5 posts categorized "Apple"

12/29/2010 Apple TV

My present to myself this holiday season was an Apple TV. I resisted as long as I did because we don’t buy a lot of movies at the iTunes store, although we do watch Netflix on the TV.

Up to now, I’d hook up my laptop, a small but cumbersome step. On the other hand, it enabled us to watch the original Star Trek episodes on CBS.com (I’m indoctrinating my kids) as well as ESPN3 European soccer. Unfortunately, we still won’t be able to watch either of those (or Hulu or Boxee) on Apple TV.

Yes Apple TV isn’t perfect. But what it does, it does very well. And I think it has a killer app, especially for families: photos on your TV.

Maybe to some that doesn’t sound so exciting. But we have thousands upon thousands of digital pictures that we rarely look through. Computers are not great tools for doing things together. When we, as a society, switched from printed pictures to digital pictures, we increased individual sharing (sending pictures, posting them on Flickr) so many people could see them, but we lost group sharing of people sitting down together to look at pictures together. Losing that togetherness lost a lot of texture around the past and present experience.

Apple TV changes that. Since I installed it, we’ve been looking at our old pictures almost non-stop, as a family. And, we’re having a blast watching and remembering, together. The event that got me off my butt to finally buy this device was when my sister Janice and I dug out our old family slides and had an old fashioned slide show at my Mom’s house. It was awesome. That’s what Apple TV brings back.

Appletv-productIt’s not only the photos, though. Netflix runs great through Apple TV. And if you have a lot of home movies, like we do, and don’t want to have to create DVDs to watch them, this device is for you.

My wish is that Apple steps up to the plate and “Appifies” the device. I can imagine a number of iPad apps I would love to have on AppleTV. Web browsing being one of them.

But if you have a family, or take lots of pictures and movies, like we do, at $99 this is a complete no brainer. If for no other reason than it sure beats hooking up the laptop several times a week!


04/14/2010 Is iAd the Savior of Mobile Advertising?

Mobile advertising, the long expected messiah of the ad business, might be about to grow up. Every January the pundits spin "this is the year of mobile advertising" only to leave the rest of us disappointed come December. It's probably because mobile ads are only slightly more interesting than bad banner ads. But that may change with Apple's new iAd platform.

While information is still slight about the workings of the platform, it looks like Steve Jobs and friends have embraced a rich media strategy for iAds. If that's true, I think we have a lot to look forward to.

The first iAd examples show something very similar to good rich media banners. They function almost as a microsite within a site. The benefit for the viewer is that they can take short break from what they're really trying to do, engage with informative and interactive content and, without losing their place, go right back to what they were doing.

The implicit promise in rich media advertising is that the risk of ending up in the wrong place (site) is lower. You roll over the ad (or click in the iAd) and if you don't like it you can close it quickly and get back to the task at hand. In reality, people spend time playing around in those banners, when they have great content to offer.

It's a really smart idea to offer this functionality on mobile devices, like the iPhone or the iPad. The bigger challenge is going to be whether people will engage on the ads on the bottoms of their screens now that we've learned to ignore them. Again, I think the answer is yes, based on my own rich media experiences.

Online banner ads are usually pretty bad. In the last 12+ years, we've learned to ignore most of them. According to some larger ad networks, click through rates, the most popular measure of success, will trend toward 0.03% if you run your ad long enough or reach a lot of people. That's a very low rate.

But while we're used to not clicking on banners, we will roll over rich media banners. Anywhere between 3% and 10%. Compare that with banner CTRs. More importantly, we spend time playing around with the content. I'm running one rich media campaign right now where the average time spent inside the banner is 80 seconds per user. And there is absolutely no video running in it. It's all because the content is valuable and engaging.

Mobile rich media advertising could be the force that pushes mobile ads over the hump and finally makes it the winner everyone predicted it would become.

I think Apple is on the right track providing this technology. The rest is up to us digital creatives. We can use this to do good or to do evil. Let's hope we make this great.

01/29/2010 The iPad: We Hate it When We're Right

Apple finally announced the iPad and the frenzy leading up to the event was quickly replaced with people declaring it a disappointment or a success. There seems to be a lot of disappointment because everyone's expectations were sky high. When you've labeled something "the Jesus tablet" there's nowhere to go but down.

As I look, from afar without having even touched one, I think Apple has finally delivered a great mobile media device, one that us techies and experts have predicted would show up at one time or another. And now that it's here, just like we said, we don't know what to make of it.

Mobile Media
The fact that we can access and consume media from everywhere is great. The problem is that it's not much fun to watch a video, look at pictures or read an online newspaper on your phone. It works, but it's not great. You could do all of these things on your laptop, but it's big, somewhat cumbersome, and not always conducive for the media at hand.

The iPad fills the niche of performing all of those tasks neatly. The biggest piece might be the reading one: Reading a book, newspaper or Web site on your laptop or phone is sub-par at best. When you combine the capability of a Kindle with good video and key user functionality you have something you can't get anywhere else.

