Steve, I’m impressed

I have to say, Apple has done an amazing job with the hype around the upcoming iPhone. We are two days before the actual availability of this new device, and it’s the number one topic of interest online and off-line. I only hope that the amazing Cupertino, CA based marketing machine hasn’t oversold a “revolution” in smart-phones that cannot be delivered.

I was a few days in the USA for a user conference and had the opportunity to experience first hand the work done by Apple’s communication and marketing teams in preparation of the iPhone availability at 18.00 local time on June 29, 2007… Blogs and news sites are buzzing like crazy about this new device, Podcasts covering the whole tech world spend most of the show talking about it, and the daily nation-wide newspapers provide in-depth coverage of the convergence between and iPod, a Phone and an Internet device, some even doing so on the front page.

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The hype goes to the point that all Apple and AT&T (the mobile network on which the iPhone will work) stores will close at 16.00 and re-open at 18.00. According to the rumors, it’s during these two hours that the phones will actually be delivered to all the stores across the US. What a logistics nightmare.

Coming from a company who is known to be, in recent years at last, very secretive when it comes to new products, Apple has done a great job at orchestrating this whole launch, starting with a pre-announcement 6 months before the availability of the product. But June has really provided great examples on how to successfully launch a brand new product. Apple has been releasing regular press releases about the iPhone, addressing information that rumors were covering in long lengths without any fact. The marketing team at the same time released additional information on the web site on a regular basis, continuously teasing the audience. It almost feels like Disney / Pixar methods and techniques for a movie launch where applied for this new device, going from teasers (movies on and on TV), merchandize (iPhone accessories coming shortly) and media coverage. The only thing missing is the video game… but that’s on the device itself!

As a side note on the ads, it appears that the guy holding the iPhone is actually a very tall person with huge hands, giving the impression of a small phone. Very similar to the strategy used in the luxury watches industry, having the time showing 10.10 to have a smile type shape (does not work with digital watches :)).

My biggest wonder right now is if it has not been over-hyped, and that the actual product is under-delivering the promise. To bad I won’t be in the USA this Friday to see the line-up in front of the stores to get the phone, as everyone is expecting a Wii / PS3 effect all over again. And for its availability in Canada, Rogers will start selling the iPhone whenever Apple will be ready to deliver them, e.g. it will depend on the demand from the US market. No worry for me, I still don’t believe this will be a replacement for my Blackberry, even if I am sure that as soon as I’ll see it, I’ll want one… I’ll just have to rationalize that it’s a great device to blog, participate in the forums and update my facebook account all day long!