Tag Archives: opinion

Regarding all these drop tests

Recently, with arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S4, a new batch of drop tests comparing its durability against the iPhone 5 have surfaced on the web and spread around in most tech blogs I can remember.

I for one think that these videos have stopped being informative a long time ago, and now they are downright disrespectful for two reasons: One, the tests conducted generally in these people’s backyards have less scientific proof as Mulder’s escapades during the 10 seasons of The X Files. Second, because the point of this video is to make people cringe instead of informing them. It’s disrespectful not only to everyone involved in the development (or copying) of the device, but also to every single person who covets the device being destroyed but can’t buy it for reasons as simple as that they can’t afford it.

Now I do have a sense of humor. Back when Will It Blend first appeared, blending golf balls, credit cards, used batteries and even iDevices, they made me chuckle. I was curious when iFixIt started releasing videos regarding the durability of the iPhone 4, 4S and 5. Is the iPhone 5 body really that easily scratchable? But that’s it.

The day that followed the iPhone 5 launch, I can remember seeing a video of one idiot coming out of an Apple Store holding an iPhone 5, shouting at the huge line eager to purchase their devices that he was about to conduct an experiment, and dropping the phone face-down against the concrete. The phone’s screen obviously shattered completely, and while the crowd (and myself) cringed instantly, the idiot closed his act saying that this was the first broken iPhone 5 in the world.

It all went downhill after that. People started filming their phones being dropping from their hands, couches, counters, rolling over them with cars, throwing them around, doing pretty much everything that breaks most things we all own.

But why do these people do this? It’s not for the benefit of Science. It’s definitely not for the benefit of their viewers. So all I’m left with is that they do this because it’s an easy way to call attention. Maybe get a few extra thousand views if it gets published in a tech blog (and hey, we know it will). But am I the only one who finds this disrespectful? Every time I see a new post with one of these experiments (I have stopped watching the actual videos a while ago), I think that an iPhone 5 with contract starts at U$800 here in Brazil. I think of all the people who would do anything to get one. I think of the kid who sold his kidney for an iPad.

Although I can’t understand why people do stupid things like that, I know that it’s inevitable. What I do know to be possible is that major tech blogs could just stop posting every asshole throwing a phone against the floor until it breaks. But hey, before video views come page views, right? And who wants to see that hit the floor?

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Dubstep: The soundtrack for the post-Apple advertising

In 2001, when Apple debuted the first iPod ad, they broke their paradign of narrated ads 100% functionality-oriented [1, 2, 3], and adopted a more sutil, conceptual approach. Then came the Sillhouette campaign, with the iconic vibrating backgrounds, black shapes of people dancing about, and the white iPods + earpieces. Which is still used in Gift Cards.

Fast forward to the first  iPhone, MacBook Air and iPad ads. compare them with the most recent ads for the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini. Despite the iPhone pieces having that voiceover presenting features, the same spirit is still there. A pleasant soundtrack guides us until the very last second.

Now a quick comparison with what companies had been doing until a few months ago: Samsung Galaxy Tab, Samsung Galaxy Note, Google Nexus 7, Google Nexus 10.

While the same message was being promoted in the same way by all the players, it became very homogeneous. And Apple was the only one being benefitted from that, since they had been doing it for so long. A feel-good, inspiring soundtrack would take over, while a video presenting the best features of a product became commonplace.

Add to that the gigantic shitball that became the coverage for the Samsung x Apple copy lawsuits, turns out that copying Apple’s territory wasn’t really going to work for anybody anymore. But if you can’t copy Apple, how do you sell your stuff? How do you make it gain personality, call the attention of the public, get some light under the spotlight?

That’s simple. Just do the exact opposite, right? Replace the clean aesthetics for a dark, heavy environment. Replace the pleasant and smooth vibe for something intense. Replace all the calm and ease for a very dinamic and fragmented editing work. And finally replace the feel-good song for something… something… uhm, for something.

And then there was the Dubstep in advertising advent. The sound that can be described as hip-hop played by some very mean and pissed off robots.

The list of adopters is comprehensive. IE 10, HP, Samsung (course-correcting the S2 campaign), e Nokia (which went half-way, as they maintained the Apple-like look, but adopted the dubstep-ish soundtrack and editing) and finally, the Microsoft Surface.

