More Digital blog

10

Jan 2012

Why do more people talk about the Oscars than CES?

Posted in Technology | 0 Comments

Not sure what CES would've announced, back then. Colour photography?Now, I understand that asking why more people talk about the Oscars than CES sounds like a pointless question, as most people’s answer would be “because it’s The Oscars, Christos.” But if you take a few minutes to read through the following post, you may realise that the aforementioned response is at best misinformed and at worst completely ignorant.

The Iron Lady came out last week, a biopic of Margaret Thatcher, the first and, so far, only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Played by Meryl Streep, it will no doubt go on to clean up at various film award events across the globe, because it’s a film that offers the precise amount of grandeur and historical scale to tip the favour of the critics in its own direction.

On the other hand, CES is in full swing this week, and features a range of new electronic products, some of which millions of us will be using by the summer. Some of the announcements made at this event will change the way you ring your partner, watch television, or play videogames. But people don’t often discuss this event at all in most circles.

This strikes me as odd. People will comment on the various political events of the day, despite rarely (if ever) watching the Prime Minister’s Questions, because they effect us as individuals, through rising taxes, budget cuts, or new laws.

Yet the technology that powers our day – indeed, the technology allowing me to write this post, and you to read it – doesn’t seem to be celebrated and followed with interest by the vast majority of people who use it. We have, at times, been blessed with some tech-celebrities, in the form of Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg, and they do draw the collective consciousness of the media-hungry human race towards the technology field for brief moments. It’s telling when even your strange uncle can tell you of his high scores in Angry Birds.

Yes, people are discovering games like Angry Birds, as well as Android apps and iProducts, at an alarming rate. Technology has swiftly and in a way never before seen, I think, turned into a fashionable concern. CES should be a catwalk, down which the latest hardware struts, hoping to wow the assembled masses with increased memory and more apps than the competition.

In an ideal world, we’d gather around the TV and catch the Microsoft keynote, in much the same way we’re content to do with other events more centred around showbiz. I hold out a small hope that we can engage with technology in the same way many of us engage with the topics of commuting, politics, religion similarly stimulating jump-off points for conversation. We’ll just have to make sure that the Android and iOS users aren’t sitting next to each other.

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17

Jun 2011

Five ways to tell you’re Apple-addicted.

Posted in Technology | 2 Comments »

It would appear that the Apple iPhone 5 is well on-course for a September release date, and it looks very shiny indeed. I own a Macbook Pro, and I absolutely love the thing, but I stop short at iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches simply because I know that they’re a lot more restrictive and overpriced than Apple would have me believe. I’m sure the latter is also the case for my computer, but it’s also got one of the best keyboards in the world and an incredible OSX, so I find those two features help somewhat, although OSX could be out the window soon if Jobs and co. have their way.

So are you Apple-addicted? I thought I’d offer five ways in which you can tell. Feel free to use this list to identify addicts when you’re out and about – believe me, some of them are that easy to spot.

1) You will pay literally any price. Some iProducts are priced at a level that renders them inaccessible to most. People will sign phone contracts with gigantic monthly charges just to own an iPhone 4. The Macbook, I feel, is a justifiably expensive machine, but a smartphone that can’t multitask worth a damn or a tablet computer that can’t even run Flash? No, I don’t think so.

2) You will upgrade every time you can. There are people out there who own every generation of iPhone. I don’t mean the 3GS and the 4, I mean the three that came before those models, too. My Macbook is now one generation behind, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to replace it before the Olympics, if not later. If it works and it runs the latest OS, keep it.

3) Everything Steve Jobs says sounds like honey flowing down your ear canal. Jobs is a lovely bloke, and I feel no ill-will towards him whatsoever. But sometimes he’s a little arrogant, and those that can’t stop talking about how great his presentations are are blind to the self-important commentary he provides every time a comparison-bearing slide mentions Microsoft. He’s a brilliant technological innovator, but it’s not just him there are many others working with him. People forget this about Gates, too, who isn’t even the CEO any more. Must irk Steve Balmer to no end.

