Apple’s iPhone as a Product Innovation

The iPhone’s Typical Product Innovation Experience

In the context of the current market situation and the relative diversity of high-tech devices, the iPhone’s presentation from the global Apple corporation was a landmark event. Nevertheless, despite the rapidly growing interest in the brand and massive sales of the new smartphone, specific elements of the promotion strategy were not unique and were typical for most innovation programs. Lyytinen (2017) argues that “the iPhone was not very innovative,” although the device “transformed the mobile phone business” (para. 1).

In the context of the product that met the current market requirements and could satisfy consumer interests, Apple’s approach was traditional. In general, the innovation process may be characterized by an attempt to restructure the existing industry through the optimization of specific production aspects with an emphasis on advanced manufacturing. The iPhone’s development strategy proves that Steve Jobs and his team followed a similar scenario: they used the digital marketplace as a platform for modernization and developed a product that surpassed older counterparts in functionality and technical capabilities. Therefore, from this perspective, the innovation process has similar principles in all areas, including the digital industry.

The iPhone’s success was logically based due to the use of standard market demand analytics. As a development concept, one can adapt the Diffusion of Innovation Theory to Apple’s approach. As Rare (2015) remarks, during the technology diffusion phase, early adopters and the majority follow market trends and coordinate manufacturing activities to offer the public the most sought-after products. In 2007, none of the smartphone manufacturers could offer the public the same goods that Apple developed. The product innovation process is a method of detailed market assessment to identify the best directions for business development.

As the key innovations of the 21st century have touched the technology industry, the iPhone’s emergence was logical against the background of the previous smartphone generations with an ever-growing set of options and specifications. Therefore, from an innovation perspective, any update is a consequence of needs analytics because, without demand, no innovation will succeed.

The iPhone’s Unique Product Innovation Experience

The success of the iPhone, as one of the flagship products of the global Apple corporation, has become an example for many high-tech device manufacturers. One of the main factors that proved the effectiveness of Steve Jobs’ product strategy and distinguished it from those of competitors was a strong marketing campaign. According to Im et al. (2013), creativity in promotion is a relevant practice for many modern brands, which allows them to interest the target market and draw consumers’ attention to innovation. At the presentation of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs described the smartphone as a revolutionary gadget (Mipodstuff, 2011).

This deep marketing strategy was one of the main differentiators in the field of product innovation. As a rule, manufacturers focus on functionality as a key factor in drawing attention to updated products or services. In the case of the iPhone, the Apple team partly moved away from the traditional approach and put much emphasis on promoting it through a massive marketing campaign. This was one of the decisive criteria for success and subsequent attention to the products of this corporation.

While comparing the traditional forms of the innovation process with those of the iPhone, one can assume that Apple was guided by individual principles of new product promotion. For instance, the corporation had several fallback options for promoting their goods in the market, which was a backup plan (Neilson, 2014). Unlike its competitors, the company prepared itself to become a successful seller in its technology niche, which is not typical of many other companies that encourage innovation as part of their development plans.

The product innovation process, as a rule, represents a narrowly focused activity designed to optimize an individual aspect of production to expand the sphere of influence and attract more target consumers. Apple used a slightly different strategy: the company promoted the iPhone as one of its products and prepared a solid marketing base for its sale. Therefore, the uniqueness of this approach is determined by the multi-vector and emphasis not only on one option or function but on the digital market as a whole, which was a bold and responsible decision.

Useful Lessons to Learn from the iPhone’s Experience

The presentation and subsequent sales of the iPhone proved that brand promotion in a highly competitive and dynamic market environment is possible. Based on Apple’s experience with product innovation, other companies can learn valuable lessons to incorporate into individual development plans. Steve Jobs demonstrated to the world that demand creation is directly dependent on the manufacturer, and a number of valuable decisions to promote the iPhone and its resource base confirm this.

One of the important aspects that have allowed the iPhone to become the best-selling smartphone model is the creation of a large and resilient community. Dohrmehl (2017a) mentions not only constantly improving design and functionality but also related services, including an individual app store or specific options. Creating such a solid background is an example of how broad and deep a list of innovations can be within a single product. Other product innovators may learn from Apple’s experience and strive to create communities designed to rally the target audience around original products. This holistic approach to promotion can be effective if an organization can retain a large customer base, and subsequently, the range of services may be expanded, which, in turn, will lead to increased profits.

Creating a community as an effective promotion strategy is complemented by another important factor in strengthening the innovation base – stimulating customer obsession. In his analysis of the success of Jeff Bezos, the founder of the global Amazon corporation, Woods (2017) describes this factor as a key innovation strategy. The author states that if a brand is able to provide customers with wide functionality and create confidence in the quality and indispensability of a product or service, this can help maintain conditions in which the need to use individual options disappears, and “the customer doesn’t even know they’re missing” (Woods, 2017, para. 8).