Infact, something very funny happened to the Microsoft Surface communication:

Ad #1:

Ad #2:

Ad #3:

Notice the difference? To make their case as fresh, new, full-of-personality, ultratech, attitude-packed product, they went all-in in the farthest thing they possibly could, when compared to the iPad (and Apple as a whole) line of communication.

But when the time came to present their funcionalities, the actual product and to try to get people to buy the product instead of the idea, hold and behold, here are all the Apple-esque attributes again. Here’s the feel-good sountrack, here are the happy and satisfied users having a great experience all over again. Now they are trying to prove to you that the Microsoft Surface is a great iPad.

I honestly hope that this whole dubstep in advertising thing is just a phase, and it’s put to rest soon. The simple fact that a company might think that they’d have to get away from simplicity and good taste to position themselves as an alternative to another company should be reason enough to show them that they are doing everything wrong.

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iTV: The eternal rumor of an upcoming product

It’s been a while since someone came to the conclusion that “Wow, wouldn’t it be awesome if Apple made a TV?”, told people about it, and got this idea to become a rumor, which led it to the inevitable news that comes around every 3-4 months that Apple is just on the brink of releasing an incredible 40″+ television. Since 2010 they’ve been on the brink of releasing it, actually.

I’d love to have a TV designed by Jony Ive at home. Infact, I’d also love to have a washing machine, a toaster, a microwave and fridge designed by him too. However, where is the line drawn between wishful thinking and actual Apple plans?

Let’s look at Apple’s history with TV. Since they first announced the Apple TV back in 2006, they have released three models of it. The first one ran a modified version of Tiger, while versions 2 and 3 already came with iOS. The idea is to use it as an entertainment hub, which forwards content to your TV, coming both from the web (via the iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, iCloud, Vimeo, Flickr, and so on) and from your iDevices and Macs, via AirPlay.

Ok? Ok.

Apple provides the brain so you can connect it to your TV, whatever TV that is. In this case you’ll get the most from the technology provided by your TV, and will spend 100 bucks on Apple’s receiver.

When asked about the Apple TV back in May by AllThingsD, here’s what Tim Cook had to say:

“We’re not a hobby kind of company. Our tendency is to do very few things, put all of our wood behind a few arrows, and if something creeps in and isn’t a big success we get it out of the way and move on and put our energy into something else. With the Apple TV though, you can see what we’ve done and we’ve stuck in this. Now, it’s not a 5th leg of the stool, it’s not of the same market size of a phone business, or the Mac business, or the music business, or the tablet business, but last year we sold 2.8 million Apple TVs. This year, we sold 2.7 so far.(…) I think many people would say this is an area in their life they are not really pleased with. They might not be pleased with many things about it. The whole TV experience. So it’s an interesting area. We’ll see what we’ll do. Right now our contribution is Apple TV, and we feel really good about it.”

When you use the Apple TV, it’s pretty clear that it still has a lot of evolving to do. It’s confusing, the interface is completely unrelated to iOS or OS X, getting around is complicated, and as much as the content offer in the iTunes Store is wide, you’re stuck to one-shot content purchases. You rent a movie, you buy a series, and that’s that.

What the Apple TV is missing is continuity. A content flux that doesn’t depend on the user. And thus we reach a very complicated matter, which is the Cable TV business model. Today this model is still in widely in use, but ironically it is utterly outdated.

If you want to watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, you must necessarily subscribe to channels which will also bring you psycho midget wrestlingghost hunters reality showsToddlers & Tiaras. You pay for that. Even if you don’t even know which channels they’re in. And I hope you don’t.

The music industry almost died when people decided that it was easier to download an MP3 rather than buying the entire album, and they only managed to begin breathing again when they realized that they could also provide these tracks for 0.99 each. And guess what. People paid, because they didn’t want to screw the industry. They just wanted the option of buying the track without having to spend 20 bucks on the whole album.

The same applies for the entertainment industry. As soon as you give people the choice to subscribe exclusively to their favorite channels, they will do it. Take My Money, HBO is a good example. It was an innitiative to try to convince HBO to let people get online subscriptions without having to commit to a cable tv provider.