4) You continue to use your barely-paid-for iPhone with a cracked screen. Look – just get it repaired! If you can’t afford an iPhone, that’s not your fault – that’s theirs. They overprice the iPhone to the degree where it’s hard to buy one on launch day, let alone repair it a week later once you drop it and crack the not-actually-shatter-proof glass screen. There’s a desperate quality to these people, attempting to play Angry Birds or write important business emails through the haze of spider-web fissures and shame.

5) You’re feeling uncomfortable right now. I’m a fan of Apple products, and I’m open about it – a lot of people tend to back-track fairly rapidly when confronted about their unabashed love for everything with a metallic casing and an Apple logo somewhere on it. Chill out. I’ll argue the benefits of Mac OSX and my Macbook Pro till the cows come home, because any writer knows that the keyboards they supply are the best on the market, and that combined with an efficient OSX and good hardware means I don’t have to justify the purchase.

Hopefully that should help, but in the meantime, enjoy The Oatmeal’s fantastic Apple comic; I feel it really captures the whole experience of being an Apple addict.

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10

Jun 2011

Four reasons why iOS for Macs would be a huge mistake

Posted in Technology | 1 Comment »

So, there’s a rumour floating around that iOS, the operating system for the iPod Touch, the iPad and the iPhone, might be heading towards Apple’s line of laptop and desktop computers. I cannot express how much I dislike the idea of sacrificing a working, incredibly well-designed OS (currently OSX Snow Leopard, soon to be OSX Lion) for what looks like a box of colourful chocolates.

1. I bought a computer, not a phone. I don’t want my computer to run on the same icon-based, simplistic system someone would use to ring people and quickly check their Twitter feed. A computer’s operating system has the room, nay, the screen real-estate to handle large program windows and the Dock. Why change it?

2. iOS is designed for touch-screen hardware. I don’t have one. Why? Because it’s a laptop and I have a keyboard and trackpad. Why force me to upgrade my hardware just to match an undesirable OS?

3. I don’t want an iPhone. Why? Android is more widely accessible, has a more open market, and you can get an Android phone without forking out hundreds of pounds. Mine also has a bigger screen, but I wouldn’t be running Mac OSX on it, and I wouldn’t want Android running on my Macbook Pro, either.

4. It could force people away from new Apple products. An iOS Macbook is not going to appeal to a significant portion of the market, however eagerly we eat up every single announcement Jobs makes. Mac OSX has the space to allow people to change their backgrounds, organise folders on the desktop, use the dock, install widgets, and keep a lot of space clear. Change that to a rigid-looking grid system and it doesn’t flow any more.

In short, iOS might be all hunky-dory for calling people and messing around on your daily commute, but imagine trying to write a report, or design a website, with an OS that doesn’t even yet support more than one app running at a time. Yeah, you go think about that.

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9

May 2011

The corporate blame-game

Posted in Business tactics | 1 Comment »

At the end of this month, I was planning to get a PS3. I am, despite the news, still getting a PS3. However, what I’m not doing (for now, at least), is putting any of my bank details onto the thing, for fear it’ll be leaked again. But I’m not sure what worries me worse about the whole issue – the collapse of games journalism into an endless cycle of articles about the PSN relaunch date (to save time when writing them, just put “when?!” and hit “publish”), the lack of response from senior Sony executives, or – and this is my personal favourite – the blaming of Anonymous.

If you’re a company with seventy million accounts, and you’re not securing their details, you’re quite simply insane. Crimininally so. Here’s the kicker, if you have seven accounts and you’re letting security slide – you are still insane. There will never be a solid reason for not protecting your customers’ bank details. Unless you’ve been hacked by the one group being blamed for every major hacking job in the last six months, right?

