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Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Five Reasons Why Apple’s Ping Will Fail: “Jobsbook”? – No Thanks

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently Apple debuted its own social networking platform built into iTunes, which it’s calling “Ping.”  As per every Apple release, its devotees are hailing it as the second coming of sliced bread.  Elsewhere, Ben Parr of Mashable is heralding it as the “last nail in the coffin for MySpace“.

Ping Overview Image courtesy Apple

I’m not all that excited and here’s why:

Been There:  The idea of a community built into a commerce platform has been done before.  Amazon.com has long had a social networking component built around the sale of movies, music and books.  The lack of novelty means they have to make up for it with functionality and thus far they’re falling far short.

Censorship/Content Limitations:  If your favorite band (or TV show, or movie) isn’t on iTunes (or added to Ping) – you’re S.O.L.  That means fans of the Beatles, for example, will get to share … nothing (thanks to talentless whackjob and perennial buzzkill, Yoko Ono).  What about fans of bands that are no longer active, but still have a library of content (like one of my favs: Audioslave).

At the time when the independent music scene is EXPLODING (and video content is on its way: how, for example would Ping allow fans of “Auto-Tune the News” to engage?), Apple is building a castle on a foundation of sand.  This is all to say nothing of Steve Jobs insistence on backwards/Victorian content limitations (ie no porn despite it being a multi-billion dollar industry, and apparently no visual depictions of great Modernist literature either).

Anemic Basis for Community:  Granted they’re important to our social interactions, but music, movies, TV shows and books aren’t the end-all, be-all of social interaction.  In fact,  music and movies have been on the way down for some time, as video games have been on the rise.  That’s to say nothing of all the other content types around which people coalesce on social networking sites.  Aside from reviews, there seems to be no way to contribute original content(?)

revenues_02-08 via Ars Technica

Exclusive vs. Inclusive:  Part of Apple’s business model is excluding people and locking down its tech and software with proprietary limitations.  In the social networking world, that’s a prescription for failure.  People want to connect.  Now.  Ping is limited to desktop use with iTunes, or mobile use with Apple products.  That means anyone with a mobile device other than an iPhone/iPad is excluded (which is the majority of the mobile device market).

#attfail: One can imagine Ping users becoming just as frustrated as Twitter users given the inability of AT&T to keep up with demand caused by iPhones and iPads – now they’re adding even more incentive to use wireless service which will further tax an already troubled network.

I tried it out earlier and here’s a few specific problems with it:

  1. In your profile, it only lets you choose THREE (3) genres that you like.  Seriously.  (Jobs is taking this censorship thing to the limit.  To which I say “c’mon fhqwhgads”).
  2. I can’t follow some of my favorite bands.  Seriously.  “They Might be Giants” isn’t available.  Nor is “Green Day.”
  3. As I write this – my profile photo is STILL in the process of being approved.  I assume this is because they send every single one to Steve Jobs personally so he can make sure they’re not “indecent” or appealing to “prurient interests” or something lame like that.
  4. Either the search tool sucks, or the number of artists represented is pitiful.  Searches for artists I know for a fact have content on iTunes come up empty.  I also see no place to create content (in the way of bands to follow if indeed that’s how they’re generated).

Update: To add insult to injury, JobsBook… err Ping is already coming under fire for being full of spam.

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On Tim Pawlenty, Privatization and “iCollege”

June 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Recently the Chronicle of Higher Education featured some discussion on an interview the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart did with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in which the Governor attacked the public higher education system in favor of privatization and instead proposed “iCollege.”  You can watch the clip below (the salient portion of which starts at five minutes in):
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Tim Pawlenty
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
Not that it’s news, but Tim Pawlenty is woefully ignorant and misguided.  There are a number of things wrong with his anti-government/anti-public education position:
  1. Virtually everything online (particularly e-commerce) was developed as a result of the work done by nonprofits like SRI International and other other segments of the public higher education system.
  2. 2) His metaphor of the iPhone/iPad and “iCollege” is a poor choice for at least two reasons:
    1. Apple Computer built on the research done by the nonprofits to launch its computing devices (a tradition that continues to this day).
    2. The iPhone and iPad have been roundly criticized for locking down the browsing experience to only the applications/tools permitted by Apple.  Moreover, users are limited to AT&T as the sole provider for 3G wireless service for both devices.  They are, in fact, the mobile computing example of a “one-size-fits-all monopoly provider.”
Certainly more can be done with technology to not only reduce costs but extend the options available to students for education.  However, whenever practical hands-on experience is required, the “drag of atoms” will always necessitate some form of institutions that provide those
educational experiences.   (Just think of the practical applications in the medical field alone: do you want to have surgery at the hands of someone schooled at a profit-driven “iCollege”?)
That’s also to say nothing of the fact that many students need one-on-one time with educational professionals to advance as they’re ill-equipped to be self-guided learners.
The deregulation Gov. Pawlenty is proposing is the reason we have catastrophes like the BP Deepwater Horizon spill; oversight of the industry was long ago delegated to the equivilant of an “iOversight” app.  We don’t need more of that – and we certainly don’t need more of it in higher education (a fact reiterated by a superb PBS Frontline documentary “College, Inc.”
[PS – “Dial that up” on their iPad?  Did he actually say that?  #fail]

Buzz is a Finite Natural Resource

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Once in a Blue Moon

Whenever something explodes into the zeitgeist, marketers, PR pros and advertisers give in to the temptation to reverse-engineer the success of the communication campaign to find what they can apply to their own projects.  This is going on right now with the success of Apple’s iPad release.

The problem is, I think there’s precious little we can glean from these successes because they come along because they’re “blue moon” examples.

  • First, the time, effort, resources and luck that went into building the Apple Brand is largely what gave the iPad its credibility and reach (which caused the buzz).  Only a tiny handful of organizations will ever wield that power no matter how hard they work.
  • Second, when something big like this happens – it mines and depletes the buzz.  The public’s attention span isn’t infinite.  Tunneling down with a second mine will won’t produce a second strike.
  • Third, the real trick often isn’t reducing a success to a set of maxims – it’s knowing when those maxims apply and when they don’t (because none are absolute).  Seth Godin observes that the iPad case study is a good example of the success that happens when one doesn’t try to please everyone – however there are situations (like customer service) where pleasing everyone is critical.

Doubtless there is value in examining them and trying to gain insight – but we need to be careful about leaning on those insights too heavily.  They very likely don’t apply beyond the “blue moon” example.  At the very least, they won’t be nearly as powerful the second time around.