Archive for the ‘iphone’ Category

Two things:

1. Is it me, or does Steve Jobs look ill? I don’t remember ever seeing him look so skinny. He’s skin and bones. What gives?

2. I don’t know if Steve Jobs even uses Powerpoint*, but whatever. He knows how to convey his message in one slide without getting into a buttload of tables and graphs and bullets. Look how simple his slide is. I love that.

* Thanks to cdmwebs, I now know that Apple’s answer to Powerpoint is called Keynote. How did I not know that? Um… I’m a Microsoft guy. Give me a break already. See? I learned something on Twitter today.

Read Full Post »

The final Google trends for 2007 were announced on Dec. 4th, and the results are scary… or terrific, depending on how you look at it: As a human being, it’s frightening. As a marketer, this may be the best news ever.

The Top 10 fastest-growing search terms for 2007 were (in order):

1. iPhone
2. webkinz
3. TMZ
4. Transformers
5. YouTube
6. Club Penguin (wtf?!?!?!)
7. myspace
8. Heroes (NBC)
9. Facebook
10. Anna Nicole Smith

(Visibly absent from the list were Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and the rest of the “make bail by noon” celebutante gang.)

Compare this to the 2001 list (the first from Google):

1. Nostradamus
2. CNN
3. World Trade Center
4. Harry Potter
5. Anthrax
6. Windows XP (woohoo!!!)
7. Osama Bin Laden
8. Audiogalaxy
9. Taliban
10. Loft Story

These are two very different lists.

I expected to see at least one non-“product” item show up in 2007, like maybe something relating to Iraq, Iran, Darfour, presidential candidates or even maybe healthcare. Global Warming. Something of substance. Anything.

But no.

Commentary and table courtesy of Jesus Diaz, over at Gizmodo:

Good bye Nostradamus, harbinger of doom and gloom! Hello iPhone, prophet of the second coming of the Digital Age in My Pocket.™ And oh yes, I’m happy to see you too. So long CNN, harbinger of news tickers and dumbified news! Welcome Webkinz, you stuffed rascal that connects to a social networking site you! World Trade Center? Unless it appears in TMZ next to Nicholas Cage and his wig, I say no! And screw that flying broomstick and get me drag queen transforming truckers on YouTube.

I mean, is this really what tickles the human race? Who can possibly remember stupid TV reality shows like Loft Story, Osama and the Talibans when we can entertain ourselves with MySpace, Facebook and Club Penguin? For shame! I would rather play topless Wii. [Reuters and Google]

Retailers and marketers rejoice: You have our complete and undivided attention. Every single item on the list is a brand name (yes, even ANS). Well played.

Mother Theresa and Al Gore, sorry: War, famine, poverty, terrorism, substance abuse, ethnic cleansing, corruption, pandemics and the slow choking death of our little blue planet aren’t cool enough to grab our attention anymore.

For better or for worse, I think brands can pretty-much claim victory in the bandwidth war – at least this past year.

Note: As always, don’t try to leave a comment on the permalink. To leave a comment, go to the main page and click on the comment tab at the bottom of this post. Thanks. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Following the iPhone saga (yes, still), here is what happens when a company backs itself into a corner:

From Gizmodo:

“According to Apple, “no software developer kit is required for the iPhone.” However, the truth is that the lack of an SDK means that there won’t be a killer application for the iPhone. It also means the iPhone’s potential as an amazing computing and communication platform will never be realized. And because of this I don’t think the iPhone will be as revolutionary as it could be. That’s a real heart breaker.

“Steve Jobs initially sold the iPhone as the Next Big Thing from Apple, just like the Macintosh was. The Macintosh really broke the mold. While not as groundbreaking, the iPhone is an intelligent and clean implementation of existing things. Really intelligent, really clean, like the Mac. Unlike the original Mac, however, developers won’t have full access to its core features. Without them there won’t be the equivalent of PageMaker, Photoshop, Word or Premiere in the iPhone, powerful applications taking full advantage of the unique capabilities of the hardware, the operating system and its frameworks.

“Those applications spawned two revolutions: desktop publishing (including photo editing) and desktop video. It was the Mac and its third-party apps that brought radical changes that have deeply affected us, not the Mac alone.

“On the iPhone, however, developers will be limited to developing Web applications based on AJAX, a set of Internet standards that make software like GMail, Google Maps or FaceBook possible. The iPhone is the real thing, a complete UNIX-to-go with stunning graphic classes, and developers will be limited to do stuff like this.


“So no SDK = no access to iPhone’s cool frameworks = no revolutionary apps, no real new concepts coming from third-parties, no eye candy available for anyone but Apple and no possibility for some really crazy games that will fully exploit the graphic and multi-touch power of the iPhone.”

And this, of course, follows Apple’s rabid blitzkrieg against unlocked iPhones and 3rd party applications usage last week.

If you didn’t gather from the first part of this post, this isn’t a story of corporate legalities. It is simply a story of disappointment, out here in the real world. In what most business execs might call “the market.” We all bought into the promise of the iPhone: Beautiful design, killer features, gorgeous screen, etc. But then Apple blocked us from making the iPhone ours, and things started getting sour fast.

