Why the Missing iPhone is No Publicity Stunt

P. J. Connolly began writing for IT publications in 1997 and has a lengthy track record in both news and reviews. Since then, he's built two test labs from scratch and earned a reputation as the nicest skeptic you'll ever meet. Before taking up journalism, P. J. was an IT manager and consultant in San Francisco with a knack for networking the Apple Macintosh, and his love for technology is exceeded only by his contempt for the flavor of the month. Speaking of which, you can follow P. J. on Twitter at pjc415, or drop him an email at pjc@eweek.com.
By P. J. Connolly  |  Posted 2011-09-07 Email Print this article Print

So, is this year's missing iPhone just a publicity stunt, as readers and colleagues have suggested? It certainly could be, but I don't think it is.


Apple's marketing folks aren't stupid enough to risk the company's well-honed public image with a stunt, are they?

First of all, this kind of a PR ploy doesn't fit Apple's modus operandi; instead, the company favors all-out silence right up until launch day. That's why those of us who cover Apple have to pounce on every shred of rumor; in many ways, this is what it must have been like to cover the Kremlin in Stalin's day.Second, when deciding whether a stunt is worth it, one always has to consider the possibility of blowback. It's one thing to bombard a crowd with turkeys because you thought they could fly, and it's another thing altogether to drag police on a wild goose chase. I just don't think it would be worth it, either to Apple security in general, or to the company's lead investigator. If he called in a favor from the SFPD with the aim of furthering a publicity stunt, it could be the last time he's allowed to use the Favor Bank.

Apple's already getting bushels of free publicity for the new iPhone every day a new rumor surfaces. There's simply no upside to the company from this being a stunt. If anything, the shady maneuvering that convinced the SFPD officers to keep their visit to Anderson Street off the books reinforces the suggestion that the company was trying to keep this under wraps.

No, the message discipline in Cupertino is so thoroughly ingrained that I simply can't see the Apple of today pulling a stunt like this.

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