A Product Launch Disaster in Front of Millions

Everyone wants the rewards that come with a big product launch – tech blogs, news coverage, and a ton of word of mouth leading up to a massive amount of sales.

Who doesn’t want everyone talking about your product at launch?

So, where to start? If you look at a few of the tech leaders out there at generating launch buzz, it almost seems easy. First you need to keep things super secret – can’t have any details leaking out too soon.

Then you need to slowly give out a few hints and clues here and there that something big is coming – all to build the anticipation.

You then invite all the top media outlets and élite tech bloggers to an invitation only press conference. Making them wait until the expectations are at an all time high and then you put on the show – extra fireworks included.

The results being that the entire internet is abuzz with your news. All the tech blogs have live streams running that highlight every single detail of the event. From here, the announcement spreads to the evening news, the WSJ, and other mainstream media sources, making sure the mainstream audience hears what’s going to be the next “it” item.

There it is – the formula for success is right in front of you. Grab it, run the play, rinse and repeat and watch all the money roll in.

Of course, there is the flip side of going big. Big rewards also means big risk. When you have the world’s most influential tech audience watching your every move (and you are following someone else’s playbook) it is always a good idea to make sure that the product you are showing off is worth all this grand standing.

When you’re trying to launch your product like a rocket out of the gate, everything has to be perfect. The smallest of errors on this type of stage can leave you looking foolish in front of millions.

As a recent example, check out the Microsoft Surface launch video below. It less than a minute of awkwardness from the launch event but enough to generate close to 3 million views so far.

Image Credit:  mondopiccolo

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  • http://askaaronlee.com Aaron Lee

    You’re right and because of this video i won’t be buying it. 

    One thing Microsoft needs to learn is how to make an impression which they clearly lack off. I mean.. no price? I already have an iPad, a kindle fire and I’m looking at the Nexus 7 which is a great product and I think will help build G+. 

    • http://www.arandomjog.com/ Joshua Duncan

      Aaron,

      You are spot on, you really need to have pricing details at launch time. Not having a launch date and pricing details seems like you are still working on the product and shouldn’t be doing a major launch announcement.  

      Thanks so much for the comment!

      Josh

  • http://smartsoftwaremarketing.co.uk/ Giles Farrow

    Apple always makes it look sooo easy.

    For everyone else, the best approach is to launch slowly, steadedly, gradually – when you know it is working and which messages/channels are proving most effective then apply the rocket fuel

    • http://www.arandomjog.com/ Joshua Duncan

      Giles – that is it exactly. I am sure that MS felt that if they didn’t try to go big like Apple they would be missing an opportunity. 

  • Tim Johnson

    So did that guy go blow lunch after that presentation ended?  Looked like he was going to do that on stage. 

    Bill Gates could have gotten away with that kind of MABUSHI in the early 00′s – I saw him do it in the 80′s, MSFT has had feet of clay for years and they continually refuse to accept that fact. Launch early, launch often.  Let’s try to do it just like Steve did (sneakers, jeans, cashmere pull over and oh-so-casually-place t shirt underneath). 

    Bunch of arrogant, copycat jerks.  No sales of Surface from me or any of my friends.

    • http://www.arandomjog.com/ Joshua Duncan

      Hey Tim,

      You bring up a great point around expectations. Compared to where they used to be for a product launch, things have changed quite a bit. In the tech world, you would have to look at Apple as the leader of this movement. They have raised the bar really high so if you want to follow their path, precede under heavy caution. They make a ton of work look easy.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Olivier Leroux

    I like to see all the Microsoft bashing. People usually say bad press is good press, I sometimes think so. I seriously think Microsoft has done some nice progress in the past 2 years. I gave it a second chance four months ago, when I bought a new generation Nokia phone. Windows phone is a great product. Having used many new generations Android phones and BlackBerries I believe they have finally given themselves a new innovative front end, which is very easy to use, as well as being clean and secure.

    About using Microsoft launch fail, I believe it is not always synonymous with product fail. I could bring you back to the iPhone 4 launch, which was failed, either in terms of the presentation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znxQOPFg2mo&feature=related), or for the antenna gate issue (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apples-antennagate-a-free-iphone-4-case-doesnt-fix-the-problem-does-lower-apples-standards/36827). And still, Apple succeeded.