How Two Whiz Kids Capitalized on the Apple 'iPhone 5' Release Hype

 @cavanshays
on October 05 2011 5:39 PM

The Apple Keynote Event had the Internet all aflutter on Oct. 4 with many Web sites live blogging the event and telling readers where to watch live coverage from Cupertino, Calif.

Amongst all this cacophony, one stream on WatchVertex.com stood out among the rest, receiving a whopping 259,337 hits.

Who was behind the site that attracted such a mass following on Apple's big day?

That would be Ari Weinstein and Ben Feldman -- two very young-looking high school seniors from Philadelphia.

And, quite possibly, the next CEOs of Apple.

Weinstein and Feldman managed to generate huge amounts of Apple-related coverage on Wednesday, while big Web sites like Mashable, Engadget, and The New York Times all went down at various points due to too much traffic.

The hordes of traffic stemmed from the pair's Web site, WatchVertex.com, offering live coverage of the Keynote Event. Leading into the event there was intense speculation over whether Apple would release a much hyped iPhone 5 in Tim Cook's first event as CEO of the company, and the pair promised analysis and perspective on all of the news. 

The large amount of viewers visited Ben and Ari's site in droves after multiple digital news publications, including IBTimes, picked up their information via a press release Ben had drafted and sent through prMac.com.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- Vertex, the online broadcast network, unveiled its plans today to produce and stream live coverage of Tuesday, October 4′s Apple event in Cupertino, California.

Coverage, which can be found at Vertex's website, will begin at 12:30 PM EDT / 9:30 AM PDT with a preview show discussing the most anticipated and most feasible rumors about what the company will announce. At 1:00 PM EDT / 10:00 AM PDT, Vertex will immediately switch to the keynote, and attempt to patch into a live feed of the proceedings. Throughout the broadcast, the reactions of Vertex and other web personalities will be woven in to give viewers all angles and perspectives on the announcements and unveilings.

Tuesday's event is such a critical one in Apple's history, with Tim Cook making his first public appearance as Apple CEO, said Vertex Executive Producer Ben Feldman. The announcement of a new iPhone model available for the holiday season seems almost a given, but enthusiasts and investors alike will be watching every move of Cook and his team. We're committed to making sure that they don't miss a beat of this event.

Feldman drafted the very professional looking release himself, but never quite expected the droves of viewers to the pair's coverage of the event. Feldman and Weinstein handle all of their own marketing for events like Let's Talk iPhone because they are two high school students who don't have the resources.

Feldman, who plans to apply for early admittance to Babson College, said the live broadcast generated a lot of feedback -- about half negative -- mostly centered on the lack of live audio or video from the announcement. Feldman said a lot of people thought that their broadcast was Apple's official livestream which brought on disappointment, but that many thanked the pair for their coverage.

People expected us to be in Cupertino... [some said we] deceived them to think we were some official live stream, Feldman told the IBTimes. 

Despite any negative feedback, the boys raked in a couple extra bucks from yesterday's coverage through the use of Google AdSense; but the main goal was not a monetary one. The boys sought to jump start their Vertex TV project.

With the amount of time we've put into this, we could have made much more money in any number of ways, wrote Weinstein in an email to IBTimes.

The huge success story isn't the first time the pair has cashed in on Apple, though.

In 2007 the pair -- then 13-year olds -- developed a jailbreaking  iPhone app that generated more than one million downloads and more than five digits in profits for the teenagers. Weinstein was profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Philadelphia Inquirer for his innovative way to open up iPhones and iPods.

Coding and testing things that may or may not work, and figuring things out, is a really rewarding experience, Weinstein told The Wall Street Journal in 2009.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Weinstein first became interested in fiddling with technology as a small child, including messing around with the family's computer as a six-year old. His mother, Judy, called it a big relief when he went to kindergarten.

That kind of media attention at such a young age has made each set of parents accustomed to their young whiz kids' skills.

Our families have kind of gotten used to it, Feldman said. 

The boys have had a few other online television programming channels before WatchVertex, but never got as many viewers as they did for Wednesday's Apple live conference. Their Let's Talk iPhone coverage dwarfed their previous high watershed coverage moment of the Worldwide Developers Conference, which peaked at 11,000 constant viewers.

Currently, WatchVertex.com is broadcasting live every evening from 7-11 p.m. EST -- showing classic favorites like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Andy Griffith Show.

Weinstein has always been a TV buff. I spend a lot of time watching and/or creating TV, something I've been fascinated with for a long time, he wrote.

The impressive pair has already achieved quite a bit as teenagers, but Feldman downplays all of the fanfare.

Every group has that computer person.

 

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