewd move.

Update (2017-11-13): See also: The Talk Show.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter

Some old-time Mac users still haven't figured out that Apple has moved on :-)

As someone who probably incorrectly sees evil everywhere, I've been wondering if this early access to YouTubers is not just a plot to remove the story about the iPhone X video shot on Apple Campus and the ensuing firing of the employee from the first page of google when you look for iPhone X and YouTube.

> I've been wondering if this early access to YouTubers is not just a plot

These kinds of things take months to plan.

"I've been wondering if this early access to YouTubers is not just a plot"

Stupidity vs Malice is the eternal question in these types of situations.

I'm personally happy about this. All those self-important media types need to be taken down a notch. Many are not even more technically proficient than the layman, which makes the importance of their almighty opinions even more questionable.

>Stupidity vs Malice is the eternal question in these types of situations.

If you have to ask, it's probably stupidity. Although in this case, I think this is Apple being smart, and recognizing that these YouTubers reach way more people than "real" journalists.

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