Meet Anonymous. WikiLeaks? They were there. Palin? They were there. Sony? They weren’t there, but apparently the hacker left a similar calling card on Sony’s servers (though there’s no real proof, just their word) and the blame game began. The problem with this is that Anonymous have never stolen anyone’s details – they down sites via a DDoS attack, and have never expressed any desire to commit an act of theft, especially not on a scale that could equate to an extremely long time behind bars.

This was news that rivalled, at the time, the upcoming Royal Wedding and the events in Syria, and it was not handled well. That the story is still going on, even after Bin Laden’s death, gives an idea of the scale of the PR disaster. It should act as a warning to smaller businesses who wish to grow. No matter how much you expand, how impervious you may perceive yourself to be on the basis of profit and loss sheets, share prices and sales figures, you’re not. If you lose people’s credit card details, they will have to cancel their card, and no one wants that. You then become The Unreliable Company, and it’ll take Sony years to drop that reputation.

It’s an interesting example of business strategy at its worst, though the fact they’ve taken the network down until May 31st (at which point it will be restored in full) is cause for rage amongst fans, which baffles me slightly. Shouldn’t you be pleased they’ve spent a month upgrading security and sorting everything out, rather than shoving it back online immediately? It’ll never cease to astonish me how, when people’s private details are now being toyed with by people across the globe (for all we know), they will still bemoan the loss of an online gaming service.

If you’re curious as to how it’s going, follow it via Twitter, though don’t bother with Sony staff, they’re all very quiet, funnily enough – like I said to a friend earlier, probably on holiday. Not much to do bar wait for the security to emerge all shiny and upgraded. I’ve already had my card details stolen once, and that wasn’t a small hack – that was part of a huge iTunes operation. But had iTunes blamed Anonymous, Steve Jobs would’ve looked a right mug, and frankly, that’s what Kaz Hirai looks like at the moment. Until the end of the month, Sony. Then we can be friends.

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21

Jan 2011

Are we too reliant on brand figureheads?

Posted in Business tactics | 0 Comments

This month it was announced that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and largely seen as the face of the entire company – similar to Bill Gates – would be stepping down from CEO duties and going on extended medical leave. That this is not the first time this has occurred has many people worrying about the future of the company. I’m going to summarise my response to his departure (with all respect to his ailing health):

So what?

Does it really matter? I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked Steve Balmer wasn’t driving the Gates-less Microsoft into the ground, and I’m fairly confident that Zuckerberg’s no longer as important to the company as people think he is. The fact of the matter is that the people around this person are just as important, and any one of them could do an admirable job in the CEO’s shoes. We’ve become so reliant on a culture of celebrity that we’re struggling to face a brand’s future without that familiar smiling face.

The CEO makes the big decisions, we know this. But everything else is ultimately overseen by their surrounding team of experts, managers and consultants. These people are more influential than anyone else, and the idea that the head honcho can’t be replaced is simply either bad career attitudes by those unable to get promoted at their company or paranoid rich people who’d rather not be seen as an overpaid nodding-and-shaking head.

Personally, I think it’s too late for Apple to change. No CEO is going to swerve them away from their current course, and we can be sure of the following, as they will always:

  • put out several versions of the iPhone every 12-18 months, increasing them in price,
  • continue to make MacBooks and iMacs more compact, better protected and the operating system more visually friendly whilst remaining powerful,
  • turn iTunes into a more social media experience, through Ping and possibly with a long-shot deal with Zuckerberg and the Facebook crew,
  • charge high prices for hardware that does it better than anyone else, annoyingly justifying their mouth-watering profit margins.

None of the above will change, because they’re not that different to any other company in any one of those respects. Of course phones are getting larger – compare the 90s’ Nokia 3210 with today’s HTC Desire HD and you’ll see a colossal size increase, but the phones are getting thinner. Eventually we’ll hit a plateau of sorts, and hopefully before we’re walking around with bits of silvery A6 paper welded to our hands, with Angry Birds 3D/HD 4 blaring out of Bluetooth surround-sound speakers.

With Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the picture shifts slightly. He, like Gates and Jobs before him, is the 2010 version of the 20something CEO with a huge, fit-to-burst wallet and an astonishing amount of influence over his sector of technology. But in 2050 when he starts to think about retirement, the press will once again mob the team around him and desperately attempt to find his replacement before HR does. Unless they’re running a book on the whole thing, I think it’s amateur dramatics at best, and worthless journalism at worst.

If you’re running a small business and you have the feeling the team of ten or so people working around you now will someday be your directors, your heads of PR and your consultants, bear in mind that you’re not invincible. Just because you’re the person grinning on-stage whilst displaying the latest overpriced doohicky everyone doesn’t need but will definitely want, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t take it off you and grin, perhaps even wider than you can, and with shinier teeth.

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24

Dec 2010

Is Steve Jobs worthy of the FT’s Person of the Year Award?

Posted in News | 0 Comments

Today I saw that Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, the wonderbrain behind the iPad, iPhone, and any other techno-jargon beginning with P that’s had a lower-case “I” stuck on the front of it has won the Financial Times‘ Person of the Year Award. The FT‘s Richard Waters and Joseph Menn call him “the tech industry’s first rock star”. A man who can sell a ridiculously overpriced computer and actually argue its benefits to the point that the price seems reasonable (I’ve no qualms about dropping cash for a Macbook Pro, the keyboard and OS alone are worth the investment, as a writer and multi-tasker).

But Person of the Year? Out of every single person in the finance sector? Not Zuckerberg, even, TIME Magazine‘s Person of the Year, the man who became a billionaire before he hit his mid-20s with nothing but a can-do attitude and a degree from Harvard? No, we’re going with one of the old crowd, the reliable and the friendly-on-stage.

Jobs has become legendary for this presentations, especially after he came back to present more new technology after fighting off an extremely serious illness. He seems to know no bounds whatsoever when it comes to talking up his new stuff (recovering from illness or not) – it would be rash to suggest he doesn’t imply other technology which does the same tasks, even at the same speed, is still vastly inferior.

Apple are famously based in sunny California, one of the most desirable locations for those who’ve made the big time or hope to, some day, eventually, if they can just sell that script. Despite the sun, the design team seem to be uses solely for one purpose – constantly updating hardware. Of course, this is no different to most, and Apple tend to only release a new wave of Macbooks every few years, but at the same time, if 2011 doesn’t see at least one new iPhone 4 and iPad, I’ll be extremely surprised. Their reluctance to improve the software running on what they have manufactured and sold is one of the reasons they’re likely to get a lot of flak – Nokia may do it too, but they’re sure not charging over £400 for a phone that can’t even run Flash.

Jobs is a powerful figure, and it makes him damn cocky. He knows that people will eat up everything he says like free cake at a salad buffet, and he knows that even though he’ll never embrace Adobe and start allowing people to enjoy YouTube and games outside the App Store, people will still buy his iProducts. As the FT states, this is the “dark side of Mr. Jobs perfectionism”. Unlike other technology which has brought touch-screen technology into the future, from the laughably retro Palm Pilot (come on, guys, did you really use those things productively?) to Android, Jobs does not play nice with people who wish to explore a more open-source, liberal approach towards his iEmpire.

If you want to develop, you buy their SDK. If you want to publish, you publish the content they allow, to their rules. No adult content. No controversial material whatsoever, in fact. For most, not an issue, but for those with the socio-political depth perception to recognise the ominous stench of heavy censorship, the alarm bells were going off well before Apple booted Wikileaks out of its happy-go-lucky Eden.

“Those who have laboured under him describe him as a stern taskmaster who understands the art of the possible, rather than a long-range visionary. That means pushing relentlessly forward rather than milking old successes – even ones as significant as the iPod,” state Waters and Menn. Although this may explain his attitude to constantly releasing new hardware over software, does it really justify the constant price increases? Given the strange way the iTunes Store works and its hatred for the transference of paid content between devices without significant effort on the part of the user, is he not encouraging the profitable over the possible? We pay 10% of the price we did ten years ago, if not less, for a 1TB hard-drive. But if it was Apple, would it really cost much less over time?

