The iPhone: Changing the Face of Marketing?


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It’s amazing how identical themes sometimes emerge at the same time out of different discussions. Let’s just call it convergent evolution. The changing face of marketing is just one such example.

Patty Seybold regularly brings together a panel of customer-centric business leaders that she calls ‘Patty’s Visionaries’. The Visionaries recently got together and identified eight key patterns and themes in customer-centricity. One of the key themes was that online marketing is ‘dead’, having been replaced by search. Another key theme was the rise in influence of customer communities.

Peter Kim in a post on the Forrester Marketing Blog describes how the iPhone was taken to market by Apple. It provides the perfect example of how these two themes combine and how they are changing the face of marketing. Other than search and personal email ads, Apple has been relatively lightly present in traditional consumer goods marketing. Instead, it has relied upon the enormous reach and richness of consumer-generated content in online communities, including YouTube, Flickr and the many thousands of blogs (including this one) that have discussed the iPhone. The results were nothing short of amazing: Long queues at Apple and AT&T shops, over 500,000 iPhones sold in the first few days, 95% of purchases of the more expensive version and somewhat inevitably, problems with AT&T’s ability to get them activated. It is estimated that over 1% of all blog posts over the sales weekend were about the iPhone!

Irrespective of whether the iPhone is technically better than the competition (it isn’t), or whether it will reinvent the mobile handset market in the USA (it probably won’t), or whether it is just a passing fad (it might be), it is THE consumer product to have at the moment. And all that without a huge marketing blitz.

What do you think? Is the iPhone launch a sign of marketing things to come? Or is it just a feature of the current consumer hype surrounding Apple’s move towards consumer electronics?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


  1. As advertisers move to understand the dynamics of this media,the consumer demographics and behavioural aspects, it is important to understand that groups of people interacting socially observe an etiquette and targetting them will need to be sensitively planned and executed.
    Apple has succeeded in using the collaboration based technological offerings for propogating it’s brand effectively. The Apple iphone has a myspace profile and as of date, already has 469 friends.It may be recalled that the Apple ipod pink nano which had a myspace profile to promote the product, had amassed as many as 80,000 friends , before the site was removed. More and more organisations are now using social networks for reaching out to prospective consumers and brand promotion.

    As the new tools of conversational media shape and evolve marketing practices, it is clear that
    Consumers can make or break brands

  2. It is indeed interesting why there should be such interest in the iPhone. My personal feeling is that many people are buying on faith (not a strategy I personally would adopt for a technical gadget). The faith is based on Apple’s preceived reputation, which currently ranks high amongst a small set of the technical competant, and a larger set of non-technical consumers who’s only experience of Apple is probably the iPod. However, if after a few months usage, the iPhone turns out to be a bit of a turkey in the eyes of these people, Apple’s honeymoon may well be over. I wish Apple the best (we all want a truly integrated portable device), but based on the specs I have seen so far, they surely need to follow up quite quickly with some feature updates.


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