‘In the shadow of the iPhone’; when to launch a phone?

As I wrote in the latest newsletter, we are moving in to the last quarter of the year. We will be seeing a lot of phones launching, and it’s going to be exciting as a tech reviewer covering what I can and reviewing what I can get my hands on.

We’ve already seen a couple of launches this week, and are expecting even more. And while that’s exciting, as a person who covers such news, I am always wondering why smartphone companies bother to have events at the same time as Apple when they know very well all eyes will be on Apple!

Every small and big media house will be talking about the new iPhone. It will be all over social media whether or not it’s a good phone. And most of the people who will talk about it will never acquire one.

So why choose to launch something in the same period?

For example, this week we’ve seen a couple of launches already:

  • Infinix yesterday showed their new Infinix Zero X which is a really good feat of engineering for a budget device. My thoughts on the phone will drop later this week.
  • Xiaomi Kenya is today introducing the Redmi 10 to the market. It’s a budget king that device.
  • TECNO is gearing up for the Camon 18 Series. But they’ve already launched the Spark 8.
  • realme Kenya yesterday announced availability of the C21Y another budget device.

Unfortunately, many of these launches will not get as much hype as they should. Of course one can argue they would never get hype as big as Apple no matter what period in time they launch. But I feel like with a proper plan, they could hype their launches as big as they want without falling in the shadow of the iPhone.

For me, the choice to launch just before Apple means all they hype they would have gotten would switch to the new iPhone once the Apple event premiers. And the choice to launch just after the Apple event means they will have to suffocate and choke from the wave of Apple news everywhere.

So why do companies bother with September launches when it’s known that Apple will definitely have an iPhone launch:

  1. Perhaps its because they are going with their own schedules and can’t be bothered to change them for Apple. (Once upon a time, OnePlus changed their dates because of an unexpected Apple event)
  2. Perhaps it’s the hope that consumers will hear about the Apple event but still go with the affordable device in their market.
  3. Perhaps it’s the hope of riding over the Apple hype? Like, in other news, blah blah also launched this.
  4. Or maybe it’s just to be seen as an important player, with mini launches in different market slated for later on so that their media cycles goes on for weeks. (Does it ever work?)

Getting media coverage is very important for any device launch. It’s the first way your consumers know about the device. And that initial hype is very important in getting customers interested. It is unfortunate when that hype is lost thanks to bad launch planning. Especially when all one could do is launch a few days earlier, or wait a few weeks.

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