Posts Tagged: ipad

Mar 12

Apple’s momentary lapse of reason

As we all know (and Wall Street knows), Apple is a well-oiled machine these days. Unfortunately, there seems to be a screw loose down in the shipping dept.

This is the story of my friend Sam in Tucson, who was anxiously awaiting the scheduled March 16th delivery of his gorgeous new personalized iPad.

On March 14th, just two days before his delivery date, Sam received the above email from Apple. Even after he read it a few times, he was scratching his head.

For starters, it was riddled with typos. Not one or two, but six. Given Apple’s perfectionist standards, surely someone’s head would roll as a result. (Just three hours later, Sam received another email owning up to the errors. Continue reading →

Oct 11

Zigging when Apple zags

Sometimes Google seems to do some extraordinary acrobatics just to prove it isn’t Apple.

Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in Asia yesterday, Andy Rubin made it a point out their difference in philosophy.

1. He doesn’t believe in tablet-specific apps. All apps should work on a phone and scale up.

2. He doesn’t believe the phone should be an assistant. “You shouldn’t be communicating with the phone — you should be communicating with somebody on the other side of the phone,” he said.

Statements like these diminish Google, mostly because they fly in the face of common sense. Rubin makes it sound like it’s more important to dismiss Apple’s advances than it is to move forward.

His view on tablet-specific apps appears to be a defense for the Android Marketplace having so few of them. That number has been cited as anywhere from 300 to 3,000 — whatever, it’s way less than Apple’s 140,000.

Obviously, many apps can scale perfectly well from a phone to a tablet if they’re written to do so. Just as obviously, there’s a big difference between a 4-inch screen and a 10-inch screen. Though many apps can successfully scale, common sense says that a bigger screen opens up new possibilities. Otherwise, we’d all be running phone apps on our 27-inch screens too.

To be dismissive of Siri is to appear almost Luddite-ish. Even in its beta form, Siri is shaping up to be a monster hit. Again, common sense. It’s infinitely easier to say “Set alarm for 8am” than it is to go through the normal routine. Controlling the phone’s more advanced capabilities the same way feels nothing less than miraculous. And phones are just the start.

Apple didn’t denigrate Android’s superior voice recognition capability, they pushed it to a much higher level — the ability to intelligently interpret words to initiate actions. You’re a smart guy, Andy, but to dismiss this kind of leap with comments like “you shouldn’t be communicating with the phone” is pretty embarrassing.

Common sense says one other thing, too. Not too far in the future, Android will feature a built-in intelligent assistant. It may even help you explore Android’s library of made-for-tablet apps.


Jul 11

HP’s off-kilter shot at iPad

Congratulations. You’re a creative guy who just got the biggest break of his career. You’ve been asked to come up with a multimillion-dollar campaign for HP’s iPad-killer, the TouchPad.

Your head hurts from all the celebrating last night. Unfortunately, it’s about to hurt more — because it’ll be pretty darn hard to come up with an idea that will even put a dent in iPad, which virtually owns the market. Especially with a product that exists only because iPad blazed the trail before it.

What to do, what to do…

Trust me, I’m sympathetic to the challenge here. I was once hired to come up with a Sony campaign that would “bring down the iPod.” Somehow iPod survived that massive creative threat.

So the big idea for TouchPad turned out to be a celebrity spokesperson. That’s not a bad idea in itself. Some of the greatest campaigns in ad history have employed the celebrity spokesperson. It’s just that when you go this route, you have to think long and hard about the celebrity you’re choosing.

Is he/she:

1. Compatible with the brand?
2. Appealing to those you’re trying to convince?
3. Capable of presenting the product well?
4. Truly entertaining?
5. Likely to be busted for lewd behavior?

If you don’t have all the right answers, you risk spending a lot of money on a very big zero. Or, worse still, a negative.

HP decided that Russell Brand was the right guy for the job. Not exactly a household name. In fact, when a commercial starts by telling you the guy’s name, it’s a good indication that most people won’t know who the hell he is. Again, not a deal-killer, but something to consider.

