Jul 15

Apple Watch ads: beautiful, classy & forgettable

Well, now we know why Apple went silent with the Watch ads after its initial flurry. They’ve been busy beavers over there.

Now we have four new big-budget ads featuring a cast of dozens acting out scenarios shot all over the world.

The only problem — they’re the wrong ads at the wrong time.

At a moment when many seem to be on the fence about the Watch, these spots are just sleepy. They’re lacking in fun and excitement, and not the kind of ad you rave to your friends about.

Even worse, they actually give credibility to the doubters. Among the unusually high number of negative comments on the Apple-centric sites are many along the lines of “They made me realize how little I need an Apple Watch.” More ▸

Jul 15

Apple doubters in a feeding frenzy

Wow. That was quite a spectacle. It was as if someone dropped raw meat into a piranha tank.

The raw meat was a report by a company called Slice Intelligence, claiming that Apple Watch sales were off a whopping 90% from launch week. The piranha were a few hundred news services and blogs who’d apparently been starved for weeks.

Sometimes I wonder if people understand how organizations like Slice work. They make money by selling their services to client companies, and they attract new business by sending out press releases that become “news.” The more shocking the story, the more PR they get — and, in theory, the more new clients they can reel in.

In this case, Slice got exactly what it hoped for. Its name was attached to one of the biggest stories of the week. But, in the absence of any numbers from Apple, just how believable is the story? More ▸

Jul 15

Revving up for the next Steve Jobs movie

Thank you, Aaron Sorkin.

The official trailer for the new Steve Jobs movie (release date: October 9) is out, and I have to say: it looks pretty rich.

We mustn’t get carried away — it’s only a trailer, after all — but the movie sure looks like it lives up to the Sorkin standard.

Personally, I can’t imagine a more difficult screenwriting task. How does one take such a complicated, important life and distill it into 90 minutes’ worth of dialog and images?

Sorkin’s job was to pick the moments that tell a story as they reveal the nature of the man. And historical accuracy isn’t exactly the highest priority — creating a great movie experience is.

I can already hear the knee-jerk reactions: “But Fassbender doesn’t look anything like Steve Jobs!”

Correct. And I, for one, am relieved by that. More ▸

Jun 15

Apple Watch & the killer app crisis

I’ve been quiet about my Apple Watch since it arrived in mid-May.

I was trying to honor one of blogdom’s most important rules: never be the last of a thousand reviews.

Fortunately, I’ve found a loophole. This isn’t a review — it’s an observation.

Of all the opinions I’ve read, positive or negative, one comment pops up more than any other: Apple Watch doesn’t yet have a “killer app.”

The latest came just three days ago, when CNBC posed the question Is interest in the Apple Watch dissipating?. The article offers not a shred of evidence that indicates a lack of interest, but it does offer one quote from an analyst, “It’s not clear what the killer app is. It’s nice to get notifications, but it’s a nonessential product.”

Well, here’s the stark reality: The Apple Watch has no killer app. And it will never have a killer app.

But anyone who hinges the success of the device on the idea of a killer app is living far, far in the past.

If you need any proof, just look at the iPhone. We can all agree it started one of the biggest technology revolutions of our time. So … what’s the killer app? More ▸

May 15

Apple Watch analysis run amok

After reading thousands of articles about Apple over the years, I’ve come to believe there are two kinds of Apple analysts in this world:

Those who have the intelligence and insight to offer up an interesting opinion based on some concrete evidence. And those who probably don’t even understand the preceding sentence.

See if you can figure out where this one fits.

I submit the sad case of Douglas A. McIntyre, co-editor of a site called 24/7 Wall St, which produces content for MarketWatch, Time, Yahoo! Finance, TheStreet.com and others.

Now, one would think that a person running a website devoted to business news might know a thing or two about business. But … never leap to conclusions.

Recently, Douglas wrote an article entitled, “Why does Apple bother to advertise its watch?” By headline alone, I assumed he was questioning the wisdom of advertising a product that will be sold out for many months to come.

