What Motivates IPhone Buzz?

What motivates iPhone buzz? Is it really the iPhone?

First, pardon my mention of the iPhone, yet another contribution to the massive hype. My colleagues and I have been watching this product since the early rumors last year, then during the official thunder-stealing announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show, and, finally, through the official launch scheduled for this week. This has been the most significant product launch so far this year, according to volume of blog buzz. And yes, bloggers have played a massive role in festering and influencing the overall hype and story - blogs like Gizmodo, The Unofficial Apple Weblog and Engadget, among others.

So what motivates the blog buzz? Several company and industry colleagues have asked me over the past few days if some bloggers -- in a rabid quest for attention and traffic -- are inherently mandated to chime in on the iPhone launch. The question is whether they're consciously and opportunistically exploiting human readers and search engines that are primed and sensitized to the event -- similar to ambulance chasers.



My answer is yes, at least partly, and the rationale is simple. To be sure, much discussion is driven by infatuation and dedication. But if your agenda is garnering eyeballs and attention, then it makes sense to jockey yourself around where those eyeballs and attention are headed. Those who better time rising tides will reap better rewards. For many of the thousands of bloggers who are joining in the hype each day, this is a huge driver.

But the iPhone is not unique. There are a number of categories and topics that, simply by being blogged about, will almost guarantee a bump in human and machine traffic. Web 2.0, MySpace, Facebook, Wii, Second Life and porn, for instance, are good topical and brand examples.

But it's important to note this phenomenon also is prevalent among mainstream consumer, business, tech and media publishers. They do the same; just look at the iPhone's front- and home-page placements on all the top news sites. And I've seen many news organizations cross-promoting the story across their networks, as well as attempting to lure readers in via paid search and video.

There's a me-too motivation, but the fear of losing audience by not casting the iPhone net wide is perhaps a larger driver. Of course, the risk for a publisher is losing sense of self in the relentless quest for headlines with predictable results. Ultimately, you want to balance trend chasing with trend defining.

As for brands, manifesting into a rising tide of positive attention is a desirable state for launch. Without a doubt, there's an element of self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a buzz tornado that sucks you in and builds on itself, and Apple nailed it.

Obviously, as evidenced by this very column, I, too, am a victim of the iPhone buzz trap. However, I avoided sharing what I think about the product, without even owning or seeing one -- what the brand would've liked me to do! (Plus, I'm still dedicated to my Treo 650.)

Regardless, I guarantee you I'll pick up some disparate readers and attention as I ride the iPhone wave. But I promise: that wasn't my motivation.

What do you think?

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