Apple's Presser: The Morning After

It's no coincidence that Apple held its press event on a Friday. Anyone who has ever worked near politics will tell you that you drop a story on a Friday when you want it to die. It's an age-old trick. Even better, make it a summer Friday when all the editors are eager to start their weekends and people are less likely to be reading, watching and following the news on a Saturday.

So holding the event on a Friday at 10am PT (afternoon here on the east coast) was Apple's first great PR move in regards to "Antennagate." But oh, there were so many more.

The Song: Perhaps the best move was opening the press conference with a song that had gone viral thanks to a YouTube video and a bit of help from TechCrunch. It showed, up front, the key message Apple was trying to convey: our customers are happy, media are not. Of course, it also helped that TechCrunch promoted the video, so they felt good about themselves. Hold onto that fact, it'll come back later.

The Facts: Fact 1 is that Apple has facts and the media don't. Seems kinda obvious now, but it's difficult for people to argue for a recall when Apple can turn around and say that only .55 percent of people have complained about the antenna and the iPhone 4.0 has only a 1.7 percent return rate, far below that of the 3GS. Apple probably would have released these numbers over time, but Friday's event certainly gave them a bigger stage. Fact 2: All smartphones have the same kind of problems. This is probably the fact that will be most debated in the coming weeks, but it also turns the attention from the iPhone to the entire industry.

No Apologies: When Steve Jobs walks on stage you're not going to get an apology. No way, ain't gonna happen. He's there for good news and to tell you that the company is producing great things. He's not there to apologize. If you want that then you're going to have to speak with someone else. Still, he did admit that Apple isn't perfect, then positioned that in the age old "we strive to be better" message. That, of course, lead directly into the next positive.

Feel the Love: Oh how Apple customers love Apple. Even Michael Arrington is a fanboy. And Steve Jobs positioned everything perfectly, giving the press-conference equivalent of Paul McCartney standing on stage screaming to a loud fan "I love you too!"

Just one more thing: The iPhone will be available in white at the end of July. So I'm sure there are plenty of people ready to scream "shut up and take my money!"

Of course, not everything was perfect, but I have only one real criticism: Did Steve Jobs really have to spit in the eye of the media? He called a Bloomberg story "total bullshit," and called the New York Times liars by saying that their story about a forthcoming software bug fix was "patently false." Of course, the whole event was there to show how the Consumer Reports story wasn't worth the paper it's printed on, so I guess Apple did want to stick a thumb in the eye of the media. Though, starting with the Antenna Song certainly endeared Apple more to TechCrunch. So maybe Jobs is just playing to a specific audience.

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4 comments to Apple’s Presser: The Morning After

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  • Suzanne McGee

    Chuck, I liked your analysis of the Apple press conference. I give Jobs credit that he is brilliant at controlling the message — as well as his audience. It amazes me what he can get away with in terms of bashing certain media while a number of them are correctly pointing out a flaw in his device. At some point this will backfire, though his Apple fans will continue to love him to their last breath.

  • Chuck,

    Good analysis, but for the most part it seems you felt that Apple did a good job, especially with it’s presentation of facts which seem to indicate the problem isn’t really as big as the media is making it out to be. But in that context, it would seem that having the presser on Friday (take out the trash day) wasn’t actually a good strategy (not that Apple struggles for media attention). Agree/Disagree?

    And to your last point, isn’t it appropriate to refute (what Apple believes to be) erroneous news reports?

    Last thing. I believe that All Things Digital’s John Paczkowski sums up the entire Antennagate situation: “Smartphone antenna design requires compromises. The trouble is, the public doesn’t expect compromises from Apple.”

  • Glenn,

    Sorry, just saw your comment today. As for the day being Friday, I like the strategy only because it gave Apple control of the conversation through the weekend. They laid out facts and it was going to take a few news cycles for reporters to find ways to come up with a counter argument.

    As for the last point, yes, they can refute erroneous news reports, but the way it was done says much more then the fact that they did it. As a CEO you usually try to play nice with the big boys in the room. You don’t call an article “bullshit” but you say “I’m not sure where they got that information” or you just state the salient fact. To me, the language and tone seemed strong.