Russell is a quirky English personality with some bad-boy behavior in his past, legal and otherwise. Clearly HP is looking to be “edgy.” To me, he seems like an unrefined Ricky Gervais.

And this is the problem. To most, Russell comes across as just plain bizarre — and not all that funny. His humor comes with some awkwardness. When a joke falls flat (which it does often — like the “dental joke” in this spot), it feels like open-mike night down at the comedy club.

What about the content of this ad? Well, that’s problem #2. The product features we see in this ad are supposed to be things that are missing in iPad. However, simply because of the way Russell presents, very little of his demo seems extraordinary. Hardly enough to make one stop lusting for an iPad.

Russell’s most grievous offense comes at the end. That’s when he openly makes a play for his paycheck by reciting a line that sounds like it was written in the marketing department: “My life is like nothing else. So is yours. HP TouchPad. Works like nothing else.” So much for whatever shred of authenticity Russell was supposed to bring to this party.

But let’s look at this ad in context.

Is HP’s approach any better than Motorola’s high-tech, robotic, spec-laden ad for Xoom? I think so. Though the personality they’ve chosen is questionable, at least the ad has a personality. Will it turn TouchPad into a serious iPad threat? Don’t hold your breath.

(This ad appears to be the launch spot of the HP TouchPad campaign. See a bunch of other spots in this campaign strung together here.)

Jun 11

Apple’s new high vs. Dell’s new low

If anyone ever questioned the value of creativity in marketing, Apple and Dell are currently staging a public demonstration.

Scratch that — it’s actually more of a public debate.

With its new iPad ad, Apple argues that creativity can make a message more interesting and important. With the first ad in its new brand campaign, Dell takes the position that creativity is an unnecessary frill.

Here’s a quick look at two efforts that live on opposite ends of the creative spectrum.


Since Mac vs. PC ended, I haven’t fawned over too many Apple ads. What kind of fanboy am I? Well, we needn’t dwell on that now. This ad is Apple’s best in recent memory.

In fact, this is one of those ads that makes me jealous. It doesn’t try to be clever, it just is. It makes the point that iPad represents a sea change in computing without feeling self-important. And, miracle of miracles, it does all of this without using the words magical or revolutionary.

Against visuals of iPads doing various things in the hands of different people, Mr. Voiceover sums up what makes iPad so darn interesting:

“Now we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine, curl up with a movie, and see a phone call … [and more] … because now there’s this.”

Many tech companies fail to grasp that simple, everyday speech can be the most intelligent way to present a product. Here, Apple describes iPad using the most ordinary words, but combines them in a way that feels totally fresh — and important.

This spot is actually a continuation of two previous iPad ads, both of which were more lofty presentations of Apple’s philosophy. In this spot, Apple does not stand up to proclaim “we believe…” (which can come off as arrogant to some). It simply describes how iPad changes the way you look at the world.

This is the toughest kind of copy to write — unpretentious, intelligent and compelling. Whoever is responsible should take a very big bow. This ad fits well with the best in Apple history.


When Hollywood directors could no longer bear the thought of being associated with a film, they used to cleanse themselves by giving the director’s credit to the imaginary Alan Smithee.

From the first glimpse of Dell’s new $80 million campaign, this could well end up being the first marketing effort ever credited to Mr. Smithee.

The ad you see here was featured in a recent Advertising Age fluff piece, accompanied by quotes from Dell’s chief marketing person. So I can only assume it’s for real — even though it looks and feels like a placeholder awaiting real photography. And a real designer. And a real writer. And a real strategy.

This ad is significant because it marks the beginning of what is supposed to be Dell’s first-ever brand campaign. It’s meant to provide the big, overarching message for individual product ads yet to come.

In other words, it is supposed to be to Dell what Think different was to Apple. I’ll go out on a limb and predict it won’t have quite the same impact.

The only positive thing one can say about this campaign is that it will provide income for stock photo sites specializing in hackneyed people shots.

