Analysis of Marketing Event 2017
The launch event for iPhone X, the latest smartphone from Apple Inc., which was held on September 12, 2017, at the spaceship, is a marketing event the signifies the pomp that accompanies the launch of a new high-end product. Similar to all the other launch events held by the company, the launch of iPhone X was meant to introduce the technological advances that the company made, which in this case, as the incorporation of artificial intelligence through face recognition technology. The face recognition feature (Face ID) of the smartphone was meant to unlock the device upon glancing at it and thus act as a replacement for the fingerprint scanner as a security feature that is found in other smartphone versions. Unfortunately, the feature did not work during the demonstrations performed by Craig Federighi, the company’s senior vice president in charge of software engineering, even after two attempts, which forced him to switch to a standby device (Solon). Figure 1 displays the presentation undertaken by Federighi during the launch event.
Figure 1. Federighi launching iPhone X at the spaceship
While the launch underpins the pertinent role played by marketing events in promoting and expanding the business, renewing relations with existing customers while attracting new customers, and enhancing the brand and profile of the business, it generated concerns related to the impact of the failure of product features on the success of the product thereafter. As such, the marketing issue highlighted by the marketing event is the manner in which the success of a product in the market would be affected by its performance during its launch and demos. The importance of this company and its marketing issue is premised on the 16.9 % market share that the company commands, placing it second after Samsung Electronics with a market share by smartphone sales for the first time at 26.1 % (Smith). In addition, iPhone X is expected to retail at 999 dollars, which is the highest introductory price for the iPhone ever, thus eliciting concerns related to initial sale volumes and subsequent acceptability of the device as a high-end product (Solon).
Apple Inc. has used elaborate product launch events held every September, since the advent of the iPhone in 2007, to launch its newest technology to the market, and these events have caused tremendous customer interest over time. Now, customers throng the Steve Jobs Theatre (spaceship) to witness the next generation iPhone to grace the market and take the opportunity to be the first to own the new devices. Therefore, the launch events by the company are often accompanied by a spate of frenzied purchases, which boost the revenues and help recoup the cost of research and development for the new product fast. According to Calantone and Benedetto (533), the timing of a new product launch is one of the activities of new product development that contributed to the performance of the product in the market. Apple has always maintained its competitive advantage since its inception by introducing innovative smartphones during its elaborate marketing events. In this case, the technology being launched by the company was the Face ID. This technology enables the user to unlock the smartphone by simply glancing at it. Therefore, Face ID acts as a replacement for the fingerprint scanner dubbed Touch ID, which has been used as the biometric-based security feature in previous iPhones. Incidentally, Face ID employs facial recognition technology, which is part of artificial technology that is revolutionizing many processes in the contemporary world (Solon 1). Specifically, Face ID utilizes artificial intelligence that is based on camera setups that use TrueDepth to develop a three-dimensional image of the face to ensure that the correct identification of the correct face is done regardless of fine inconsistencies such as shaving of hair, wearing of eyeglasses, and absence of ambient light. In contrast, the technology employed by Samsung is more simplified because it cannot differentiate a real face from a picture as compared to Apple’s Face ID. The marketing event aimed at clarifying these differences to the customers of Apple and presented its Face ID solution as being most superior in the smartphone market.
From a marketing perspective, Apple has secured its position as a technology leader by using new technology to disrupt the market. Indeed, the company has a history of introducing a technology into the market after rigorous research and development, and extensive testing. This time, Apple proved its consistency of innovation leadership by leading the market with well researched facial recognition technology the same way it introduced Tough ID that as based on the best fingerprint sensor technology of the time (Smith 1).
