On the tail of Verizon’s announcement that it acquired Yahoo!, in effect, transforming into a media force with content front and center, Apple made its own intriguing announcement this week. The tech brand will feature its own version of “Carpool Karaoke,” the hugely popular segment from “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” on Apple Music.
It’s weird, really. The Apple brand is typically associated with sleek iPhones, innovative technologies, and long lines of devoted brand ambassadors camped out on rainy sidewalks – not original content. And yet, its newest interest appears to be in the entertainment industry.
And clearly, it is not alone. Samsung made a similar play with its focus on AR, even though the brand has recently reached new heights with the Galaxy S7 outselling Apple’s iPhone 6S.
So, what’s going on? Given that most people are still two seasons behind on “House of Cards,” what could Apple and Samsung possibly be thinking?
Devices Have Their Limits
Well, if Apple’s disappointing fiscal first quarter results (which were announced yesterday) are any indication, apparently even iPhone sales have their limits and Apple knows it. It is no longer enough to have a platform that simply hosts movies, TV shows, and music – they need their own content to stand out.
It seems Apple and its tech peers finally realize what most of us have known all along: Content is unique in its special power to touch users and drive loyalty.
Apple’s Strategy vs. Samsung’s Strategy
Apple has $200 billion on its balance sheet. That amount of disposable cash comes with options, from outsourcing content projects to Hollywood producers to building its own Apple-branded in-house studio. This makes sense – their strategy is to fill their Apple TV and Apple Music library with original content to rival the Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others of the world.
Samsung, on the other hand, is taking more of a grassroots approach. It plans to launch a virtual reality portal and its Samsung Creates initiative, which offers seminars and classes to budding storytellers on how to make user-generated content using its new 360-degree camera and other VR products. This also makes sense, given Samsung has the platform, but still needs the content.
The Sony Model
This isn’t the first time a respected brand known for its electronic devices has ventured into the content arena. In 1989, Sony began overtures to take over Columbia Pictures Entertainment to create what would eventually become Sony Pictures Entertainment.
For evidence regarding how that investment impacted its hardware division, consider how many Sony devices people have sitting on their desks today. Perhaps this is why Apple and Samsung are approaching original content with measured steps and the help of the most effective purveyors of content: celebrities and influencers.
In the case of Samsung, it has employed the star power of viral YouTube sensation, Casey Neistat, who will help the brand showcase the talents of nascent content creators, especially in the emerging VR realm. Meanwhile, Apple’s Carpool Karaoke is already a bona fide hit. The move by both demonstrates a cautious approach to focus on developing content that they know already works. (It may be some time before Apple releases its experimental iteration of “Stranger Things.”)
Content Marketing Takeaways
This isn’t a bad strategy and one that we can all take to heart ourselves when making the case for building up our own content arsenals. Starting slowly with safe bets that are likely to perform well – like content that features influencers – makes a lot of sense. It allows you to grow to scale and prove the value of your efforts. Additionally, focusing on content that serves a bigger picture and aligns with your key differentiators is a smart strategy. Moreover, so is emphasizing content that entertains rather than hard sells.
Content has always been about the art of storytelling, but the story of content itself is creating its own drama. The future of content is definitely going to be a show worth watching.