Tag Archives: Archetype Branding

Gartner Research study predicts all-out Tablet Wars, but…

…could things go a lot more quietly, the way of the MP3 player market and total Apple / iPod dominance instead?

GigaOM was quick to point out 5 Problems With Gartner’s Tablet Forecast, among them:

Apple’s iPad is poised to continue its overwhelming lead in tablet sales until 2015, holding 47.1 percent of the market according to research firm Gartner. Google’s Android tablets will slowly catch up to nab 38.6 percent of sales by then, while media slates built upon platforms such as MeeGo, QNX and webOS will barely be a blip on the radar, accounting for just a combined 14 percent of tablet sales four years from now. On the surface, these predictions may sound logical, but upon closer inspection, there’s more wrong than right here.

1) 2015 is at least two (or more) product cycles away. […] While the iPad may not see monumental design changes each year, Apple is sure to evolve the device several times in the next four years. The same holds true for other tablet makers using different platforms. Simply put: It’s too early to predict what the tablet market will look like several device iterations from now due to powerful new processors on the way, faster mobile broadband in wider coverage areas and improvements in mobile software and apps.

While I agree that the Gartner study is making way too many assumptions overall, some of the rosier projections for Android (including Gartner’s own forecast of near 40% share by 2015) are probably having the same issue:

1) The only thing that we know with relative certainty is that Apple has put up a huge lead, and has become the uncontested category leader. If past experience is any guide (study your Ries & Trout on Positioning), that should put it on track to retain 50% share at a minimum, but quite possibly more (60-70%).

2) Especially since Apple went all out on pricing the entry-level $499 iPad so competitively, that the first few would-be competitors couldn’t even begin to catch up with Apple in that regard. Only now are e.g. Samsung rolling out an Android 2.2 tablet in a Wi-Fi model for $349 (April 10), which is priced below the $499 “price anchor” Wifi iPad/iPad 2.

But this is hardly a direct price beat, given that we are talking about a 7″ screen size tablet, not running the latest Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” OS optimized for tablet use (and it may not ever get the upgrade to it), and not fully up to snuff to the iPad’s build quality. So that consumers may well view this price in line with expectations for the different form factors.

3) That’s how strong Apple’s lessons learned from their iPod mass-market device manufacturing have been. Which brings up the legitimate question of whether the tablet market will turn out more like the MP3 player market than the smartphone one:

It all hinges on the question of how much Apple bungled things by staying with AT&T exclusivity for too long. What if there had been a Verizon iPhone (and Sprint and T-mobile as well) by the X-mas shopping season 2008? Would Android have even stood a chance? Would it have surpassed iPhone share as it did by now?

Since the carrier lock-in factor is almost a non-issue for tablets (the trend has been toward the Wifi-only versions anyway), Android has no such help in tablets.

4) Another thing missing: The ingenious “Droid” counter-branding to the iPhone’s own deep Archetype Branding that lifted the sale of all Android smartphones, whether intended or not, doesn’t appear to be crossing over into the Android tablet market.

Motorola created a brand with the Droid that was smartly capturing the few remaining archetypes that Apple had not employed:  Mainly “The Outlaw” (unrepentant, dangerous, bad) and “The Titan” (greatest strength, number, expanse) archetypes inherent in the allusion to the Terminator robotic eye, and to robots in general.

Symbols of “bad boy, take-no-prisoners machine”, combining within itself “the greatest strength”. To quote the original ads: “In a world that doesn’t, Droid does…”.

It appears that Motorola, Samsung, Acer, et al. are starting nearly from scratch in this regard in terms of the tablet market (which may be their biggest mistake yet, because they could have easily pushed the Droid branding into the tablet realm as well, it’s not too far of a brand extension), and so far I have not seen a break-out branding concept from any of them.

5) Much has already been written about the retail display advantage that the iPad currently has vs. the Xoom and other would-be competitors, another area that is quite different from the mobile carrier retail situation with smartphones:

Of course they are the only tablets on display at the Apple Stores, but they also visually dominate at non-exclusive retail outlets such as Best Buy, where the iPads sit on display with the rest of Apple’s shiny “tech-marvel” products, while the Xoom sits somewhere off to the side crammed in with a variety of netbooks and other cheaper fare…

All in all, those are a lot of advantages for the iPad. And any would-be competitors clearly have their work cut out for them if they are hoping to get even close to the 40% share predicted by Gartner for Android. Not to speak of the smaller challengers like HP’s TouchPad with its own WebOS (from the acquisition of Palm), or Blackberry/RIM’s Playbook, who’s only hope appears to be to make a play through entrenched enterprise computing relationships.

For more on my early predictions on iPad’s category leadership due to competitors missing the boat on getting their offerings out quickly enough, see: Is the iPad a fine young cannibal?

No matter what your message, this is what you’re up against

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

So the question is, how can your message, product, or service break through the noise?

I found this great Social Media counter widget in Jim Long’s (AKA @NewMediaJim on Twitter) thoughtful post The End of Innocence – Why Social Media Is the New Corporate Media, where he writes:

As social media has matured, I get the sense that […] now we’re back to where we once were. Brands just want access to us and the transaction remains the same.  Look, I understand that companies need to make money and that investors need to get returns […]. But I’m struck by the rapacious speed with which social media, its adherents, and platforms are pursuing the buck. Ironic to me, considering that it was dissatisfaction with traditional media and “push” advertising that in many respects gave rise to social media.

So, what are your thoughts? Is Social Media already dying as a marketing strategy due to relentless overcrowding, in essence a form of the “Tragedy of the Commons” principle?

Are hyper-localization or micro-niches the only possible answer to this onslaught?

One of the few things that appears to still work reliably on a grander scale is deep Archetype Branding, of the kind that Apple, successful Hollywood movies, and even some New Media personalities (like Gary Vaynerchuck, Unmarketing, or iJustine) have in common.

Any other ideas?

Dreams of the iPad…

jobs_ipadThe iPad is set to finally get into the hands of the public Saturday, April 3, after another 2.5 months of additional waiting and speculating. This after the many months of waiting and speculating that had built up before the official iPad announcement in January…

Predictably orchestrated with Apple’s ingenious Archetype Branding, the secrecy has continued unabated, with iPad app developers with actual units in hand apparently having to guard them in a set-up that sounds like something out of a Tom Clancy spy novel:

Blacked out windows, iPads chained to physical desks, no-one-leaks-nothing (unless we want them to), etc.

Yet the pre-sales that started a few weeks ago have been going briskly, with up to 240,000 devices pre-sold for pick-up at Apple stores come Saturday. The remainder (rumors around supply problems continue, but are they put out there by Apple deliberately?) is held back for live store sales, which Apple needs in order to generate the by now pre-requisite Apple Store “I’m getting my iXYZ” camp-out scenes.

Social proof you couldn’t buy with all of the ad money in the world…

Much of the immediate knee-jerk criticism, which was almost inevitable due to the massive pre-announcement hype, seems to have dissipated. Not too many left in the Beavis-and-Butthead gallery left to snicker…”it’s called iPad…hehe” either (no one ever complained about “notepads” or similar before).

Daniel Lyons of Newsweek, one of the early critics, even had a massive change of heart recently as he explains in the digital pre-release of his upcoming news-stand article “Why the iPad Will Change Everything”:

Jobs calls it “a truly magical and revolutionary device,” and supposedly has told people close to him that the iPad is the most important thing he’s ever done.

Which is why so many of us raced to San Francisco in January to get an up-close view of the miraculous tablet. Yet my first thought, as I watched Jobs run through his demo, was that it seemed like no big deal. It’s a bigger version of the iPod Touch, right? Then I got a chance to use an iPad, and it hit me: I want one. Like the best Apple products, the user interface is so natural it disappears.

Elsewhere, the discussion is raging as to if, and if so how much, the iPad will change the fortunes of the deeply troubled publishing industry, especially for magazines, but for e/Books as well. After all, among many other things, the iPad is being positioned, or at least talked up as, a “Kindle Killer” (referring to Amazon’s efficient, yet somewhat ungainly and black-and-white-only eBook reader device).

The opinions range from “god-sent”, to “it won’t do much”. Scott Rosenberg argues: “For The Media Business, The iPad In 2010 Is The Same As The CD-ROM In 1994“, i.e. a relative dud.

Do I want one?

So, with all of that said, here are some of my own thoughts on use cases for the iPad, and why I’ve come around to wanting one myself before long:

Continue reading Dreams of the iPad…

The Apple Tablet And Planned Insanity

Chances are that unless you have been living under an Internet-free rock, you have gotten a dose of the rumor mill surrounding Apple’s likely new product, the Apple Tablet computer (by whatever name it will eventually appear on Wednesday, unless it won’t, that is).

iPad/iSlate/iTablet/etc., heir to the iPhone, destroyer of lesser technology gadgets?!

The name is not the only thing that has been a closely, and purposefully guarded secret:

The blogosphere and assorted Old Media outlets have over the last few months progressively worked themselves into a tizzy over the key questions surrounding Steve Job’s next mysterious, almost Grail-like product.

