And you thought Microsoft was doing everything it could to harm sales of its own smart phones: Apple CEO Tim Cook this week made the coming iPhone 7—which isn’t expected until September—sound so good, you’d be crazy to buy an iPhone now.
Great marketing, Tim.
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“We are going to give you things that you can’t live without, that you just don’t know that you need today,” he told CNBC on Monday. “That has always been the objective of Apple, to do things that really enrich people’s lives, that you look back on, and you wonder, ‘how did I live without this?’ … We have great innovation in the pipeline, like new iPhones that will incent you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones.”
Like Steve Jobs before him, Mr. Cook rarely submits to interviews. But the “over-reaction” to Apple’s recent financial results, as he correctly puts it, triggered this Punxsutawney Phil-like appearance on CNBC. I get that. But with iPhone sales falling year-over-year in the previous quarter, and expected to do so yet again this quarter, his remarks could have a further negative impact on sales.
Old-timers will recall that this kind of thing—where hyperbole for a future product impacts sales of the current version—is called the Osborne Effect. It’s named after Adam Osborne, who arguably created the market for portable computers back in 1981. But by pre-announcing a second-generation Obsborne computer that same year, he killed sales of the original version, which eventually led to the company’s bankruptcy just two years later.
Apple is in no danger of bankruptcy, of course, and it’s unlikely Mr. Cook’s comments will trigger a mass defection from iPhone in 2016. But for such a carefully-spoken man, this was a curious lapse.
Fortunately, it was on CNBC, so no one will ever find out about it.