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Enough with the negative ads – differentiate or get out

April 19, 2012

By Roman Verzub

This tech fan has had it with the marketing campaigns of certain technology manufacturers, who treat what is supposed to be competition to provide better quality service to the customer as some sort of political slug-fest, complete with passive-aggressive jabs at each other at every turn imaginable.

It started, it would seem, with Apple.

The company once focused largely on desktop computers has shifted to portable ones as well.

In 2006, Apple sought to gain market share for their computers with the “Get a Mac” campaign.

It came off as smug, arrogant, mean-spirited.

In their first iPhone, released in 2007 the company focused on the phone’s special features – highlighting, for example, the use of Google Maps to find a close restaurant.
Fast forward three years and, facing extreme competition from the free and open source Android operating system Apple went negative.

“If you don’t have an iPhone” was the oft-repeated tag line in ads implying Android was, as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs implied, merely an iOS ripoff.
The threat to iOS is that any manufacturer can make an Android device and differentiating in the market on hardware and/or software while remaining compatible with the larger ecosystem.

Android represents a true free market, while the proprietary iOS, lacking the diverse ecosystem, represents a top-down, command-economy-style. It is ultimately un-innovative and with little-to-no-incentive to be anything but.
Yet, it is Apple that finds itself the victim of another top-down proprietary system developer in Microsoft.

Eager to push “Windows Phone 7”, they’ve convinced Nokia, a company formerly focused on a free and open source Android competitor called MeeGo, and whose CEO is a former Microsoft employee, to abandon the effort that could have provided more real innovation to the market, and focus exclusively on making Windows phones.
In “licensing” the system, Microsoft hoped that there would be enough options to push innovation.

If that’s the case then the phones and the system should be able to stand on their own – no need to go negative.

On the other hand is Nokia’s “Smartphone Beta Test,” which portrays the iPhone as simply a “beta test” for their “Lumia 900” phone.
On the Android front, aside from a tongue-in-cheek parody of the iPhone fandom from

Samsung for their “Galaxy S II” phone, manufacturers focus on the bread-and-butter – why the paying customer should buy their phone and not another – perhaps with a better camera, 3D video, or even that ever-important factor of price.
For example, the writer’s Samsung Replenish was advertised as both environmentally-friendly and free.

That’s real competition and that produces real innovation. With the pending release of the source code of HP’s “webOS” platform, there exists the opportunity for a second platform that can complete on quality.

In the meantime, Microsoft and Apple need to get back to the drawing board on their respective platforms and that sneakiness will get them nowhere closer to the innovative juggernauts they fancy themselves to be.