Apple's video of iPhone 3G shows its marketing prowess

30-minute online video offers guided tour of the iPhone 3G

The marketing prowess of Apple is legendary, a reputation that was bolstered again Tuesday by a slick 30-minute online video that offers a guided tour of the iPhone 3G coming July 11.

The video is much longer than a previous video that appeared for the first-generation iPhone a year ago, but features the same narrator, Bob Borchers. Borchers is not a professional actor, as many have thought, but is the senior director of the Apple iPhone product line.

Borchers, wearing the collarless black shirt commonplace with Apple presenters, describes a wide array of product features without much specific emphasis on what is new to the iPhone 3G. Still, he makes it clear that using a faster 3G network, one of the major added features in the new iPhone, will help users in downloading Web pages and video.

Some of the focus of the tour is on potential business users, so the video shows the capabilities of visual voice mail for picking through long lists of voice mails by the sender's name and using a simple touch to listen to a voice mail recording. Push e-mail capabilities and quick navigation of long e-mail inboxes, are also explained. Photos attached to e-mails appear next to the text without the need to open an attachment, Borchers explains.

Some of the material covered in the video is specific, such as showing the ways a user trains to use the touch keyboard, which can change size depending on the application. A theme throughout is personalization of the device, including the ability to customize icons on each of nine different possible home pages. The presentation is like a video instruction manual at times, designed to help potential buyers visualize how they might use the device, analysts said.

Analysts said the video is unusual in smart phone marketing. It is also distinctive because, at 30 minutes, it is lengthy and intimate, with a narrator talking directly at the audience, with up-close demonstrations of how an application works. Many other cell phone makers and cell phone carriers have elaborate marketing campaigns and offer users the ability to hold and try out phones in their stores before making a purchase, but the video shows how far Apple is willing to go, analysts said.

To say Apple is good at marketing is an understatement, said analyst Ken Dulaney at Gartner. "They are awesome at this," he said and called the guided-tour video part of a "very effective" overall campaign designed to lure customers.

"No one does services, hardware, software and marketing to the degree of excellence of Apple in one single organization," he added.

Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst in Atlanta, noted that there are "countless" numbers of phone models introduced by carriers each year, but only a few devices are given much of a marketing push. The Sprint Instinct by Samsung has had a strong marketing push in advance of initial sales in June, although the campaign did not include a similar online video.

"Apple does [marketing] bigger than everyone else," Kagan said. "They take it to the next level."

Apple is helped by virtue of selling only one phone model "and can afford to focus on marketing and create demand," he added. "Thirty minutes for a video might seem like a lot, but then again, Apple does a great job at marketing."

The longer video portends an impressive launch on July 11, Kagan said, even though imitators have launched competitive touch-screen smart phones in the past few months.

"Apple has learned what worked and what should be corrected," Kagan said. "This year's introduction could be hot again."

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