Apple’s best sales technicians and PR pros on the market are its own customers

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

For all of you who’ve been waiting on bated breath, you can release it now. This post is a continuation of my last, explaining Apple’s marketing models.

I discussed how Apple rarely advertises, although they spent $97.5 million on iPhone ads in the U.S. in 2008. Despite that, have you ever seen an Apple commercial?

No, you haven’t. Because Apple doesn’t subscribe to traditional advertising norms. The tech giant relies on two models to rake in revenues:

  • Product placement
  • Riding the hype

Maybe you’ve seen the Modern Family episode where Phil Dunphy dreams about the iPad:

The iPad comes out on my actual birthday. It’s like God and Steve Jobs got together and said, “We love you, Phil.”

Phil’s Apple passion isn’t a coincidence, and nor does it reflect the screenwriter’s preference for tech gadgets. Apple paid for that product placement, and it probably paid through the roof.

Hugh Laurie uses an iPhone in the popular TV show House

Hugh Laurie sports an iPhone in the popular TV show House

Their second strategy, which is successful beyond precedent, is creating an air of secrecy surrounding its products before they’re released. Catherine Kaputa has some great insights in her post:

  • Apple announced a press conference last year for September 2012–months beforehand, which kindled a huge buzz and sparked dozens of speculations
  • They create the illusion of scarcity to increase demand

Apple builds on public’s hype

Ever noticed how all the iPhones are out of stock weeks before their release date? Phones have to be pre-ordered months beforehand, without the customer getting to test the phone first. What, they couldn’t put a colossal order into China to have extra phones manufactured before release? Of course they could have.

But this is a classic persuasion tactic–the idea that products are “flying off the shelves”–but Apple has mastered it beyond those infomercial announcers who claim you better “Call now, before they’re gone.” The company sits back and lets the consumers create the illusion of scarcity, all on their own.

Who’s really in control?

And Apple’s forums such as macworld don’t hurt either: tech geeks, Apple-lovers and ordinary citizens converge on the site to discuss the ‘next big thing’ for the company and offer advice to technologically slow patrons. Macworld results appear in various Google searches and offer an online space for techies, luring them in to Apple’s wonderful world.

There’s no denying that Apple’s products are revolutionary and debatably the best on the market, but when the company makes one small marketing or PR move, us products of mass culture fall blindly to Apple’s silent commands and work ourselves into a collective hyped frenzy.



IPhones transform student journalism and learning

IPhones have enjoyed an immense proliferation over the past several years with some unexpected audiences. Many journalists today use iPhones to shoot footage and upload multimedia video at newsworthy sites, and student journalists use the Apple products both to learn about journalism and to produce their own multimedia stories. Students at The Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s campus newspaper, often use their phones for work.

Multimedia Journalism’s post Masterclass 14: iPhone for Journalism details the reasons journalists use the devices in their line of work:

  • Camera for still shots and video
  • Voice memo app for audio
  • QWERTY keyboard for text
  • GPS to pinpoint location and link story to place
  • Apps simplify uploading stories to social networks

University curricula implement iPhone technology for student use

When the University of Texas’ Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas first offered a massive open online course in journalism, nearly 2,000 students registered. Fast forward a couple months, and the university’s second MOOC has drawn 5,000 students. Eric Newton, senior advisor to the president at Knight Foundation, said,

Journalists in the digital age need to know much more than ever, not just how to get and share the news but how to use the new, powerful tools to do it.

In 2009 the University of Missouri School of Journalism announced that students enrolled in the journalism program would be required to purchase an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and controversy ensued among the student body. The university later clarified they only recommended the purchases, but the event strikes a chord in the hearts of future journalists. Technology is here to stay, and journalism classes are implementing iPhones and other technology in their journalism and general courses. IPhones are easier to carry than heavy backpacks, and the apps contain infinite opportunities for learning.

Jessica Bergstrom, a student in a mass communications course at the University of Maryland, enjoys using her iPhone for class activities.

Students use iPhones during class, instructors question learning value

Many institutions handed out thousands of iPhones and iPod Touches to students over the past few years, including the University of Maryland, Cornell University and Duke. University officials say the devices may enhance learning, let students conduct research while in class, respond to professors’ polls and receive homework electronically.

Robert Summers, who has taught at Cornell Law School for about 40 years, said he would ban laptop computers from his fall contracts class because the devices inhibited student engagement. Other officials may be willing to overlook the cons of technology in the classroom in favor of its benefits. Kyle Dixon, codirector of research and the mobile learning initiative at Abilene Christian University in Texas said he thinks this is the way the future will work.

Students, however, like the trend. In a 2010 semester-long study, students in an introductory statistics class were given an iPhone application to supplement learning. Most of the 36 students reported an increased motivation to study because of the convenience of mobile access, and more than two-thirds reported they developed a better understanding of the course material because of the app.

Yehudis Mendlowitz, a former student at Montgomery College, expressed her desire to integrate more interactivity and technology in blended learning and online courses.

Gen Y students who have been raised with technology would like to see media implemented in classrooms. For them, these platforms are a way of life, and administrators refusing to allow new learning forms is simply a way of pushing off the future and continuing traditional teaching methods because it’s the way they’ve always done it. The only way we will succeed, these students say, is by using the tools available to improve our line of work, and not -although it may be easier- by cowering in the past.