There are a total of 34 words in this ad. 15 of them — almost half — are the same five words, repeated three times. The power to do more serves as headline, theme line and last line of copy.

Why pound these words into our thick skulls? Perhaps it’s to distinguish Dell’s use of The power to do more from all the others who are using it — including Norlift Fork Lifts, Belkin High-Performance Routers,  Lenovo Docking Solutions, GE Healthcare, Kensington iPad Batteries and who knows how many others. (The 5.6 million Google results for this line were making me groggy.) This is originality, Dell-style.

And it’s not like the remaining 19 words are jewels either. In Dell’s world, boring words fit like a comfortable shoe:

With a range of solutions in cloud computing, interactive learning, healthcare, efficient IT and global services, Dell gives you…

Basically, Dell is saying that what sets them apart is that they churn out a boatload of stuff. So they choose to deliver an undistinguished message built upon an overused theme.

Makes you want to run right out and buy a Dell, doesn’t it?

Apr 11

Plight of the PlayBook speechwriter

Some jobs in this world are too daunting for us regular folk to ponder: astronaut … fireman … flagpole sitter … PlayBook speechwriter…

I mean it takes some fancy writing to get around the challenges of a tablet flung into head-on competition with iPad when it’s not yet fully cooked. I can only imagine the call RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie made to his speechwriter before his recent Bloomberg interview.

BALSILLIE: Listen, Tex, I need your help. We gave some PlayBooks out to reporters, and the reviews are coming back pretty bad.

TEX: Geez, Jim. Why’d you go and do something like that? I thought that thing wasn’t going to be ready for another six months.

BALSILLIE: Water under the bridge. I need some good quotes fast. I’m on Bloomberg in an hour.

TEX: Okay, but I get my hazardous duty rate for this.

BALSILLIE: Yeah, whatever. Listen, you can bet your booties that the Bloomberg lady is going to go right for the jugular. She’s going to ask why PlayBook doesn’t have a built-in email client.

TEX: You’re kidding me. It doesn’t? How can you ship a tablet without built-in email?

BALSILLIE: It’s not so bad. You just have to connect it to a BlackBerry and do your email through that.

TEX (covering the receiver to hide his chuckling): If I have my BlackBerry with me, why wouldn’t I just use that to do my email?

BALSILLIE: You’re missing the point. PlayBook is a tablet. People love tablets. They’re buying millions of iPads.

TEX: Well, yeah, but iPad has built-in email.

BALSILLIE: Okay, I’ve got an idea. What if I say, “You can pair it with your BlackBerry for free.” People love free things, right? It’s cool that PlayBook doesn’t have built-in email because you can get it for free by plugging it into your BlackBerry.

TEX: But it’s already free on iPad.

BALSILLIE: Exactly. We’ll both have it for free!

TEX: (eye roll)

BALSILLIE: Good, so we’ll do that. Now about this app thing. Little problem there.

TEX: Like?

BALSILLIE: Like we have 3,000 apps and iPad has over 60,000.

TEX: How about “they’re really, really great apps”?

BALSILLIE: I was thinking of another approach. How about “We’ve got 100,000 apps”?

TEX: You just said you only had 3,000 apps.

BALSILLIE: We do. But we’re going to get more.

TEX: You’re confusing me.

BALSILLIE: We’re figuring out a way to run Android apps on this puppy. Probably in the summer.

TEX: Still, you’d be talking about something you don’t have now. And who knows how well this “Android emulation” thing will really work.

BALSILLIE: Your point?

TEX: Look, I think your best way out of this mess is to just do what Steve Jobs does. Use a lot of superlatives. Keep repeating them.

BALSILLIE: I don’t get it.

TEX: Think style, not substance. I’ve jotted down half a dozen quips here already. Memorize these: “It’s super-super fast.” “It’s ultraportable.” “It’s an amazing platform.” “We’re in an exceptional position.” “I feel incredibly bullish.”

BALSILLIE: Wow. You’re good.

TEX: You can do this, Jim. Remember, they have email, we have email. They have apps, we have apps. They have 3G, we have—

BALSILLIE: Uh, we don’t have 3G yet. Coming soon.