Like, how big will it be? How much will it cost? How many men died during its construction?

Kidding on that last one, though not by much…

All of this is of course utterly predictable in light of Apple’s tightly constructed Archetype Branding strategy that I’ve been writing about since the iPhone wave. Secrecy is such that the Tablet so far as only appeared indirectly, as a quasi digital ghost.

Pairing Steve Job’s “Wizard of Oz” character (The Wizard archetype, coming out from behind the curtains – i.e. secrecy – with the newest technological marvel), with The Enigma archetype inherent in this elaborate charade, is creating a launch atmosphere unlike just about anything else in current business, or show business for that matter.

Of Wizards, Grails, And Zeigarnik Effects?!

Not only does mystery draw on this powerful archetype, but, just in case you prefer more scientific approaches, the so-called Zeigarnik Effect also explains the draw of an unresolved, “open” loop that has entered your consciousness. Somewhat dependent upon personality, you are likely to feel a strong urge of just having to know.

This explains why even many months ago, bloggers and journalists alike could seemingly not help themselves but to write about the mystical Tablet. And of course from the very beginning, that is just how Apple wanted it.

Even now, well after midnight in the U.S., there are thousands of tweets on Twitter every few minutes expounding one rumored aspect or the next:

Some have even argued that Apple will deliberately sprinkle out little bits of information mixed with misinformation to stoke the fire.

Whatever Jobs will be presenting on Wednesday, and by whatever name it will be called, all eyes will be simultaneously oriented toward “The Great Unveiling”. Compare this natural feeding frenzy to the rather humdrum affairs that Google or Microsoft had given us of late.

Google’s Nexus One Android smartphone launch a few weeks ago was hardly the stuff of legend with its persistent minimalism. And by the time Windows 7 was finally officially launched, so many public Alpha, Beta, and minor tech celebrity testers had already rummaged through every nook and cranny of the operating system AND written about their findings, that it was hardly news anymore.

Now, a sheer endless parade of blog posts and articles has already been written about the Apple Tablet. But those have all been speculation, rumor, and innuendo! (“Will it be a Kindle killer?” “Will it be a Play Station Portable (PSP) killer?” etc. etc.)

The open loop was NEVER closed!

As if any more titillation were necessary, the issue of Jobs’ ongoing illness/recovery and speculation that this may well be his last new product launch as Master of Ceremonies… I mean CEO. And that he therefore will have brought all of his human and, some would speculate, super-human powers of invention, design obsession, and stage craft to bear in this his final Magnum Opus.

Even now we hear whispers: Did he really say that this Tablet “will Be The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Done.” Did he? Would he? Can the poor computer thing possibly live up to this level of hype?

Robert Scoble indeed asks if the event can even still be covered in ways that news media, journalists, and bloggers have become accustomed to over the years. Or if we need an entirely new, “curated”, meta-experience to fully appreciate the unfolding of this new reality.

And therein lies the only drawback and potential danger of such a tightly choreographed affair:

All of the pieces have to be in place (when Jobs got sick and was absent from one of these launches, the magic was clearly lacking). And when they are, a deep connection and expectation is formed in people’s psyches that may prove difficult, if not impossible, to live up to.

Beware the pitfalls of this form of powerful Archetype Branding!

Recent Ads Betray The Secret To Microsoft’s Branding Confusion

After the first two salvos in a $300 Million ad campaign, launched to soften and redefine Microsoft’s image, failed to connect despite making use of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and former Microsoft CEO and world’s richest geek Bill Gates, Microsoft has been pushing a slew of new ads in recent months. And arguably, not one of them has hit the mark.

I wrote a while ago that the attempt at humor had fallen flat precisely because Microsoft’s “The Powerbroker” archetype had been so deeply entrenched, almost literally burned into the mind of the consumer for decades. Did things get any easier from there?

The next salvo a few months ago featured the “I’m a PC” ads which cast Microsoft (by way of its supposed users) as a strange mixture of proud/aggressive and defiant/sulking. It was pointed out then that “Microsoft as Victim” just doesn’t really work. And again, the archetype branding explains why: You cannot be “The Powerbroker” and still garner much sympathy for supposedly having been wronged.

This same theme was picked up once more recently with the “not cool enough for a Mac” ad featuring a girl named Lauren, which really was meant to focus on price as an angle to attack the notoriously premium-priced “Mac” products. In theory the idea of highlighting one of your competitor’s weaknesses (price) is workable, especially during a severe recession. But you cannot do it while violating your core archetypes.

If Microsoft had said something like, “we are the largest software company on the planet, and because of that we can create economies of scale in the production of PCs and their loading with software that much smaller competitors like Apple just cannot match, thus saving you money”, it would have made some sense.

But not with this passive-aggressive jabbing built in. It confuses people. Instinctively, no one takes it seriously when the 800 pound gorilla complains about having “unfairly” been called “not cool enough”.

And then Microsoft recently launched another ad in the series that went all wrong yet again. Silicon Alley Insider explains why:

Jackson [the kid] mentions offhand he wants “a good gaming computer.” This is a fantastic line of attack for Microsoft: The Mac has a tiny library of professionally produced games compared to what’s on PCs […] But Microsoft fumbles the ball, and doesn’t follow through with what’s arguably their best anti-Mac selling point after “PCs are cheaper.”

Instead, Jackson’s mom makes an incredibly off-target anti-Apple smear: Checking out the Macs, she says “they’re kind of popular with this age.” Umm, no. Kids can’t afford Mac prices or appreciate Mac build quality. Far better for Microsoft to stick with […] Macs are kind of popular with hip adults, but expensive.

So the theme of hurt feelings clouding Microsoft’s positioning and marketing continues. In truth, as the incumbent and still near monopolist (85-90% share despite Apple’s recent inroads) in the personal computer market, Microsoft would do better not to mention “Mac” at all.

“The Powerbroker” archetype by definition can choose to ignore the much smaller competitor. Reacting to any perceived slight only makes people wonder what is going on.

But the branding confusion gets even more pronounced with the recent launch of a new series of Microsoft ads featuring a strange mixture of low key scrap-booking and CEO interview voice-overs, punctuated by a slogan of “Microsoft – The People Ready Business”:

Continue reading Recent Ads Betray The Secret To Microsoft’s Branding Confusion

Apple Pricing Strategies: The new MacBooks not as cheap as some had hoped

Apple launched a completely refreshed line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros last week, to the by now predictable fanfare and guessing-game imbroglio in the blogosphere. I have written previously how this is a deliberate, well-designed Archetype Branding strategy on Apple’s part, using aspects of "The Enigma" archetype among other things.

The MacBooks’ launch did contain the familiar elements of Steve Jobs’ magician stagecraft, though there was a clear attempt to build up several other high-ranking Apple managers in the process, due to recent concerns and rumors regarding Jobs’ health.

But the biggest overall focus in this difficult economic environment seemed to be expected price-cuts and the overall pricing strategy. Specifically, whether the lowest-end MacBook would go below $1,000, or even down to $899.

While the latter hope didn’t materialize, the most entry level "old" MacBook (in white) was indeed lowered to $999, but not the new line of anodized aluminum housing, all-around-upgraded MacBooks. However, you shouldn’t underestimate what Apple has done here:

1) They have now "Air-ized" (after the aluminum housing of the ground-breaking MacBook Air) the entire MacBook/MacBook Pro line except for the close-out model "MacBook White". As Steve Jobs said, they should see some cost reductions from ramping up the novel unibody aluminum frame production in the next few quarters. So taking the entry-level Alu MacBook to $999 might happen sooner than some think.

2) While the cost for the new entry-level MacBooks for now has been kept at $1299, there is a lot of new technology that got pumped into it: iPod Touch multi-touch glass touchpad, led-backlit screen and longer battery life from the MacBook Air, a high-end graphics accelerator, etc. etc. So they’re establishing it as the "must-have-this-thing" item FIRST, in line with their branding as "The Creator/Innovator" archetype among other things, plus their high-end image.

3) The new MacBook line thereby becomes "aspirational", so that even if you can’t afford one right now, you still know you want one (if you were ever open to it at all). Then, when the prices get dropped further (see the iPhone price point development), everyone will think it’s a bargain by comparison.

But to do this you have to first credibly build it up at the higher price levels. I would NEVER expect Apple to forgo their brand equity and introduce brand new technology PLUS lower prices for that new technology at the same time.

With a consumer recession already going on or imminent, the 60+% of people who are truly affected by affordability aren’t Apple’s primary target market. AND they would be likely to delay purchase of ANYTHING right now regardless of price point (ask yourself if they all would buy the new aluminum MacBooks at $999 this instant – I doubt it).

Apple doesn’t need to be in the $400-700 notebook market for now, and if they want to be down the road, it is still advantageous for them to have established the higher price point value proposition. The price "anchor" this creates in the consumer’s mind is worth the somewhat reduced volume now. Then when you "drop in" the price cut at the point of maximum desirability (again, as was done with the iPhone), you are likely to create a feeding frenzy.