Even if you’re an Android fanboy, there’s no denying that Apple knows how to market. Some Apple haters might go so far to say that marketing is the only thing Apple does well—otherwise how have they managed to turn ‘copied ideas’ into billions? No matter which side you fall on, it’s clear that Oculus is borrowing from the Apple marketing playbook.

“Step into Rift” (sic)

This is perhaps the earliest sign of Oculus’ very Apple-like approach to marketing themselves and their products, and one that has stuck out to me from very early on.

As far as Oculus is concerned, their VR headset is called ‘Rift’. Not the Rift, mind you. Just… Rift. They do the same thing for ‘Touch’, their virtual reality controllers. Watch this video and listen for every time they say “Touch”. You will never hear the word “the” come before it. You’ll also spot this all over their marketing material:

step into rift

You’ll hear the exact same thing any time Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe talks about ‘Rift’ or ‘Touch’ on stage. Once you notice it, you’ll never not be able to notice it again… sorry about that.

Apple does the very same thing and has been doing for a long time, at least as far back as the original iPod reveal in 2001. Find any official marketing, whether it’s a keynote from CEO Tim Cook or marketing on their website and you’ll just about never hear ‘the iPhone’. It’s just ‘Enjoy iPhone’, ‘Look at iPhone’, ‘iPhone is amazing.’

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oculus apple marketing iphoneBut why?

My hypothesis is that they are trying to update the product from a ‘thing’ to an ‘entity’, hoping to elevate it in your mind above everyday items. Technically they are constructing the sentences in a way that refers to the product as a proper noun instead of a common noun. Proper nouns in grammar denote specific, important things.

Consider the sentence ‘you’re going to love the Rift’, compared to ‘you’re going to love Rift’. The former refers to ‘the Rift’ as any old version of that item, while ‘Rift’ refers to a specific entity or concept, just like the difference between ‘a dad’ and ‘my Dad’.

I imagine it would be argued by the people making this decision that we store the concepts of proper nouns differently than common nouns; by elevating the product to a proper noun though language, they can move the idea of the product to that special place that our brains reserve for people and important things, instead of in that place where we put any old thing like ‘a fork’ or ‘an orange’.

No Specs

The world of PC marketing had long been entrenched in spec battles, where more bullet points and bigger numbers were used to one-up competitors. Apple came along with the opposite approach, marketing the experience, and shying away from specifications.

apple store view-master
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If you go to the official iPhone 6s page on Apple’s website, you’ll notice only the most minimal specifications (about the camera). The company doesn’t list the battery life, weight, display resolution, or size of the phone. And the most specific they get about the processor is that it’s using an ‘A9 chip’, with no mention of gigahertz or cores or RAM. (Compare that the Google marketing the Nexus 6P where they specify ‘Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 v2.1, 2.0 GHz octa-core 64-bit CPU and Adreno 430 GPU’).

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Oculus is pulling the exact same thing, perhaps even more extremely than Apple does it. On the official Rift page, there are literally no specifications for the headset. No field of view, no resolution, no refresh rate, no weight, no IPD, no nothing. And that’s because, like Apple, they’re marketing the experience rather than the specs.

Just listen to this fluffy experiential copy (complete with proper noun usage of ‘Rift’):

Rift is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re stepping into your favorite game, watching an immersive VR movie, jumping to a destination on the other side of the world, or just spending time with friends in VR, you’ll feel like you’re really there.

Minimalism and Industrial Design Focus

Let’s just take a look at the Rift page and the iPad Pro page side by side:

Are we seeing any similarities? Thin font, check. Lowercase letters, check (even though they want the Rift to be known as a proper noun). Buy button underneath a tiny line of copy, check.

Consider also these marketing videos offering extreme emphasis on the design of the product:

Oculus’ emphasis on design has made them very Apple-like from the get-go, and now we’re seeing it reflected with a very similar marketing style that’s minimal, approachable, and experience-oriented.


With Apple expected to enter the virtual reality field at some point soon enough, it will be interesting to watch Oculus try to out-Apple Apple themselves.

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  • Bob

    In a world where materialism and fashion reigns supreme in our lives it only makes sense to highlight the product as an extension of oneself i.e. a fashionable piece of clothing. The easier it is to get the average Joe interested in your product if you convince them that it isn’t just a piece of nerdy tech.

  • CURTROCK

    If you are going to emulate, emulate the best.

    • wratero

      you see? VR success is thanks to Apple after all!!!

      • FloridaOJ

        You lose 10 human points for that comment.

  • philb

    Apple was not the first to introduce minimalism and design into advertising. It is a very common style car companies have used it and many others. The idea is for the viewer to focus on the product and not be distracted by to many things in the scene. It builds interest in the product by focusing the viewer on the product itself.

    • benz145

      Absolutely, I didn’t mean at all to imply that an emphasis on minimal design was at all Apple’s invention, only that when taken together, it’s clear that Oculus is looking at Apple’s way of doing things.

  • Aftershok

    I don’t know about this article. 80% of it focuses on something pretty much ANY consumer good manufacturer with any brand to push has been doing this for a VERY long time. It’s pretty much marketing 101.

    1969 Camaro
    http://classicautoadvertisements.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/69oulose.jpg
    “Camaro beats all other sporty cars…blah blah blah”

    Xbox 360 – https://www.microsoft.com/library/media/1033/athome/images/morefun/xbox-live.gif
    “Xbox 360 is the first and only gaming console… blah blah blah.”

    I could really go on and on, but don’t feel like looking more up.

    And, really? Thin font and a Buy button? Lowercase letters? Your iPad example isn’t even in all lowercase. I’m not even going to try and find other examples. Now that’s reaching deep. You might as well say they both use English or white backgrounds.

    (Ninja-edited for some clarity.)

  • Raphael

    iRift.

  • polysix

    Yeah, just what we need.. another frigging Apple. And this time thinking it’s in control of VR. Feck that. Go Vive!

    • yag

      Don’t be silly fanboy, nobody can control VR and nobody think he can.

  • crim3

    The first promotional video released after the adquisition by Facebook was very Apple-like and an indication that the raw, direct and even naive communication style was over. Now they were a proper company and they needed the standard heavy make-up in their company’s face. A sad moment, but at least the people on the video were the same than before, so I hoped that behind the make-up things were the same.

  • Harry Ball

    I don’t even know why I read this….. I really don’t like apple but they are good at marketing. The only reason I could see oculus emulating apple is to make THE rift more approachable to the average joe. Simplicity is the key, buy this pc here that is certified rift ready, buy this (somewhat ) complete rift kit. Plug everything in and boom your in vr in 15 minutes.

    Apple is successful bc it’s a high end idiot proof device. Android devices in the “idiot’s” hands could be potentially catastrophic. I get it. However unless oculus is able to basically monopolize the market I don’t see them charging outrageous numbers for there hmds. Apple is obviously guilty of this. If anything the next Gen rifts will get cheaper even with improved tech.