Joel Spolsky in Mouth Wide Shut writes:
When Apple releases a new product, they tend to surprise the heck out of people, even the devoted Apple-watchers who have spent the last few months riffling through garbage dumpsters at One Infinite Loop.
Microsoft, on the other hand, can’t stop talking about products that are mere glimmers in someone’s eye. Testers outside the company were using .NET for years before it finally shipped.
So, which is right? Should you talk endlessly about your products under development, in hopes of building buzz, or should you hold off until you’ve got something ready to go?
He goes on to say that he doesn’t think that building buzz, pre-launch, around a product necessarily helps in the marketing of it. I haven’t written the section on buzz and PR for my 10 marketing rules, but I wouldn’t be modelling Apple vs Microsoft on successful PR strategies. Pre-launch awareness, and buzz, especially if you are building a platform product, are critical to product success. By creating awareness amongst potential customers, and thereby creating pent-up demand, at launch you can see large sales. When large numbers of people purchase your product, the word-of-mouth effect kicks in and follow on sales, post-launch, are higher.