However, such technology is often disruptive because it is a product of the proactive market orientation of Apple. Specifically, proactive market orientation is a form of market focus employed by a firm in which the customer behavior is observed to inform emerging customer wants and preferences and adjustments undertaken as informed by the changing needs and trends of customers (Calantone and Benedetto 529). In addition, proactive market orientation is exploratory in nature because it focuses on learning about the new opportunities that exist in the market and the discovery of future needs of the market. In this case, Apple is able to introduce technology that anticipates the future needs of its customers and what such customers might want out of a smartphone going forward, in tandem with the brand mantra, which is ‘think differently’. Indeed, according to Calantone and Benedetto (531) the optimal time for product launches aims at ensuring that the product is not presented to the market too early or too late and would be informed by the market opportunity available to the firm. However, Apple appears to have risked introducing iPhone X before it has its Face ID thoroughly tested. However, the innovativeness of the technology, accompanied with the introduction of an all-glass front face of the device would make the launch appropriate and in consonance with the company’s tradition of leading the industry with amazing innovations.
However, the malfunction of iPhone’s Face ID unlock feature during the marketing event may have raised concerns of the readiness of the product for the market, and the appropriateness about the launch timing, with possibilities of depressed market reception being possible. Already, the predecessor version of the iPhone specifically iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, had experienced depressed sales compared to those of iPhone 7 and other previous products after their introduction. According to Smith (2017), the sales of iPhone 6 were 16 % while those of iPhone 7 were 43 % of the total sales of the company after their launches. Therefore, the poor sales of the iPhone 8 may have necessitated the introduction of a revamped device to keep the iPhone customers immersed in the company’s products. In addition, Apple may have been responding to the intense pressure from Samsung, which had managed to dislodge Apple from the market leadership that it enjoyed until 2016. This is because the company needed to maintain its sales-marketing interface (SMI), underpins the creation of customer value and the improvement of business performance (Hughes, Bon and Malshe 57). Indeed, multifunctional synergy that can be realized from an empowering vision, goal and strategy alignment, market intelligence, sound decision-making and prudent resource allocation can facilitate the maintenance of competitive advantage of a market-oriented organization (Hughes, Bon and Malshe 62). Therefore, in this case, although Face ID feature of iPhone X malfunctioned during the launch event, the consolidation of the efforts by Apple to deliver an innovative product that may revolutionize the smartphone design and capabilities may outweigh the presentation blunder. By informing and explaining to the audience about the technology underpinning the Face ID feature, and bundling that with other new features such as animojis and all-screen design, the company was able to undertake a market event that can be termed as being highly successful, regardless of the negative sentiments that surfaced thereafter (Hobbs).
In conclusion, launching of a new product is a vital event in the process that commences with conception of the product idea and culminates with the presentation of the product for sale to the market. Apple uses these marketing events to educate its customers on the new technology and features of the product being introduced, while explaining why the product may be differentiated from that of competitors in the market. However, the latest marketing event aimed at launching the iPhone X was marred by a malfunctioning feature for facial recognition as a device security feature. Nonetheless, with such a longstanding brand image, accompanied by customer loyalty, the company actually manage to sell its iPhone at a price of 999 dollars, which is the highest introductory smartphone price ever globally. Although, the company seems to have taken a risk by rushing the introduction of the iPhone X to the market to counter poor performing iPhone 8, it is yet to be seen whether the 999-dollar price tag will resonate with the Apple loyalists and propel the company back to market leadership by sales.
Calantone, Roger J., and C. Anthony Di Benedetto. “The role of lean launch execution and launch timing on new product performance.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 40, no. 4, 2012, pp. 526-538.
Hobbs, Thomas. “Apple gambles on premium iPhone X but should it rivals be worried?” Market Week, 13 September 2017, <https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/09/13/apple-gambles-premium-iphone-x-rivals-worried/.> Accessed 30 November 2017
Hughes, Douglas E., Joël Le Bon, and Avinash Malshe. “The marketing–sales interface at the interface: Creating market-based capabilities through organizational synergy.” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, vol. 32, no .1, 2012, pp. 57-72.
Smith, Chris. “Face ID isn’t the same as Angroid’s facial recognition – which is why it actually works.” BGR, 15 September 2017,
<http://bgr.com/2017/09/15/iphone-8-features-face-id-speed-vs-galaxy-note-8-and-android/.> Accessed 30 November 2017
Solon, Olivia. “iPhone X: even an embarrassing launch glitch can’t knock Apple off the top.” The Guardian, 13 September 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/12/apple-iphone-x-launch-face-id-mistake.> Accessed 30 November 2017
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