Apple: Forever Fresh or Flirting with Fatigue?
In case you missed it here is a great article related to consumer frustrations at the frequency of Apple product releases, by Heather Somerville from the Mercury News. In the article, Heather begins to capture the fatigue associated with maintaining ‘early adopter’ status, as well as the disappointment of consumers who have to pony-up repeatedly to maintain their place at the top of the pyramid.
If nothing else, it’s good to know that we’re getting to the point where it’s physically impossible and financially challenging to keep up with the latest and greatest.
This is very rare water we’re treading in, as there have been few occasions where product releases have captured this much of the nation’s attention for a prolonged period of time the way Apple has with their multiple variations of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
You can argue that McDonald’s has mastered the ability to create annual excitement through their menu items (McRib, Shamrock Shake) and promotions (Monopoly), or that EA’s Madden franchise has created a footprint for all other annual video game releases to follow, but there haven’t been too many products that have entered the marketplace and have driven this much clamor upon each new release.
In fact, a quick survey of the office could only drum up two: Nike’s Air Jordan line from 1985-1993, and the publication of all seven Harry Potter books from 1997-2007.
In both cases the anticipation of each new release was felt across generations and demographics, exploded demand, and featured midnight releases where complete strangers were gleefully high-fiving each other at checkout and posing for pictures out front.
An additional feature was the brief – but explosively lucrative – existence of a reseller market that serviced people not able wait for supply to catch up to demand. In some cases, demand lead to violence (the stories of mobs of kids jumping people with iPhones was eerily reminiscent of the stories that came with kids getting jumped for their Air Jordans in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s).
What’s important to note here is that the fervor subsides.
In Harry Potter’s case, Voldemort died and JK Rowling wisely decided that nobody cared about Harry’s middle aged years. In Nike’s case, the importance of the Air Jordan started to dwindle at MJ’s first retirement in 1993, and has survived an incredibly prolonged death from his return in 1994 through to today where the Jumpman logo can be seen at Niketown stores across the US and nowhere else.
While Apple can’t retire their current push, they must be cognizant of the wear-out factor among consumers. At this point, the iPod branding that has carried on through multiple iPhone and iPad launches is now entering its 12th year, but still maintains that creative voice that merges creative, simplicity and magic into a single effective message.
It will be interesting to see how long they can fan the flames of Apple fans. Granted, when we look back at the commercial that started it all, it’s hard to think that this company knew exactly what it was getting itself into…