Thursday, September 30, 2010
5 Reasons the Media Cover Apple So Much
A study published Monday drew on a host of metrics to conclude something we all already knew: The media covers Apple more than any other company.
In the past year, headlines about Apple took up 15.1 percent of tech news coverage, while articles about Google constituted about 11.4 percent, and a meager 3 percent were about software giant Microsoft, according to the Pew Research Center study.
Guilty as charged.
Here at Wired.com we confess that we write about Apple more than any other company. Cuff us. But first, hear our reasons why we opt to cover the big A more than its rivals.
Talk all the trash you want about the iPhone lacking Flash or the iPad being unable to print (until November). Apple delivers on products and then talks about them — exactly the reverse of the way most tech companies work.
If you put yourself in the shoes of a tech journalist for just a few months, you’ll undoubtedly write about company after company who promises some sort of awesome new technology “coming soon.” You publish, you sit, you wait, and often times that product never comes into existence — or if it does, it flops miserably. Examples include the Plastic Logic Que, Microsoft Courier, and HP Slate.
Apple’s culture of secrecy can be frustrating when journalists want answers to questions about public concerns, but holding off on product news until it’s ready for prime time works well for Apple. When Steve Jobs finally talks about a new product, it’s finished and ready to ship. It’s a lot easier (and less meaningless) to write about things that happen — objects that are real that we can hold in our hands — as opposed to imaginary “products” that may never appear in stores.
Apple creates strong stories
When Apple releases a product or announces a piece of news, the company tells a story in a well organized, neatly cohesive way. In his famous keynotes, Jobs introduces products with a slideshow presentation punctuated with colorful adjectives and active verbs, and he sometimes throws in a story to explain the history leading up to the product. Duly, some communications specialists have hailed Jobs’ presentations as the best in the world.
Compare this strategy with Google’s. After the search giant released a few well-baked products like Google Mail and Google Search, the corporation splintered off into a flurry of departments with ambitious engineers that seem to announce a new project every day, without giving us a clear understanding of why any of this stuff exists. Take Google Wave, for example: What was that all about? Even after its death, we still don’t really know what it was.
Or even take a look at Samsung’s eyebrow-raising strategy with the Galaxy Tab. First the company announces the Tab exists, then slowly it rolls out news about carriers, and eventually we’ll hear about pricing. This sporadic storytelling results in a series of small dips in the pool of tech news, which is never quite as powerful as Apple’s big splash.
Apple takes design seriously
Apple’s extreme vanity about design sometimes requires customers to pay a premium, but it works well as a marketing tool. Make pretty stuff and journalists can take pretty pictures for their readers. Build a reputation of designing products that work very well, and the media will scrutinize you for every little flaw. Whether it’s good or bad press, Apple’s design philosophy naturally generates a lot of coverage in the media.
Apple has a well-planned ecosystem of products
Apple has gradually built an ecosystem of services, software and hardware that all come together in a way that’s easy for consumers to understand. iTunes sells music and videos that run on Macs, iPods and iOS devices, along with apps that run on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. By creating a friction-free, cohesive experience, anyone who’s an Apple customer — including journalists who write about Apple — knows what it means to be an Apple customer.
As a result, each product or service becomes a sub-brand that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s even touched an Apple product. Again, the end result is that Apple’s carefully refined ecosystem is easier to write about for a mainstream audience.
Readers demand Apple news
Perhaps as a result of all the aforementioned reasons, Wired.com readers want to know about Apple more than any other company. Our most-searched term is usually “iPhone,” and Apple stories are often among our best-read tech stories. We don’t know for sure, but we’re guessing other tech writers and editors see the same thing happening with their Apple stories, too.
Bottom line: We write Apple stories because you, our readers, want to read them.