Analysis of iPhone Price Drop PR

Brian Solis has again posted an insightful examination of crisis communication. This time he has taken a look at the iPhone price drop, the customer outrage, and Steve Jobs’ brilliant open letter response. This is particularly timely because Apple today announced the details of the $100 store credit for early purchasers of the iPhone.

Brian’s article doesn’t cover the one question that I’ve wondered about since Steve’s open letter—would Apple have been better off having the store credit ready when announcing the iPhone price drop or not?

Most of the coverage has pointed out that Apple dropped the ball when the iPhone price cut was announced by not having a plan in place for early adopters. Yet after the uproar and subsequent Apple response, Apple is seen as a company that listens and responds to its consumers. And as Brian points out, the letter “turned a negative into a business and vision discussion about how the iPhone is going to capture significant market share.”

So my question to you (and particularly to Brian) is would Apple have been better off addressing this ahead of time or has their brand and corporate image improved more by responding successfully to the upset customers? If you were at Apple and you could turn back the clock and do it over, would you?

2 thoughts on “Analysis of iPhone Price Drop PR”

  1. This probably falls into the adage that there is no such thing as “bad” publicity. The outcry and subsequent appeasement is far more interesting than the alternative. The media might not have covered it with the same gusto if Apple had started with the credit. Plus, it is a credit, not cash, so by making a reactive response, it looks like they are doing people a favor after an oversight. I think Apple knew what they were getting into and it is playing to their best prediction. I don’t think it was an intentionally dishonest act, but then my judgment isn’t clouded by the purchase of a first round iPhone–glad I waited. (Not that my current Verizon contract is up yet.)

  2. Hey Jason, you rang?


    Got the Twitter…

    First, nice post…I do think that there’s more to the Apple story than Apple dropping the ball. In fact, at the end, I insinuate that they might have had this in the plan all along…as a way of disguising the new Apple business strategy and to transform us from an unhappy mob of customers into a global squad of cheerleaders – rallying support for everyone’s favorite underdog.

    Also, re: the thought from Joshua that there’s no bad publicity, I disagree. Apple’s move was executed almost flawlessly, yet it underestimated the volume of social media and negative publicity, which to this day, has embittered many customers. This could have easily been a complete disaster, with bad publicity further souring the brand, the stock falling to a dangerous point, and slowing iphone sales instead. Remember, in order for iPhones to succeed in the market, they need to appeal to non mac users – just like they did with the iPod.

    Now Jason, to your point about store credit…I don’t think it should have been ready at the time of the announcement. I’m pretty sure the $100 offer was either completed or already in process during their main announcement. The coverage around Jobs open letter created the positive publicity, and more importantly, speculation to help Apple gain credibility as a player for mass market consumption. Had it simply giving the $100 credit at the time, the focus of every story would have been how to get the money versus how great it is that Steve cares.

    Remember, Apple packs pretty steep margins on top of their products. Early adopters and regular mac users pay a premium for the right to use Apple products. I paid $600 for my iPhone and I feel it was worth every bit of the price.

    It’s not about the money. It’s about timing and the communications from a company to still reward you for being an early adopter without losing your faith because they want to make a bigger market play.

    Now issuing the credit details, Apple gets to enjoy the attention all over again.

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