Apple's PR Coup

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Nice timing, Steve Jobs.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) issued a press release this morning, announcing that App Store downloads have now topped the 3 billion mark.

It's certainly an impressive feat, given that Apple launched the applications marketplace only two summers ago. It took just six months to double up on the 1.5 billion downloads that the company chalked up during the App Store's rookie year.

The timing of the press release is certainly no accident. This was supposed to be Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) day. The world's leading search engine has been prepping for today's Nexus One unveiling -- but in steps Apple to hog some of the attention.

Apple has a funny -- or tactically brilliant -- way of crashing the party. When Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) introduced its bar-raising Pre smartphone, Apple came back a few weeks later with a refreshed 3GS iPhone, complete with video-recording capability. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Zune hasn't really made a dent in Apple's portable-media-player dominance, but it always seems to be outdone by iPod price cuts or spec upgrades.

This doesn't mean that Apple isn't entitled to App Store bragging rights. It has truly been a game-changer in the smartphone revolution. It has armed indie developers with the tools to get noticed, and it has breathed new life into app-savvy companies including Vonage (NYSE: VG  ) and Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) that have approached smartphone apps as ways to generate incremental revenue.

However, there is no way that the timing of Apple's press release is a coincidence. Jobs has plenty of practice in pulling the rug from under his competitors -- and he just did it again.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is starting to see more Apple products creep into his home lately, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (13)

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  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 12:55 PM, bhessel wrote:

    Hmmm..."Nice timing"…"tactically brilliant"..."Jobs has plenty of practice in pulling the rug from under his competitors -- and he just did it again."

    If this is derision, what would praise look like?

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 1:52 PM, XMFTheATrain wrote:

    Apple had "nice timing" today on the announcement that it is buying mobile ad company, Quattro Wireless, too. With Ad Mob / Quattro Wireless and Nexus One / iphone, Apple and Google are increasingly competing head to head

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 4:30 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    Even more tactically brilliant is the fact that most people in my office this week have been talking about a not-yet-existing Apple tablet! Since coming back to work after the New Year weekend, it's been two days of discussing rumors and speculation..."I saw that Apple has a patent on such and such...wouldn't that be cool!"..."I heard that the keyboard will do!"...

    The product has never even been acknowledged by Apple as existing, but there's more interest in it than in the new Google phone. THAT'S brilliant PR!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 4:46 PM, JWILLI44 wrote:

    I don't quite understand the importance of the number of downloads. Most of these apps are free and are downloaded by pimple faced kids with nothing better to do. Many of these apps are useless and aren't even used. A google phone will be huge. We all know the power of google. How powerful will it be to have a google made phone being advertised to the millions of google users? What if google starts an "itunes" type service that is built in to their search engine in some way. Google will be your homepage, email, organizer, music library......GOOGLE will take over the universe!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 5:50 PM, tacain wrote:

    JWILLI44, it sounds like what you really don't quite understand is the power of Marketing!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2010, at 6:25 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    JWILLI44 wrote:

    "How powerful will it be to have a google made phone being advertised to the millions of google users?"

    Uh...about as powerful as the other Google phones that have already hit the market? This isn't a revolution for Google, to have a proprietary device. They already make the OS in other phones that carry Google branding. This is a minor step beyond that. In fact, it's almost counter-intuitive to their business model, which has seen quite a bit of success in selling the OS to now-competing phone manufacturers.

    JWILLI44 wrote:

    "What if google starts an "itunes" type service that is built in to their search engine in some way."

    What if Google starts to sell music? What does that have to do with their phone?

    What if Apple gets into search? What if Google makes cola? What if Warren Buffett stops playing bridge? All of that has the same impact on the price of tea in China.

    Google has had tremendous business success in extending their search expertise into other software/platform (cloud) developments. This phone will not be the game-changer for them. It will be an incremental item. Google Chrome (browser and OS) will more likely be a much bigger factor in their continued success.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2010, at 10:45 AM, Turfscape wrote:

    So, the story today is that Microsoft DIDN'T announce their own tablet at the CES keynote address yesterday.

    story here:

    So, in other words, Apple's buzz is so freakin' strong right now that the non-announced Apple tablet is causing expectations to skew so wildly that the public is disappointed that Microsoft didn't announce a product that they weren't actually expected to announce!

    So, Microsoft announces a new game system and their thunder is stolen by not having a competing product for Apple's non-existent product. That's PR.

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