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Happiness is Now a Six Letter Word

Anja Merret
 


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With thanks to ‘Der Spiegel’ for that cute headline. I love the stories about people queueing for the new iPhone. Firstly because I am a Mac fan, having used Macs since 1996. Ok then, I'm an old timer. But besides that, it is also great to see a wonderful new design of an ordinary item, such as a mobile telephone, get to be appreciated by a lot of people.

As a marketer what are the remarkable things to take from this case study. First of all, there was the suspense. The new iPhone was introduced in January, with a launch date set as June 29 later on in the year. But surely other technical products have been announced before their launch, like Vista for instance, and nobody really queued for that, or at least if they did, it didn't make British news headlines. Remember the iPhone is only being launched in the States at this time. Still made BBC news.

Fair enough, some unexpected publicity helped the vibe along in that there was a dispute about the name. However, that wouldn't really account for the hype and excitement. Mostly, there was very little commentary available as Apple kept the new phones fairly secret before the launch. Critics had to buy one at the launch before being able to comment on it. This meant that there has been a fair amount of speculation as to whether the phone would live up to expectation or not.

Possibly Apple has learnt from J K Rowling and the successful launches of the Harry Potter books. A date and time, not your normal shop opening times, are announced and the queues start. It makes the whole launch a kind of happening. People get to talk to other people waiting, the cameras roll, it becomes an event and people participate in something that has some kind of meaning. Whatever the meaning is, doesn't really matter, at the end of the day. And the free PR? Priceless.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our lives do not have major events anymore, so a launch of a product that sounds fun and entertaining, becomes just that, an event. But going back to the iPhone, it certainly fits into the category of cool gadgets. For that alone, there will be many people who will want one. Apple has a reputation for introducing innovative products and they seem to have scored again.

For Apple it helps that they had such a success with the iPod and iTunes. The company which had previously been known by very few, predominantly by people working in the print, graphic design and film industry, became an everyman company. And for those marketers who believe that cheap is the winner, this company has proven them wrong. Products from Apple have always come at a premium price. And people have paid.

Besides all of the marketing jargon, what strikes me the most about the iPhone is the fact that finally there is some kind of technical leap within the mobile phone development. It has been a long time coming. In fact, I have wondered for many years what the delay has been. The basic mobile phone has shown little progress. Sure the device got smaller, the software running it has more features. But the promise of this gadget has not been met up till now.

I can only imagine that what has stifled the development of the mobile phone has been a fear of competition which has made mobile phone manufacturers and telecom service provider keep their cards close to their chest in this way not allowing innovative development from external inventors.

The mobile phone has one huge advantage. People are prepared to carry them around with them at all times and wherever they are going to and they don't like switching them off. And that is its huge uniqueness. We ain't seen nothing yet as to what this means to marketers, educators, entertainers et al. And of course for the more scary things such as big brother activities of tracking people and snooping into their lives.

The iPhone with it's multi levels of purposes is breaking through that barrier. A further difference is that Apple has a long history of encouraging outside developers to produce new goodies for its computers. Sending Safari, Apple's web browser out to the Windows market was a step in that direction. The iPhone runs on Safari. Let's see what new things developers will come up with for this gadget. It's bound to have fun as part of its purpose, but making life easier will certainly be up there as well.

Anja Merret lives in Brighton, UK. Her personal blog http://www.anjamerret.com allows her to voice opinions on issues that interest her and observations she makes.

She has started a new blog http://www.pinkblocks.com that deals with observations on self development and personal power. Her recommendation for self help tools may be found on http://www.anjamerret.blogspot.com

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