At this point, Apple might as well lease the damn things instead of selling them… which actually may not be a bad idea if we aren’t going to be allowed to customize or load applications on them them as needed.

Here’s the thing: When most of us buy something, we don’t like to be told what we can and can’t do with it. Most other manufacturers, distributors and marketers know this: This is why even though speed limits never exceed 75mph in the USA, most cars sold in all 50 states can at least go to 120mph. This is why cans of soup, jars of mayonnaise, cups of yogurt and bags of nuts now come with clever little recipe ideas on the package. This is why Burger King lets you “have it your way,” and why Starbucks will brew up just about any type of coffee drink you ask for: This is America and for better or for worse, people here want to have the freedom to use products they pay for as they see fit. A shovel. A pen. A grill. A laptop. This should be no different.

What Steve Jobs and his minions don’t seem to get is that we are already using tons of these aps on our laptops and desktops. All we want to do is transfer their functionality to our smartphones. That’s it. Is that really too much to ask? Of course not… Yet here we are.

Not to get too Biblical here, but giving mankind the coolest phone ever designed and then ordering us to only use a fraction of its features is not unlike God showing Adam around the garden of Eden, taking him to the super exciting and mysterious tree of life, talking it up as the coolest, most powerful plant ever, and then ordering him not to ever, ever, ever taste its fruit. Not under any circumstances. We all know how that turned out.

Not that Steve Jobs is God nor iPhone the tree of life… but you get the point.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Apple should have seen the backlash coming. More importantly, Apple should have given more thought to how to make sure the brand and the product might avoid backing themselves into an impossible corner with their myopic and monopolistic outlook.

And POW! Faster than you can sa ruh-roh, Apple’s decision not to open iPhone to customization and third party applications (yet) gave a major player in the mobile phone market the platform it needed to earn back some much needed limelight. Enter Nokia and its “Open To Anything” campaign, which essentially promises complete freedom to users: “Open to all applications. Open to all widgets. Open to anything. What it does is up to you.”

Of course.

Apple: No Freedom. Nokia: Complete Freedom.

Marketing Commandment #9: “When you don’t like where the conversation is going, change the conversation.”

Up until now, iPhone was about design and cool and wow. Nokia couldn’t compete against design and cool and wow. (iPhone and Nokia’s phones weren’t even in the same orbit.) But these days, the conversation has shifted away from design and cool and wow. All people are talking about now are locked phones, bricked phones, blocked 3rd party applications, and how iPhone and Apple don’t let users do what they want with their gimped phones.

If you were Nokia, what would you do?

Exactly. You would let the world know that your phones aren’t locked. That they won’t get bricked. That they will not block 3rd party applications. That users will be free to customize and use their phones as they see fit.

Easy as pie.

I suspect that other mobile phone manufacturers will follow suit and position themselves against Apple’s monopolistic attitude pronto. As a matter of fact, those weird little busy sounds you’ve been hearing in the distance all week, those are the sounds being made by mobilephone providers’ marketing departments and ad agencies all over the US, scrambling to follow Nokia’s example.

As well they should.

These last two weeks, Apple has become its worst enemy: After a brilliant release this spring and a healthy outlook for its iPhone, it has managed to single-handedly antagonize a significant portion of its early adopters, permanently scare away a gaggle of potential iPhone users, and give all of its fiercest competitors a tangible and fiercely effective anti-iPhone/anti-Apple strategy.

That’s some accomplishment.

The lesson here is tenfold:

1) Don’t ever blow off your most passionate or vocal customers/users.
2) Don’t ever try to control whom uses your products, or how, or why.
3) Don’t be inflexible when it comes to possibly having to make strategic adjustments along the way.
4) When it comes to your relationship with your customers/users/fans, don’t ever switch from dialog to monologue.
5) Don’t open yourself to easy attacks by your competitors.
6) Don’t ever allow yourself to become one of the black hats.
7) Don’t ever make easy assumptions about how “the market” will react to your brilliant strategy.
8) Don’t punish your early adopters.
9) Don’t punish your users, especially if all they did was customize your products to fit their needs.
10) Just because you are the coolest company in the world doesn’t mean you can’t screw up from time to time.

Watching competitors react to Apple’s embattled position is going to be a beautiful case study in market dynamics.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 🙂

Read Full Post »

This may very well be the coolest visual narrative for a series of blog posts, ever. If you have been following the unlocking/hacking of the iPhone story over the last few weeks, and like Star Wars, you will get a kick out of this fun little project.

And by the way, Gizmodo.com just became my new favorite tech blog. If it isn’t yet in your blogroll or on your RSS list, you probably need to do something about that.

Follow-up (The Empire Strikes Back). This story is obviously far from over.

