A tale of two cities: consumer responses to the iPhone 14 launch

Rain was pouring down in Manhattan, New York City. The streets were empty – most people had taken shelter inside. Apart from one long line of shadowy figures on 5th Avenue.

A queue stretched across three blocks, and attendees had set up tents for the night. “It’s going to be brilliant”, said Daniel, as he took out his sleeping bag. A 44-year-old automobile engineer, over-indulgent dog owner and Michigan native, Daniel was soaked from the rain and hadn’t eaten in 10 hours. But he was in good spirits. Daniel was about to get his hands on the iPhone 14 in the morning – the latest release by the American tech giant Apple.

And he was not alone.

In a small flat in the outskirts of Tokyo, Yoonmi had set her alarm to 11 pm to watch the launch event live online. It was dark outside as she made tea and opened her laptop – the city was asleep. Yoonmi, is 26 years old, a perfectionist and a morning person. She worked as an accountant – and hated it, spending her time daydreaming about retraining as a veterinarian. Like Daniel, she had spent the last days prepping for the iPhone 14 launch.

This is their story.

They’re personas we’ve built by looking at social data that captures the spirit of the launch from two perspectives.

Because the event is a kind of litmus test; a chance for us to examine how Apple dominates the market and consumers’ minds.

It’s America’s most profitable company and the iPhone is one of the best-selling products in history. Just as it has long reigned over the premium phone market, experts now believe it is now looking to dominate the budget smartphone market as well.

So how does Apple do it?

We’ve uncovered the secret sauce by breaking down customer expectations and reactions to the iPhone 14 launch into its most basic parts, including everything from product design and advertising to product performance and software features. We’ve read, quantified and analysed hundreds of comments from Twitter, Reddit and Youtube – both before and after the September 7th reveal.

Early adopters like those Daniel and Yoonmi represent the leading edge of important market trends. They often express needs well before the majority of the target market encounters them.

Meaning there is much to learn from Daniel and Yoonmi’s stories. Tech brands can better understand how to access, anticipate, and address consumers’ needs and priorities. To identify the key benefits and concerns that feed into service innovation and marketing. To know what’s broken – and how to fix it.

So other tech brands can beat Apple at their own game.

A day in the life of…Daniel


AAAAAAAHHHH, I’m so excited! Today’s the day!

Top priority is getting the iPhone. I do need some new AirPods too, and a new Apple watch would be great. Just need the money to get the last two. Guess they’ll have to wait…


Can’t sleep. It’s quite loud outside and I can’t wait for the product reveal. I’m just super excited and positive in general – can’t say I expect any particular product features.

Well, I guess I have thought a bit about colour, screen features and size. I’ve been discussing those features a lot with the other guys in the queue. Most of them agreed with me: the best colours are blues, punks and pastel colours. Love those. I quite like metallics too – fingers crossed!

I’m really hoping they’ll keep the small screen size. The bigger model is a bit of a hassle – hard to grab, hold on to and fit in your pocket. The girls in the line were especially keen to keep the smaller model – some even said they’d skip buying the new phone altogether if they went back to bigger sizes. I’d also really like to be able to lock my phones at 120hz and introduce a USB-c port. It’s strange that Apple hasn’t done that years ago, actually, considering how innovative they are usually.


It looks like the drizzle outside the tent finally stopped. Phew. Otherwise, I think it would have started to leak in before the morning.

Glad I came though – I’ll be one of the first to get access to the iPhone on launch day! Such great bragging rights and can’t wait to play with my new toy. I should probably try to get some more sleep before…


I’m wide awake after hearing the conversation between the guys in the tent next door. They’re worried about being too far behind in the queue to get their hands on the new iPhone. I know it’s not an obvious thing these days, so they’re freaking me out a bit. You just can’t be sure about availability. With all the supply chain problems and material shortages since the pandemic began, there might be low stock. And isn’t the shortage of chips still a worry?


So excited!! Putting the tent away now – it’s almost time for the launch! The wait is over!


