Genius marketer Steve Jobs plays media like a Stradivarius, generates massive free publicity

By SteveJack

Steve Jobs is a genius.

Yes, I know that fact is not news, but one aspect of his genius – marketing – is certainly on full display this week.

Jobs played the media (and a portion of his customer base) like a Stradivarius.

Jobs knows that the iPod lineup is so hot that they will sell themselves. Therefore he figured that he could afford to overshadow them with some long-planned iPhone moves designed to generate loads of free publicity from the mainstream media.

First, he lowered the price – as was always the plan – but, lowered it so drastically as to create an uproar among those who had purchased the iPhone at the original launch prices.

Then he waited for a bit to let the pressure cooker build up steam – he even stoked it a bit by claiming “that’s just the way things work in tech.” That Jobs created doubt in the minds of many that he didn’t anticipate the angst the price cut would cause is part of his genius. Then he released the steam with a $100 gift card – also long-planned – that will end up generating even more sales for the company. “Presto! $49 iPod nanos for everyone!”

Today, we see the fruits of yesterday’s “apology” everywhere from The Today Show to the cable news outlets to local drive-time radio shows and all over the ‘Net. More free publicity for a company whose CEO seems to be able to generate it whenever and wherever he damn well pleases.

This has been a fun week, it’s just beautiful to watch a genius in action. Even without the $100 Apple Store credit it was well worth the price of admission.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.


  1. How was the $100 credit “long-planned” if as Jobs said, “details are still being worked out?”

    Sure, you can rationalize it all as Jobs’ master plan, but that doesn’t make it so. Yes, it all worked out in the end, but only because the Apple faithful complained loudly, not because Jobs planned it all to work out this way.

  2. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Oh, I think Steve Jobs is a genius, but in spite of Wednesday’s iPhone price reduction fiasco.

    Steve miscalculated big time – it turns many early iPhone purchasers were seriously pissed off. I don’t think the goodwill generated by the $100 credit still leaves Apple in the negative in this whole event.

    Steve introduced some pretty incredible things on Wednesday and they all got overshadowed. The media and the public would have been talking about all of the great new iPods, the iTunes Wi-Fi music store, ringtones for the iphone, but instead everyone was talking how Apple screwed their customers.

    How is that smart??

  3. I agree that most of this was planned already. But your argument is flawed. If the marketing were good marketing then we would have cheers, rather than jeers. Given the oustanding announcements, the stock price has dropped 14 dollars. That’s not good marketing, it’s bad buzz obviously.
    But you are correct that the next effect will be a great increase in sales. But we can’t classify this as a genius move. But he may have had no other option for handling this better, given the rapid rollout, iPhone upgrades, holiday season, aggressive attack on the mobile market, and European rollout.
    But relax, Apple people, Steve Jobs is the smartest of them all.

  4. Dead wrong. The iPhone price cut was a serious marketing blunder, from overshadowing the new iPods’ media coverage to pissing off a lot of recent iPone buyers (though not me). The $100 store credit, however, was a brilliant save. The probability that this was all planned is…zero.

  5. Apple just has to move a lot of iPhones before Rev 2 in January MacWorld

    They underestimated themselves, based the iPhone upon the same demand curve as the iPod.

    The only problem is the iPod opened basically a new market because of legit music downloads.

    Everyone who wants a cell phone already has one, and locked into a contract to boot. So the demand curve is much slower.

    People are waiting until their contracts expire with present phone and then will buy the latest iPhone.

    Most other just need a slim, cheap, low monthly cost phone that just makes phone calls, nothing else.

    Why else would Apple put out a iPod Touch? Because they are not making significant headway in the cell phone market.

    There is a lot of unsold iPhone inventory right now, Apple may be considering getting out of the market come January.

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