News outlets are bursting with news about the new iPhone 5. It’s slim and sleek, like the current iPhone touch, with a big touch screen and outsized home button. Pictures of the design are circulated throughout the internet, and there is speculation that it will debut as early as September. But don’t go running to your local Apple store yet: the company hasn’t even announced the production of the iPhone 5, or debuted any finalized plans. This news is the result of Apple’s careful buzz-building strategy: using throughput to keep customers on their toes and ready for the next big thing at the right time.
Apple’s dedication to a scheduled product release program creates a pattern that customers become familiar with, ultimately leading to product speculation and excitement. Since the debut of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple’s release dates have nearly always landed in the summer, and announcements have happened closer to that date. Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 4 on June 7, 2010 and it appeared on shelves before the month’s end. In keeping a careful debut schedule, Apple is practicing throughput. The customer doesn’t feel wait, only anticipation for the product they know will come. The company doesn’t even need to announce a product for excitement to build and once it launches, it keeps the customers in rapt attention and ready to buy new products.
Everyone is ready for the iPhone 5, but there’s pressure on Apple to deliver. If no new product is debuted by the fall, there is a possibility that the momentum will run out when the expectations do not match reality. In that case, throughput will work against them. There is potential for a bottleneck, and Apple must smoothly transition into the iPhone 5 or face consumer restlessness. Buzz-building takes skill, but if you don’t deliver, you risk letting your reputation for throughput go to waste.