TEX: What? How can you possibly sell a tablet to business people without 3G?

BALSILLIE: Uh … can we just find a superlative for that?

Apr 11

Finally! A different kind of iPad ad

Houston, we have liftoff. After more than three years of generally sticking to a formula for iPhone, iPod and iPad ads, Apple has given us a little surprise.

This new iPad 2 ad, which debuted on Saturday, is from a different world. Gone is the series of apps displayed on a device held by an inhumanly perfect hand.

Shot against black, this ad feels more elegant, more important. That’s because it’s not just a commercial for iPad 2 — it’s a brand ad wrapped in product ad.

Cleverly, it still manages to communicate a wide range of apps — but it does so only in service of the brand message. This ad is about how Apple’s unique philosophy leads to products that are “even more delightful” and yes, “magical.” (I’ll save the issue of Apple’s adjective addiction for another time.)

Personally, I’d been disappointed that Apple had allowed itself to wander into formula territory in the first place. I was genuinely surprised when the launch of iPad — a fresh, world-changing technology — was advertised in the style of ads that had been running for two years before.

To be fair, many marketing experts would totally support what Apple has done. If you’re revolutionizing the world, you’re the center of attention and you’re selling products faster than you can make them, why on earth would you ever change the formula?

My best answer: “Because it’s a formula.”

Apple doesn’t do formulas. It’s in Apple’s blood to relentlessly make things better, even when they’re pretty amazing already. This is what they do with their products (like killing iPod mini at the height of its popularity), and this is historically what they’ve done with their advertising.

So, in my opinion, this extended period of sameness on behalf of the world’s most revolutionary products was an aberration. Now, at long last, Apple is taking us someplace we haven’t been before.

The big question is: how do we like the new ad?

Judging by the comments I’ve seen on blogs so far, it’s safe to say this ad is going to be a big hit with the Apple crowd. That alone would make it a smart investment for Apple. It gives their customers a flag to rally behind, and a good argument to carry forth into the world.

I buy the message of this commercial 100%. Apple products are absolutely different from competitors’ products — and they are different precisely for the reasons described in the ad. That this can be conveyed in just 30 seconds is a good example of Apple’s ability to distill a message into its simplest, most understandable form.

Not to spoil the euphoria, but I feel duty-bound to point out that this ad is not without a downside. While the message may resonate with Apple customers, it is by no means a slam-dunk with the rest of the world.

This is the type of message that is ordinarily delivered by Steve Jobs personally, at such events as the iPad launch. It’s perfectly natural for Steve to get on stage and say things like, “We believe…”

It’s a very different thing when a TV commercial interrupts what we really want to be watching and starts telling us, “We believe…” Some will take that as pretentious and condescending.

While the believers cheer the message that “magic” involves more than tech specs, those aware of competitors touting superior specs might roll their eyes and take it as Apple being defensive. “Oh, so that’s why you put crappy cameras in iPad 2. That’s part of the magic?”

But no commercial can please everyone, and Apple isn’t trying to convince the die-hard haters. They’re simply trying to get their message out to the vast number of potential iPad buyers, many of whom do not know Apple particularly well.

Personally, I love the fact that Apple is taking a risk by doing something unusual. By doing so, they reinforce the fact that they’re not like the other guys. They honestly believe this message, and they’re willing to spend major money to broadcast it. (And I can guarantee that they did not test this message with 20 focus groups first.)

Once the euphoria fades, though, it does make you wonder: what next?

If this is the “stake in the ground” commercial, where does the advertising go from here? Or is this just a breather, designed to take advantage of iPad’s “moment,” and then we go right back to what we had before?

Surely iPad deserves something better than a series of app shots on the screen. If iPod had the energetic silhouette campaign, and Macs had the endlessly entertaining Mac vs. PC campaign, what does iPad get? Or does Apple scrap tradition and create a “mobility” campaign that encompasses all of its i-products?

