Apr 12

An email signature that says it all

Credit: Tweet from Jason Prell

I once knew a keyboard player who put black tape over the huge YAMAHA that faced the audience when he played his synthesizer on stage.

He even wrote Yamaha a letter saying that if they wanted him to advertise their company when he played, they’d have to pay him a fee.

Thirty years later, he’s still waiting for a response.

That’s the way I’ve always felt about the default email signatures that ship with smartphones and tablets these days.

“Sent from my iPhone” is fairly harmless. However, I don’t feel the need to give Apple a free ride on every email I send. (By now, I imagine my friend has sent Apple a letter as well.)

Whatever, these default signatures are now commonplace. And just as the socks we choose to wear say something about us, these signatures say something about the companies that put them there. Or, in some cases, the multiple companies who put them there.

See Exhibit A above.

This is the email signature that comes standard on a new Samsung phone. It’s unintentionally hilarious — the combined effort of Samsung and AT&T. This is probably more of a billboard than an email signature. But even as a billboard it fails — because rather than say something simple, it’s stuffed to the gills with everything that might impress a recipient.

This is not only a violation of the rules of simplicity, it’s unenlightened and tacky.

Even the lawyers get to join in the fun. The trademarks are all in place, just to make sure that (a) we aren’t tempted to steal the product names, and (b) the email signature looks as ugly as possible.

Advertising issues aside, there is simply a good taste issue here. Though I don’t love what Apple has done, at least it is done with taste. “Sent from my iPhone” is simple and unobtrusive. No trademarks. No promo of AT&T or Verizon. It simply identifies the device you’re using. (And gives you an out for all those device-induced typos.)

One of the lures of Android is that it is open, and that the carriers are free to customize it as they please — which AT&T has obviously done here.

The result is just another example of advertising pollution. A marketing department sees a new place to put some words, and they stuff it to the gills simply because they can. They’re incapable of distilling a message to its essence.

Thankfully, none of us have to participate in this nonsense. We’re all free to alter our default email signatures. We can rip them out altogether, or take the opportunity to show the world how amusing we can be.

“Sent by carrier pigeon” is a personal favorite. But if you have a better one, I’d be happy to steal it.

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  • Zozo

    I’ve been tempted to appropriate one from last week’s 30 Rock: “Sent from one of my four iPads.” For my iPhone, naturally.

  • Your post plus this article made me want to punch a telecom executive in the throat:

    “The new HTC Evo 4G LTE is many things: a slim, elegant smartphone, a fast LTE phone and a powerful camera phone. But there’s “One” main thing it isn’t: part of HTC’s new One line of flagship smartphones.”It’s an EVO. It’s one of the strongest, most powerful brands of smartphone,” HTC spokesman Tom Harlin said.This diverges from HTC’s stated strategy from when it launched its One X, S, and V phones at Mobile World Congress, which was to make the HTC One line the company’s flagship – a cross-carrier brand to stand against the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. But Sprint got to name the phone, and with 7 million EVO phones sold so far, the carrier just couldn’t quit “EVO.”HTC and Sprint will still work tightly together selling this phone. “It’s a collaboration,” Harlin said. “That makes it an EVO, not a One.”from http://bit.ly/InNNhw

  • Michael Young

    “One of the lures of Android is that it is open, and that the carriers are free to customize it as they please — which AT&T has obviously done here.”
    probably should read”
    “One of the lures of Android is that the carriers are free to customize it as they please — which AT&T has obviously done here.”

  • nuthinking

    Are you really saying that this wasn’t a joke???

  • Not mine, but makes me chuckle when I see it:

    “Clumsily pecked into a tiny picture of a keyboard.”

  • Cold

    They forgot to add: “(patent and litigation pending)” at the end.

  • Mark

    Mine says “Sent from my Apple ][+” :)

    The best one I’ve seen says “Sent from my PDP-11”.

  • Marcus B. Lester

    This reminds me of an extra long legal text on an envelope containing floppies (yes, that was a long time ago).  At the very end of the text, someone inside the software company had added “Our lawyers are happy.”

  • JU

    Sent from iHal 9000

  • Mark S

    Tomorrow is the big day.  Can’t wait to get the book! 

  • Gonji

    I’ve changed my iPad signature to, “Sent from my highly inadequate iPad 1.”

    My iPad isn’t actually inadequate, it seems that way since I saw a new iPad and started lusting after it.

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  • “I once knew a keyboard player who put black tape over the huge YAMAHA that faced the audience when he played his synthesizer on stage.”
    As a young keyboard player I took great interest in the keyboards others were playing so I have no objection to the ‘advertising’ of brands on the reverse face of keyboards. Wasn’t it Elicia Key’s who had her R O L A N D gaffered over by ‘management’  because YAMAMHA was an event sponsor , now that was taking things a little too far.

  • For funny ones: Not sent via a Windows Phone.  OR Sent via a good old fashioned Mainframe.

    Actually I am using a windows phone this year. 2010 was iphone, 2011 was android, 2012 windows phone. I would say each has his own.

  • You just can’t make this up. 

  • Chris C

    I switch mine up a bit from time to time, but faves I use again and again are:

    “Sent from the future”
    “Sent from SkyNet”
    “Sent by magic”

  • Arif Muslax

    Sent by accident.

  • Chuck P.

    I liked my colleague’s signature when the iPad first came out, in 2010: 

    “Pardon my smugness. Sent from my iPad.”

  • Fontaine Pierre

    Sent from Earth…

  • Android User

    “Brief reply because my Android device can’t drive for me… yet.” That’s mine.  If you like it, steal it.  If you improve it, post here and let me steal yours. :-)

  • An Engineer

    Much Ado about nothing. apple sheep always judge things based on how Steve Jobs programmed them to think.

    – Sent from my $99 HP Touchpad running Android 4.0 ( Ice Cream Sandwich)

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  • anything that takes the piss out of Apple is fine by me!

  • My phone says “Not sent by an iPhone”. Always generates good discussion.

  • haha.

  • Michelle Sears

    I wrote ” Sent from my iPhone while driving 90mph on I-285″

  • Can

    Sent from my ancient Ericsson 337

  • swainzilla

    Sent from my Android that ate your iphone

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