We’ve got leaked gadgets all over the press this week, and they give some serious insight into the future of consumer electronics, and Apple’s brand image and influence. For a company like Dell, the leaked plans of its upcoming tablet may seem to be a bit of good press. For Apple, however, the leaked iPhone 4G images threw the company into a frenzy.
After Apple had announced the upcoming iPhone 4G, it seemed all too lucky that a member of the press should end up with photos of the device. Turns out, an Apple engineer had forgotten his phone at a local bar while celebrating his birthday. Unfortunate for Apple. Even more unfortunate for that engineer.
What happened next seemed a bit harsh, but decidedly Apple. The company swiftly regained possession of the phone, handling its press leak briskly and somberly. As Apple is very systematic about its product releases, the leaking of a potentially game-changing device could mean a dire disruption of Apple’s process.
Having their product design so closely guarded is a necessity for a company like Apple, as it’s known for setting the standards others follow. We saw this happen rather quickly with the iPhone, even though it was another 2 years before Apple saw any real hints at a threat. We saw this happen again with the release of the iPad, even though tablets aren’t particularly anything new. The fact that the tablet saw renewed interest because of Apple’s spin on things is just more evidence towards the brand’s influence over an industry.
Such is the case with Dell’s leaked tablet, a run-of-the-mill happenstance at this point. Several companies have released or leaked tablets and their intentions for them, creating a new wave of dispersed consumer electronics with overlapping services, platforms and products. Now that the industry has seen a stamp of approval from Apple, there’s no telling how far the tablet trend will go.
While some are seeking a piece of the pie, others are determined to own the whole pie, and its baker. Dealing with the public front is a carefully laid task for brands wielding that much control, and it’s for the brand’s own good. There are a couple lessons to be learned here, in brand management, product releases and maintaining an influence over multiple aspects of an industry. Particularly when it comes to the adherence of a given brand image, the level of protection that requires comes with a high price.