Archives for posts with tag: apple


We have this view of the world that the super-mega market leaders in one niche or market have a superpower that will guarantee success in new markets. The current Facebook S1 release is just another sign of this irrational view. “Facebook dominates advertising.” “Facebook more important for advertisers than Google.” “Mark Zuckerberg for President.”

The majority of brands are only good at doing one thing. If you hit the jackpot, they are good at 2 things. Almost nobody is good at three things. Remember when Facebook Places was launched and every dopey pundit proclaimed the end of Foursquare? (Including this dope.) Or when Google Wave launched? Google Buzz? G Phone? When Yahoo tried social. (Let’s not hate on a corpse.) When Microsoft got into mobile hundreds of years ago and never achieved their goals? Or when Apple tried social?

Size does matter. But it’s not everything.

There are rare instances where companies can crush a competitor: IE vs. Netscape comes to mind. But it’s not common. That’s why you shouldn’t be brainwashed by the size of a company, focus on the excellence of a company. Facebook is really good at growing their user base, allowing us to share information with family and friends. They belong in the user baser growing Hall of Fame. Does Facebook do anything else that belongs in the Hall of Fame? Deals? Places? Commerce? Advertising Conversion? Monetization. Nope. They didn’t even make the roster, riding the Minor League bus.

Will Google ever succeed in social? Google+ is doing okay but it’s not in the same league as Facebook and Twitter. They even show cracks in their dominance of the search business. Microsoft’s browser domination is gone. Soon, Facebook will see increasing fatigue and the brainwashing of a new shiny tool. While we live longer, social platforms life expectancy tends to decrease.

Don’t get fooled by size. On Sunday, many advertisers will link their advertising to Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. That’s foolish. Facebook owns all the data. Who guarantees you that they don’t sell it to your closest competitor?

Look at the big picture and have a long-term strategy. If you put more and more eggs in Facebook, you need to move some out and put them in different platforms. It’s not about new platforms, it’s about experimenting with better ways to market, platforms that convert and technologies that are effective in achieving your business goals.


You can’t imitate your way to innovation. Here’s a good example of a brand that imitates the strategies and tactics of one its biggest competitor. On my way to an Apple store, I walked by a Microsoft store. It was stunning how similar both stores looked. The one big difference: the Microsoft store was completely empty.

Microsoft copied the concept. Apple stole it.

Steve Jobs mentioned the famous Picasso quote (“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”) many times because its at the core of Apple’s philosophy: Don’t just copy: steal and make it your own. Computer stores used to be messy and fairly uninviting. The inspiration for Apple stores didn’t come from those chaotic experiences, it came from the world of luxury boutiques: expensive materials, inviting street presence, bright lights and friendly employees. They stole and imitated; but not from their competitors.

There are scenarios where it makes sense to plainly imitate: Ask Zara, a low price imitator par excellence. When you have an expensive product and can deliver a comparable experience for a disruptively low price: That’s a winning strategy because you’re opening up new markets.

Generally, mindlessly mimicking the direct competition is a race to the bottom. Making ideas your own and transforming your industry can turn you into the most valuable company in the world.


The world is filled with advice how to seduce people. How to seduce to find a partner, seduce people to buy your stuff, seduce them to like you. Magazines are filled with advice, book shelves littered with publications that will give you that one advice that will change your life forever.

Marketers should be the masters of seduction. That’s their main objective. The one lesson about seduction you learn very early (mostly as a teenager): It only works when the other person is open to your seduction, ready for your “pitch” and willing to contribute on some level.

It is impossible to seduce a girl when she’s deeply in love with somebody else. It is impossible to seduce a conservative person with your progressive fantasy. You can’t seduce an avid non-smoker in trying our your cigarettes. You need to find the right people who are open to your seduction.

Some people were seduced by Obama. Many ignored him. Or hated him. It had nothing to do with his message, or his person. They just weren’t ready to open themselves up to his message. Just like the Windows phone will never be a big hit with Apple fanboys. Or Hyundai with drivers who admire German engineering.

Makes me wonder…

Why do marketers continue to treat everyone the same, please everyone, be admired by everyone, find the key to everyone’s heart?

