Hey guys, it’s Pramod with Apple Explained. In this post, we’re going to cover the history of special edition Product Red iPhone Apple products, including what makes them different from other product colors.
Product Red History
If you’ve been an Apple user for a while, you might already be familiar with the Product Red brand. Because Apple first partnered with them. Back in 2006 when Apple released the special edition Product Red iPod nano. But you may not know all of the details behind it. Many people don’t even realize product Red is a separate company from Apple. So let’s begin by taking a look at what exactly the Product Red brand is, and then cover the work Apple has done in partnership with them.
Product Red was founded in 2006 by Bono, the lead singer of U2, and Bobby Shriver. The brand had one goal: To involve the private sector in raising awareness and money to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in eight African countries. And where does the money go? Well, the primary recipient of the funds is The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. And Product Red raises this money by partnering with companies who create special Product Red branded items, and then pledge a certain percentage of those profits. And some pretty high profile companies partner with Product Red, including Coca-Cola, Nike, Starbucks, Converse, Hallmark, and even Pewdiepie.
Reson Behind Red Apple products Launch
But Apple was one of the first companies to work with Product Red when they created their special edition second-generation iPod nano. Now we’ll get into the details of that iPodlater, but right now you may be wondering like I was, why Apple was so eager to participate in Product Red’s campaign. Because Apple never had a reputation for being an especially charitable company. Steve Jobs, then Apple CEO, was known for being the opposite of generous. Only making one public donation to the SEVA Foundation back in 1980, which consisted of $5,000 and an Apple II computer. And although there’s evidence that Jobs donated millions of dollars privately, many people didn’t know about that until long after his death. So perhaps at the time, Jobs found its advantages to have Apple partner with a charitable organization like Product Red. But that wasn’t the only reason why Apple was quick to help out. Because Bono, the founder of Product Red, had always been close to Steve Jobs.
Back in 1982 Jobs sold his San Remoduplex apartment to Bono. And in 2004 Apple partnered with Bono to create the special edition U2 iPod. Which featured a red click wheel, brand members signatures on the back, and came preloaded with U2’s entire music catalog. So it was almost natural for Bono to approachable for help when creating the Product Red brand. But Steve Jobs went a step further and gave his opinion on the logo Bono chose for Product Red. Saying that the parenthesis interfered with the logo and that they should be removed. But Bono disagreed, so Jobs relented, but made it clear that the logo would never appear in the Apple Store. And this resulted in some bitterness from Bono that’ll come up later in the post.
When Product Red was founded in 2006, Apple had its first special edition device ready to go. IT was the generation 2nd iPod nano. It featured a red aluminum design with the product red logo on the back and was exclusively available in Apple’s retail and online stores. And for each Product Red nano sold, Apple donated $10. Now that may not sound like much, but because apple sold so many iPod Nanos, it generated the largest amount of money for Product Red in their first year than any other partnering company. But this was only the beginning. Because over the next twelve years, Apple would release more than a dozen new products and accessories that featured the Product Red branding.
The second of which wasn’t a product at all, but rather a gift card. The iTunes Product Red Gift Card was introduced on January 9th, 2007 and Apple pledged 10% of the card value to the campaign. And although it was only available for a limited time, Apple reintroduced the Product Red Gift Card in 2014 but only as a free bonus for customers who purchased items on Black Friday. And the amount on the card depended on which product you purchased. And when Apple updated their iPod line in 2007, it introduced not only a new Product Red nano but also an iPod shuffle, both of which were again exclusively available in Apple’s retail or online stores. And the following 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th generations of iPod nano all featured a special edition Product Red model. The only difference between them is that apple donated $13.20 for every nano sold beginning with the 6th generation, as opposed to just$10 before. And 2011 had another Red surprise in store because, for the first time, Apple released a Product Red accessory; the Red Leather iPad Smart Cover. The company donated $4.80 for each one sold.
Now there’s a pretty interesting story behind this accessory. Because as we know from earlier in the post, Jobs wasn’t a fan of the Product Red logo. And Jonathan I’ve wasn’t either. Because the location of the logo on the iPad smart cover was very inconspicuous. Placed in small print on the inside edge of the accessory. And this outraged Bono, who felt Apple wasn’t doing enough to raise awareness for the campaign. So he complained about the stage during an interview alongside Jonathan I’ve, pulling out an iPad SmartCover and saying, “Where’s (Red) branding? Nobody can see that. This is modesty run amok. This is the Apple way. They’re like a religious cult.” I’ve remained calm and replied by pointing out Apple had developed over half a dozen Red branded products and that the partnership was very special to them. And although Bono didn’t appear to enjoy the Red Smart Cover, customers must have, because of Apple-branded the second accessory the following year in 2012.
This time it was a Red iPhone 4 Bumper case, and Apple donated $2 for each one they sold. And that same year, the 4th generation iPod shuffle was introduced in a special Product Red edition, with $4.80 being pledged for each unit.
Now up until this point, the only real Apple products that had received the Product Red branding were the iPod nano and shuffle. And that’s probably because nothing else they made came in colors. That is until the 5th generation iPod touch 2012. Because of its design featured color, Apple introduced a special edition Product Red model where they donated $13.20 from each sale.
Now after the Red iPod Touch, Apple wouldn’t release another Product Red item for five years, marking the longest break since they began its partnership with Bono’s organization back in 2006. So when Apple did finally create a new Product Red device in 2017, it was pretty big news. And it ended up being the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which was the first iPhone to ever be released in this signature Red. And since the 7, Apple has released a special edition Product Red iPhone with each new generation.
Including the red iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in April 2018, and the red iPhone XR in September 2018. And unlike the iPods, Apple didn’t make their pledge amount public for each Red iPhone they sold. Only stating that a portion of proceeds will be donated.
Now those are the main devices Apple has released Product Red, but there are more accessories that I haven’t mentioned like the Red leather and silicon iPhone cases, Red Smart Battery Case for the iPhone, Red Apple Watch bands, the Red Leather Sleeve for iPad Pro, and the Red Apple Pencil case. So clearly Apple is more involved with the Product Red campaign today than ever before.
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So since Apple first partnered with ProductRed in 2006, they’ve raised over $160 million for the organization. But the campaign has received its fair share of criticism. For starters, some people believe the huge amount of money invests in marketing isn’t proportional to the real-world effect they’re having in Africa. And this means the money users donate through purchasing an eligible product would be much better spent by giving directly to the global fund itself, rather than the Red brand serving as an expensive middleman. Also, corporations who’ve partnered with products Red have been criticized for using the appeal of charity as a publicity tool rather than a vehicle for real social responsibility. And when you consider that only 18 million dollars were raised for The Global Fund in 2006 after the company spent 100 million dollars in advertising, it begs the question of whether or not they’re operating for the greater good of corporations, or the real people in need. So that is the history of (RED) Apple Products,