The issue with nominating dominant technological icons like Jobs and Zuckerberg is that we’re constantly rewarding people whose ruthless determination is mistaken for simply being spirited. One has control over the smartphone and mp3 market, having knocked down walls even to gain access to the Beatles back catalogue, and the other holds admin rights over a network 500 million strong. Their achievements can be measured numerically and these reflect well, but does this famous drive that produces all this innovation really reflect what we, as consumers, actually want?

I want an iPhone. There, I’ve said it now, and there’s no taking it back. They’re cool. However, for all its upgrades and shiny new doodads, it’s still missing decent battery life and a low price tag. A price tag I can live with – I own a Macbook Pro. But that Macbook can do twelve hours on medium brightness with a browser and either email or IM running. That’s not too shabby, and the last time I saw life like that in an iProduct was after I dropped my third-generation iPod down a flight of stairs and the battery life suddenly tripled.

These People of the Year, these icons we celebrate and invest in, need to live up to the awards thrown at them by those who just can’t get enough of Angry Birds and Farmville. One advocates censorship and control, the other advocates liberality and control. Which would you rather throw your lot in with? Both? Then hold on, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride once the high of the “i” runs out and you’re left with ten iProducts cluttering up the house and 50% productivity at work due to an addiction to status updates. Person of the Year? I’d give that to those of you who’ve taken with gusto to Android’s open-source movement. Push Apple’s prices down through competition, people.

Well, that’s 2010 at MoreDigital’s blog, and I’ll be ranting and moaning from the 5th of January. Have yourselves a good one.

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19

Nov 2010

Should we put a face to our brands?

Posted in Business tactics | 0 Comments

Today, Marketing Week made a very valid point, when global brand director of Firefly Millward Brown, one Rob Hernandez, spoke about the fact that large corporate entities need a “human face”. He argues that, based on statistics, large companies could benefit from a Gates, a Zuckerberg, a Jobs or even a Miyamoto.

They don’t have to be CEOs, by any means – we all know Gates has taken more of a back-seat role in recent years to focus on swimming around in his pool filled with $100 bills and gold-plated time machines (I kid, obviously, the man’s a huge philanthropist and deserves anyone‘s respect). But people who were never in charge – Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto – that are responsible for huge aspects of their corporate image tend to make the company feel more… human.

But of course, when the tables turn, it means that the press and the public will single out one name and once they’re out for blood, things can get shockingly personal. I, like many, have thrown many an insult at Bill Gates over things he doesn’t even design – Vista, the Xbox 360… the list goes on and on. Why? Because he’s the “face” of Microsoft. Similarly, I praise Miyamoto for every new Mario game, but he’s not the only one involved.

At the same time, we know that if a faceless Apple employee came onto the stage to present a new iTunes feature (streaming, guys, not the damn Beatles), we’d clap. But when Steve Jobs comes onto the stage, we cheer, we applaud loudly, we stand up to applaud even louder, and then as we leave we check our wallets desperately (cause let’s be realistic, guys, it’s not a cheap addiction, this Apple stuff). He fronts his business and he’s done so whether he’s been well or battling a serious disease, whether it’s a small release or a big deal, like the iPhone 4 or the iPad.

In the case of your business, can you honestly say you’ve one man or woman who people will look at and think “X-corp”? If not, why not consider one? I blog for MoreDigital constantly, and as while talking to my editor today it became pretty apparent that lately I’ve become the face of the company, the one name that constantly appears around the web in conjunction with our team of experts and writers. It’s something of an odd feeling, because you know that if people think of MoreDigital, there’s a chance they read the blog and think of myself, or Fay, or Leah as those who really speak out when it comes to our company.

