Apple's march of the lemmings

Apple store logo

So the Apple media invites are out, and I am laughing my ass off at how effectively the company manipulates the Fourth and Fifth Estates and how willing are the lemmings to be led. (I got no invite, by the way, and didn't expect one.)

So what? We've got the same venue where Steve Jobs unveiled the Mac in 1984. Thirty-year anniversary. Check. The hall is considerably larger than the two others more typically used. Check. Add them together and you have a writ-storm of speculation -- and soon purported, unconfirmed leaks -- about something really big coming on September 9th.

Even without Steve Jobs, Apple is a masterful manipulation marketing machine. Do you think it's coincidence that whatever is coming -- and all the rumormongering preceding it -- follows closely behind an unprecedented 7-to-1 stock split? Now mere mortals can afford Apple, even at $102 a share (today's close with another 25 cents). Surely shareholders holding seven where they once had one want to see their value rise.

Watch the shares climb in anticipation of the really big thing everyone expects during CEO Tim Cook's tenure (finally). But rumors have a way of unrealistically raising expectations that can't be met. So Apple had better deliver something grand. Otherwise, what goes up, falls down.

Meanwhile, I will puke all over my iPad (why isn't the thing waterproof like Sony's tab) when reading rumors presented as confirmed fact by babbling bloggers. "Apple will release a 12-inch iPad". "Wait. It's a touchscreen MacBook". "Hold on, it's a foot-long iPhone" (add your own chili-and-cheese app). "Scratch that! It's a watch that unfurls into a 12-inch iMacPhoneBookAir". The marvel!

iPhone Air

Rumors aside and my snarky attitude, some sincerely given advice/analysis: A smart Apple leadership team would call the next handset iPhone Air. The name better fits product and marketing objectives for the two other Airs -- iPad and MacBook -- and communicates clearer connotations about benefits. Besides, getting away from numbering would make iPhone nomenclature more consistent with other Apple products and make way for getting off the obsessive upgrade treadmill.

Numbering misdirects attention on what's newest -- and its features -- rather than what are the product's benefits. MacBook Air in 2008 is the same name in 2014, despite improvements.

Reminder: Features and benefits are not the same thing. The holder wrapped around your Starbucks coffee cup is a feature. Protecting your hand from burning is a benefit. While related, they're different things. In marketing, product benefits matter more.

Dump the number, Apple. It's a distraction that's good for competitors making comparisons and bad for what you really want to communicate to buyers.

To the Apple marketing team, I tip my hat in recognition for job well-done. Please enjoy a well-deserved laugh on me. You earned it. The lemmings march to your call, and their destination is September 9th.

One more thing: Say, commenter John Topher and his allies, I wrote this post on a MacBook Pro. Just for you.

Photo Credit: 1000 Words / Shutterstock

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