Archive for March, 2010

Code Monkey

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Maybe it’s because I’m married to a code monkey that I thought this little song was so cute?  I just think it’s great when we can make fun of ourselves.  There’s so much bad press for software developers…when code goes bad…when security holes are found…when software is hacked.  It’s nice when a little song can come along that helps to give these “monkeys” a personality, helps us all to realize that even though they like Fritos and Mountain Dew…they’re still people!  Click below to hear this cute little tune , I challenge you to listen to this song and not have a different opinion of the code monkey.

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Apple helps HTC build its brand – on Apple’s dime

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Over the years, Apple has done a masterful job of building its brand.  From the epic 1984 commercial that launched the Mac to the cute and effective “I’m a Mac” campaign, Apple just seems to be operating at a different level from everyone else in the tech industry.

Apple fans are everywhere, willing to pony up a significant premium for spendy Apple computers and gadgets. For the perceived design and innovation they overlook considerable product flaws like crummy battery life or Apple’s proprietary, controlling policies. The Apple brand and flashy UIs mean that much for many consumers.

Given the power and advantages afforded by this brand, why on earth is Apple throwing it away because it thinks HTC – and of greater concern, Google’s Android OS – might be stepping on some of the almost laughable patents it secured on gestures?  With Google’s backing, HTC has little to worry about.  But it stands to gain a lot of brand equity.  An obscure Taiwanese maker of smartphones, HTC must be doing something right if Apple is worried. The exposure alone has been worth a mint.

iphone paten

Apple was, somewhat bizarrely, able to get a patent for a swipe as shown from the patent app. Is there an app for that?

Meanwhile, suing little guys doesn’t do the Apple brand much good. Nobody wants to see the hip Mac dude running around slapping lawsuits on people. Doesn’t really fit with the friendly, funny persona. Evil is more like it. Steve Jobs with horns?  I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m pulling for HTC and Google in this one. It’s tough to feel sorry for billionaire bullies.

What I expect from Apple is a way to buy the iPhone on a better network. How about Verzion for starters? How about some different variants of the iPhone? How about cooking up ways to deliver unlimited 4G bandwidth for $10 a month? Apple should keep thinking about the needs of customers and finding ways to help the industry to put our needs first. Lawsuits?  This is not making me happy.

As ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz details in what possibly might be one of the best blog posts of all time, patent wars among tech titans have been going for a long time.  Most of the time, Company A steps on Company B’s IP, but it turns out that Company B is also stepping on Company A’s IP, so they leave each other alone. Nobody wins in a nuclear war.

In this case, Apple might have the upper hand from a patent volume perspective CNN reports. But winning the courtroom battle will be a wan victory if it leaves the Apple brand bludgeoned beyond repair.

Can innovation survive when companies grow?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Living in the world of high tech means, at least to me, that we play by a different set of rules. Many tech companies are seen as innovative, strategic and forward-thinking, while others are clumsy, slow and reactionary. I started thinking about this issue after I read a recent Op Ed in the New York Times written by former Microsoft executive Dick Brass. In this article Brass ripped Microsoft for not being terribly innovative and commented that part of the issue resides in the company’s corporate culture. It ruffled feathers so much that fellow Microsoft PR pro Frank Shaw posted a response on The Microsoft Blog defending the company.

Similarly, CNET recently took some shots about the engineering-driven culture at Google and questioned whether the company could tackle the growth of social media.

I took a step back to ponder this issue for a while. I’m not going to argue if Microsoft is innovative or if Google’s corporate culture might get in the way of improving its social media capabilities. Rather, what does this mean for the PR pros in the high tech world?

Start-ups generally get a few years to make good on their initial ideas. Engineering doesn’t simply happen overnight. Start-ups seem to gain acceptance early on, probably because their ideas sound interesting and people are always willing to support the underdog. But Microsoft was young once and yet now, some 35 years later, they are mocked for their lack of innovation.

“But part of the problem is communication: the term “innovation” largely has lost its meaning and has become a buzzword for big companies to use whenever they want to sound competitive and forward-thinking.” Gregory T. Huang, Xconomy

The more I thought about these issues, the more I realized that this has to do with brand. When a company is young it is energetic, full of ideas and many times referred to as “innovative”. As the company builds a strong brand reputation over time, it’s important to remain true to its principles. Your company cannot rest on its laurels as Microsoft appears to have done, for example in the mobile space as my colleague Brian Edwards pointed out recently. Create new things, share unusual ideas and push the limits so that you won’t be accused of being a sell-out. (more…)

Using Your Industry Leadership

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Ok, so I don’t mean to be on a blogging rut focused on analyzing advertisements but I saw this commercial a few days ago and it struck me as an example of a smart way to use your industry leadership. In one of their latest commercials Lysol is positioning one of their employees as a key spokesperson. He’s not just any employee but Joe Rubino, the Director of Microbiology for Lysol Products. He introduces himself and then proceeds to give tips on how to kill the H1N1 virus in your home … oh and by the way…one of the tips is to use Lysol disinfectant spray and cloths.

My first thought is, “Wow, so Lysol has a Director for Microbiology? That’s pretty cool!” And then my second thought is, “Wow, so they care enough to show consumers how to make sure their home is safe from the H1N1 virus?” This ad represents a good example of how to not only use but to substantiate your position as a leader within your industry. Lysol is not only reinforcing their leadership position but also coming across as experts who really care about the consumer. They are doing this by not being in the consumer’s face about how great their product is, but by using a strategy of offering helpful tips on how to keep your home safe.

Where Lysol is missing the mark – and maybe this campaign has been out for a while and I missed it – is in timing. H1N1 is very close to becoming irrelevant. The threat is still there but nothing like it was a few months ago. Lysol may still be within the window, but much of the impact from an effective campaign is being lost with the onset of spring and the decline in flu virus. Well there’s always next year…

Grab the Mic!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

More than six years ago, I answered a query in a chat room.  A woman in LA was looking for radio interviewers.  As a long-time news anchor, reporter and author-interviewer, I symbolically raised my hand.

And then.

I lowered it.

She was looking for podcasters.  I’d never done a podcast.

She asked, “Have you hosted and produced radio shows?”

“Probably hundreds of radio shows, all lengths,” I quickly answered.

“Then,” she said, “you’ve done hundreds of podcasts. You’re hired.”

Oh! So, that’s a podcast!

Diana JordanSince then, I’ve hosted and produced more than a hundred more podcasts for authors, high tech clients, MBA and Law School students, and others.  Podcasts are real, dynamic conversations that you can listen to anytime, anyplace.  The word stems from a blend of “broadcasting” and “iPods.”  Or, as Wired described it in a March 2005 article, “the bastard offspring of the blog and the Apple MP3 player.”

Podcast popularity is rising rapidly.  The respected Pew organization did a study in late 2008 on the habits of web users.  The Pew Internet and American Life Project found 19-percent of Internet users downloaded podcasts, and this is up from twelve-percent two years prior to that.

Other stats – men more likely than women to download, and under-fifty more likely than over-fifty.  But, again, that was two years ago.

The Pew 2008 study shows more than 43,000 podcasts were produced — more than double the 2006 figure, and that technology is the most popular sector.  More than 4,000 podcasts were available then.  Wonder how many now?  I know I’ve pumped in a bunch.

Searching for ever more current stats, I find eMarketer projecting the growth will continue at least for the next three years, when there will be 37.6 million people downloading podcasts on a monthly basis.  That’s double the 2008 figures.  No question the trend is up.

Thankfully, podcasting is more than grabbing a mic and some software.  Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report, Podcasting Into the Mainstream says “Today, the vast majority of the top-rated podcasts come from recognizable media entities that are using podcasts to expand their existing radio, TV, cable, or satellite audiences.”

The thing about podcasts is that they’re so convenient. They’re especially effective for high technology.  Entertaining.  Informative. Like a conversation between business associates.  And you can listen in anywhere.

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