Will people buy this to consume media? I think they will because it looks like the iPad will make an easier and more comfortable consumption. I can even see reading or watching in bed, something I rarely do with my iPhone or laptop.

The promise of the iPad is that it will add a layer of interactivity onto content. We haven't seen in yet, but you can bet people will find a way to get creative on this one. It's the functionality and ease of use of the device that's key here. Interactive TV isn't coming soon because who the heck wants to play around with TV programs? Somehow TV is just not a Wii, even if it's the same screen.

The size and proximity of the user makes interactive content and advertising much more interesting. The closeness of the tablet with touch control might be the biggest advantage. Built in control of the media is another. Watch for this to explode. Just like we didn't see the App wave coming until it was upon us, I think the same thing will happen, in one way or another, with the iPad interactivity.

Just like the iPod, the iPad will be easy to move around. It'll be easy to carry on a plane or prop up in the kitchen (and remember those tiny TVs people used to have in their kitchens? Gone). Just wait for those cool iPad carriers too.

Most of the complaints have come from people who say the iPad didn't fill an expected need. But Apple and Steve Job's brilliance has always come by creating something we didn't yet know we needed.

Just remember, it took Jesus almost 300 years to become "successful." I'll bet in another three, at most, we'll look at the iPad as another winner.


11/06/2009 Toyota and Apple: Two P's in an iPod?

Toyota and Apple have something in common. Both the Prius and the iPhone (and the iPod before it) appeal to people who like high tech, who want to feel as if they're a little ahead of the curve and who are ready to embrace products that change behavior.

The iPhone is clearly one of these products. It's changed how we use and what we expect from mobile phones (and mobile carriers). It's created a completely new Apps sector, one that other companies have rushed to copy. It is a brilliant product.

The Prius is also one of those products. It's slowly changing our expectations of cars. The car itself is one of the first high tech automobiles available and it should usher in a completely new wave of electric cars. It's changing the way we drive now and in the future.

You'd think that the Prius and the iPhone is a match made in heaven. Actually, Toyota does believe this. They've created an iPhone app about the Prius. Recently they launched an innovative interactive campaign using AR and Times Square billboards to connect iPhone users with the Prius. Toyota realizes that people who own iPhones should feel the same attraction to the Prius. And they're probably right.

What's wrong, though, is that unless you buy an upper-end Prius (Prius IV or V) there's no built in support to listen to and integrate iTunes in the car's system. There is an AUX connector in the car, but you have to buy a 3.5 mm audio cable, and even then, you can't control your iTunes through the stereo.

You can purchase an iPod integration kit for $250, but that's more than some iPhones cost. Or you can opt for the stereo/GPS upgrade for $1,400 but again, it's a lot to pay for listening to your own music. This Prius/iPod integration should be a standard feature, not an add-on.

Toyota, you have an outstanding product in the Prius. It's a product Apple and iPhone users should go crazy for. But if you're going to target and seduce this audience, you better make sure you deliver the goods. Otherwise they'll steam up the car windows but in the wrong way.
03/30/2009 Mac vs. PC Online

Microsoft and Crispin have launched its latest competitive ads against Apple and TBWA. This time, the focus is price, not a bad strategy in a down economy. They’ve seemed to give up on the “PC users are cool, too” strategy after Apple and co. reacted very quickly with a jab at the campaign itself.

I like the TV ad. I think it was a good execution of a “normal” person shopping.

Online, though, I have to wonder if Microsoft and Crispin are simply out of their league.

This promotion showed up on the home page of the NewYorkTimes.com on Friday. It was a slot machine execution to show how much money you would save. There wasn’t a lot to it; it was kind of small and hard to read; and it didn’t take advantage of the medium very well. You could spin to see what great extras you missed out on by buying a MacBook.

Pc ad3small
Think about what they’re up against: The latest Apple MacBook and iPod ads have the computer busting out of its assigned ad space. And the Apple vs. PC ads online have been the best, hands down, of repurposing TV ads online. Click here for a great, great example of what Apple and TBWA do with a NYT.com ad.

TBWA has used the technology in clever ways to gain attention, either by smashing up navigation on MTV or coordinating content in the banners themselves. The ads are eye-catching and entertaining.


I expected Crispin, who are one of the best agencies when it comes to doing both traditional and digital, to come up something better than a slot machine. Been there, done that. You’d figure that together with the Microsoft team at aQuantive, we would have seen something that would have pushed the limits.

Crispin and Microsoft need to move up a notch in using the online technology for advertising. We know they can do it on microsites. Let’s see that great creativity flourish in this limited space; we need them to do so.

As for content, in the TV ads are straightforward and clear. Online, I have to choose between a MacBook or a PC laptop and 65 Starbucks Lattes. I can already see Apple’s TV response.

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