What do you do when you want to launch your Next Big Thing, but you know there are a few “features” some folks might not like? Well, you release it the same week your major competition has to recall more than 2 million units because they … reportedly … explode.
Talk about a soft market … but that’s what Apple had when they launched the new iPhone 7 last week. Well, newish. Critics say there’s not much different to see, other than the absence of a headphone jack. Fans are singing a different tune, though.
For one thing, the most dreaded consequence in the history of smartphones – water intrusion – is not much of an issue with the iPhone 7, because of the new water resistance feature, something Apple needed to add to keep up with Samsung and other handset “Joneses.”
Two more touted features: an improved camera and longer battery life, probably won’t even equal what the competition already offers in the way of photo power and battery life. Neither of these “improvements” would have drawn too much attention, but i7s biggest change was a major gamble, and could have hurt Apple’s business. No more headphone jack.
The complaints began the moment customers got pre-order notices. If you wanted to (privately) listen to music on the new iPhone, you would need to buy Apple’s new wireless headphones to go with it. Apple tried to blunt the furor by announcing the waterproofing feature required the company to jettison the jack. No such luck.
So what kept new buyers distracted from the changes in order to pick up the new iPhone (some models are sold out) without complaining too much about the lackluster improvements and the one frustrating change? Answer: Samsung’s MUCH worse PR problem. Nothing like your chief competition’s number one unit literally going up in smoke to give you a marketing edge.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.