All product categories have a specific life span called the product life cycle. Many factors, such as competition and technology, affect brands and their product life cycle. Nevertheless, brands or products typically go through five stages of growth: development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. Characteristics for each stage differ and in response to the different needs of the product as it moves through its life cycle, the market mix used during these stages differ as well. Understanding the product life cycle can help business owners and marketing managers plan a marketing mix to address each stage fully. If a curve is drawn showing product revenue over time, it may take one of many different shapes, an example of which is shown bellow:
In this work I would like to take a look at the product life cycle of one of the most popular smartphones on the market today, the Apple iPhone. If we draw a product life cycle curve of iPhone (not a curve of a particular model of iPhone), it will look different from the curve above. iPhone’s forecasting behaves in a different manner than most electronic devices. Generally, people are slow to adopt the new technology or product, which is depicted by the stretched introduction and growth phase. Once technology has been tried and tested, the mass adoption occurs, which gradually comes to a plateau. On the contrary, with iPhone, the initial hype is such that their majority of sales happen during initial 1-2 years, and then immediately dry up. This whole distortion can be attributed to the huge fan following of Apple, who are not only loyal, but also want to experience the new product before others. Also, Apple constantly innovate the product and launch a totally revised version of the product (iPhone 5 is the last example), that greatly increase the product life cycle of the Apple iPhone. Let’s examine every stage of a product life cycle with focusing on characteristics of each stage for the Apple iPhone.
During the development stage, the product may still be just an idea, in the process of being manufactured or not yet for sale. It’s a stage where the product concept is conceived, developed, branded and even tested before being introduced to the market. In this stage, the marketing mix is in the planning phase, so rather than implementing marketing strategies, the product producer is researching marketing methods and planning on which efforts the company intends on using to launch the product. The marketing mix for this stage includes ways to bring awareness of the product to potential customers through marketing campaigns and special promotions. A lot of capital typically goes into the development stage, including product and advertising costs. It is certainly conceivable that a poor concept idea or the lack of capital could end the life of a brand before it is introduced. Development of what was to become the iPhone began in 2004, when Apple started to gather a team of 1000 employees to work on the highly confidential "Project Purple". Apple CEO Steve Jobs steered the original focus away from a tablet, like the iPad, and towards a phone. Apple created the device during a secretive collaboration with AT&T Mobility—Cingular Wireless at the time—at an estimated development cost of US$150 million over thirty months. Before the release of the iPhone, handset manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola were enjoying record sales of devices based more on fashion and brand rather than technological innovation. Furthermore, while the existing operating systems at the time such as Symbian, BlackBerry OS and Windows Mobile were not designed to handle additional tasks beyond communication and basic functions, iPhone OS (renamed iOS in 2010) was designed as a robust OS with capabilities such as multitasking and graphics in order to meet future consumer demands. Steve Jobs did believed that cell phones were going to become important devices for portable information...
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