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It’s All About Timing

Recent events have motivated me to write this blog post. Often times I find myself thinking about topics to write about and then soon enough, a new event happens whether it be a marketing campaign, news, technology development, etc that just reinforces my topic. This post is no exception to that rule. It’s all about timing.

Over the past several weeks, there have been some interesting tech developments that has made the web stand up and take notice. Four of the things are:

First of all, let’s look at the announcement on May 28 where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at The D Conference a new “decision engine” that would, according to the press release, provide “customers with a first step in moving beyond search to help make faster, more informed decisions.” The new search engine-turned-decision engine became known as Bing and would replace Live Search. This was probably to be the biggest thing happening in the world of the tech scene, but probably unbeknownst to the software giant, across the state was another large conference called Google I/O that was for developers and Google enthusiasts to learn what latest and greatest was coming from the search engine giant. And after a brief shining glimmer of hope, the hype that everyone had spread via Twitter, photos, videos, or blogs about Bing soon disappeared and was replaced with people clamoring over what was Google releasing – and in order to make headlines like that, you’d need to unveil something BIG.

And Google didn’t disappoint…initially. I say initially because their product hasn’t been fully vetted, but the potential it holds is very promising. But getting back to the announcement, Google decided it was the right time to release Google Wave and show everyone the power of real-time. From what I can gather at what I’ve seen is that Google Wave is an interactive dashboard and encourages collaboration and updates itself in real-time. That’s probably the killer that ruined any media mention by Microsoft. Here you have a dedicated forum just for Google and they can spend the entire event hyping up Google Wave while Microsoft is left to work on just 30-45 minutes at a conference with other tech companies.

Now let’s look at another example where timing has helped to change the momentum of what people are saying. For the past few months at least, the world knew that Palm would be releasing a new phone to compete against what is perhaps the number one smartphone in the market, the iPhone. And in the past few days, we were all excited to hear that the Palm Pre would be available soon. A Facebook page had been set up to allow folks the opportunity to see the Palm Pre television commercial “before it even aired on TV” and it was the biggest smartphone news of the week. Nothing could stop Sprint’s momentum to have the release happen with a bang.

But then something happened. No one seemed to remember that Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference was happening the same day as the release. As with most, if not all, Apple conferences, major announcements are made. So as expected, a Steve Jobs stand-in gave the keynote and within the next hour or so, big news was made to send ripples through the phone industry: a new iPhone complete with video capability, integration with Tom-Tom for GPS navigation, MobileMe locator functionality, and a new operating system that will allow it to run faster. And then the Palm Pre was silent.

But the wind has not completely deflated the sails of the Palm Pre. In a Mashable post, it seems that the early adopters who were eager to buy a Palm device downloaded 150,000 applications in the first weekend. There were a decent amount of mentions online about the device, but sadly rather than entering the market with a bang, it’ll probably just be remembered as a dull whimper unfortunately. 

Would the Palm Pre have done better by launching after the iPhone and WWDC? I don’t think so. It needed to get ahead of the game because people would be more inclined to buy the phone and download the applications to get them used to it. If they launched after WWDC, the audience would be more swayed to the new iPhone and thereby reducing the attention that they’re already getting. Could they have released it earlier? Probably. I’m sure there are reasonings, but maybe a month earlier than WWDC. From the timing standpoint, they should have expected that something would have come out from WWDC or face a huge risk of not gaining traction post-Apple events. From a phone standpoint, it’ll be Apple as the 800 lb gorilla in the room and you need to make sure that you have an iPhone clone to compete against the iPhone. Otherwise, think more strategically to avoid getting crushed by the Apple enthusiasts as they walk over your product to get to the new Apple toy.

It’s all about timing. Learn to anticipate.

Published in Marketing