Blog: 0005

The Lack of a Headphone Jack (and PR strategy) Marks the Launch of the iPhone 7


Apple’s latest industry changing move means saying goodbye to the headphone port you know and love—or does it?

Many consumers waited in anticipation to hear Apple’s latest innovation for its next generation flagship phone – the IPhone 7. Apple users worldwide were shocked when it was reported that the headphone jack would be removed from future phones and tuned out, not wanting to hear any more on the update. This is where Apple’s poor public relations really comes into play. In the ad introducing the phone, the headphones (and benefits) are never even mentioned.

The problem they’re facing is their public relations team hasn’t focused on explaining the transition fully to customers. What most missed is that while the new iPhone does in fact remove the jack, it actually provides users with a higher quality audio source with more options. In addition, the new Bluetooth headphones are included in the box, for free. For those wanting to use their old headphones, good news, an auxiliary adapter is included in the box, also free of charge.

The new advertisements need to be clear on this — although by Apple’s trend of communication, consumers will gradually find out through one another, likely via social or one of a million Mac-obsessed discussion boards.

However for any company that isn’t Apple, it’s vital to do the research to calculate the impact of this change for their consumer base, and cater their advertising and marketing campaigns of this new implementation based on how much this affects those consumers. And even Apple can’t sustain the “they’ll figure it out eventually” model forever.

Here are a couple things they could have done differently to improve the launch process:

  • Provide a better reason for the change to your consumer base.
    • Telling them, “It’s what’s best for you” doesn’t make them feel in control of the situation.
  • Reiterate that the adapter will be included with each purchase through advertising campaigns.
    • The current marketing campaign mocks the older port for its age and how outdated it is; however, Apple would only be effective with this if the Lightning connection wasn’t proprietary and could be found on other non-Apple devices.
  • Offer a headphone trade-up program of some sort.
    • Bring your headphones into an Apple store and trade-up to own newer ones. Apple just launched a great line of new earphones for its Beats by Dre line that take advantage of Bluetooth and a special Apple wireless technology. This means you’ll get better sound without using the lightning port. The technology should grow to other major brands in the future too.
  • Repeatedly inform consumers to the benefits of using the Lightning port for their headphones.
    • This is not a one-time mention and move on type of change. Let them know about the richer sound, new equalizer settings for deeper bass, and improved sound quality. They’ve failed to emphasize the ability for headphones to use the Lightning port for power, which enables features like noise cancellation without an external battery.

Apple is a great company and can afford to gamble a little bit. To be fair, Apple was the first to widely remove the optical CD drive on its line of computers, something that also received backlash from consumers. Looking at the industry now, almost everyone has followed its trends.

This change differs though, because our headphones are something to be used daily for phone calls or music. This shift is much more far-reaching than it may seem to the naked eye and the communication to Apple’s consumer should have conveyed this.

Apple has a lot of work to do before consumers are up to date about their new flagship phone. Maybe Apple’s public relations and marketing team should follow the same slogan their company was once synonymous with.

Think different.