Archive for December, 2011

Words Matter

DATE: December 15th, 2011

Merriam Webster just posted the most often searched words for 2011. These ten little words gives us good insight into today’s societal trends. For instance, the most often searched word is Pragmatic, the second Ambivalence. Both words relate to a mood and feeling, rather than to an event. They describe how people feel.

People are looking for pragmatic, or logical rather than idealistic, decisions in the face of a shaky economy. While Canadians have not yet experienced the full threat of failing economic systems, they are looking for their government to be practical and effective in assuring them that their current lifestyle is not at risk. Looking to the housing disaster in America and the fall of economic structures in Europe, Canadians, already known for their pragmatism, watch and wait.

Ambivalence is also a mood reflected by society today. Ambivalence means “simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feeling toward an object, person or action” and :continue fluctuation between one thing and its opposite. John Morse, the President and Publisher of Merriam-Webster says: “We are struck by the unusually large volume of lookups for this word. We think it reflects the public attitude toward a wide range of issues, including the economy…”

Also in the top ten are: insidious, didactic, austerity, diversity, capitalism, socialism, vitriol, and après moi le déluge.

Fire Sale?

DATE: December 1st, 2011

A couple of days ago a little tweet announced “KW is raining Playbooks.”

For a marketer, the conversation surrounding tablets is fascinating. RIM has been seriously impacted in North America in the social media space. It seems like everyone is on the edge of their key board waiting for another RIM blunder.

Reviewers have been unkind to the Playbook. Yesterday, blogger Marc Saltzman used the phrase “fun but flawed.”

I have to admit, it’s amusing.

I think Steve Jobs clearly and succinctly articulated marketing intelligence with just one concept: “The consumer knows what they want when we tell them.”

So he told them.

He scoffed at focus groups (I’m there with you Steve). His foundational belief was that the consumer would know what they wanted when he told them. And he went on to prove it.

He was a genius who intuitively understood the human mind. Mass marketing proves, time and time again, that human behaviour is predictable. We are creatures of habit. When the pied piper plays we march, joyfully and freely, behind. When the king appears in the parade with no clothes, the crowd oooo’s and ahhhh’s at his fancy new suit. Well, except for the little boy who didn’t read the press release.

Jobs loved beautiful things. No one, with any sense of aesthetic, can call the Playbook pretty. It’s solid, boxy and, even though it’s half the weight of the iPad, it seems a little chunky. Jobs invested in little things that made Apple products beautiful to touch.

Finally, his goal was to control. In search of complete control, he maximized the power of human laziness. The simple iTunes one click buys all is pure genius. It is rare that we have such an seamless and painless buying experience. That’s why iPad users are happy to be completely controlled by Steve’s amazing store.

We need to learn from Apple.

OK… back to the fire sale.

As the one lone voice in my office trying to prop up RIM as a viable alternative, I am very curious as to the impact of RIM’s recent fire sale. On the positive side, RIM is confident in its product, betting that getting the technology into the hands of the people will help them see just how well it works. It didn’t work for HP, but RIM (I’m hoping) will stand behind its product.

On the negative side, it’s a really rough road.

Social media is killing the Playbook. Wired Magazine’s review says: “In the absence of a Home button, there’s a new UI convention to learn…” Loaded words like “absent” immediately imply that there is something missing. Yeah — that irritating home button. The Playbook is amazing… it wakes up with a simple swipe and I never have to bother with the nasty home button. But you see, it’s all positioning. The reviewer, already trained by the series of iProducts to return again and again to the home button, found the intuitive, simple swipes confusing.

The fight is just beginning. The tablet is here to stay. The “cloud” is just starting to form.

I don’t know if RIM’s strategy of pricing themselves into the market will work.  I still believe there is a lot of power in marketing. If they don’t shore up their brand identity and start thinking like their audience, they may continue to slip in popularity. The tablet market only has one player right now — and that’s Apple. The launch of a whole raft of e-readers and other tablets has started a little flurry at the secondary starting line, but we don’t know how that will pan out.  Apple, first out of the gate, is way ahead of everyone.

But in the parallel Smart Phone market, there’s a real race… and the Android is edging out Blackberry and Apple.

It’s going to be fun to watch.