And in related news
(from France)…

Have a great Friday, everyone. 🙂

Read Full Post »

I’ve always been a fan of Apple, but I have to admit that recently, my feelings about the brand are starting to sour. The stench of monopoly is in the air: You can buy our phone, but you have to use our provider. You can buy our media player, but you have to buy your music and videos from our store. Starbucks is advertising on Apple’s portable devices and interfacing with them. I hear rumors of further such exclusive deals on the horizon. (Apple portable devices are becoming a tightly controlled channel for highest-bidder companies rather than just simply cool, well-designed multimedia devices. Even early adopters (Apple’s one-percenters) just got fleeced by the company they thought was “different”.

(Hint: Everyone expects to pay a premium to be the first to buy a hot new product, but at least wait five or six months before dropping the price. Not just… two. Apple could have waited until Halloween or Thanksgiving or something. Dropping the price so soon after iPhone’s initial release was wicked bad form, and no one will soon forget it.

The whole thing with AT&T being the sole wireless provider for iPhones? Eh. I think it sucks that Apple decided to go for the easy buck rather than put its customers (err… users) first. What scares me is that the at&t iPhone deal may have only been the tip of the iceberg.

I am not saying that Apple shouldn’t make tons of money. They should. But the way the company is going about it isn’t exactly great for users, and that worries me. Its current strategy may be great for Apple and whomever is willing to pay big bucks to broker an exclusive deal with Steve Jobs, but it sucks for the rest of us who want THE FREEDOM to use Apple’s products with applications we have already invested in.

And let’s face it: We’re the buyers. We’re the users. We decide where the money goes, in the end. If you make it impossible for us to use your pretty little boxes in the way we see fit, someone else will come up with pretty little boxes that will let us do what we want, however we want it.

You are steering the conversation away from design and branding, and towards usability, freedom, and choice, Steve. You may not see it coming, but you are digging your own grave with your autocratic, monopolistic attitude.

This isn’t a question of whose OS is better. We are way past the operating system debate here. We neither need nor want Steve Jobs or any other CEO to make these types of decisions for us: What programs to watch. What coffee to buy. What airline to fly with. What online store to buy our music from. What wireless provider to contract with.

What I am talking about is Apple telling me that if I want to own an iPhone, I can’t choose between Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Alltel or whomever I please. I have to use at&t.

If I want to download music or TV shows into my iPod, I have to do it from iTunes. I can’t do it any other way.

If I want to download a ringtone into my iPhone, I have to do it Steve Jobs’ way too.

If I want to own any part of Steve Jobs’ gadgets, I have to do it on his terms. His way.

And that, my friends, for better or for worse, sucks.

Good thing Apple doesn’t make iCars, because they would probably only work with iGas. Screw BP and Shell or anyone else who isn’t willing to sign an exclusive deal with Steve Jobs.

Sure, you can have an iShower installed in your house, but you’ll need to buy your iWater and your iSoap from Apple.

Give me a break.

I want to go back to Apple. I really do. But I can’t justify losing my freedom in order to become just another Apple sheep. Just being pretty and expensive don’t cut it anymore.

Whatever happened to Think Different?

Oh, I know. It sold to the highest bidder. Kind of like whomever Steve Jobs has been buying his one “signature” outfit from for the last twenty years. (Somebody please buy the guy a shirt or something.)


(Via Orange Yeti) Wil Shipley gives us a brilliant essay on where Apple is screwing the pooch. (He offers some simple advice to Steve Jobs as well, which I hope he will read and take to heart.)

Here’s a taste:

What should Steve do? Well, for starters, give up on trying to control everything. It’s only going to keep hurting Apple, more and more, to control content and hardware and software. It’s going to make them into the kind of mega-monopoly that we always, ALWAYS end up hating. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. 100% of the time.

Apple should license FairPlay, or allow iPods to play PlaysForSure (ha! I love that doublespeak) music. Either one. Basically, Apple should allow other music stores to sell DRM’ed music that works on iPods and iPhones.

Why? It’s simple — then Apple could tell record companies “go fug yourself” if they don’t like Apple’s terms, but Apple would still have a full range of music to play on its iPods. Remember, Apple makes all its money selling the hardware, not the songs. All Apple needs to do is to make sure there is a broad range of content available for iPods, it doesn’t have to sell all that content itself.

And, in fact, it hurts Apple to sell all the content itself, because it makes Apple a focus for battles between the record industry and consumers. If there were a range of stores selling iPod-compatible music, with a range of different DRM rights, then the market could decide what terms it liked best.

The iTunes store could be the white knight — it would only sign deals with record companies willing to “give” consumers the same rights they’ve had for years with CDs; eg, we can do whatever we want with our music as long as we don’t broadcast it or give it to others. Other music stores could sell restrictive DRM’ed music, and, well, if the record companies are right, people would go to those other stores, and we consumers would all get what we deserve.

Read the entire post here.

Apple, please please please stop this nonsense before you become your own worst nightmare.

Other reads: Brian Solis on PR2.0, myblogutopia.com, Andy Dornan’s piece on IW, Thom Hogan’s contrarian view, and of course, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs.

Read Full Post »