Nov 15

Bidding adieu to Steve Jobs, the movie

Uh oh. Two weeks into its general release, Universal’s Steve Jobs movie has faded fast.

In what might be the ultimate insult, it has only barely outperformed the Ashton Kutcher Jobs movie.

Quite an unexpected end for a movie that had everything going for it: writing, acting, directing, marketing budget and lots of great reviews in the mainstream media.

Where did things go wrong?

Well, as much as we admire Steve Jobs, his vision and his accomplishments, there is such a thing as a Steve Jobs overdose. More ▸

Oct 15

Raining on Apple’s parade

I guess there really is one in every crowd.

On Tuesday, Apple released its earnings report, which contained enough gaudy numbers to satisfy just about everyone.

Just about.

Above are the stories that appeared on Yahoo’s finance page within minutes of Apple’s numbers becoming public. For investors, it was a festival of good news.

“Profit rises 31%.” “Earnings top expectations.” “All-time sales record.” And then… “Has Apple Growth Hit The Pause Button?” (Using a DoNotLink url, so feel free.)

I have to say, it’s awesome that an Appleslinger can be so quick on the draw. It pays to be fleet of foot, even if one is light of brain.

Once I got to the page, ancient memories were stirred. Yes, it’s more keen commentary from 24/7 Wall St., who once drew me in with their insightful observation that Apple Watch must be failing because Apple is running ads for it. Makes perfect sense. More ▸

Oct 15

Searching for the real Steve Jobs

ALERT! Steve Jobs is missing.

We can’t find him in the new Steve Jobs movie.

We didn’t find him in the Ashton Kutcher Jobs movie. Or Gibney’s Man In The Machine. Or Pirates of Silicon Valley.

We didn’t find him in the one-man stage show, The Agony And Ecstasy Of Steve Jobs. Fat chance that we’ll find him in the upcoming Steve Jobs opera.

Hell, he was MIA in the biography authorized by Steve himself.

So, where is that rascal hiding? Of all the countless articles, books and movies that aim to enlighten us about Steve, why isn’t there one that gets it right?

I hope you’re sitting down for this — the real Steve Jobs story will arrive on the 12th of Never. More ▸

Oct 15

PC companies did WHAT?

A wise man in advertising once said that 99% of the world’s failed ads fail before the creative team even gets the assignment.

That’s because strategy is critical. Even great creative work can’t save a bad strategy.

But what we have here is something else.

It’s that rare combination of bad strategy compounded by bad creative, then multiplied by the combined effort of four different companies — three of whom are actually competitors.

This is nothing less than an advertising miracle. Like Halley’s Comet, I doubt that we’ll see anything like it again in our lifetime.

So hold your noses — we’re going in for a closer look. More ▸

Oct 15

Dueling monikers: 3D Touch & Force Touch

touch2We first met Force Touch when Tim Cook unveiled Apple Watch in September of last year.

Six months later, Force Touch debuted in the new Macbook, and soon after it appeared in an updated Macbook Pro.

So it only seemed logical to believe that Force Touch would appear in the new iPhones as well.

Except that it didn’t. Instead, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus arrived sporting 3D Touch.

Some were confused. Others were elated.

And just to add to the effect, last week Apple introduced the new Magic Trackpad — featuring Force Touch.

You’d be forgiven if your first reaction was, “Good grief, Apple, make up your mind!” Having two kinds of Touches seemed uncharacteristically wishy-washy, especially with all of this happening in the span of a year. More ▸

Oct 15

New Apple Watch ads: a midcourse correction

Ah, much better. Thank you Apple.

At long last, nearly six months after Apple Watch started shipping, Apple has launched a Watch campaign that might turn some heads. Or better yet, open some eyes.

The new ads are actually the polar opposite of the previous ones.

If you’re the kind, forgiving type, you might see the change as TechCrunch does:

These ads signal somewhat of a value shift in Apple’s Watch advertising as the product matures and the company looks to showcase its utility a bit more seriously.

Interesting. Where I come from, the best time to showcase a product’s utility is when it’s launched.

The simple truth is, the first Watch campaign was soft and fuzzy — long on emotion and short on lust. Way too many people reacted to those spots by saying “I still don’t get why I’d want one.”

The new campaign is not only 100x more clear—it actually gives the Watch a personality. More ▸

Oct 15

“The Man In The Machine”: an aimless rehash


I finally got around to watching Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.

The verdict: two thumbs down. I only wish I had more thumbs to vote with.

I didn’t hate it because it’s a hatchet job. In fact, I’m not even sure it is a hatchet job. Much of it wanders aimlessly, exploring the good and bad sides of Steve Jobs.

It’s just not a well conceived or executed film — which is surprising, given that Gibney’s previous documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, was widely praised.

There’s a big difference between the two.

Going Clear explored a subject that is murky to most of us, and is based on a book that was extensively researched. The Man In The Machine is none of that. It’s simply a rehash of things that are well known about Steve, presented as if they’re news. More ▸

Sep 15

Addendum to the iPhone “S” argument

dice-6Earlier this week, I expressed a distinct lack of love for the S-naming that Apple has applied to iPhone every other year.

My point was that by choosing this path, Apple has actually trained the world to believe S years are “off-years” that feature only minor innovations. This, when some of iPhone’s biggest advances have actually arrived in the S models.

As Exhibit A in my argument, I now submit yesterday’s BuzzFeed article entitled 20 Minutes With Tim Cook. More accurately, I submit a single paragraph neatly tucked mid-article. Here, John Paczkowski illustrates two reasons why Apple’s S naming is a bad idea (though he did so unintentionally): More ▸

Sep 15

Apple’s pre-holiday festival of stuff: afterthoughts

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 12.40.38 AMThe pre-holiday Apple event was only part of a much larger drama that’s been played out many times before.

First came the rumors. Then came leaks with substance. Then came the presentation — less surprising because of the leaks — which disappointed Wall Street and dropped the AAPL stock price. Then came a frenzy of articles pro and con, followed by a day-after bump in AAPL stock when Wall Street (momentarily) came to its senses.

What else could there possibly be to talk about? I’m sure we can think of something…

Adjective Overload

A frequent complaint of Apple event critics is the excessive use of hyperbole. Hard to argue this. Then again, when one unveils brand-new products, hyper-adjectives are just too tempting for mortal men. That’s how we humans show enthusiasm. More ▸

Aug 15

iPhone’s annual cycle of advertising

By now, you may have noticed a pattern in Apple’s iPhone advertising.

When the new models launch, the ads blast out what’s new. (Like last fall’s ads for the bigger screens.) But by the time summer rolls around, the big news isn’t so big anymore.

That’s when we get the “filler” ads, which take us to the launch of new models in the fall.

Ad people have wrestled with this issue for eons. Creating launch ads is fun and exciting, while creating the ongoing ads is more of a challenge. It’s hard to be magical when the magic has faded.

In the summer of 2014, we got spots like “Strength,” which simply highlighted a certain aspect of iPhone. The year before that, we got a series of ads like “Photos Every Day.”

Now we have a new campaign to fill the space between summer and fall.

This year’s motif is logic. Apple has presented three ads that explain why iPhones are superior, all culminating in the line “If it isn’t an iPhone, it isn’t an iPhone.”

The problem is, a spot that’s high in logic is typically low in magic. Thus, the lukewarm response we’ve seen to the newest campaign. More ▸