Apple and its agency TBWA\Chiat\Day have amazing creative resources, literally around the world. And most creative people would kill for the opportunity to work on such a project.

So I’m going to cross my fingers that the best is yet to come. I hope we can soon return to the days when morning conversations often started with, “Hey, did you see that Apple commercial last night?”

Mar 11

Samsung tries a Reality Distortion Field

Steve Jobs should have patented his Reality Distortion Field while he had the chance.

Now it seems like any company — Samsung, for instance — has no qualms about getting up on stage and creating a fantastic world of make-believe. Only problem is, their distortion ends up feeling like distortion.

Brimming with confidence, Samsung puts a series of obvious actors on the screen and passes them off as “true-life stories of Galaxy Tab users.”

Steve Jobs’ version is called the Reality Distortion Field because he’s so damn good at it. He has a genuine passion for marketing. He truly believes what he says. He’s incapable of any deliberate action that would cheapen the Apple brand.

Samsung, like many other companies, merely sees marketing as a necessary process. It’s less a labor of love, and more a checklist of things to do. And being authentic isn’t exactly their number one priority.

You can see that vividly in the above video, which shows Samsung unveiling their new family of Galaxy Tabs at an industry conference last week. They’ve got the demos and specs, but they can’t resist the temptation to present imaginary customers as real ones.

These testimonials are not only fabricated, they’re ineptly fabricated. They radiate fakery, sounding more like the brainchild of a marketing hack than a real writer. If you ignore the wrongheadedness of them, they can actually be entertaining — in much the same way it can be fun to watch a bad band perform.

We get Joan Hess, playing the role of freelance travel writer, forced to utter the words “mobility and connectivity are just perfect for my life.” She observes that the Galaxy Tab is “portable, connected, it’s sleek, it’s practical, it’s sexy — like me.” She delivers her lines with the smile of a toothpaste model.

Karl Shefelman is the independent film director, age 42. He’s the marketing guy’s image of cool, so he comes off as completely uncool. For him, the Galaxy Tab is “fast — like my life.”

This is where Samsung’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, Omar Kahn, chimes in: “It’s always interesting to see true-life stories of Galaxy Tab users.” Watch this scene a few times and you’ll actually see his nose grow longer.

Omar then cues up Joseph Kolinski, real estate executive. He’s not only a wretched actor, he’s one of the few people on earth who speaks entirely in marketing lingo: “I’m on the go 24/7 … I move fast, I take charge, I get things done … once I picked up the Galaxy Tab 8.9, I just couldn’t put it down.” (Never mind that he’s using the 8.9-inch model that isn’t even shipping yet.)

To be fair, it’s not like Apple doesn’t dabble in the imaginary. Look at their tear-jerker iPad and FaceTime commercials. Those aren’t real people. They’re actors pretending to have emotional family moments, set to moody music.

The difference is, Apple isn’t telling us these are real people. They’re simply commercials. And the people in the commercials aren’t babbling marketing-speak.

The Samsungs of the world really need to be careful. If you’re not certified to create a Reality Distortion Field, you can easily get sucked into it yourself.

Feb 11

HP takes a walk on the lame side

As it often does, Sunday night’s Grammys brought us both pain and joy. For joy, we got the snubbing of Justin Bieber in favor of Esperanza Spalding. For pain, HP was kind enough to step in with a new commercial for its forthcoming webOS products.

Let us pause to give HP credit for its sense of drama. If an ad is to horrify listeners with its soundtrack, what better place to fail than on the most important musical event of the year?

HP’s offense was to take the classic, generation-defining Lou Reed song, Walk on the Wild Side, and turn it into a vacuous ode to Tweeting, friending, texting and pretty much every expected thing we already do on our current devices of choice.

To think that the Grammys audience will love you simply because you’ve bought the rights to a famous track makes as much sense as believing a Texas audience will love you because you write a headline that starts with, “Howdy, y’all.” This is an attempted “easy win” that doesn’t come close to winning.

And by the way, Lou Reed — you’re not off the hook for this either.