But no — Douglas smells a fish. And he’s ready to lay it on the line. More ▸

May 15

One day they’ll understand Apple

Well, okay. Maybe that headline was a bit too optimistic. Let me re-phrase:

They will never understand Apple. Ever.

I suppose we can just chalk it up to human behavior. As the original Macintosh team at Apple liked to say, it’s more fun to be the pirates than the navy. In Star Wars terms, one could say it’s more fun to be the rebels than the Empire.

Given the size of the company today, Apple can easily be seen as both the navy and the Empire. So I get why the sport of finding the cracks in Apple’s armor is so popular.

That said, I remain amazed that so many fail to grasp how Apple thinks and behaves — though they’ve seen the same scenario play out time after time. More ▸

Apr 15

Apple & the customer’s shoes

Those who get what made Steve Jobs tick understand his devotion to the customer experience.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it was his highest priority — and it went far beyond the products.

Steve believed that everything a customer sees, feels or touches is an opportunity to connect them more deeply to the brand. Absolutely everything. When he reviewed a piece that would run in a magazine, for example, he cared as much about the quality of the paper as he did the message of the ad.

Even if it was something that didn’t register with a customer consciously, he knew it was having an effect.

In all my advertising life, I’d never seen the CEO of a major company focus on so many aspects of the customer experience — from ads to packaging to retail design to tech support.

His technique was pretty darn simple: he put himself in the customer’s shoes. More ▸

Mar 15

Becoming Steve Jobs: the authors speak

Yesterday, the authors of Becoming Steve Jobs, Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, had a little sit-down at the Soho Apple Store — with surprise guest host John Gruber.

It was a rare opportunity to get a sense of the authors’ personalities and motivations — since we normally hear of such things only through articles written by people who color the facts with their own point of view.

Kudos to Gruber for asking some probing questions and making the event run smoothly.

The truth is, any book about Steve Jobs will have a polarizing effect similar to the one generated by Steve himself. So now we have the battle of the biographies. It’s Becoming Steve Jobs (Schlender and Tetzeli) vs. Steve Jobs (Isaacson).

A few observations:

First, I love the title Becoming Steve Jobs. A book title, like the headline of an ad, is hugely important, and this one so perfectly captures the concept. Steve accomplished what he did only because of the journey that brought him back to Apple in 1997.

Few will remember at this point, but the original title for Isaacson’s book as announced was iSteve. What a horribly cute title that would have been for a life so important. More ▸

Mar 15

Waking from an Apple Watch hangover

We don’t like to make hot-headed remarks about Apple new-product events around these parts. Better to let things sink in for a while.

Okay, time’s up.

A few random comments about yesterday’s Apple Watch and MacBook event.

The broadcast
Glitch-free and a pleasure to watch. With the accompanying tweet-cast, Apple has become quite spiffy with these things. My only issue with it was…

The tweets
I couldn’t help but wince while reading some of the pre-event tweets. Steve Jobs hated any writing that sounded like marketing-speak, but such inhibitions seemed to have melted way here. It was a mix of trying to be cool (Getting psyched backstage listening to I Lived by @OneRepublic), trying to be clever (Please make sure your seat is in an upright position. It’s almost time for takeoff.) and sounding like an ad (People grab their seats before the keynote grabs their attention). More ▸

Mar 15

At a loss for words: it’s a “Pay”-for-all

We knew this day was going to come.

We try to conserve our resources, but the English language only has so many words in it. And it appears we’ve used ‘em all up.

It’s hard to otherwise explain how, just months after the introduction of Apple Pay, we find ourselves with Samsung Pay and Android Pay.

If you’re a product naming or marketing enthusiast, it’s something to marvel at. Kind of like that rare moment when all the planets align. (Which, technically speaking, they never really do.)

As our friend Spock would have said, it’s quite illogical. In an industry where innovation is the key to success, three of the biggest players end up with identically named products.

Of course, the first one out of the gate is innocent of all charges. It’s the second and third who have some explaining to do. More ▸