Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Friday September 14, 2012.
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Last week, Nokia and Motorola held press conferences to announce new phones they hope will restore their respective company's past glory. Though they collectively announced five phones, they gave a complete picture for only one. The long-winded presentations revealed everything people needed to know about the four phones, except for the factors that matter most: when people can buy the new phones and how much they will cost.
Compare that vague release model with what Apple did this week and what Amazon did with the Kindle Fire HD launch. CEO Tim Cook gushed about how many iPhones have been sold and how many apps are now available in the App Store. After unveiling the iPhone 5, Apple shared more important numbers by confirming the price and release date of the device. There were no vague references about "coming weeks" or "competitive pricing." There was only definitive information to which consumers can respond, and by the looks of things, they have responded enthusiastically. Why can't other manufacturers follow this model?
Motorola and Verizon confirmed the DROID RAZR M's release information moments after announcing the phone, but neither said when the more appealing DROID RAZR HD and DROID RAZR MAXX HD will go on sale. Nokia held onto the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 release information like a tightly-guarded secret, and the company probably won't share that secret with the rest of the world until two months after the phone is first announced. If that's the case, why not announce the phone in two months? Surely that would make more sense than trotting out a phone that you say is incredible, but somehow isn't good enough to let journalist fully explore yet.
Nokia and Motorola are the latest offenders, but HTC, LG, RIM, Samsung, and Sony are also guilty of this crime. They dangle the promise of a new phone months before the devices are ready to be released, then act surprised when there's little to no fanfare when it goes on sale three months later. By the time the phone is released, people have largely forgotten about it or made a new purchase. At some point, the small bump in pre-release hype earned by stoking rumors and staggering release details will prove ineffective.
Some might argue that companies host early events because it gives them a chance to jump ahead of competitors and grab attention, but that buzz is often short-lived. While people can make iPhone 5 vs. DROID RAZR HD vs. Lumia 920 comparison charts thanks to the early launches, most consumers will ignore those charts and buy the phone they can get today. It doesn't matter if a great phone is coming out in a month - or 2 or 3 or 4, as far as anyone knows - if a comparably great phone is available today.
I am not an iPhone user, but I respect Apple's recent history of announcing a phone when it's ready and not a minute sooner. Within minutes of the iPhone 5 being confirmed, interested buyers knew exactly how much they'd have to take out of their piggy banks, and when they'd have to camp out to purchase the phone on launch day. Far too few companies can say the same about their products, and that needs to change if they want to use the hype to drive bigger sales. I'd be happy to give Motorola or Nokia my money for a new phone; I just wish they'd be so kind as to tell me when they'll accept it.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.