According to CEO Tim Cook, Apple will soon be launching some amazing new products. Yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference Cook said, “The juices are flowing. We have some incredible things coming out.”
Cook is clearly raising expectations for the new products. You don’t use the words amazing and incredible lightly.
Is this a smart strategy?
It is certainly risky. It can be difficult to deliver against high expectations. Disappointing people is not a great approach.
In about two weeks, many of my students will graduate from Kellogg and join new employers. When they arrive they could proclaim, “I am going to be an incredible employee. Boss, you are going to be amazed. I am going to be fabulous!” This would not be a good idea.
So is Cook making a mistake?
I suspect not. If Apple has something innovative in the works, raising expectations is critical. It builds anticipation for the new product and creates excitement among employees, investors and customers.
It is also a safe move because it is hard to disappoint people with a truly innovative product for the simple reason that people don’t know how to evaluate it. If you have the very first teleportation machine you can confidently proclaim, “This is just an amazing product.” People will then likely agree; it is very difficult to evaluate the merits of a teleportation machine. If you say it is amazing, well, it must be amazing.
Indeed, when introducing an innovative product it is critical to raise expectations. Rolling out a product with modest statements isn’t a winning formula. You can’t say “Well, this teleportation device is fairly good but it has certain limitations that we are working to address” and expect the product to take off.
Raising expectations doesn’t work in well established categories, where people know what to expect and can evaluate innovations. P&G’s recent advertising campaign announcing the astonishing, amazing Tide pods, for example, is a little flat.
If Apple has another highly innovative product in the works, then Cook is smart to elevate expectations.
Of course, that is a pretty big if.