Bad Advertising

There’s a lot of bad advertising, especially in the consumer tech world. Here’s some tell tale signs of bad marketing:

  1. Insinuating that users of other products are idiots, especially if it’s a wildly popular product
  2. Naming your competition, especially with model numbers
  3. Doctoring or otherwise faking it to make competition look worse and your product look better
  4. Flashing fine print that negates important visuals
  5. Implying magical powers are bestowed upon all users of your product

Samsung and Microsoft are two companies often guilty of most of those.

A normal Samsung phone commercial will combine all of them – a bunch of idiots with iPhones waiting in line, a quick chart showing iPhone specs, screen images simulated in fine print while bragging about their screen, and a user turning into a superhero because of this product.


That’s a perfect 5 out of 5!  Very bad advertising. Every samsung phone ad is so bad it makes me happy about my choice of an iPhone.

Myth Busted

“It’s all marketing”. That’s a common out for Apple haters, a quick way for them to sum up and then discount Apple’s success in the tech world. But like most points made by people who actually use the term fanbois, it’s not reality.

Check this out — Forbes did a little math and figured out tech companies advertising costs as a percentage of their sales. Let’s boil it down:

From 2009-2011, Microsoft spent 2.6% of sales revenue on advertising.
From 2009-2011, Dell spent 1.3% of sales revenue on advertising.
From 2009-2011, Apple spent less than 1% of sales revenue on advertising.

Results: MS’ revenue was steady, marketing went up, profits took a nosedive.
Results: Dell’s revenue was steady, marketing went up, profits are jumping all over.
Results: Apple’s revenue tripled, marketing was steady, profits quadrupled.

So from a marketing perspective, it looks like Apple’s advertising is far more effective, but it isn’t due to outspending the competition. Any marketer will ask you (off the record) — is the product any good? Give me strengths and weaknesses and we will market it to the best of our abilities. Perhaps Apple’s ad people aren’t magicians, perhaps they just have a better product to schlep?

Surface Thoughts

Lots of discussion around about the new tablet coming out from Microsoft. They are calling it the Surface and while competing with the iPad, they are taking a fundamentally different approach to the device.

Philosophically, MS has shown their usual penchant for completely missing the point. Anyone who has enjoyed using an iPad, especially lately, should find the Surface confusing and clunky. Anyone who has avoided the iPad and calls tablets toys to discount their use will probably be surprised at how ackward both the hardware and software is on the Surface. Here’s why:
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Tech Titans

Market speak for computer companies during my geek-life:

My first glance:

IBM = titans, Microsoft = nerds, Apple = hippies, Atari = artists

My High school years:

IBM = clumsy old titans, Microsoft = business nerds, Apple = misguided hippies & artists, Atari = dead

My College years:

IBM = business nerds, Microsoft = titans, Apple = hippies on life support, NeXT = futurists


My 20’s:

IBM = researchers, Microsoft = clumsy old titans, Apple = colored plastic iMachines, NeXT = artists, Be = futurists

My 30’s:

IBM = futurists, Microsoft = business school, Apple = titans & artists, NeXT & Be = long gone

My point? I’ve seen most of these companies grow, shrink, dominate, follow, and some even disappear.

It’s been a wild ride to watch, and as Apple sits seemingly at the top of the mountain again (arguably the first time since 1978) I felt the need to show this cyclic nature.

You younger geeks out there can perhaps get a little context.

The Microsoft Copy Machine


I’ve been following the Windows8/Metro debut online and it struck me that this is one of the largest examples of Microsoft being a “me-too” type of company I’ve seen in a while, complete with a fatal flaw in their copied version. My rambling thoughts:

First, the basics (if you haven’t watched the previews yourself): Windows 8 is coming, perhaps by the end of 2012. Unlike Apple, MS likes to show things off way before they are finished, and they are focusing on previewing their new touch-based Windows shell called “Metro”. I call it a shell because it runs inside of/on top of traditional windows and doesn’t appear to have it’s own boot routine, networking, filesystem, security, or hardware driver layer. Those sorts of things appear to still be handled by Windows. Of course it has a snazzy modern-looking interface and can be touch manipulated. Like Apple’s industry-leading iOS, it also has a curated application environment (aka a company AppStore). Continue reading