I suppose it’s like being Lemmy in Motorhead, really. They’ve been going for decades, and if you love Motorhead, you really love them, even though you know deep down that all their songs sound relatively similar (admit it). But if they ever released a duff record, Lemmy would get it, and Lemmy would be the one criticised by his fans. Not Phil, not Mickey, but Lemmy. Because to most people, Motorhead is a band with a faceless guitarist and drummer in it, and that bassist bloke, you know the one, with the big growths on his face, the beard and the hat.

We’ve reached a point in commercialism where if you’re not the company with a human representative people can name, that people can reference in conversation, you’re just another faceless company with an equally faceless board of directors. We live in a more visual world than we did fifty years ago – people have websites, portfolios, Facebook accounts, and we can’t discount the fact that eventually, your CEO will become known to the public if you’re batting with the teams at the top of the league. So take your face and stick it on your homepage, folks! You never know, people might chant your name at E3 soon!

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5

Jul 2010

Applied knowledge

Posted in Business tactics, Social Media, Usability, Web 2.0 | 0 Comments

If you’re working in social media, or realistically anything that involves logging onto something once a day, chances are you’ve probably got a smartphone. I’m going to go ahead and push that even further, and wager that if you do, it’s either a BlackBerry or an iPhone. If it’s an iPhone, and unless you’re one of the many shedding tears over the recent issues with the fourth iteration, you’re likely happy to spend a little bit of cash on a huge variety of useful applications, or “Apps”. If you are one of those people, and you’d love to find out how useful a businessperson with their Apps geared for productivity can perform above their peers, then read on. If you’re not busy sending hate-mail to Steve Jobs, that is.

Apps: tasks made convenient

If you’re on the run and you’re needing to work on the accounts for last year as April’s creeping up on you a little too quickly – then don’t worry. Grab your iPhone, launch the App Store, find Spreadsheet, pay just under six dollars, and you’re able to edit a spreadsheet on your phone. I’m not joking, and it’s even visually appealing. Personally, I’m on a hiatus from Apple products, but I have to admit that the appeal of being able to do mundane tasks on the commute and the more enjoyable ones in the office sounds fantastic, and why not up your productivity?

If that’s not enough, why not Documents To Go? That’s your PowerPoint, Word, Excel, PDF, iWork (c’mon, it’s still an Apple phone), Google Docs… the list goes on, quite literally. Netbooks are all good and well, but if you’re a city-dweller, you know as well as I do that bar Starbucks, taking a computer out in public is a risky proposition, at best. However, an iPhone is literally the size of a phone, and unless you’re an optimistic-but-misguided person trying to pocket an iPad, it’s perfect for the job.

The main advantage is functionality, and of course, portability. Being able to ensure your presentation runs the way you want it to, or correcting a typo or two moments before taking to the stage is a vital business advantage, and you’ll find your productivity soaring. If you’ve got the phone, take advantage of it – not doing so is like having a car but never putting it in reverse – you can keep going forward, sure, but when everyone else is squeezing into the smaller spots you’re going to be aiming for the bus lane and praying for the warden to look the other way.

But there are other smaller benefits – simply having a smartphone as a manager or a CEO is crucial in today’s digitised economy. Missing that vital email or PDF contract just before you’re in a phones-off meeting can be disastrous, and making sure you’re hooked into the biggest communications network on the planet is all too logical. It’s a pity one of the best phones on the market is rather pricey, but if you’re after something that lets you edit, record, document, process and approve almost as smoothly as on your office computer, then invest.

Anyone else out there?

Of course, one of the biggest draws of smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, has to be the ability to social network. Twitter and Facebook have become a huge part of almost everyone’s everyday lives, and with a massive 400 active Facebook accounts and the mind-bending Twitter statistics from one of my recent posts, you’re looking at a lot of time invested in other people’s comings and goings. So, with that in mind, and the business tactics we’ve discussed on this blog quite often about getting more customers through good social networking on behalf of a company, how do we engineer the smart use of Apps in order to facilitate this?