Once the song was purchased and the original raw lyrics replaced by an exercise in copywriting, all they needed was a singer to bring it to life. Someone failed to realize that even a good vocalist becomes a joke when you force him to desecrate a musical legend.

But rejoice, HP fans. Creative judgment aside, HP’s products themselves actually appear to have some potential. Mute the sound and the future becomes much brighter.

In fact, by muting you will also spare yourself the pseudo-trendy “Everybody on” theme line, as well as the alternate reality that is celebrated in the commercial’s concluding thought: For more businesses and more people, only HP is leading the way.

Oh, that’s right. The HP Touchpad that won’t be out for another six months is leading the way, even though a nameless other tablet virtually invented the category over a year ago. Gotcha.

HP didn’t exactly end up with a spot that scores high marks for music. But it performs surprisingly well in the category of musical comedy.

Feb 11

Motorola saves us from the evil Apple

Some ads fail the old-fashioned way. They lack the traditional ingredients of creative thinking and/or smart strategy.

Other ads lose all restraint and fail on a higher level. They not only lack the right ingredients, they wrap their message in a grand idealistic vision, and pretend it is their driving motivation.

Congratulations,  Motorola, for taking it to Level 2.

After the ominous music and titles describing a totalitarian state, we’re told that because Motorola’s tablet is here, “it’s time to live a free life.” Holy cow, that’s thick.

Of course it’s not hard to understand why Motorola would go this route. Like everyone else jumping on the tablet bandwagon, they officially fall in the “follower” category. They face a most formidable competitor who has more than a full year head start. Plus, they aren’t exactly unique. They belong to a fleet of Android tablets coming to save us from the mass delusion that has led us to false happiness.

Motorola (and some of the others) actually does have certain advantages over iPad, at least in the hardware department. There are a thousand creative ways they could have made that point if they had a little imagination. Instead they chose to reveal these advantages by putting themselves on a pedestal, proclaiming themselves to be the hero, appointing themselves the defender of freedom.

This is offensive in the sense that it is manipulative. It tries to get us nodding our heads — and handing over our cash — by hijacking one of our most treasured values. Basically, Motorola is saying that if you love liberty, you should buy their product.

It’s not only offensive, it’s a rip-off of others’ offensive strategies. You’ll recall that after Apple banned Flash, Adobe proclaimed itself the champion of freedom. And last year Google depicted Apple as the evil anti-choice entity at their I/O Conference.

I don’t imagine a lot of people will be gathering in town square to rally for the heroic Motorola.

Never mind that their logic is absurd. They dismiss the fact that throughout history, Apple has been the one company who gave us choice when the big guys dictated the standards. Mac was the pesky upstart against the PC. iPod and iTunes forced the big record companies to change their evil ways. iPhone went up against the monoliths who controlled mobile communications. iPad finally gave us another choice vs. the PC companies’ netbooks and ill-conceived tablets. If anyone can claim to be the liberator, it’s Apple. Fortunately, Apple has the good sense to not to pose as the defender of humanity’s most precious value.

Motorola’s implication is that Apple is out for itself, while they (Motorola) are the ones fighting for the public good. Freedom of choice, with no restrictions. In truth, every moneymaking venture on earth is protective of its critical assets. Even Motorola. They protect what makes them unique, or fade into obscurity. Personally, I’m still fuming that Coca-Cola won’t reveal their secret formula. How dare they not give me the freedom to tweak the recipe so it’s perfect for my tastes.

I find the whole good vs. evil argument to be as toxic in marketing as it is in politics. Yet there will always be individuals and companies who choose this path. But we’re not talking politics here. When people buy a phone or tablet, they’re not voting for good or evil. They’re simply picking the device they like best.

We all know that Apple is controlling. Time after time, they explain why they are controlling. They take action to ensure that their customers get the Apple-quality experience they’re looking for. We also know that if we find Apple’s product philosophy so unsettling, we can simply go out and buy a competitor’s device. Like Motorola’s.

