Tag Archives: Apple

The Microsoft Surface Book has broken the copycat mold

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Over the past decade, the importance of showcasing innovation in both product and design has become a pain point within the tech industry in which many have not alleviated. In a market where competition is high, but opportunities are slim, brands have struggled to break the copycat mold and come up with something different to set them apart from the rest. Brands are often keen in following the footsteps of Apple’s chief designer Jonathan Ive, such as Huawei’s iPhone 6 look-alike Honour 6 device which unashamedly has no original design features, however, it is refreshing to see Microsoft engage in an original industrial design philosophy with the recent launch of its Surface Book.

Understanding that design along with functionality drives desire, Microsoft has achieved the right equilibrium. The Surface Book’s sleek craftsmanship, accurate and responsive pen and touch support, as well as being twice as powerful as the Macbook Pro, has proved innovation in product and design is not just confined to only one brand. The laptop’s advanced display technology makes it not just attractive to look at, but natural and fluid to write on. Together, Surface’s creative director, Ralf Groene and Windows 10 devices head Panos Panay, have invented something new, desirable, and premium, giving the brand a new lease of life in the laptop category.

Other brands should take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book. Consumers are starting to see through the usual copycat formula as demonstrated when a new iPad launches, sending the rest of the tech world into tablet production overload. If brands want to establish themselves within a competitive market, it is about creating an identity that they can call their own, or risk being overshadowed by competing brands.

Whilst innovative design is always important, product functionality is also a game changer. Striking the right balance between the two, Microsoft’s new product launch has hit the ground running. Already running on 110 million devices worldwide and Windows 10 is off to the fastest start in history, could this be Microsoft’s time to shine and set the agenda for the next design-led tech trend? Maybe.

 

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2015/10/27/how-microsoft-has-broken-the-copycat-mold/

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Will Apple Music match up to Spotify?

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Apple oh Apple. While this week it’s been all about Apple Pay, just last month all eyes were on Apple Music. Initially launched on 30 June, the product has so far been made available across all Apple products and PCs, but the global giant naturally has bigger plans.

While the date has not yet been set, rumours are flying that Apple could be making the app available on Android devices this autumn. But what does this move signal, much speculation abound?

Up until now Apple has maintained an ecosystem which is exclusive for its own devices. Could branching out to Android devices point towards an acceptance that Apple is no longer feeling like the ace in the pack?

So far this year, 11.5 billion songs have been streamed in the UK; an 80% increase from last year. While Apple Music customers account for 22%, paying Spotify users are leading the way at 31%.

With half of Spotify users also iTunes members, the question should be asked – can Apple steal the spotlight following its initial three month Apple Music trial?

Currently, Beats 1 Radio station on the Apple Music app is free, however it will come at a cost for Android users. The station has received generally positive reviews so far, with 84% of tweets on launch day expressing positive sentiment about the new service.

Whether this encouraging reception towards Apple Music continues is questionable. Already, the app has been criticised for being difficult to use – overwhelming for a first time user and not as sleek and user-friendly as you might expect an Apple product to be.

Apple’s planned partnership with Sonos puts to rest some rumours that Apple Music would only work on Beats speaker devices. With this, Apple Music will match Spotify’s universal reach, meaning users are no longer locked into its exclusive ecosystem. Will this mean extra subscribers? Probably.

Streaming users want the freedom to use any device or speaker system. Locking users out is limiting its audience.

While Apple’s previous strategy has been centred on selling more products, Apple Music is different. As the service is slowly becoming cross-compatible with other devices, users will no longer need to purchase an Apple product to listen.

At this stage, and once again, Apple is the follower rather than the innovator, and is unable to compete with Spotify if its users are limited to Apple’s existing customer base who already own an Apple device.

To catch up with the mass streaming hype (the volume of total streams on audio services hit 5.32bn in Q1 this year, up 81.4% on the equivalent period in 2014), Apple has paid a vast amount for Beats, radio presenters and thanks to Taylor Swift, doing the right thing by paying artists for the work they’ve created. The question is – how can Apple sustain this commercial model and succeed without total control or delving into someone’s pocket, privacy or enjoyment? Where’s the catch?

If Apple is to become a universal music destination it can’t sustain ‘exclusivity’. Music is a consumable product which stimulates our senses rather than a lifestyle choice. It’s what makes us shake that leg spontaneously, and we will continue to seek it out and listen wherever we can find it, usually in the easiest and cheapest manner like free to air radio.

 

Read more are: http://wallblog.co.uk/2015/07/16/will-apple-music-match-up-to-spotify/

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MWC 2015: Is It More of the Same or Change for the Sake of Change?

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Mobile brands, including carriers and social media grandees such as Mark Zuckerberg, are in Barcelona at MWC15 to announce, prophesise, and speculate on what we as consumers will want, or think we need, in the form of mobile devices and the connected landscape. It’s true to say that we are a generation that relies on our mobile devices, even to the extent that we feel naked without a device to access the web 24/7. This now extends to wearables for fitness, virtual reality, gaming, and next, our virtual wallet and transport.

