Opinion: Apple masterclass in seducing the public

What a week it has been for the technology bloggers.

First we saw Microsoft’s Bill Gates hailing the ‘digital decade’ on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show. Then we had Apple boss Steve Jobs confirming the launch of the much-rumoured iPhone; a move that could even prompt UK PROs to bin their BlackBerrys.

It also gave us the chance to compare the PR styles of the world’s two leading tech brands. Microsoft is efficiency personified. On Monday, Gates said the sort of stuff that predictably grabs headlines.

His vision of the ‘connected future’ was intelligently communicated and widely reported – and much of his keynote address was spent on the sort of concerns about the new Vista operating system or Xbox 360 that represent the tech community’s food and drink.

Indeed, Justin Hutchinson, Microsoft group product manager, even took to the stage in an apparent bid to counter the perception that Apple is the natural home of creative computing. But it all lacked a bit of sparkle.

Steve Jobs though – at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco – gave the sort of presentation that can only boost the Apple cult. In a brilliantly composed speech he talked of ‘three devices – a phone, a widescreen iPod and an internet device’ – before announcing they were combined in one product. It prompted near hysteria in the 2,000-strong Church of Apple.

In another masterstroke, the corporation announced that it was rebranding from Apple Computer to Apple Inc., emphasising its pre-eminence in consumer electronics.

The impact? Well quite apart from some breathless media and blog coverage globally, Apple’s share price jumped by 8.3 per cent on Nasdaq on Wednesday, while rivals Research in Motion (maker of BlackBerry) and Palm were among the biggest fallers.

Apple now faces a major marketing and PR task in convincing many of us to ditch our old phones/PDAs. But you wouldn’t bet against it, would you?
danny.rogers@haymarket.com

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