The answer? Ensure people know you’re thinking on the move. A CEO who’s in a meeting but still finds time to Tweet about his breakfast is a bad thing. A CEO who Tweets about the important and public aspects of said meeting is an honest, open, respected CEO. If you’re sitting high on the employee hierarchy and you’re feeling a little left behind by the office’s dedicated social media buff, then take it into your own hands. Of course, it’s worth making sure you know what and what not to say, as not everyone will appreciate a mix of your charity work and a TwitPic gallery of your new boat, but otherwise, why not ensure everyone knows you’re not someone with more money than time?

There are, of course, other benefits – subscribe to the Twitter accounts of your competitors, even with a subtle account. Being able to monitor them on the go, especially if they make an announcement five minutes before your annual press conference, is a key business strategy. All too often, announcements go unheard by competitors until they see it on the showroom floor later that day and, hand clasped firmly to forehead, stagger towards the hungry press-hounds to redeem themselves. Even tweeting in response to a competitor’s announcement moments after they make it can have a huge impact – you’re aware, and you’re critical but appreciative of your rival’s business presence.

We live in a world where Stephen Fry’s more interested in tweeting on his iPhone than anything else, and when one of the UK’s leading minds is into Twitter, it’s worth taking note. But being able to do so, as Fry has done, in the middle of a television broadcast, and watch the presenter laugh at Fry’s tweet from across the set is something quite exceptional to watch. Now, imagine that Fry is your competitor, and the rest of the room represents the show’s host, and you’re the only one with no iPhone App for Twitter. Sound isolating? It is, and if you’re going to rocket to the top, you’re either going to need a lot of chemistry and astrophysics, or you’re going to need a phone heralded by a man called Steve that has turned public transport into a phone-rotating, music-heavy, endlessly tapping festival of productivity.

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2

Feb 2010

iPad: marketing genius or naming debacle?

Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment »

When Steve Jobs revealed the name of his highly anticipated tablet computer I think the whole world let out a collective “what the…?”.

For months all sorts of rumours flew fast and furiously around the web about the possible naming of Apple’s new baby. Would it be iTablet, iPad, iNewton or iSlate? Of the four, we were all certain it would be iSlate. Makes sense right? It sounds cool, describes the shape, blah blah blah. Apparently, Apple even sneakily registered iSlate.com a few years ago.

“We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical and evolutionary product today,” said Chief Executive Steve Jobs at the launch event in San Francisco last Wednesday, “And we call it…iPad”.

Honestly, my first reaction was along the lines of “they called it what? Cue the feminine hygiene jokes”.

Ipad? I mean, sure the name works on a few levels, but…at the same time it is like calling your son Richard Head and then sending him of to school expecting him not to be picked-on. Of course people were going to make the link.

Minutes after the Jobs announcement the jokes began to run thick and fast (no pun intended) on social media pages and blogs. In fact, the term “iTampon” quickly became the top trending topic on Twitter.

“The mocking goes along the lines of: Yes, the iPad is small, lightweight and slim. But can you swim with it?” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ tech blog.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the many jokes flowing out there, but that’s not really the point of this blog. My question is- surely Apple was aware of the connotations associated with the name, so is this all just a big marketing ploy to get the world talking?

I got thinking and came up with this conclusion. I’m of the opinion that Apple knew exactly what they were doing and simply thought the name was better suited to the product and the Apple brand than the others. Plus, what’s the harm in a bit of free publicity, anyway?

Ultimately, the jokes will get old, and the name will eventually be accepted (to be honest, even as I write this I’m starting to get past my immaturity and appreciate the name). In the meantime though, the iPad will continue to ride this huge wave of publicity that has been inflated, particularly by social media websites, because the name is a little funny. In the end, if the iPad is a good product, it won’t matter what the thing is called.

Anyway, what do you think? Did Apple get it right or wrong with the name?

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