Thus, other product innovators can count on high consumer activity if they are able to create demand based on both trust and fashionable tendencies. Global interest in constantly updating digital gadgets is a powerful Apple’s approach, and other manufacturers can create a new trend that will help them not only retain consumers but also make them believe in the importance of buying updated products year after year.

False and Misleading Lessons to Learn from the iPhone’s Experience

Despite the success of the iPhone in general, at the stage of its development, Apple made rash product innovation solutions more than once, and these mistakes can be lessons for other companies in this market. One of the first unsuccessful solutions made by Steve Jobs’ team was the decision to reduce the cost of iPhones significantly two months after the start of the sales of the first smartphones in 2007 (Dohrmehl, 2017b).

Despite the fact that this move was conceived as a potentially effective measure to attract more consumers, Apple received numerous negative critical reviews from both market analysts and the first customers who felt cheated by purchasing fashionable devices at a significantly higher price (Dohrmehl, 2017b). Pricing control is part of any promotion program, and, as Sarwar and Soomro (2013) state, empowering consumers to compare costs and make choices is one of the virtues of a free and open market. As a result, Apple managed to maintain its reputation as a reliable brand, but this move was an occasion to rethink its target audience retention strategy.

Another mistake that Steve Jobs faced at the early stages of the sales of new smartphones and that could cost his company significant losses was the unwillingness to interact with partners to create more innovative options. According to Neilson (2014), when the first iPhones were introduced to the market, they had a unique and personalized interface that did not include any third-party apps or services. Nonetheless, as he analyzed the software, Mr. Jobs came to the conclusion that abandoning partnerships and productive collaborations was an outdated approach to innovation at Apple.

The use of the tactics of independent market promotion can be effective when developing products that have clear and rarely changing production technologies. When applied to the iPhone as a gadget that is constantly changing, supplemented, and improved, the rejection of possible innovations through the help of partners can be fraught with a slowdown in optimization processes. Therefore, in a competitive and active market, modern companies should not repeat the early Apple’s experience and focus solely on individuality because such a decision can lead to the loss of customer interest due to weak innovation growth.

The Current Product Innovation Process and the Ways to Improve It

Modern factors influencing the product innovation process should relate to the aspects of achieving competitive advantage through mixed strategies to increase brand power and target audience retention. Today’s retailers and marketers should focus on creating unique offerings rather than duplicating competitor products. In digital product lines, this can be easier to implement since constant updates of the technological base allow implementing innovative solutions successfully.

At the same time, a focus on internal organizational aspects is also an important part of the product innovation process. Im et al. (2013) offer to enhance the interaction between top managers and product innovation teams to create a supportive and sustainable communication environment. All interested parties will be aware of the dynamics of the market and consumer demand, which will help ensure the supply rate in accordance with the interests of the target audience rather than based on general profit perceptions.

Today, the focus on achieving competitive advantage through the creation of progressive technological devices is one of the key strategies for success in the product innovation process. Dohrmehl (2017a) states that Steve Jobs and his team were pioneers in the development of software as one of the key components of contemporary digital gadgets. Nevertheless, with the increasing use of smartphones, this is more difficult to retain target consumers due to a variety of new products in this market. Therefore, the product innovation process can be viewed as a continuous search for solutions to attract customers through goods or services that are of interest at the moment but not with a future perspective.


Dohrmehl, L. (2017a). Relive 10 years of amazing iPhone innovation. Cult of Mac. Web.

Dohrmehl, L. (2017b). 10 major iPhone failures – And how Apple learned from them. Wired. Web.

Im, S., Montoya, M. M., & Workman, J. P. (2013). Antecedents and consequences of creativity in product innovation teams. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30(1), 170-185. Web.

Lyytinen, K. (2017). Understanding the real innovation behind the iPhone. The Conversation. Web.

Mipodstuff. (2011). Steve Jobs announcing the first iPhone in 2007 [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Neilson, J. (2014). 10 innovation lessons from Steve Jobs and Apple: Story of the iPhone [and the theory of integrative innovation]. Ignition Framework. Web.

Rare. (2015). Diffusion of Innovation Theory [Video]. YouTube. Web.

Sarwar, M., & Soomro, T. R. (2013). Impact of smartphone’s on society. European Journal of Scientific Research, 98(2), 216-226.

Woods, T. (2017). 3 lessons on innovation we can learn from Jeff Bezos’ success. Hype. Web.

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