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This article was published on August 18, 2009

Apple and the great stealth tech social media survey

Apple and the great stealth tech social media survey
Wayne Smallman
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Wayne Smallman

Wayne Smallman is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology blog: a focal point of his passion for technology, and a hallmark of his busines Wayne Smallman is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology blog: a focal point of his passion for technology, and a hallmark of his business mentality, writing style, and adeptness at making complex technology issues approachable and accessible. He is the principle founder and managing director of Octane Interactive, a Web design, Web applications development, and Internet marketing agency established in 1999 and based in Yorkshire, England.

surveySo what happens when wild social media marketing theory meets yet another Apple tablet rumour? The the greatest stealth tech’ survey there’s ever been. Possibly…

Yet again there’s talk of an Apple tablet device.

I first wrote about the possibility of there being a tablet device from Apple way back in 2006 (see links below), which seems like eons ago now. And here we go again, with yet another turn of the Apple tablet rumour mill.

But I have a theory. What if Apple are conducting a huge, global social survey by stealth? To discover what people think about a tablet device.

Apple’s use of social media is at best indirect; it’s really people like me writing about Apple and then sharing my thoughts via social media. But given Apple’s slick and canny marketing, it’s not as if social media is a mystery to them, they simply choose not to engage directly. After all, social media marketing is about being a part of a conversation, and not about controlling the conversation. So why would that be a problem for Apple? Two words: Steve Jobs. Enough said.

Apple have their own way of determining the market conditions for a new product. But what if there was another way, one that was much more inexpensive?

itabletSo how do you go about hiding a customer survey? Why, you hide it within a rumour, of course! Or several, if you’re smart. Apple are constantly at the epicenter of a constellation of rumours, swirling around them. This time, it’s a possible tablet device, which seems far more credible, given the iPhone’s very existence — you just make a bigger iPhone, right? Well, sort of.

For those with memories like my own, you’ll remember ATI pre-announcing their partnership with Apple ahead of Apple’s own official announcement back in 1999. If you do, then you’ll also remember Steve Jobs burning them quite publicly and then freezing the deal. If that’s what Apple / Steve Jobs do to their major partners, what do you think they’d do to known sources supplying information about in-development products? Nothing good, I imagine.

So under the guise of a rumour, Apple would be free to let slip choice rumours regarding price points, size, specifications et cetera, through various channels. Then, they and their marketing people sit back and read all of the comments, write-ups and reviews.

“According to a source close to Apple’s long-rumoured tablet team…”

You get the idea.

Anyone remember the Mercedes folding bicycle? A mere snip at £1,099. Almost straight away, Mercedes forced the issue and people made up their minds, based purely on the price. Apple would be free to slip out different proposed price points, seeing which gets the most favourable reception, helping them find the sweet spot with hardly breaking sweat.

Apple could freely leak out concept designs of varying sizes, to see which gets the thumbs up, or the biggest frown. Same goes for hardware specification, although few people would complain, given the current over-powered iPhone hardware.

More crucially, discussing which particular market segment they’re aiming at gives them probably the best feedback of all. Apple will always favour the creative market as a whole, but there are subtle differences in the needs of say, graphic designers, as opposed to video producers, which would also point Apple in the direction of which software they ought to consider installing on the fabled Apple tablet.

I could be completely wrong. But then again, you have to admit, as theories go, it’s not outside the real of fiction. Not where Apple are concerned. After all, they think different, right?

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