Apple's secret (blue) strategy

As I write this, it's four days until Apple releases the iPhone 4 in Australia.

That's pretty much all I know, and even that's only based on two bits of information. First, there's Steve Jobs' reveal of launch dates at the recent press announcement regarding free bumpers and antenna problems, and then (with a tip of the hat to Clinton Philips for tweeting it) there's Apple's retail page which at the time of writing even lists a time Apple stores might be open on Friday to sell it.

Beyond that ... nothing. Likely to cost more than $A719, because that's what an 8GB 3GS now costs. Probably not a lot more than $A1000, because that's what a 32GB 3GS used to cost. Probably available on plans from carriers starting at around $A59 a month, because that's still prime territory for smartphones, and there are a lot of rather nice Android models on the market right now at that kind of price point. All of that is just slightly informed guesswork, though.

Trying to follow Apple's product strategies is rather like being a mushroom. You know. Being kept in the dark and being fed ... well, you might be eating, so I won't finish that particular phrase. I'm sure you know where I was headed.

Sitting down and pondering the facts on Apple, and for that matter mushrooms yesterday, I came to a stunning realisation. A realisation that reveals once, for all time, Apple's exact marketing strategy. The pieces fit together so neatly, so perfectly that I'm stunned nobody's ever noticed it before.

The company once known as Apple Computer is run by Smurfs.

Stop giggling in the back there. I'm serious. Let's consider the facts.

First, the broad sweep.

Remember when Steve Jobs said that the iPad was "Magical and Revolutionary"? Smurfs are magical creatures. Magical creatures who live in mushrooms. Magical creatures who live under broadly communist rule. One might say … revolutionary.

Looking at leadership styles. Papa Smurf rules over the utopian Smurf community with absolute authority, a beard, and a costume that never actually changes, but is distinctively different to everyone around him.

Remind you of anyone?

When Papa Smurf is deposed from the throne by "King Smurf" — clearly a thinly veiled reference to John Sculley — everything goes wrong for the Smurfs, and only Papa Smurf can save the day.

Papa Smurf is into herbal medicine, as is Steve Jobs. Sure, Jobs doesn't appear to have blue skin, but that's just because the Steve Jobs we see is a complicated robot body, run by Papa Smurf himself. That whole issue with the liver transplant was, I suspect, an excuse for the robot body inhabited by Papa Smurf to be rebuilt with A4 processors inside of it, instead of the ageing PowerPC processors he'd been running on since the mid '90s.

That presumably means Grey Powell is Drunkard Smurf, and Jonathan Ive is Painter Smurf. Phil Schiller is Greedy Smurf. Woz is clearly Handy Smurf, as he does all the heavy lifting around the Apple Campus. I could point out exactly who Smurfette is, but then I suspect Apple Australia's PR team would never talk to me again.

The whole issue of iPhone 4 reception woes? The result of an argument between Brainy Smurf — the clear technical designer in Cupertino — and Jokey Smurf, who likes things that explode. It's clearly not often that Jokey is allowed input into the design process, but he's also to blame for MacBooks that overheat, graphics cards that don't fit properly and every mouse Apple's released for the past decade.

Gargamel's original primary interest in the Smurfs was so that he could figure out how to turn them into gold. Have you looked at Apple's share price recently?

Getting back to the iPhone 4 and the lack of information surrounding it, any time that humans (I think I still broadly count under that definition) attempt to come near to the Smurf village, they get hopelessly lost and confused. Unless a Smurf is willing to show you the way to the village, you'll never find anything out about them. As someone who has tried on countless occasions to get comment out of Apple, I recognise this strategy implicitly.

Just in case you're still shaking your head in disbelief, consider the classical description of Smurf characteristics.

They're blue. What colour was the original iMac?

They're exceptionally small — something that Apple has worked for with every iPhone and iPod release to date.

In fact, they're not just described as small. It's rather more explicit than that. Consider the classical description of exactly how tall Smurfs are. They're not three inches tall. Not three retail copies of Windows Vista tall.

They're always described as being three apples tall.

I wonder if it's actually legal for small magical blue creatures to run a major US corporation?

Discuss this with me in MacTheForum!