Seeing Through the Illusion: Understanding Apple’s Mastery of the Media

Cotton:Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook with former VP of Worldwide Communications Katie Cotton

“Beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”

“Feature for feature, it’s identical to iPad Air in every way.”

“Just avoid holding it in that way.”

Apple’s public relations (PR) department is probably the best in the world — certainly more impressive at shaping and controlling the discussion of its products than any other technology company. Before customers get their first chance to see or touch a new Apple product, the company has carefully orchestrated almost every one of its public appearances: controlled leaks and advance briefings for favored writers, an invite-only media debut, and a special early review process for a group of pre-screened, known-positive writers. Nothing is left to chance, and in the rare case where Apple doesn’t control the initial message, it remedies that by using proxies to deliver carefully crafted, off-the-record responses.

Except for a few big exceptions, such as the memorably off-pitch quotes above, Apple’s “tell them what to believe” PR strategy has worked incredibly well for years. But it has also created tensions between the company and the people who cover it, as well as within Apple itself. The company’s long-time head of PR, Katie Cotton, left the company earlier this year as CEO Tim Cook openly sought to make a major change in the way Apple interacted with the press and its customers. As the hunt for Cotton’s replacement is still in progress, and the depth of Apple’s commitment to change remains unclear, we look today at the techniques Apple has used to quietly manipulate its coverage over the years.

You can navigate between the chapters, below:

- Part 1) Apple Events and Shredded White Booklets

- Part 2) Introducing the Teams: How PR Is Organized at 3 Infinite Loop

- Part 3) Strategies: The “Art of Deep Background” and Controlling the Press

- Part 4) The Departure of a “Tyrant”

- Part 5) Two Heads In Place Of One

- Part 6) Controversies: From Maps to Beats to Haunted Empires

- Part 7) Product Reviews, Briefings, & Reviewer’s Guides

- Part 8) Steve Jobs and the Process Behind Press Releases

- Part 9) A Friendlier, More Transparent Future?

Two months in the making, this article is the product of over a dozen interviews with journalists, bloggers, and PR professionals, including many who have worked at Apple.

Read more

Claimed production model of iPhone 6 casing shows more subtle Space Gray antenna breaks

iphone6

French site NWE claims to have found photos of a finished production model of the casing of the 4.7-inch version of the iPhone 6, shown in gray.

While not revealing anything new about the overall design of the phone, it does appear to give a much clearer view of how the antenna breaks are handled, with a significantly more subtle appearance than had been suggested by some earlier leaked parts, mockups and renders – as seen in the photo below …  Read more

Apple reportedly working with Dutch company NXP to include NFC in iPhone 6, possibly iWatch

Apple iPhone 6 (Mockup) 43

Apple is reportedly planning to include NFC in the iPhone 6 for secure wireless payments using chips sourced from a Dutch company called XNP, the Financial Times reported today. It’s not the first time this rumor has cropped up before an iPhone launch, but other recent reports seem to indicate that this year it might just be happening.

In fact, earlier this year Apple was said to have reached a deal with China UnionPay, the nation’s only domestic mobile payment processor, to include NFC support at countless retailers in the next iPhone. What’s perhaps even more interesting is that the technology may not be limited solely to the handset itself…

Read more

More photos of the structure Apple is building at the Flint Center ahead of iPhone event

In addition to officially announcing its special event to be held on September 9th where two new iPhones and the long rumored wearable device is expected to debut, Apple has begun to build some sort of structure at the Flint Center for Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, as noted in our previous post. Additional images of the venue and mysterious structure have been shared by The Loop which reveal more sides to the structure as you can see above…

Read more

Apple announces special event for September 9th: ‘Wish we could say more’

Apple has just sent out press invites for its latest event, via The Loop, where the company is expected to announce the iPhone 6. The event is scheduled for 10 AM Pacific Time on September 9th. Atypically, Apple is holding the event at a new venue, the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. This is the same venue that Apple introduced the original Mac, over 30 years ago. Apple has constructed a ‘three-story structure’ at the site, which may be used as the hands-on area after the presentation is over. Usually, Apple’s demo areas are only the size of a large room and do not span multiple floors.

