Apple Inc. departed from its traditional preview strategy for what
it bills as its most important new iPhone in years, prioritizing
early access to the iPhone X for YouTube personalities and
celebrities over most technology columnists who traditionally
review its new products.
Apple provided the iPhone X to a small number of traditional
testers for about a week, while limiting most others, The Wall
Street Journal included, to a single day with the device before
reviews could be published. About a half-dozen personalities on
Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube video service were granted time with the
device before its release.
The company seeded the iPhone X to at least three influencers with
different audiences: actor Mindy Kaling, who shared her thoughts
with Glamour; 12-year-old developer Alex Knoll, who showed off the
device on Ellen DeGeneres’s television show; and political
journalist Mike Allen, who included insights from his tech-savvy
nephew in Axios’s morning newsletter.
Traditional publications and tech outlets that in past years
received review models for a week of testing were given the iPhone
X fewer than 24 hours ago, resulting in crash reviews and
first-impression takes from USA Today, the Washington Post, the
Verge and others.
In the U.S., BuzzFeed, TechCrunch and Mashable were given a week
with the iPhone X, as were the Telegraph and the Independent in
the United Kingdom. The device also was given for a week to
outlets in Japan, China, Australia and other countries. Stephen
Levy of Wired, among the handful of people to test the first-ever
iPhone, spent a week with the iPhone X and posted his “first look”
impressions a day before most other publications.
I totally get including a bunch of YouTubers, and seeding review units to celebrities. YouTube is how young people get their news and reviews, and Apple definitely wants to reach young people. But I don’t get restricting real reviews to just three publications in the U.S. Leave me out of it, personally, just for the sake of argument here.
This is the most anticipated new device from Apple at least since the original iPad. People want to know about it. People are craving in-depth reviews. This is just unsatisfying.
(A thought that crossed my mind this week: What would Apple have done if Walt Mossberg hadn’t retired earlier this year?)