Phone leaks are out of control now. Before the press conference, we knew everything we needed to know about the Note 9. About time we got to the press event it was a matter of confirming all the leaks. And the Pixel 3XL, there is not a week that goes by that another photo of the phone fails to hit the web. We’ve seen the phone, box, possible accessories, and the phone in action. And we still have two months to go before release. So are these string of leaks bad for everyone?
If you are the manufacturer you hate to see your hard work outed like that. Companies plan in advance the press events and ways to kick off the device announcements. This mean people are hired for the sole purpose of setting up how to present the device to the public. So for them it is unfortunate that they can no longer plan for how to build that excitement of the showing off a new phone. That reaction of seeing the phone for the first time has diminished.
For the average consumer, I do not see them being affected much at all. Outside of the tech fans, your average consumer is not “counting down” the days until a Samsung press event. Most consumers know about the phones being out from all of the ads on social media, promotional emails sent out by phone carriers, and the commercials seen on TV. So for them, phone leaks are not a concern.
This leave the tech fans. These are the people who visit forums, sites, and social media for the sole purpose of seeing what is new in tech. These fans are provided bits of information that may build up excitement about a device. Though we could argue too much are given at times, these tidbits of information provide anticipation (or disappointment) for fans. Like breadcrumbs, these tidbits lead up to the moment they are able to see reviews and hold the phones in their hands.
Overall I see why leaks are a concern for manufacturers. Leaks could result in intellectual property landing in the hands of a competing company. Something companies work hard to prevent, as this could cost the loss of jobs and revenue.
But despite all the concerns, I think leaks at times can help. Controlled leaks can help build up anticipation for a device, as well as spread the excitement to people who do not follow tech as close.
4 years ago, I remember showing co-workers the Sapphire glass video by Marques Brownlee. He was explaining about the glass that was to be on the upcoming iPhone 6 that year. The person was an iPhone user, but didn’t follow tech as closely. Seeing a new larger iPhone with this more durable glass got him excited for this new iPhone. He likely told others, who would go on to tell their friends and coworkers. The iPhone 6 is the best selling iPhone to date, and near the top of the list for top selling phones of all time (220 million units).
Leaks in itself are not entirely bad as it do help to build excitement for a device. For manufacturers they benefit from the free advertisements, as tech sites and blogs build up the anticipation for the press events and the device. And if it is a phone like the Note 9, that checks all the boxes for what a person looks for in a phone, blogs and sites may have phones flying off of the shelves before manufacturers even have the chance to run a commercial.
The flip side is if the phone do not live up to the expectation of fans. All the flaws and issues leaked can kill the mood and excitement for a phone. And just like how the tech fans can hype up coworkers and friends, they can also deflate them as well. And this is definitely something a manufacturer is looking to avoid. Which tells me that is is not so much about the leak as it is about the device itself. If the device being rolled out have the features and specs that fans are excited about, then the leaks may help rile up the fans (meaning high number of pre-sales). But if the leaks are not exciting, then fans may choose another option versus waiting for the phone release.