Just got a text from Jake at work asking if I’ll be sure to get hold of an iPhone when it all starts in a few minutes. He and some other guys have been so excited that they pre-ordered it without having seen it. Now they’re worried that they won’t arrive on time today. Can’t blame him – I’d be worried too. Heard lots of horror stories of late delivery times or phones getting lost in the post. Probably best to only pre-book it with those that can guarantee it arrives on time – like the Apple Store app. Glad I came and avoided all that hassle.

Anyways, I’ll text him back later — the launch event is about to start!

A day in the life of…Yoonmi


It’s almost time!

I better start making tea straight away. Camomile? Will struggle to go to bed otherwise – and the neighbour’s crying toddler isn’t helping. Or should I make coffee if I’m staying up long? Apple does have a lot of new stuff to showcase…


Finally, an end to the waffle – ahhhh, there it is, the new iPhone!


Wait, seriously – there’s no mini-model? But they’re so convenient and easy to grip! I left android for Apple specifically because of the mini!

Argh, that’s so annoying, don’t know what I’ll do now. Don’t think I’ll buy the new iPhone then – might get the iPhone 13 mini instead or just stay on my older model.

Or should I consider that new brand that Rika from Pilates always raves about? Think that phone even folded! Could be super useful actually. Strange that Apple didn’t pick that up. Can’t believe other brands are beating Apple at innovation – there doesn’t seem to be much new in this iPhone generation! And such a shame that they’re no longer catering for a wide range of phone and screen sizes. I’d like the option to choose.


Oooooh, that’s quite a good colour selection actually! Love the purple, and the pinks and blues are lovely too! Haruto will be disappointed though. Don’t think he’ll like any of the colours on offer and he was really hoping for orange. I wonder if Apple could expand their colour selection even more – shouldn’t that be an easy thing to arrange?


Why did they remove the sim slot from the phones being sold in the USA?? I like having a sim slot – makes phone use so much more flexible when travelling. That’s not great – I’m guessing a lot of Americans will be buying their phones abroad then, just to get around that. I really hope it doesn’t affect availability here in Japan…


Looks like the new launch isn’t much of a step forward in tech development or innovation –in general, or with specific designs or features. The iPhone 14 is basically my 13 with minor tweaks. What’s the point in upgrading then…. Especially considering how expensive it is. Just not worth the price.

When is Apple going to bring out something new? It really looks like they’ve lost their mojo – expected something more innovative from them. But then again, I don’t even know what they could do more with today’s technology.


Text from Akito. He’s also not happy with the new iPhone compared to previous models, especially the iPhone 13. Looks like he won’t be upgrading either.


Ah – that’s something! The new “satellite connection” feature is great! Would come super handy for that mountain and hiking holiday in March. I wouldn’t have to buy a satellite radio.


No, seriously – that was it? I was so excited about the reveal – kinda feel disappointed and a bit peeved now. Seems like Akito’s positivity quickly turned sour too.

I think the new design ideas were quite nice – that’s probably what I liked the most. The ‘new’ features that weren’t new was definitely the biggest drag – besides the hefty price for a product that’s barely any different from its predecessor.

Hmmmm. I should really think about writing this down into a sort of blog review. Could I start my own blog? I’ll google how that stuff works in the morning, gotta get to bed now. I really, really hope the neighbour’s baby will sleep through the night this time…

So, what can we learn from Daniel and Yoonmi’s stories?

For any product to succeed, the value proposition needs to be clearly recognised by the customer. Product benefits must be evident – and for the iPhone 14, this was not the case for most. This suggests tech brands may do better to reveal new product lines more rarely but with more dramatic improvements than more regularly and with less noticeable product upgrade.

We also see that global tech brands would do well to trial innovative features to see if consumers ‘migrate’ to buy iterations of the product elsewhere. ’Buying with your feet’ is a surefire way of distilling what features consumers seek out, or conversely, go out of their way to avoid.

Insights like these show that tech brands can examine product reveal responses on social media to reach new audiences, understand what makes them tick and what their ideal customer journey looks like.

So keep on checking social media conversations. You’ll have front-row seats to how tech trends among consumers are moving.

By Louise Alestam

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