I have watched every Apple product announcement and keynote address since 2006. Most of the time I am watching simply as a technology enthusiast waiting to see what’s next; however, overtime you get used to the normal rhythm of these events. Something was different about the event announcing the Watch and new iPhones. To understand how it was different let’s look at the anatomy of a new product launches.

The Pattern
1. Identify a market that is currently poorly served
2. Explain why current offerings are not good enough
3. Announce the new product
4. Explain why the product needs to exist 1
5. Compare and contrast the new product with existing poor offerings

Steve Jobs directly addressed Apple’s competitors and he made a case for Apple’s entry into a new market. Jobs announced Apple’s music player with slides like these:


Again, Jobs directly addressed Apple’s competitors and he made a case for Apple’s entry into a new market. Here Jobs even goes as far as mentioning specific models of competing smartphones.


The iPad was no different.

Tim Cook took a very different approach with the Watch. Throughout the announcement there would be no slide acknowledging the terrible state of the smart watch market, no matrix of the current inferior offerings, and no slide demonstrating just how terrible their competitors’ interface is.2 Apple did mention traditional watch makers. But, the tone showed much more respect for the mechanical wonders fine watches can be.

The evolution in Apple’s product launches shows they recognize that they are no longer an underdog. Apple is the big dog. Just as Coca-Cola never mentions Pepsi, Apple did not mention Samsung. Pepsi screams “we are better than Coke!” Samsung screams “we are better than Apple!” This may be an effective strategy for the number two vendor to follow but it can not be consistently deployed by the market leader.

I imagine, just as the Mac vs. PC commercials had to go away, so too will most direct mentions of their other competitors.

Becoming Coca-Cola

  1. The Watch announcement was surprisingly missing a solid answer here. I can think of a few reasons why it might need to exist but that should really be Apple’s job.

  2. I secretly wished they would put a slide up with one of these.

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