Of all the hype and coverage surrounding the iPhone – which I confess seems like an amazing device that I will likely try to purchase when the costs come down – the most interesting story is perhaps the marketing and PR model driven by Apple to make this story so prominent. A number of posts like this one have praised the iPhone launch as the model of a perfect product introduction. One could certainly make a strong case for that, but the true lessons may be in the tactics that Apple uses – time and again – to whip up the frenzy among journalists and fans alike. First, notice the blend of traditional – ultra-cool advertising across the usual channels – with the emphasis on Web tools like blogs and Apple “friends”. Replays of Steve Jobs initial announcement at the Mac conference were widely available on the Web for all to see, and much of the analysis and speculation about the iPhone in recent months has been in blogs and high-traffic web sites. Just recently, Apple distributed a very slick video on how to use the iPhone. I watched it, and I know many of my co-workers and friends did, even though none of us has an iPhone or plans to buy one during the initial sale. Why? Because the video is vintage Apple – smart, cool, well produced and (like their products) very intuitive. We also watched it because it came highly recommended from friends and strangers alike – in my case, via a Twitter update. Another notable tactic is the absolute control Apple seems to have over the process. Major announcements are made at select conferences – including those “owned” by Mac. Leaks and updates are released at the whim of the company. Improvements are announced to generate or sustain maximum media coverage. Certainly, the product at the heart of all this seems to be a legitimate game-changer, and the massive Apple fan base online helps to put wind beneath all these marketing activities. But the ultimate lesson here is there is plenty of leeway for new marketing models in this Web 2.0 environment. Apple has developed its own distinctive approach, and it obviously seems to be working.

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