By Carl HoweYesterday's Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) has a wonderful look inside all the security and secrecy used at Apple (AAPL) to create excitement around its brand. The article seems to think that all of this is over the top, considering the roadmaps continually announced by Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) that make their announcements anti-climaxes. But the article does note the results that Apple reaps from its novel approach:
The mystery helps Apple attract crowds at its retail stores and generally garner much more visibility than its relatively modest advertising budget would suggest. Apple spent $287 million on advertising last fiscal year, compared with $995 million for Microsoft and $1.1 billion for H-P, according to the companies' filings with securities regulators. While new wares from Dell Inc. or H-P rarely get front-page treatment, Mr. Jobs has repeatedly appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Fortune showing off a new iPod or Macintosh computer.
Said another way, Apple achieves visibility and coverage worth at least $600 to $700 million a year from its tight-lipped ways, all because it doesn't pre-announce. We've commented before that we think that Sony's (SNE) imitation of this strategy on its Playstation 3 gaming console is smart marketing. But today's Journal article proves that this isn't just good marketing; it's good business.
AAPL 1-yr chart: