Category: Marketing

Read More

Apple Ad Blocking Blasts the Google Free Economy

On Sept. 16, 2015, Apple released iOS 9, which enables users of iPad and iPhone to disable ads. The company claims the capability improves the overall user experience. As someone covering the tech industry for more than two decades, I perceive it as something else, too: Competitive assault against Google and means of pushing publishers to iOS 9’s new News app. There is nothing friendly about Apple’s maneuver. It is aggressive and tactical. But does it really matter?

Stated simply: More than 90 percent of Google revenue comes from contextual and search-related advertising. Apple derives about the same figure from selling devices and supporting services. At the same time, mobile is the future of Internet advertising and the battleground where the two meet. The entities’ respective mobile platforms, Android and iOS, long ago put the tech titans on a collision course. Conceptually, what Apple can’t gain from iPad and iPhone sales, it can take by shaking pillars supporting its rival’s business. 

Read More

Apple Harvests its Logo

If Apple’s streaming music service launches tomorrow at WWDC and is branded with the company’s name/logo, look for broad naming changes ahead. My guess, and it’s only that: the lower-case letter before products like iMac or iPhone will disappear; over time. Under CEO Tim Cook, the branding strategy differs from Steve Jobs. That’s sensible considering where the company is today compared to 1998 when the cofounder introduced iMac.

Apple Watch foreshadows the new nomenclature. Contrary to months of iWatch rumors before launch, the device is identified by sound as Apple Watch, but what you see is the company’s logo, which is one of the most recognizable brand icons ever created. If Apple Music turns out to be more than just streaming, but the replacement for or displacement of iTunes, consider that as sign of future naming conventions to come. If I am mistaken—well, Apple should do what I predict. 

Read More

Apple’s Moral Marketing Charade

Nine years ago, a NPR interviewer asked me about Google and other U.S. companies censoring search results in China. The question was one of morality—to which I gave an answer she didn’t expect. That response, or my recollection of it, is appropriate for rather ridiculous and self-serving statements that Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made three days ago.

“We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy”, Tim Cook said, Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it”. Oh? What is moral? The answer I gave NPR in 2006 applies: There is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies—Apple surely among them—share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. 

Read More

Responsible Reporting Section 1 ‘News in Context’: Chapters III and IV

One thing has changed in the 13 months since the following book excerpt was written: Google loosened some of its services and software cross-integration, presumably in response to antitrust problems in Europe. The company is in the process of divesting some Google+ assets, for example. But in other respects, integration is tight as ever, particularly around mobile, which in 2015 dominates U.S. Google search—and nine other countries, including Japan.

That introduction is important context for reading today’s serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The third and fourth chapters carry forward an incredibly important, but often misunderstood, theme: The Google economy’s devastating impact on news gathering, and eroding ethical standards around it. I am not anti-Google, being myself a huge consumer of the company’s services. Nevertheless, criticism stands.

Read More

‘Trust is the Currency of the Sharing Economy’

Some days you wake up and wonder. As part of my morning routine, reading email and recent posts to my social networks and from RSS feeds is the first activity after greeting my wife. “The Risk Of Reviewing The Reviewer“, which actually published yesterday, riveted my early-day attention. For TechCrunch, Aimee Millwood writes something everyone, particularly bloggers and journalists, should read. You aren’t her intended audience, but you should be.

The headline to this post is among her key quotables and resonates with a point that I repeatedly make here on this site and emphasize in my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers: While inexplicably intertwined, trust trumps truth. The pursuit of truth isn’t your first ethical objective but establishing and maintaining trust with your audience—and, yes, this concept contradicts traditional journalism teaching. But it doesn’t, since truth ties to trust. 

Read More

Google pulls an Apple-Like Media Coup

Bias in the media is inevitable, and any news gatherer who denies this fact is a liar. Companies seek favor or to influence in countless ways. It’s the nature of the beast, which cannot be tamed. So I wonder how Chromebook Pixel embargoes impacted reporting about Apple’s newest laptop. If they did, as I’m convinced, Google pulled off one hell of a marketing coup.

The search and information giant provided many tech blogs and news sites with the new Pixel about a week before the laptop launched yesterday and the first reviews posted—that was also days before Apple’s well-publicized media event where a new MacBook was rumored. Both computers share something in common: USB Type-C, which is bleeding-edge tech. The connector received much media attention on Monday and Tuesday two ways: Buzz about it being the next great thing, and MacBook having but one port (Pixel has two, and others). 

Read More

Say, HTC, Social Matters More Than Gadget Reviews

Some advice for HTC and other mobile device makers: You need to adapt your PR strategy to the modern web. Seeding devices to so-called professional reviewers is a lose-lose strategy. There you should take cues from Motorola, which marketing strategy, while by no means perfect, depends more on the many rather than the few.

Today, as expected, the HTC One M9 launched on Mobile World Congress Day 0. I am struck by two early reviews, which couldn’t be more different in their assessment—and one surely is quite damaging to perceptions about the smartphone: “HTC One M9 hands-on: Improved craftsmanship, camera, and HTC Sense are compelling” by Matthew Miller for ZDNet and “HTC’s One M9 is the world’s most beautiful disappointment” by Vlad Savov for The Verge. Matt had the device for a day and Vlad for a week. Neither narrative is ideal for HTC, although ZDNet’s is closer to identifying benefits that matter, as opposed to The Verge highlighting features that aren’t. 

Read More

iPhone, Android, and the Need to Belong

Outside Apple Store, people excitedly line up to buy iPhone 6. The crowd is remarkably eclectic. Tattoos here. Mohawk there. Someone wearing a prim business suit chats with a burly biker wearing sleeveless T-Shirt. Everyone’s clothes beam bright, vibrant colors. Loud laughter and uproarious chatter is everywhere. This is one happy group of buyers.

The store’s doors exit onto a green pasture of sheep. Each wears a chain around its neck, with iPhone 6 attached. Cow bells appear on the screens, and clanging sounds against the chirping of birds. One animal looks up: “Baaaaaaa!” Then another, and another. An announcer asks: “Do you really want to be an iSheep?” Then the Android logo and robot flash across the screen.

That’s the kind of TV commercial Google and/or its manufacturing partners need to air now that in the United States iPhone market share nudges ahead of Android handsets (fourth quarter 2014, according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech). Such circumstance was unfathomable 12 months ago. What happens in the four quarters ahead depends much on who wins the mindshare wars. I got to admit: Apple’s lead is momentous. 

Read More

Another Apple Media Circus Begins

The Apple media invites are out today, and I am disappointed to see how effectively the company manipulates the Fourth and Fifth Estates and how willing are they to be led. For the record, I got no invite, nor did I expect one.

To the Apple marketing team, I tip my hat in recognition for job well-done. Please enjoy a well-deserved laugh on me. You earned it. The venue choice already has some blogs and news sites a-going.