Attack of the lame headlines

As a rookie copywriter struggling with headlines, my mentors warned me about two unforgivable sins.

One was trying too hard to be cool. The other was stooping to such overused tricks as puns and rhymes.

I rarely think about those days anymore, but every so often a headline grabs me by the throat and demands to be ridiculed. I, of course, am happy to oblige.

It happened right after the recent Apple event when I visited apple.com to learn more about the new iPhones.

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The Apple Store gets its tab back

Six years ago, Apple removed the Apple Store tab from its website.

No longer was there a central store-like place to visit online. Instead, each individual product page had its own Buy button.

File this under “Great Ideas That Aren’t So Great When You Really Think About Them.”

First, the new setup was counterintuitive. When we humans want to buy something, we instinctively look for a “store.”

Second, the online and offline Apple Stores were two sides of the same coin. One was simply the virtual version of the other. Suddenly that parallel was gone.

Imagine if the physical Apple Stores replicated the “improved” online buying experience.

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Apple’s troubling stubborn streak

One thing Apple unveiled in its recent Spring Forward event was enough to make me believe in miracles.

After nearly six frustrating years—six years!—one of the company’s most inexplicable design blunders was finally corrected.

Hello, new Siri Remote.

The shock got me digging into the past to examine Apple’s track record when it comes to fixing things that need fixing. Sorry to say, it isn’t pretty.

Here’s a look back at the more notable Apple mistakes—and how long they went uncorrected.

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Calm down, tech events are good, really

Criticizing Apple intro events is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s so easy, anyone can play.

“Where’s the magic?” “Where are the surprises?” “The humor?” “Why so glossy and slick?”

If you’re looking for a culprit, you know where to find him. Tim Cook is responsible for every bit of the content. He’s proven himself guilty of one major crime: he isn’t Steve Jobs.

So, yeah, these things are flawed—but they are hardly useless.

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The war without end: Mac vs. PC

Yikes! Intel has launched a new anti-Mac campaign. The nerve of those people—they signed Apple’s “I’m a Mac” guy to attack his former employer. This is war!

Actually, it’s only the latest battle in the Mac vs. PC war that’s raged for 38 years. It’s a war being waged on three fronts—technology, marketing and culture.

And guess what. Through all these years, Apple has almost always been the aggressor. Only rarely has the PC side felt threatened enough to push back.

So, what do we make of Intel’s new campaign? Hold that thought, because it’s best judged in the context of history—and a juicy history it is.

I might overlook some important moments, but I’ll give it my best shot.

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Apple’s monolithic moment

All hail the M1 processor!

No question, Apple Silicon is a very big deal. But—it’s an even bigger deal in the context of Apple history. Monolithic even.

Cue the 2001: A Space Odyssey metaphor.

In the movie, an enigmatic Monolith is discovered beneath the surface of the moon. Planted by extraterrestrials eons ago, it’s actually a marker of human evolution. When exposed to the sun, it emits a signal to notify its makers that humankind is no longer bound to this earth.

The M1 chip is Apple’s very own Monolith. Exposed to the world, it sends a signal that Apple, after decades of evolution, has reached an epochal milestone.

To explain, a little archaeological dig is in order…

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2020 holiday ad: Apple vs. Apple

Life can be so cruel.

Pity poor Apple. All year, its products compete head-to-head against those from other tech companies. But when its big holiday ad goes up, it must compete with itself—forever haunted by the Ghost of Great Apple Holiday Ads Past.

So how does the 2020 Tierra Whack ad compare?

Not particularly well. Thank you for the entertainment, Apple, but you forgot the parts that made your previous holiday ads so memorable.

You didn’t relate to the joys and sorrows that come with being human. You didn’t express the joy you get by helping people connect emotionally. You didn’t celebrate your core values, which are so relevant during the holiday season.

More specifically…

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HomePod mini: in search of the lost cord

Damn, HomePod mini looked pretty great in Apple’s unveiling last week.

They had me from the first image where it sat elegantly on the side table. Simple. Clean. Not a cord in sight!

It was my ultimate music-player-intelligent-assistant fantasy come true. A gorgeous device I could put absolutely anywhere.

Until it wasn’t.

Silly me. I made the unforgivable error of believing my eyes. At the very end of that scene, for just the briefest moment, came a glimpse of a cord trailing away from mini.

Nooooo!

From there, Apple took us on a winding path visually, with the vast majority of shots showing a “cordless” HomePod mini. A casual viewer could be forgiven for drawing the wrong conclusion.

Out of curiosity, I went back for a re-viewing.

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Phil Schiller and the last wisp of Steve’s Apple

Once upon a time, eight Senior VPs formed Steve Jobs’ inner circle.

Steve empowered them because they were talented, strategic, trusted and in tune with his vision.

Well, time marches on. Apple doesn’t have Steve anymore. Tim Cook has reigned for nearly nine years. One by one, most of Steve’s Gang of Eight have been replaced.

Today only Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams remain. The original Big Guns of hardware, software, retail, marketing, finance and legal have all checked out.

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Ellen’s little people problem

America loves a good “fall from grace” story. At the moment, The Ellen Show is serving up an excellent one.

Public accusations from staff have been nonstop.

Sexual harassment. Bullying. Out-of-control managers. Toxic work environment. It’s a smorgasbord of nasty.

If true, there are but two explanations. Either the real Ellen falls way short of her lovable public image, or she empowered her managers and failed to oversee them.

In other words, Ellen is either a bad person or a bad CEO.

I’m not exactly an insider. But I did spend two months working in Ellen’s world producing JCPenney’s $5 million, five-part Ellen campaign on the 2012 Oscars.

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