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KPCB Internet Trends (2011)


While online advertising is booming, it’s still not on par with time investment by people per medium. Print is hugely overpriced, representing 8% of people’s time and 27% of ad spending. Contrast that to mobile: 8% of time spent and 0.5% of ad spending.

Content Creation

Content creation has become a commodity. Newspaper continues to decline while we experience the golden age of content aggregation.


E-commerce now represents 8% of all retail commerce and will grow dramatically. Retailers beware: The #1 reason for customers to abandon the in-store purchase is because they found cheaper options online. #2 reason: They found a cheaper price at a different store.


We might muddle our way through it. Or the economy collapses. Nobody knows. This uncertainty is the biggest challenge for politicians, economist and people. Uncertainty might be the new normal.

Empowering people

More people have access to the wireless grid (85%) than electricity. Over 200 million farmers in India receive payments via mobile devices and they have become instrumental during disasters.


While we talk in our echo chamber all day long about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google (and they remain global mega-leaders) Internet giants from China and Russia (Baidu, Tencent and Yandex) are catching up quickly.

Here’s an eye-opener: 81% of users of the top global Internet Properties are outside the U.S.


A big challenge for all of us: How will identify and authenticate the almost billion Facebook customers with the 1.4 billion mobile customers by 2012?


The economy is down but U.S. mobile innovation is still the global leader: Made in the US-smartphone operating systems – Android, iOS and Windows Mobile – have increases market share from 5% in 2005 to 65% today.


Mobile subscriber growth is more explosive than the initial Internet adoption, leaving TV adoption in the dust. Smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone shipments.


Usability matters and it will become even more important over time to deliver complex services to people through a simple interface. The next revolution? Between your ears. Voice recognition, sound creation and sharing, and audio interfaces.

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What is Instagram? A social network? An app? A community? Sure.

Actually, Instagram is a site built around a social object that connects people with shared interests. In Instagram’s case, it’s the opportunity for people to shoot mediocre pictures and make them look beautiful. On music sites like Spotify or it’s a song or an artist. On GetGlue, it’s a TV show or a movie.

Facebook has such a huge audience because it allows people to connect over various social objects: Pictures, shared passions, music, video, books – almost anything that defines you as a human being.

Products can be social objects: iPhone, your new car, interesting clothing, a bracelet, the wedding ring.

What are social objects?

Social objects are the reason why people socialize. We’re social animals but we need to find a common ground to communicate with each other. That common ground is the social object.

Let’s say you’re at a party, you are shy and feel completely lost. You are not going to approach a stranger with “I really love Wilco’s new album and I’m reading Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. So fascinating.” The other person will call 911 and hope you’ll end up in a mental institution. In the good old smoking days, your first conversation revolved around the brand of cigarettes both of you are smoking. (Remember the days when you sat in a smoky bar, your social object “cigarette box with logo” right in front of you communicating to the world some part of your personality?) Now, we are focusing on phones, drinks or tattoos. Some social object that connects me with you.

Your product needs to be a social object. Or pack it in.

No worries, I’m not going to talk about Apple, Zappos, Ferrari or some other amazing brands.

No, let’s talk about German turkey sausages.

If you ever come to Los Angeles, don’t bother with Hollywood or the beaches. Head out to Alpine Village, a pathetic replica of a German village. Go to the market and buy packs and packs of turkey sausage. The best sausage you’ll ever eat. 200 calories less than a beef sausage. Perfectly spiced. Highly recommended to put the sausage on the BBQ, the fat will just disappear and will leave you with the perfect sausage. Add red cabbage, dumplings and a beer. Heaven.

I’m geeking out on turkey sausage.

The sausage is a social object. I’ve talked to many people for hours about that sausage. Just like you might have talked hours about wine, an airline experience,  Yankees, amazing service, your barefoot running shoes – whatever. We all are geeking out on objects: I’ve overheard discussions about laundry detergent, toilet paper and shoe laces. Everything can be a social object.

If you feel your product can’t be a social object, drop me a line. I guarantee you it is already. (If it’s not, we’ll look together for a new job for you.)

Stop creating messages. Start creating social objects.

We’ve heard it all before: the Internet changed everything, the customer is in control, it’s about connections, engagement, blah blah blah.