Motorola’s “it’s time to be free” ad is rumored to be running on the Super Bowl this weekend. No one needs to be reminded that this is the same venue where Apple ran the legendary 1984 commercial that Motorola is referencing. Whereas Apple’s ad stood head and shoulders above all the other ads of its time, Motorola’s ad will simply be one of the bunch. Very possibly, much like their tablet.

Jan 11

Attack of the vapor tablet

In his column this morning, Philip Elmer-DeWitt lists 101 iPad challengers seen at CES earlier this month.

Obviously, most won’t be around by next year’s CES. But Toshiba’s entry not only comes with a cool website, it comes with an attitude. Try accessing it with your iPhone or iPad and you get this message:

Such a shame. Add this to the list of interesting places on the Internet you can’t see on your device. Of course, if you had a Toshiba Tablet, you would enjoy the entire Internet. Yep, Flash sites too.

Then again, if you had a Toshiba Tablet, you’d be living in an alternate reality where this device was actually shipping. It’s coming “sometime this spring.”

But kudos to whoever built this site, because it really is nicely done. It starts off with a spirited video presenting a list of mouthwatering features. This resolves to a home page that is equally well done, in which you can poke around to learn more about each feature.

Why on earth would anyone buy an iPad when they could have one of these? Well, there are a few reasons — most of which stem from that little “nonexistence” issue.

Problem #1 is that Toshiba’s track record in tablets isn’t exactly stellar. Which is a gentlemanly way of saying that last time out, they completely soiled their nest.

Just last September, Toshiba proudly announced their Folio 100 Android tablet in Europe. It was an Android tablet that, astonishingly, would not work with Google apps. So it couldn’t connect with the Android Market. Nor could it run Flash. It only worked with the Toshiba Marketplace, which as you can imagine, looks like one of those desolate Old West towns with tumbleweeds blowing through. To top it off, the Folio 100 was embarrassingly huge and unwieldy.

So now Toshiba is back, hoping to wipe the slate clean. But they aren’t exactly instilling us with confidence. Start with the name. Or, more appropriately, lack thereof. “Toshiba Tablet,” it is reported, is only a placeholder. While the other iPad killers at CES were demoing their hearts out under their true monikers, Toshiba is sticking to “Tablet” until they’re good and ready. One can only imagine the debate going on back at HQ on that score.

More worrying is that fact that, unlike other major models that showed up at CES, the Toshiba Tablet was only running Android 2.2 — which automatically makes it second-fiddle to iPad. Supposedly, that too will change.

Still, the website makes the specs sound tempting. Here are the main points from the site’s opening video, with a few editorial comments thrown in.

Meet the Toshiba Tablet (but really, we’ll rename it later)
Powered by Android-TM (send for the Taste Police — that TM is way horsey)
10.1 Inch Screen (okay)
16:10 High Resolution Display (great format, but why do I suspect it isn’t quite Retina-quality)
Stereo Speakers (I’m with ya)
5 Megapixel Rear Facing Camera (cool — iPad 2 is rumored only to have a 2-megapixel camera here)
2 Megapixel Front Facing Camera (don’t they have hyphens in the Toshiba world?)
The Full Web – Even Flash (sorry, but not once have I wished I had Flash on my iPad)
Long-Lasting, Replaceable Battery (with Flash, you’ll probably need that extra battery) (Oh, there’s a hyphen — I feel better now)
3 Ports: mini-USB, HDMI, USB (sweet)

At this point, the features are reprised, with Five Colors thrown in. Nice extra touch, but let’s reserve judgment until these things ship, just to make sure they aren’t Zuning us with brown.

The video closes with line: The Perfect Sum of All its Parts.

Like that moment in the movie where the villain unwittingly unmasks himself, this is the moment when I saw Toshiba’s true colors. The expression they’re trying to echo is “greater than the sum of its parts.” Every device on earth is the sum of its parts — but that doesn’t mean you’ll love using it. 15 million people have been seduced by iPad because iOS makes it feel like something more.

With a little luck, Toshiba will get their unnamed Tablet out the door before iPad 2 is launched — when, as usual, the bar will be raised higher.