If you have kept up with the buzz around the latest iPhone release, you will know that most of the talk is about what was left out more than what was added in. Namely, the 3.5 mm headphone jack that has been a staple of portable music devices since Star-Lord first jammed out to the Jackson Five.
Apple evidently decided enough was enough — the plug that we have been using in roughly the same form since 1878 simply had to go. Apple product loyalists (including, admittedly, this writer), audiophiles and tech mavens all sounded off regarding the change in predictable fashion. Which is to say they freaked.
From a marketing perspective, such changes can bite deeply into the brand loyalty many Applificianados have and transmute it into deeply-held cynicism. Even though Apple offers a free Lightning to 3.5mm converter with every iPhone 7, the sheer gall and inconvenience of it all has people incensed.
Not all of us have the “Courage” to “Think Different” like Apple, but hopefully we do have the sense to not alienate a core technology base by unilaterally rendering one of the most ubiquitous accessory interfaces obsolete for no good reason at all. Or, in terms of your own marketing campaigns: Give the people what they came for, even if it means maintaining the status quo.
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Lots of outdated technology and tools fall off the face of the earth, usually with little to no protest — VGA, S-Video, Firewire, Zip Drives, Shia LaBeouf’s career.
However, most of these things were usually a way to connect something to something else, often with alternative options in tune with the advances of the time. Most of the time, they are replaced with a more capable and svelte option, like Mark Wahlberg taking over for LeBeouf in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
In Apple’s case, no one was clamoring for a new audio output format that promised to be the end-all-be-all of portable headphones. If they were, Lightning ports certainly wouldn’t be it. Neither would Bluetooth, considering the technology was never suited for high-quality audio reproduction in the first place.
Yet, Apple decided to go full-course with the change. Even though millions of us have 3.5mm headphones in a variety of sizes, manufacture years and price ranges floating around our house all collected since before the time that M.C. Hammer ruled the world, Apple decided that cords are out, man!
Also, unlike their move to Lightning ports — which, while still controversial, had a justification for the change — the reasoning behind the 3.5mm jack deletion had everything to do with the Apple engineering team’s own design convenience. It certainly had nothing to do with the company buying the most overblown, overpriced purveyor of wireless headphones to the tune of $3 billion two years ago, oh no sir. It also has nothing to do with the most fidgety product ever, Apple’s $159 oh-so-ready-to-be-lost-on-week-one “AirPod” headphones. [End of sarcasm]
And when asked for justification for the decision, Apple’s Phil Schiller had the sheer cojones to utter this phrase: “The reason to move on comes down to one word: courage.”
Apple’s Risky Decision Invited Little Reward, Only Self Indulgence
In the grand scheme of things, Apple’s decision to nix the 3.5mm jack is more so emblematic of a blasé attitude toward customers than a legitimate crisis. Something so entrenched as 3.5 mm headphones provides a constant in people’s lives, something they have control over. Forcing them to “move on” to something that’s not even close to the latest and greatest speaks to a marketing attitude that thinks little of the average consumer’s material concerns and subsequent demands.
So, to sum up the point of this post in four words: don’t be tone deaf. Even a brand as high and as mighty as Apple can become a punching bag when they go too far with forcing people to change when they don’t offer much at all in return. Sure, there are risks to be taken. But if your newest marketing campaigns are an annoyance or even a setback for your audience, instead of actually being helpful or intuitive, it will likely not end well for you.
If you need help positioning your own marketing efforts to avoid a potential catastrophe like Apple’s, you can entrust Atlanta’s premier digital marketing experts, EverSpark Interactive. We can help you manage your online image as well your content, web design and search engine visibility.