I Wish Articles Would Make Sense

As MacRumors editor, I read a lot of random articles…. and one of the most frustrating things is finding what sounds like a good relevant article… which at first glance seems fine, in the end, doesn’t quite make sense.

Here’s one I found yesterday:

Why Apple’s secretive approach is so effective – some researchers studied the effects of pre-announcing and not pre-announcing products and how that affected consumer spending.

It’s this pre-release hype makes people much more careful about what they buy. If you tell them that something is coming at some point in the future, they will evaluate everything that’s out there very carefully. But if you just drop something into their laps, all they’ll think about is the brand. And if they like that, ker-ching!

To sum up:

Pre-release announcement = more cautious buying habits
Immediate release = impulse buying

The article presumes that Apple takes advantage of this psychological tendency. The problem lies in the exact definition of “immediate release”. The research article isn’t published yet, so we have to rely on a press release.

If you define “immediate release” as actually available in stores (to see and touch), then Apple’s brand new products rarely fall in this category. Apple TV, Apple TV 2.0, iPhone, MacBook Air all had week to month lead times before they were available. The iPhone, itself, was 6 months from release, and no pre-orders were possible.

So how does this help prove the author’s point? I don’t think it does at all.

Now if you redefine “immediate release” to “can preorder immediately”, then an argument can be made for the MacBook Air. Apple announced the Air, and you could impulsively buy it, without doing research. Ok sure…

But what about Apple TV? The original one (codenamed iTV) was pre-announced months in advance, even before it adopted the “Apple TV” name. So, this would argue that Apple suffered (not benefited) from this pre-announce strategy.

What about the iPhone? Apple pre-announced the iPhone on January 9, 2007. No pre-orders were available and it wasn’t available until June 2007.

It was a nice theory, with some actual research to back it up, but in the end Apple’s “secretive approach” seems to have no correlation with this research.

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8 Responses to I Wish Articles Would Make Sense

  1. nak says:

    Most of Apple’s product refreshes are available immediately (as you point out, not the Apple TV).

    But that’s not always the case. Like Apple’s aluminium keyboard had a several week lead time, and Time Capsule still isn’t out.

    Although, I did get my MacBook the day it was announced at my local Apple store.

  2. Henry says:

    The Apple TV, iPhone and MacBook Air are all first generation products. Apple wouldn’t be hurting it’s sales for a product it doesn’t sell, yet. It probably hurts the competition, actually. The MacBook Air probable had some impact on MacBook Pro and MacBook sales but you could pre-order the Air as soon as it was announced.
    The only other products Apple pre-announced, that I can think of, was Apple TV 2.0 and Mac OS X. Apple TV 2.0 was a free software update and everyone knows when the next version of Mac OS X is around the corner because Apple seeds beta builds to developers.
    Apple is scary good at separating people from their cash.

  3. Arnold Kim says:

    I would think this research would primarily apply to “first generation products”.

  4. frijole says:

    Too bad you don’t seem to put this much thought into reviewing articles and sources to post to MacRumors, instead you spend your energy debunking random news articles.

    I’ll keep reading AppleInsider.

  5. Arnold Kim says:

    … and my personal blog as well, apparently. 🙂

  6. ex2bot says:


    That’s why I never read MacRumors because all you find there are rumors. Some of them aren’t even about Macs. I’ll keep reading AppleInsideSecretsGuaranteedToBeTrueAndVerified.com.


  7. Yes, I thought you could argue about pre-release vs availability – your criticisms are valid. (But hey, I was reporting the press release, which itself mentions Apple and the iPhone.)

    What’s notable is that the Apple TV, which Jobs showed off as the iTV, really didn’t flourish. (Didn’t he show it off because he needed to have something else besides iPods at the Showtime event – http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/12/live-from-the-steve-jobs-keynote-its-showtime/ ?) And that was a real pre-announcement. People looked at it and went “uh?”

    Yes, you could make the same point about the iPhone. Blame the research, I guess. But it also points towards something else: that vapourware works, if you want to do down rivals. After all, it worked for Microsoft for years.

  8. Bill Plein says:

    Pre-announce vs. not: this is nothing new.

    It’s called “Sell what’s on the truck”. You have Widgets, sell Widgets. As soon as someone hears that Widgets are being replaced by shiny, bright Gizmos, Widget sales will drop in anticipation of the new Gizmos.

    The time to pre-announce your Gizmos is when sales of Widgets have tailed off and your competitor is stealing your business with Watchamacallits. Then you pre-announce the Gizmos in order to preemptively head off the Watchamacallits.

    It’s Sales 101. I bet you they called it “Sell what’s on the horse cart” before there were trucks.

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