Bendgate: How YouTube Got Apple’s Attention

If a brand is still wondering if YouTube is worth their attention, they should look no further than Apple’s recent product rollout and the ensuing “Bendgate” controversy. Not even Apple anticipated a viral video featuring the ability to bend their new iPhone 6 Plus would become so widespread that the company would have to formulate an official response. If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: people are talking about brands on YouTube, with or (more likely) without their input. Are you listening to what they have to say? Are you ready to respond?

Bendable iPhone 6 Plus

Last month Apple announced three new products, the Apple watch, iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus. Of the three, the iPhone 6 Plus has been getting extra attention after a YouTube video created by Unbox Therapy went viral. After reports of bent iPhones began circulating, the consumer channel filmed a video testing the bend resistance of the new iPhone 6 Plus. The results were not flattering for Apple.

Avoiding charges of bias, Unbox Therapy followed their iPhone 6 Plus test with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Bend Test:

The Galaxy Note 3 faired much better, and the internet, of course, cried, “Fake!” Unbox Therapy answered by filming another video. This time they tested phones from other companies, using the same bend test. They also included the regular iPhone 6, which ended up performing much better than the iPhone 6 Plus.

It didn’t take long for the internet to jump on the #Bendgate trend. People started making parodies of Apple ads featuring the “new bend feature” of the iPhone 6.

Unbox Therapy was even given the parody treatment with this video:

While torture and drop tests have been popular forms of product reviews for the Technology community on YouTube, the bend test is a fairly new phenomenon. YouTube culture influences consumer culture. People are interested in knowing if the phones actually bend, and if so, how easily. Some curious consumers have gone so far as to attempt the bend test themselves with the display phones in actual Apple stores.

Bendgate

Drop Tests Gone Wrong

Along with the bend test, another video featuring a drop test drew attention to some flaws in the new iPhone’s design.

What makes this especially interesting is that SquareTrade, an Apple Warranty provider, also filmed a drop test video in which they gave both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus passing grades.

Word-of-mouth has an entirely different meaning in a world where someone can go on YouTube, and within a few seconds find a video either recommending or tearing down a product. It is instantaneous, and people trust YouTubers because they come off as more authentic.

The Power of YouTube Demands Attention

YouTube has become so integral in the consumer purchasing funnel that Apple was forced to respond to Bendgate even though, according to their records, “A total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus.”

While social media sites like YouTube allow for essentially free advertising for many brands, they also allow for consumers to voice opinions, good or bad. In Apple’s case, it was not entirely positive, and it brought widespread attention to a flaw in their new product. Both Android users and Apple enthusiasts ran to defend their beloved products. Whether or not sales are affected for Apple (they sold 10 million in the first weekend alone), it cannot be ignored that YouTube, and social media, played a huge role in driving the conversation around the new iPhones. The conversation on YouTube got loud enough that even the giant Apple, Inc. had to respond, thus proving if you are a brand and ignore YouTube, you do so at your own peril.

 

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  • Great blog. Super well written, really informative. Thanks!