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Were Apple's 'leaked' iPhone 7 tweets really a mistake?

Matt Kapko | Sept. 23, 2016
The recent iPhone 7 launch presented Apple with a fresh opportunity to tackle Twitter, but the company's first iPhone-related tweets came a half-hour before it officially announced the phone.

Apple hasn't embraced social media the way its tech rivals have, but the company appears to have warmed to the medium. Today Apple uses its @AppleSupport account on Twitter as a customer service and outreach tool, and the company also maintains Twitter accounts for some of its most popular services, including Apple Music, the App Store, iTunes and Beats1

Apple also finally started to use its main @Apple Twitter account in the days leading up to the iPhone 7 launch earlier this month. But things got off to a bit of a rocky start. During the company's presentation, the company published and then immediately deleted at least three tweets to the @Apple account that revealed details and key features of the iPhone 7 — before it was officially announced.

The tweets, which and other sites captured before Apple deleted them, all posted to @Apple on Twitter within the first 25 minutes of Apple's event. Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the iPhone 7 more than 30 minutes later. Whether the tweets were genuine leaks or clever manipulation by the company's marketing team, it all seems to have worked out for Apple. 

'Leaked' tweets create iPhone 7 buzz

If anything, the incident created extra buzz for Apple's new flagship product, according to Benjamin Hordell, founding partner of digital marketing firm DXagency. "The internet tends to jump on failure and mistakes," he says. "Did it ruin the surprise? Sure. But did it create a little bit of another surprise because it leaked and that was exciting? Yes." 

Raul Castanon-Martinez, senior analyst at 451 Research, also doubts the veracity of the "leak." It's more likely that Apple sent the tweets on purpose rather than as a result of an accident, he says. "It is well aligned with the way they do everything else because it significantly hyped up the launch and the announcements," Castanon-Martinez says. "Even if it was a mistake it worked in Apple's favor. Apple has always thrived on secrecy, and consequently on rumors and speculation"

However, the perception that user error contributed to a leak could have some negative effect, according to Hordell. From a management perspective, Apple might want to tighten things up so no reason exists to think it made mistakes on Twitter, he says. No company wants to be viewed as prone to gaffes, but "in this case, it feels more like a no harm, no foul," Hordell says. 

Castanon-Martinez expects Apple to continue to pursue social media in the same way, rather than rethink its approach because of three promotional tweets that may or may not have prematurely appeared. "I really doubt this was not planned," he says. "I find it very hard to believe that somehow the information made it out of the R&D or product development chambers, all the way to the social media team and then accidentally leaked."


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