Yesterday, Recode reported that Apple will also show off its new wrist wearable device (‘iWatch’) at the September 9th event. Unsurprisingly, the invite does not reveal specifics about what Apple will announce, bearing a rather bland image of the Apple logo coupled with the slogan ‘Wish we could say more’. Feel free to speculate what you think will be announced in the comments. A full screenshot of the email is after the break. Read more

Analyst & GTAT investor claims all 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models get sapphire, some 4.7-inch models

sapphire

An investment note we’ve seen from analyst and GTAT investor Matt Margolis claims that all 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 6 will come with sapphire screens, while the 4.7-inch model will get either sapphire or Gorilla Glass depending on the specification.

According to sources close to Foxconn’s manufacturing operations the iPhone 6 will come built with sapphire cover screens in both sizes. These sources have also indicated that the 4.7” Phone 6 is being assembled in two varieties, a sapphire cover screen version and a version featuring Gorilla Glass. At this point I do not know the approximate mix between the two cover screen options on the 4.7” iPhone 6. My latest check on the 5.5” iPhone 6 indicates that all units of the device are expected to come protected by a sapphire cover screen at this point …

Read more

WIRED now also saying iPhone 6 will have NFC and mobile payments

Apple iPhone 6 (Mockup) 43

WIRED is the latest publication to report that the soon-to-be-announced iPhone 6 will be accompanied by a new mobile payment system using NFC technology.

The company’s next iPhone will feature its own payment platform, sources familiar with the matter told WIRED. In fact, that platform will be one of the hallmark features of the device when it’s unveiled on September 9. We’re told the solution will involve NFC.

Read more

More iPhone 6 component photos ‘confirm’ silver, gray and gold colors, depict larger internal speaker and new vibrator design

In the latest round of iPhone 6 images, NowhereElse.fr has a new set of photos showing a selection of SIM trays, home buttons, speakers and vibrator motors. The SIM trays are once again show in the same three colors as the iPhone 5s, silver, gray and gold. It seems like the gray is of a slightly lighter shade than the Space Gray of the iPhone 5s, but the quality of the pictures makes it difficult to tell for sure. What is very noticeable is the curved edge to the SIM tray, which will make a seamless line with the iPhone 6’s curved edges, seen countless times before. The images also depict some changes to the speaker and vibrator motor of the device …

Read more

Apple will reportedly unveil its wearable product alongside new iPhones next month

Last month Re/code’s John Paczkowski reported that Apple plans to introduce its new iPhone models at an event scheduled for next month, and today Re/code’s Paczkowski reports that Apple will also reveal its wearable product (i.e. iWatch/iBand) alongside the new iPhones:

Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9th. [...] The new device will, predictably, make good use of Apple’s HealthKit health and fitness platform. It will also — predictably — make good use of HomeKit, the company’s new framework for controlling connected devices — though it’s not clear how broadly or in what way.

Read more

Apple on Campus program reportedly no longer available in Belgium or Switzerland

apple-on-campus-16_9

Mac4Ever is reporting that Apple has confirmed that the Apple on Campus program, allowing students to buy significantly discounted Macs and accessories via their college, is no longer available in either Belgium or Switzerland. The confirmation was provided in a one-line response by Apple Switzerland.

Yes, Apple on Campus was stopped. However, the Apple Education Store discounts are obviously still valid …

Read more

Apple’s iPad business at-a-glance as CEO Tim Cook plots breaking out of “speedbump” slump

ipad_1-crop-promovar-mediumlarge1

Tim Cook hinted at significant developments to the iPad line in describing the recent 16 percent drop in year-on-year sales yesterday as “a speedbump” in an interview with Re/code.

“We couldn’t be happier with how we’ve done with the first four years of the iPad. I’d call what’s going on recently a speed bump, and I’ve seen that in every category” …

He made that same comment before during the last earnings call and obviously that’s not the whole story…

Read more