Why Did Apple Fail To Deliver Airpods?

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, discusses the company's AirPods during a media event in San Francisco on September 7. Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Quora Questions are part of a partnership between Newsweek and Quora, through which we'll be posting relevant and interesting answers from Quora contributors throughout the week. Read more about the partnership here.

Answer from Brian Roemmele:

In retrospect, Apple made a rather large error by announcing AirPods without a firm and verified delivery date.

Apple took a massive and historic step of sunsetting the 3.5mm audio jack on the iPhone 7 series smartphones. This required the company to present a few simultaneous narratives:

  • Remove the 3,5mm audio jack;
  • Make the iPhone 7 waterproof;
  • New technology headphone options with AirPods.

Apple did well in presenting AirPods in September during the iPhone 7 event. The backlash turned out as I suspected, reduced to a limited amount of complaints by iPhone 7 users. Certainly not the massive rebellion many predicted, as the iPhone 7 went on to break the sales records of the most recent iPhone releases.

Apple made good on points 1 and 2 above, however they have delayed the validation of point 3. It is not a massive problem, but it is a directional that all Apple customers will note, at least subconsciously.

Missing the Holiday Window

The September to October announcement cycle for Apple products, and most other consumer electronic companies, is crucial for customer buying behavior adjustments for the holiday season. AirPods are in the price strata where they are a reasonably affordable gift for the holiday season of 2016. This window may close a bit on Apple if they do not release AirPods before December, 27th, 2016.

Accessories to the iPhone have met with astounding sales during the holiday season. Most of the items below the $200 price point have the highest sales numbers. AirPods are not only in that price range, they also are a bit of a luxury, a small indulgence that aligns perfectly with the premise of most gifts. Perhaps something you may not justify to buy for yourself, yet may still covet. Friends and family that are aware would seize on the opportunity to give a gift like AirPods.

Apple has already missed about 20 percent of the holiday buying cycle this year as of November 22. If they recover and have supplies available after "Black Friday" they would do well in securing most of this season.

If Apple is not ready to deliver AirPods in 2016, for whatever the reason, I would offer this free and simple solution. Manufacture Apple Gift Cards that represent a purchase for AirPods. It would represent not only the intent of the gift giver to give an actual device, rather than simply a general purpose gift card, it would also allow Apple to capture the sales during the most important sales period for a product released in 2016. Apple can also offer a discount to early purchasers or other incentives.

This is not a "raincheck" since in principle the card's retail value could be offered to be converted to other Apple products or even back to cash/refund if necessary.

Offering a product-specific gift card for the purchase of AirPods Apple is going a long way to redeeming its image with loyal customers. It would allow the loyal customer to get first in line to purchase AirPods and have perhaps exclusive early access to the product once it is released.

It is my view that other then a larger problem, AirPods will sell out in the first few weeks. There is no doubt they will become a very popular accessory. Thus even with doing nothing, Apple and AirPods will do very well.

The bottom line is that Apple made a rather large miscalculation on the delivery date for AirPods. This hurts the company in some ways with loyal customers. My gift card idea can at the very least offer a reasonable segment of gift givers and loyal Apple customers a way to assign a purchase and perhaps a place in line. This idea also aligns with the Apple spirit where there is a noticeable dedication to its customers. Apple has a chance to make something less than great, perhaps great.

From a marketing perspective, how could Apple have managed the AirPods promotion and launch better? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts