I Had No Idear
EU and Microsoft: Dangerous and Futile
The notion that the European Commission is considering making Microsoft offer two versions of Windows is ridiculous. One version would give customers the option of having Windows Media Player stripped out of the OS while the other would simply be the standard full package.
Where does this move lead? Will other companies (like Apple) have to strip out pieces of their operating systems as well? Does the glacially slow EC really think that it will be able to effectively stay on top of technological innovation and exert some arbitrary kind of control? Will anyone buying Windows really choose to take a lesser version of the operating system (one without the video and audio features that are such a standard part of computer use today)? What message should Microsoft hear from this vis a vis their development of Longhorn?
Whatever you think of Microsoft, this kind of government involvement in technology products is a very dangerous road.
Piracy a Competitive Advantage?
The Economist points to a recent article in the International Journal of Research in Marketing which suggests that software companies shouldn't necessarily assume that some piracy of their software is such a bad thing. The authors of "How many pirates should a software firm tolerate?" argue that software piracy can help to drive adoption rates. Seems like a pretty spurious argument, but we will reserve judgment until reading the whole of the text.
Anyone out there watch Frontline's report last night on shady corporate tax shelters? Wachovia and KPMG bore the brunt of the onslaught, with KPMG really getting skewered. This with the follow-up in this morning's papers that Federal prosecutors are launching an investigation of KPMG's tax shelter offerings. (WSJ registration req.)
All this amounts to some very, very bad brand mojo for KPMG.
The Plus Side of Brand Volatility
Sometime you read about tech company consolidation that makes you realize why most of the consolidation that happens is so distasteful. Take for example EMC's acquistion of Legato Systems last year. Check out this piece on the topic in InformationWeek -- the PR folks must be blushing over this one.
From a marketing perspective a couple of things are striking:
1. The retention of the Legato brand rather than just stripping out relevant product brands.
2. The importance of customer confidence in financials as a critical brand support.
3. The elasticity of technology brands (this should be very good news for many companies out there).
EMC's situation and motivation is so similar to Oracle's -- the desire to diversify application offering and get a higher percentage of revenues from services. Yet one can't imagine that PeopleSoft's customers are hopeful that, should an acquisition go through, they will be in anywhere the shape that Legato's customers are in.
So. Usually it goes like this: the acquiring company gets to keep its name. But in today’s telecom world, all bets are off.
We have to believe that ATT Wireless has far better national recognition, just as we are sure that it is more plagued by negative perceptions.
In a short time, Cingular has managed to build up a fun, young brand. A cute brand even. The decision that they make about whether or not to keep it, will be a fateful one.
In fact we would argue, no one has more on the line than ATT itself. A company that has absolutely nothing to do with this deal, but for which the loss of its wireless brand will have devastating effects on its brand.
As far as we know, this situation is unprecedented in any industry.
Putting VoIP Back in the Bottle
It's going to be a pretty tangled mess in the end. Not only are the issues around network access fees mind-boggling, universal access, 911, wiretapping and competition are all going to prove enormously complex. The question (and one which I have not seen addressed in the press) is how do you police VoIP now that the genie is out of the bottle? Regulating is great, but you need to have means to enforce the law as well. Obviously Jeff Citron isn't going to say it, but isn't that the elephant in the room with so many of these Internet-facilitated leaps?
IF He Said THEN He Said
IF Steve Jobs and Michael Eisner hate each other. AND Disney and Pixar split up (at least in part) as a result. AND Disney and Microsoft get together to fight piracy with Microsoft’s digital rights management technology. AND Larry Ellison refuels his "testosterone-fuelled" mission to acquire PeopleSoft. AND Comcast is successful in its bid to buy Disney. THEN Apple iTunes’ promotion with Pepsi is the best marketing idea of its kind that we have seen in a long, long time.
Where brands meet
A couple of interesting things about the camera:
1. It uses Foveon's revolutionary X3 sensor and is the first consumer camera to do so.
2. Neither Foveon or Polaroid have any kind of position in the tight consumer market.
3. The camera offers superior technology but with a more confusing proposition. Foveon has departed from straight-megapixel measurement of their technology and this may confuse consumers.
4. The camera’s design is fairly boxy and this may add to the perception of it as a risky proposition for the average consumer.
5. Polaroid's brand -- while quiet for the last few years -- is well positioned to play in the "instant gratification" digital space.
This type of product introduction is always interesting in any area--like digital photography--where the all the rules are being re-written. If Foveon make a push to have its technology become recognized as a powerful ingredient and Polaroid can cleverly tie its heritage to digital, this new player may well get a fast share of the market.
If You Must Lie, Make It Believable
We hate to add any more to the ridiculous dialogue about the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake half-time "incident" but it is interesting to us on two fronts.
2. As perhaps the best example we have seen in a long time of truly horrible PR disaster management. How can the company lie so blatantly and so poorly? Check out the MTV statement from the Viacom site:
"The tearing of Janet Jackson’s costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance. MTV regrets this incident occurred and we apologize to anyone who was offended by it."
What horrible nonsense. Frankly this is embarrassing. Decision making only gets this poor when people are truly desperate to keep their jobs.