Here’s the one fundamental change: Advertising used to be about creating messages. Advertising in the 21st century is about creating social objects.


Because social objects are the building stones of the Internet. Not Facebook. Not Twitter. These platforms only exist because people want to have conversations about social objects. In the best-case scenario, they’re woven into your product/service.

Some have to work harder and develop social objects surrounding the product/service. That’s where most brands get it wrong: They’re trying to have conversations with people about their product. Yawn.

Your job is to develop a social object people want to talk about. Once they start talking, get out of the way.

Powerful marketing is something that gets people talking.


In the best case scenario, a product gets people talking.


Or your remarkable service.


An incredible experience.


Or the cry for help from a Somali refugee.

When people talk about your cause/product/service, your marketing team has done its job.

Often, you need nothing more than an image to tell the story you want to tell.

Powerful marketing is something that gets people talking.

Keep it simple.

Develop a narrative.

And give people options to share your story.

That’s when marketing is most powerful.


A few days ago, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, promised “500 new features” for the Windows Phone 7.

That’s a lot of features. Pretty impressive.

Too bad nobody cares.

Remember the iPhone advertising? Have they ever talked about features, the chip or the technology?

Not once.

Instead, they are showing things people love to do. Things that add value to your life. Things that make you go “Wow”. Things that are fun.

500 features are not fun. They are scary.

Microsoft is stuck in the old world of push-thinking.

Just look at the majority of the products. The Office suite has so many functions and features, humans in the year 4034 will discover the last 2%. It has so many features, nobody every uses.

That’s what happens when you’re stuck in the push-thinking paradigm: You give more and more. And you don’t understand why people want you less.

This is a problem for many brands: They rattle down features and think that people. will buy them. People don’t buy features. They buy awesomeness.

Pull-Thinking equals awesomeness.

Instead of nagging people constantly to use/buy/try your product, show them something that people love to do. Make me want the product because it fills a need. I’m sure a few of these 500 features fit into that category.

When your company culture is rooted in a push-thinking paradigm, you better have a big, big wallet. People will not talk about you, they won’t spread the word for you. You have to carpet bomb the media landscape with your marketing communication to get any attention.

Pull-thinking company cultures need much less media investment. Whenever somebody says “Wow” seeing their product, they save the enterprise tons of marketing dollars. Or when they experience the value it adds to their lives. Every time a valuable iPhone app gets downloaded, a few marketing dollars are deducted from Apple’s media budget. It keeps the customers closer to the brand, delights them.

Don’t tell me.

Show me.


The iPhone knows its location and stores that information in a file. Apple denied this claim, called users confused and the problem a bug.

Sony admitted last week that hackers had obtained Play Station Network user names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates, passwords and IDs.

Oh, and a few days later, Sony admitted to a second security breach that may have resulted in the theft of personal information of 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) customers. This includes 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers and 10,700 direct debt records.

This is not about bashing Sony and/or Apple. There are bigger issues at hand here.

The core issue is informed consent, which is a by-product of basic respect and empathy for customers. Most companies are lacking these important principles. 30 free days added to their subscription by Sony is just not good enough. Customers should be offered free credit reports and subscriptions to identity theft protection services. A few friends of mine had to deal with identity theft, and I can assure you 30 days of free service wouldn’t make up for the time they had to waste cleaning up their record.

Consumers will put up with a lot from brands they like and do business with so long as they are told what the brands wants to do (in non-marketing and non-technical speak) and they are given the opportunity to choose.

Apple didn’t provide any opportunity to opt-in for storage of location data, no choice was ever given. Sony didn’t do enough to ensure the anonymity and privacy of their users, they didn’t even encrypt personal data.

Lawyers will point to the end-user license agreement and TOS but the relationship between a brand and a person is much more than a legal contract. Nobody reads these documents, we just scroll down to mark the checkbox and get on with it. They protect the legal structure of an enterprise but they don’t do anything for customers. Sony and Apple, just like other enterprises that collect data, don’t put clear verbiage in front of people and give them real options. And, yes, the option to selectively enable and disable data collection and sharing should be included.

