Apple : Good timing

Innovative timeline becomes an online hub for latest product launch.

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The feature

Apple, the US technology giant, created a rich and visually appealing online multimedia timeline to accompany a live product launch.

The timeline ran on the Apple website under a live stream of the September 9th event from the Flint Centre for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California. Regular updates began at 7am local time, three hours before Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, took to the stage to introduce a raft of new products including two versions of the iPhone6, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, a digital wallet.

In keeping with Apple’s brand and the new gadgets on show, the timeline design was clear, bold, simple and used high-quality images – from the view of Cupertino at sunrise, to the waiting photographers outside and scenes from the event itself. The content was engaging and varied, including images and video of the products, punctuated by tweets from Cook and positive reaction from celebrities including Stephen Fry, Ellen DeGeneres and Sam Smith. The last update came at 1.15pm local time, but the full timeline was still on the website a day after the event.

The takeaway

During past Apple product announcements, technology news sites like The Verge and mainstream publications like the Guardian have attracted traffic to their websites by running ‘live timelines’ featuring running commentary and images from and about Apple’s events – a missed opportunity for the technology company to drive freshly-enthused potential customers to its own online presence.

For the latest launch, the company has decided to make its own site a hub for those interested in seeing a real-time summary of the event and broader reaction. The well-executed, news-site-style timeline allows Apple to control which retweets and images to highlight (and ignore), which it obviously cannot do on third-party news sites.

Apple’s approach could be used by other companies for important events such as AGMs and investor days that are of interest to an online audience as well as those in the room.
First published 10 September, 2014
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