Friday, November 23, 2012

a survey and observation around the Thanksgiving table

Our Thanksgiving routine is probably a typical scene with four distinct phases:

  1. Pre-game/pre-dinner bonding around the kitchen table or football couch
  2. The main event 
  3. Dinner clean-up and dessert presentation time out (back to football)
  4. Dessert
Around yesterday's table/couches the inevitable 'what phone are you using' conversation came up. While the family favors Apple by 3:1, Android has made some inroads and the lone Blackberry holdout is no longer derided, but now viewed as the eccentric uncle.

What was missing from the conversation, however, was the word 'cool'. Past years phone purchases/plans were punctuated by arm waving and passion. Now, iPhone buyers spoke about 'my other devices are....'  and Android folk were about pricing and screen size. In other words, over the past year, at least for us,  phone innovation has taken a breather in favor of a platform and pricing.

If we are a representative sample, the consequences for Apple are dramatic. As a premium priced vendor, they are at a disadvantage in garnering market share in the incredibly price sensitive, and fast growing Asian and African regions. Of course, their growth, through line extensions to their platform and sales of high margin products (software commissions), should continue. But growth will no longer be torrid. 2012 is notable for Apple losing its cool.

Cool isn't necessarily gone forever, heck, Apple's taken a couple of cool vacations and it's not like other vendors have replaced its cool. Microsoft's cool with Surface and Windows8 feels like a parent trying to be cool at a kid's sporting event or Sweet 16. It's forced and unnatural...untrue to the brand. Google's products are really pragmatic, but just not cool. Pinterest's UI was, at first, cool. Now it's expected. *

Innovations on the horizon with LTE networks, NFC, faster chips, and innovative user interfaces are the basic ingredients for cool. They are waiting for the chef with the right recipe to whip up something that gets a 5 star rating. Someone who people first laugh at, then ignore, then fight, and finally lose to (a bastardized Gandhi quote).

All the best for a great Holiday weekend.

* kudos to cousin Ken for coming up with a 'cool' suggestion....he noted that when ordering pizza, you can get crumbled sausage (which he and most people around the table prefer to sliced sausage, but he's never seen crumbled pepperoni., only sliced. Here's to you Ken....bring it to market!!!

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