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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Apple, Sony and Desire

I'm a judge for the Sony Radio Awards and they've sent me all the entries in my category pre-loaded on a Sony MP3 player. It's actually what they call a Sony Walkman these days. It's certainly a good idea to send the entries in this fashion rather than expecting judges to juggle cassettes or CDs. The Walkman's very neat. It has a radio, it records and probably makes tea as well. Playing with it just now it struck me how difficult it must be in the personal electronics space these days, having to compete with Apple. It doesn't matter how many qualities your product might have, Apple is the one that holds the high ground where dwells desire. A year ago a young friend demonstrated all the features of his iPod competitor, many of which were superior to Apple, but he did it more in sorrow than conviction, as if he knew that the playground prestige battle had already been lost. I stand on the Tube platform looking at the huge cross-track posters outlining the features of something that looks a bit like an iPhone but isn't, feeling sorry for the marketing man who has to persuade a 17 year old that this is what he wants. We were talking about this with friends at dinner last night, the way our rational side pretends to weigh the arguments over how we spend our money while our emotional side waits, drumming its fingers, knowing that in the end it will always win out.

8 comments:

  1. I finally gave in to the iPhone about three months ago, having resisted for a while, and having hung on for the availability of the Palm Pre. Having held both in my hand I just couldn't help but be swayed by the fact that the iPhone just felt better in my hand, the whole thing just had an aura of good quality about it, although in many respects the Palm was technically better (multi tasking capability for one thing). Even the icons look better. So sad really ....

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  2. Yes, that 'Like a Golf' ad pulls at the same strings. Even though it's ripe for parody.

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  3. I may be a contrarian but the only apple product I use regularly is Itunes to download podcasts as there doesn't seem to be any other way. I'm more than happy with Nokia and Dell but you have to tip your hat to Apple for their ability to make their users believe that simply buying an IPod etc will make them better,creative, people it's the holy grail of all advertising.

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  4. For some reason the term brand has entered into general language. What you're talking about David is, of course, the power of branding.

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  5. I find it reasonably easy to avoid the Apple fetish mentality, so I bought a Walkman a couple of years back. Great bit of kit, but it's badly let down by the crapware you have to use to load it up. Fortunately there are freeware alternatives out there which enable me to just do what I want, i.e. drag and drop my own MP3s to the damn thing and absolutely nothing else.

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  6. @DuffPaddy: '...just do what I want, i.e. drag and drop my own mp3s to the damn thing and absolutely nothing else.'

    Which is precisely what I've always done with my various iPods and iTunes. Where's the problem?

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  7. @MikeP: My comment was referring to Sony's teeth-grinding SonicStage software, not iTunes.

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  8. @DuffPaddy: no, I got that...my point was that you could have spared yourself a lot of grief if you hadn't been so keen to avoid the Apple fetish mentaility. Great name, by the way!

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