Sony had good reasons to collect customer data: It provides them the opportunity to sell more products by delivering relevant messages at an opportune time. That’s fine as long as the customer can make a risk assessment: Is a $5 coupon worth the risk of identity theft?

Trust in data security is eroding.

This is only the beginning of the end of personal data collection by enterprises. Almost every day we read about examples of companies abusing the ownership of our personal data. This massive crisis might force Sony into opening their data systems to independent external auditors, letting them access the source code of the implementation and validating that data is secured and used in a way consistent with the privacy criteria both parties agreed on. They will have to change their communication with customers to make it more human, less legal and transparent.

Will it be enough?

In the short-term, those measures should help the gain the trust of their most avid customers. In the long-term, more breaches in different verticals will become public and customers will finally see that their data is being treated recklessly and without any respect.

Ultimately, enterprises have to deal with this reality:

People will understand their personal data has more value than a “$1 off” coupon. They will refuse to give enterprises long-term access to their data. Instead, they will allow them to access their data for a limited amount of time in exchange for a real value proposition. People have given the key to brands too many times, just to get a wrecked car in return. It’s about time, they demand the key back.


This fabulous illustrations courtesy of Ogilvy (via Brad Hill)

I’m writing this a few hours after my return from Austin. As usual, SXSW was whirlwind of knowledge, brilliant minds, trial of new technologies and a lot of socializing.

It’s getting bigger and bigger

It was merely impossible to see 20% of the panels/keynotes I was interested in. The conference is now so spread out that you really have to limit yourself to 1-2 panels and go with the flow the rest of the day. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better but my experience was much better than last year. Maybe it was my overall attitude, my focus on networking or the conference felt more elevated and improved from last year.

With one exception, the keynotes weren’t good

Blake McCoskie, CEO and Founder of Tom’s Shoes, stole the keynote show by a huge margin. His story was inspiring and conveyed the passion he feels for his brand. I wish all keynotes would have been of that caliber but it gave me more time to network and learn by talking with fellow attendees.

SXSW’s content: It’s what you make it.

SXSW has turned into a huge farmer market. You have to walk down all the stands, try out some fruit, bite into a few sour apples until you discover something sweet. It’s up to you to do all the legwork in advance, have Plan B and C for each session in place and leave as soon as you feel the session doesn’t meet your expectations. I went to 10 or so sessions and 5 of them were fabulous.

It’s about the people

In a cab, in line, at the Allhat party, at the DraftFCB event, at a local restaurant, on the street: SXSW is about connecting with people. Replacing the Twitter avatar with a real person. Meeting strangers and parting as friends. Connecting friends with other friends. That’s the real story of SXSW.

Big brands are moving in

Samsung hosted the blogger lounge (Ironically more Apple than Samsung products inside the lounge) with interviews, book signings and a lot of Pepsi. Chevy really made an impact with their car service for attendees, test drives, charging stations, the Volt lounge and party sponsorship. Pepsi was basically everywhere, sometimes the only drink you could get was a Pepsi Max. They sponsored a lounge and a stage, sometimes manned by my friend @schneidermike. (He should just legally change his name already.) American Express partnered with Foursquare to launch a form of a loyalty program. Should be interesting to see the results. And, once again, Apple was the marketing king without spending any money on sponsorships: They opened a “pop up” store and geeks lined up for hours to get their hands on the new iPad2. Just to show them off in the next day and do the marketing work for Apple.

More importantly, more executives of large brands and enterprises were present, trying to figure out how to transform their business. I had more discussions about social business and less chat about bright, shiny tools.

Oh boy, so many apps and not enough screen real estate

Situationist, Hurricane Party, Beluga, Ditto, Yobongo, LiquidSpace. And I’m barely scratching the surface. It was fun to try them out and evaluate their worthiness to remain on my iPhone. Unlike other SXSW’s, this year there was no break-out technology. No Foursquare or Twitter. A lot of hype surrounding SMS group chat tools like Beluga and GroupMe but I didn’t experience a high adoption rate in my graph. It felt more like a new feature than an innovative  tool. The LocalMind Q&A tool looked interesting and could become quite helpful over time.

Would love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, I’m busy deleting some of the apps I downloaded a few days ago.