Henry Ford once said, "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again; this time more intelligently."
Jobs and Apple had learned some hard lessons with products like the Apple III and the Lisa. During Job's absence from Apple, he'd certainly matured and took into account the things he should have done differently. Now, he had a chance to begin again more intelligently.
Apple had hit the market with a shocking new device which dominated the electronics headlines…. but they had more. They just needed to wait a little longer before they rolled out the next secret weapon. The Bondi Blue iMac had more than enough market sizzle to generate attention for the remainder of the year. New fruit colors came out in January 1999 which spawned a new look in everything from clock radios to electric grills. Apple was still getting front-page coverage and still changing markets beyond the computer.
Then, in late 1999 (October 2, 1999) it was time to hit the market again with a refreshed iMac. This time, it needed more than new colors to regain press headlines. This was a true second generation iMac and one designed to attract the traditional Apple user, not just the PC neophyte. Apple’s mainstay had been the professional graphic artist, photographer, and videographer.
The new iMac followed step two in “The Apple Way” perfectly: “find that one thing you do better and make that one thing matter.” Apple was going in for the kill and the weapon of choice was FireWire.
With FireWire, Apple made it easier to download video from a professional or prosumer (low-end professional, high-end consumer) camcorder into a computer. With iMovie shipping on the computers, it was possible for consumers to edit home movies with title slides, music, transitions between scenes, voice over and other professional touches. With Final Cut and a high-end Mac, professionals were creating digital movies much more easily than in the past.
CNN told the 1394 Trade Association that it was saving a million dollars a year by going digital. In the past, CNN had to ship cases of equipment to locations where news was unfolding. Huge cameras and video editing equipment were required to capture and process the analog video. With the advent of digital and the addition of FireWire to professional cameras and high-end notebook computers, all the equipment needed to record and edit a story was contained in the carry-on bags of the camera crew.
Now Apple had a story that everyone was interested in hearing. No longer did they need to rely on paid advertising to get their message in front of the consumer. In what became the most effective use of PR in the history of electronics, Apple started feeding their story to media outlets and the media outlets were eager to publish it. Time Magazine, USA Today, Oprah and many others became the marketing arm of Apple. This started in late 1999 and continues to this day. That is shock and awe as we have never seen it.
James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC == Marketing, Communications and Design
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