The iPhone/Watch news has been pretty well dissected at this point. But hey, there are always a few more nooks and crannies to explore. Here are my not-so-quick reactions.
Death by streaming
I spent the first 45 minutes in agony. I get why the streaming failed so miserably now — but for it to happen at this historical moment is truly unforgivable. A hundred lashes for those responsible.
A+ for imaginative use of typography. C- for droning on with self-importance. This video would have been a nice opening for a WWDC, paying tribute to developers who think differently and change the world for the better. I just get squirmy when Apple heaps this kind of praise upon itself. Though I’m not a fan of the “people around the world using our stuff” ads and videos we’ve seen from Apple lately, something like that would have been far more suitable as a setup leading to the unveiling of new empowering devices. More ▸
In a re/code article on Wednesday, John Paczkowski stated with conviction that iWatch will make its debut on September 9th, along with the new iPhone(s).
Within a day, there were a hundred stories reporting that bit of news — either citing John as the source or simply presenting it as fact. Computerworld actually ran the headline Apple makes Sept. 9 event official, hints at more than iPhone 6. Uh … not really. All Apple did was send out an invitation.
Now I happen to have a lot of respect for John, and he may well be right. Still, one can’t help but marvel at how quickly unverified stories spread.
Whether it’s true or not, this isn’t the kind of decision Apple makes lightly. It’s fun to imagine the two sides of the debate — do we launch these products in two separate events or combine them into one?
Since I wasn’t invited to the meeting, I’ll have this debate with myself. More ▸
What’s wrong with this picture?
Those who love Apple are oftentimes its most finicky critics.
My theory is that these people expect perfection, so they feel compelled to point out the imperfections — large or small.
Oh, wow. I guess I’m now officially in that group.
Recently, I’ve noticed two lapses that seem out of character for Apple. Each is mystifying in its own way. More ▸
Hail Microsoft, the King of PCs.
It’s easy to understand why the company clings to its “PCs forever” strategy, even after every major Windows PC maker has suffered slumping sales due to the tablet revolution.
It’s actually a form of corporate addiction. When you’ve built a huge global powerhouse based on one strategy, it’s hard to stop.
When trouble brews, the reaction can be reflexive: “let’s go with our strength.”
So now, in its three new ads for the Surface tablet, Microsoft once again goes with its “strength.”
While it previously fell short by comparing Surface to the iPad, it tries again by comparing Surface to the MacBook Air.
Because, as we all know, what the world really wants is a tablet that feels like a PC. Complete with keyboard and Office software. More ▸
In case you missed it — a frame from the end of the “Stickers” ad
I have to say, I’m a bit surprised.
Given all the sites that regularly dissect Apple’s every move — major, minor, real or imagined — an earthquake in the Apple world has gone virtually unnoticed.
That ancient rainbow logo, last seen in mainstream advertising at least 13 years ago, has magically reappeared for yet another moment in the sun.
Well, maybe it’s more of a moment in the shade, as it does go by rather quickly. In fact, my informal unscientific poll shows that most ordinary viewers didn’t even notice it.
It comes at the end of the Stickers commercial, when the sign-off logo flickers between the contemporary black logo and the old rainbow logo.
Of course I am greatly exaggerating the importance of this unexpected-but-sweet little touch. But if you’re a student of Apple advertising, or just a casual fan, it’s a cool thing to note.
In the last week, we’ve seen new commercials from both Apple and Samsung.
They’re for different product categories — laptop and phone — but they do have something in common. Both promote products that have been out for some time and have no new features to boast.
With MacBook Air, Apple is in a pretty comfortable place. The ultra-light notebook category isn’t nearly as combustible as the phone category, and MacBook Air isn’t particularly threatened. Sales are better than ever.
With the Galaxy S5, Samsung finds itself in a tougher spot. Decreasing sales have already let some air out of the Samsung balloon. Apple is on the rise again, and 95% of the buzz these days is about the looming iPhone 6.
With all that in mind, let’s look at how Apple and Samsung are stating their cases.
Stickers is a great example of a well-crafted, lovable ad that scores points despite a lack of any real news. More ▸
As a longtime ad guy, I now confess:
I have a love-hate relationship with the products of my own profession.
I love ads that draw me in with intelligence and wit.
I hate ads that barge into my life uninvited.
When I was a wide-eyed junior copywriter, I came to appreciate the code of ethics that guided the high-quality ad agencies.
I was taught that since people don’t actively seek out ads, we had to be respectful of our audience and capture their attention through creativity. It was our job to attract customers, not brow-beat them.
In other words, we tried not to annoy people when our goal was to start a conversation with them.
Honestly, it didn’t feel like a code of ethics. It just felt like common sense. More ▸
I love the smell of exaggeration in the morning. (Illustration: Fortune.)
With a rising stock price, cheery forecasts from major analysts and growing anticipation for iPhone 6 and iWatch, it’s getting harder and harder to write negative articles about Apple’s prospects.
But, naturally, some people do.
Surprisingly, it was Adam Lashinsky who recently rose to the challenge with his article for Fortune entitled Apple’s newest product: Complexity.
Compelling headline. Compelling visual. The only thing it lacks is a compelling argument.
In fact, it’s an excellent example of how even the smarter Apple journalists can be seduced by the lure of Apple doom-casting. More ▸
We all know that things are different in the post-Steve Apple.
However, there’s something about the current move to build an in-house marketing agency that’s really, really different.
Unlike previous changes, this one isn’t driven by Tim Cook.
It comes from a new place, deeper inside the company — from those who long played a part in Steve Jobs’ marketing machine.
The industry and the press seem to be surprised by this development. To many others, it’s a wonder it didn’t happen sooner.
A little background to start with…
THE BENEVOLENT DICTATOR
Though Steve encouraged debate, his dictator side made it clear that some things were not debatable. One of those things was the way Apple handled its marketing.
He set up two distinct areas of responsibility. More ▸