Imagine if the Apple TV brough channel subscriptions, or even specific shows subscriptions, free from the ball and cable chain. Imagine if you could subscribe to a channel, and all you had to do was logon in their Apple TV app, and watch their content on-demand. Imagine if your iDevice could be used as a second screen for complementary information during a sports match or movie, giving you a real interactive and way less passive and limited experience. This is the path for the Apple TV. This is where the entire entertainment business should be looking at.

Even advertisers would end up being benefited from this, because they’d have an even better way to talk exactly with their target, instead of kicking the ball to their general area and hoping for the best.

Of course, this would work perfectly in the US. But in order for this to work in the rest of the world, a huge legal effort would be required. If you live outside the US, you must frequently come across that friendly message saying “This content is not available in your region. Fuck off.”.

This is the result of a long overdue territorial licensing business model applied to a world where it doesn’t matter where the spectator is, he doesn’t want to wait a month to watch the new episode of his favorite show on TV. He’ll download the episode 15 minutes after it airs in the US. Again, he is not thinking about screwing up the industry while twisting his mustache in his evil dungeon. He wants to watch the episode so he can consume related content on the web the next day. This is how things are now, and there is no turning back.

You could claim that the Apple TV is one thing, and a TV made by Apple is another. But it’s not. Remember that Alan Kay quote that Steve Jobs brough up in the first iPhone event?

“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

So Apple thinks that releasing a powerful software running in a hardware made under measure for it makes sense? I think so too. The iPad wouldn’t exist without the iOS. The iPad wouldn’t be the iPad if it ran Android. This is why the Apple TV still has a lot of growing up to do before it can move out and start living in a new TV by itself. Now add to this what Tim Cook said in the same AllThingsD interview, when asked specifically about Apple making a TV:

“Here’s the way we would look at that. We would look not just at his area but other areas and ask Can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area? Can we make a product that we all want? So those are the things we would ask about any product category. It’s the ones we ask about products we’ve already announced. So this is how we look about it.”

So what does this mean exactly? Does it mean that they will put out a TV in the market when they have something that Samsung others can’t offer yet? Something that would be enough reason for people to replace their current TVs with the iNew ones? That’s when Apple would release a TV?

In that case, it makes sense. In that case, I can begin to believe in the idea of an iTV. I can begin to picture a Jony Ive-designed TV in my living room. I can picture myself cancelling cable (which by itself would end up making the iTV cheap in the long run), and getting rid of 90% of the trash I don’t even know exist. I can understand Apple’s reasons for releasing a TV. And I can finally see myself adjusting the video volume right from my Apple Remote.

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What does an official Apple Store in Brazil mean?

Apple has confirmed to brazilian website G1 that they are indeed opening an Apple Store in the country. But what does this mean?

An Apple Store in Brazil is an important step for Apple. First because it’s the beginning of a way overdue expansion to Latin America. Second, because after John Browett’s canning, this opening is going to be closely supervised by Tim Cook himself, who’s temporarily filling Browett’s spot.

The choice of Rio seems obvious. If the mere fact of opening an Apple Store is a celebration by itself, the first store in Brazil couldn’t be anywhere else other than the place most closely connected to Samba, Carnival and Celebration.

Remember the image illustrating the arrival of the iTunes Store in Brazil. Yeah.

iTunes Store BR

I really hope that the store is in a new, fresh place, with own architecture and project, like the famous cube Store in NY, or the Shanghai Store. Or that they at least get a hold of a cool place, with singular architecture, like they did with the Passeig de Gracia Store, in Spain.

Now regarding the prices, it’s hard to imagine that anything will change when compared to the prices they already have on the online Apple Store. I hope I’m wrong, though.

While there is no information regarding when the store will actually open, it’s not something that will happen overnight, since they just posted job openings for all departments, including the Genius Bar, which takes some extensive training hours to say the least.

Anyhow, a brazilian Apple Store is very good news. This might also mean that new hardware releases start getting here faster. How great would that be?

The only ones mourning this news are probably stores like A2U, iPlace and so many other authorized resellers, which have been feeling this void for long enough. Not anymore.

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