Is Apple's Magic Trackpad a gesture too far?

Remember just a few years ago when Apple was lambasted for shipping a one-button mouse with its Macs, and there was constant speculation as to why the company stubbornly refused to offer a multibutton option? The given reasoning was that more buttons would confuse people, even though PC users seemed to do just fine with them. Not that Apple has always shied away from a bit of complexity in the mouse arena--just look at the first Mighty Mouse--but still, there has been something about one-button products that Apple has consistently liked; both the iPhone and iPad have only one button … Read more

Why Apple is the master craftsman

Whatever you may think about Apple, there is no denying that it continues to set new standards for its craft. Craft? Yes, that seemingly old-fashioned word that many confine to quilting, scrap-booking, and other pursuits often disparagingly categorized as women's activities. My alma mater, the California College of the Arts, dropped the word craft from its name years ago, feeling that it was dragging the image of the school down. But craft as a concept has made something of a comeback in recent years, and no company in the mass-production realm is doing it better than Apple.

That's … Read more

Don't interrupt, disrupt! Be viral without viral marketing

As we're inundated with hero shots of the iPad every day, on every billboard and the back of every magazine cover, it appears to be a good time to rethink the relationship between advertising and product, between marketing and innovation. It's not that Apple doesn't spend any money on advertising--no, it was pouring a whopping $500 million into its launch campaign for the iPad. But what is different is that Apple's marketing doesn't have to be clever or utterly creative. In fact, it is stunningly not so. No major social media campaign needed to be sparked, no user-generated content contest needed to be held. And while the ongoing tongue-in-cheek anti-Microsoft ads are undeniably cute, they are not really an advertising revelation. Gone are the days of the bold "1984" campaigns. Today, Apple earns enough attention to forgo any ostentatious marketing, in fact, so much that a cleverly orchestrated campaign would distract from the brand rather than boosting it. The company simply displays its products--that's all it takes. Apple's products are viral without any viral marketing.… Read more

Touchfrastructure meets the HypePad

by Fabio Sergio, Creative Director, frog design

Those who know me will tell you that I tend to reflect on things, but the sad truth is that my brain is simply slow: here I am, writing about the iPad months after everybody else has put the microscope down and decided to wait for the thing to finally hit the market for real.

From my vantage point of nonengagement I must admit it was oddly amusing to see Apple for once unable to safely ride out the centrifugal mammoth hype tube they managed once more to build around their latest … Read more

Crowdsourcing the creative

For Wired UK’s “Work Smarter” issue (just released), I had the pleasure to speak with John Winsor, co-founder and CEO of Victors & Spoils (V&S), the world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles. You can find a shortened article in the Wired UK magazine. Here’s the interview in full length.

Q: V&S launched a few months ago. How is it going so far? How many clients do you have, and can you share some of the work that you are doing?

It's going really well. We're working with a … Read more

The hardware hogs all the glory

Humans really are like magpies; we love shiny things. The iPad shows yet again how easily we are attracted to hardware baubles, even if it's actually the more abstract ecosystem of services, content, and software surrounding the hardware that makes the physical product truly worthwhile.

I find this a fascinating phenomenon, and it's something I talk about in the chapter on Convergence in my book, as it's a critical thing to understand if you are in the business of creating ecosystems that combine hardware, software, and service elements. I've seen it happen time and again where … Read more

Apple is the zeitgeist company

The launch of the iPad yesterday put an exclamation mark on an increasingly obvious point: Apple is the company that has captured the cultural zeitgeist. The massive hype leading up to the event--apparently achieved in a groundswell with very little effort on Apple's part--shows that it really is the "It" company right now.

Not so long ago, Google claimed that position. The amount of press ink (literal or virtual) that Google has been able to create every single day for the last decade is just astonishing--it is not uncommon to see two or three articles on the … Read more

Why Google had to take control of Android with Nexus One

Google's introduction of the Nexus One, a phone to truly call its own, is a necessary move for the company. Only by taking ownership of the whole user experience will Google really be able to prove the value of its Android platform.

Nexus means a series of things connected together, an appropriate name for a phone where Google is taking more control of both the hardware and software, and therefore much more of the user experience.

We are at interesting inflection point with smartphones, a point where we have two competing development models playing out and a future in which probably only one will survive: Highly integrated, or highly modular.

Until recently, most smartphones have been modular affairs--with a few exceptions (BlackBerrys and to a lesser extent Palm Treos): hardware from one company, operating system and software from another company, wireless network from yet another. This has led to disjointed user experiences that have limited the appeal of the phones to more mass-market audiences. The success of the iPhone with mass consumers showed that it was vital to integrate all these elements together seamlessly (and that integration goes beyond the phone itself to content on the PC and in the cloud).

In the early stages of a category such as smartphones, the usage experience is often rough and incomplete. Early adopters will look past this, but until a more refined experience arrives that delivers the right recipe of capabilities, ease of use, and price, then the majority of people will stay away. I refer to this as an experience gap--a mismatch between what people want to do with a product, and what the products on the market can actually deliver.… Read more

Time for marketing innovation 2.0

For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi has decided to not run any advertisements during the Super Bowl. Instead, the nation’s second-biggest soft drink maker is plowing marketing dollars into its "Pepsi Refresh Project," an online community that lets Pepsi fans list their public service projects, which could range from helping to feed people to teaching children to read. Visitors to the site can vote to determine which projects receive money. The program will pay at least $20 million for projects people create to "refresh" communities. Last year, Pepsi spent $33 million advertising products such as Pepsi, Gatorade, and Cheetos during the Super Bowl, according to TNS Media Intelligence, $15 million of it was on Pepsi alone. Ad time last year for the NFL championship game cost about $3 million for 30 seconds, on average. Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said Super Bowl ads don't work with the company's goals next year: "In 2010, each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement." Pepsi's remarkable decision epitomizes the new paradigms of marketing: Online instead of TV; many-too-many instead of one-too-many; engagement instead of advertising; sharing instead of broadcasting; movements instead of events; communities instead of campaigns.… Read more

A new way to see the Internet: the Google Chrome videos

Here's how you do product demos right: Advertising firm BBH has produced a series of videos for the Google Chrome browser, and you have to give them credit for creating such intuitive, almost naive metaphors for a very unemotional "technocratic" brand. Since Peter Greenaway, no one has married math and artistic expression more convincingly. It's truly "A New Way to See the Internet."

From the BBH labs site: "We took Google’s ingenuity & innovation as inspiration in developing the idea for seven short films (& an intro), demonstrating the benefits of Google … Read more