Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs was a great marketer

There are going to be millions of people praising Jobs' achievement as an innovator, but in my opinion, he's an even greater marketer than an innovator. I am saying this without a tiny bit of negative meaning. Being an innovator doesn't bring a successful product. We've seen thousands of innovations failed miserably. Jobs, however, master the art of marketing. He not only know how to market, but what, and when to market.

When it comes to how to market, everyone already knows how good Steve Jobs was. The term "reality distortion field" was invented to describe him. But in the 80s, we didn't see the full effect of it because communication back then was mostly an one-way street. These days, the internet and social networking makes every followers of Steve Jobs an apostle for Apple. This can probably explain why the Macintosh failed the first computer war. Jobs full potential can only flourish with the presence of a way to quickly spread his gospel, and the 80's didn't have one.

As I mentioned earlier, just bringing an innovation to the consumers don't make it a successful product automatically. Knowing what to market is the key. As much as what Apple fanboys would like to insist, Apple has never been on the cutting edge of innovation. Apple almost always waits until a technology mature to a failsafe stage before it begins implementation/integration. Jobs knew that with Apple's strong brand, he could afford to wait. Wait until the point that he could bring his loyal customers a product that it's foolproof. We need not look any further than the new iPhone 4S. After the launch, many people, including some Apple fanboys, voiced their disappointment towards the evolutionary product upgrade. Some even went further to suggest that it's due to the lack of Jobs involvement in the development of the iPhone 4S. However, this is exactly the kind of decision Jobs would have made. Consider the lack of LTE in the new iPhone. Many Android fans quickly laughed at the missing of LTE. But let's face it, we Android users know that LTE eat battery life like no others. Contrary to what people thought, Apple couldn't make magic. If something is not possible to be done today, Apple couldn't make it happen, period. Other companies may have bowed to the pressure and throw LTE into the iPhone 4S. Not so for Jobs/Apple. Jobs would know that his customers would rather still have a phone working by the end of the day, instead of a phone that downloads faster. After all, many people just use the iPhone for the apps they already downloaded.

Knowing when to market is another thing that is important, and Jobs is a master of that also. People questioned the decision of an incremental upgrade of the iPhone 4S. But think about it, most people, at least in the US, signed on for a 2-year contract when they purchased the iPhone 4. How many of them will actually upgrade this year to an iPhone 5! On top of that, one of the iOS's strength is that there's little fragmentation. A radically different iPhone this year will create too much variations for the developers to support. By delaying the iPhone 5 for one year, the can phase out the iPhone 3GS, make the iPhone 4 a free phone, and still keep fragmentation under control. That's what Jobs would have done. We witnessed his DNA affecting Apple, and yet Apple fanboys felt disappointed -- I guess they actually don't understand their cult leader very much after all.

Steve Jobs, the great marketer of our times, rest in peace. My heart go out to his family.


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