On the eve of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 announcement, Phil Schiller did something that Apple hasn't done in a very long time — help their competition. Yesterday Phil Schiller had interviews with The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. Apple's PR goal was clear: Phil Schiller would take some shine off the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch by presenting a series of facts about Apple's iPhone, contrasting them against Android devices. The obvious winner would be the iPhone's seamless integration vs a fragmented Android world.
Unfortunately, Schiller made the launch spotlight even brighter for Samsung's S4.
There is a general rule in marketing 101: When leading a market, never mention the competition, but when behind, always mention and associate with the leader. The leadership brand never associates or compares itself to the competition. Why should Apple not mention the iOS competition?
It delivers free advertising time to the competitor
It makes your target audience aware there are other alternatives
It associates other brands with the market leading company
Schiller's indirect message said, "Hey guys, I'm doing something very unusual, having an interview with both of you today — the day before Samsung's big launch — telling you not to pay any attention them. And I'll give you a bunch of comparative analysis between our products to explain why."
All Schiller accomplished was making even more people aware of the Samsung launch, while giving Samsung's Android phones validity when compared to the iPhone. Instead of drawing attention away from Samsung's Galaxy S4, Schiller helped highlight the event. I'm sure Samsung will send Schiller a nice thank-you card.
What Apple should've done is keep their executive's traps closed. Even if Apple is worried about the S4, they should've been mum. In about a month, Cook and company could have conducted interviews with the WSJ, Bloomberg and others, focusing on the great path for iOS, iPhone and iPads. In other words, Apple's brass could have set the hype and focus back onto Cupertino's next big play.
Something is out of sync between the PR and Executive team at Apple. Either PR is giving bad advice, and Cook and crew are listening. Or PR is giving Cook and crew the right information, but Cook isn't listening, and sent Schiller into the wild.
Regardless of who is to blame at Apple, what Schiller did was undisciplined and uncharacteristic for Apple. It was like saying "Hey Everyone! Don't look over there!" And naturally what do people do when you say that? They look over there. And tonight, even more folks than ever before, thanks to Apple, will be paying attention to Samsung and what the Galaxy S4 has to offer.