Next week at its March 9th ‘Spring Forward’ event, and as ever separately to every other brand, Apple will likely launch the Apple Watch to a global audience who may just be underwhelmed considering the announcement of advances in Android-based wearables demonstrated by HTC, Huawei, LG and Sony to name a few at MWC15. Underwhelmed is perhaps unlikely based on consumer enthusiasm, but the exclusive snapshot of the Apple Watch given by Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph Fashion Editor, demonstrates that Apple is offering what every brand must deliver to its consumers — choice. Apple offers choice of styles, straps, and faces, and of course the Edition variant in 18ct rose or yellow gold for those who like their wearables with a bit of bling. One thing these new arrivals, Apple included, all have in common is that they start to transcend the chasm of tech into fashion. They look great, work effectively, and are worthy cost-effective options (with the exception of Apple) that will further ignite the wearables market.

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But who’s copying who? Fashion brands such as Guess, and luxury watch brands like Tag and Mont Blanc, have made their intentions clear and some could argue are being driven by tech brands. However, why should tech need to look traditional to enable adoption, especially if it only works when I remember to charge it? Where is the value, efficiency, and worth?

On the other hand, we may be blown away by our friends in Cupertino. We have more to digest such as those car rumours in which Google is further ahead in realising, as are some of the more forward-thinking automobile brands. Volvo, for example, is exploring connected car services and is announcing a trial launch, progressing its published plan to create a fleet of driverless cars by 2017.

It’s an obvious move to connect our devices to our transportation – our devices will soon show us how to get to our destination and then take us there in the most efficient manner. Easier said than done, as we all know the pitfalls of satellite navigation. Does a driverless car have the potential to become annoying like a cab driver who is lost, can’t drive, or drives dangerously? Without exception, any mobile or wearable device that connects with our vehicle and 3rd-party applications, like social media, are going to involve advertising, data, and subscriptions, further sacrificing the joy of a quiet and peaceful drive home.

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With connected devices creating more opportunities for brands, every manufacturer understands that they need to have a cross-category approach to devices including phones, wearables, and VR, which is evident from the announcements made at MWC15. As the technology develops, however, brands also need to create amazing, intuitive, and secure software to encourage us to part with more of our tangible assets and transactions, in order to communicate and live virtually.

Are we ready or would we rather, brands included, slow down the pace? Technology is moving so rapidly that innovations are becoming obsolete before they have a chance to become a recognised part of history. The hardware needed to operate these innovations can become redundant sooner thus creating obvious problems in disposal as we can’t indefinitely deal with it by sending it off our shores to become someone else’s problem. Our perceived need to demand more out of our devices, brands, and lifestyles compounded with being forced to update, upgrade, and adopt as a result of market forces may be what drives us to come to a full circle and look for a device that allows a simpler and more traditional private life; unlikely but not impossible.

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Mobile World Congress Plays Backdrop to the Telecoms’ Brand Fight

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As the great and good of the mobile world gather in Barcelona for this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress, an event attended by none other than Mark Zuckerberg fresh on the back of his WhatsApp purchase, what will a crowded category of brands announce next?

Samsung, Apple, LG, Blackberry, Sony, Nokia, Huawei, Motorola and the list goes on. The number of mobile brands out there is large, so how does this mass of brands gain affection? Samsung has just launched a brand marketing platform in a bid to become the ‘most loved brand,’ while this year we’ve seen Huawei ink a partnership with Arsenal. The opportunities for these brands to overstep each other are limitless, so who will win this aggressive marketing match?

You don’t have to look far to see evidence that the world of successful, high-end smartphone makers is shrinking to a few major contenders dominated by Apple and Samsung – while other important brands, like BlackBerry, LG and Motorola, fade in prominence or struggle to compete. Still, lesser known brands have a chance to grow, even thrive, in emerging markets. Lenovo is picking up steam in China, the most important growth market there is; and, even though they’re on the brink of extinction, BlackBerry phones are still selling throughout Africa, South America and the Middle East. ABI Research says that smartphone penetration is at 20 percent out of a global population of 7.2 billion people. Looking at it another way, smartphones accounted for a little over half of all mobile handset sales in 2013. That means there are a lot of people who will be shopping for their first-ever smartphones, people who perhaps aren’t as focused on brand loyalty as they are on value.

So what are these brands doing to gain market share? Sponsorship is a core strategy for many of these brands. Huawei hopes its tie-up with Arsenal will boost awareness of the brand in the UK. It had a 0.9 per cent share of the UK smartphone market in November, according to comScore, putting it 9th in the rankings behind brands including Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry. That is also well behind its global share, which Strategy Analytics estimates at 5 per cent in the third quarter.

Then, there are the beloved celebrity endorsements that catch many an eye. However, it remains unclear whether they have helped some of these ailing tech businesses. HTC had been struggling, but hoped that its signing of Iron Man star, Robert Downey, Jr., last year for a two-year deal could turn things around. In picking a big-name actor to not only front its campaign, but also help shape it, HTC is following a well-trodden path; however, the endorsement has failed to attract at a high level as its net income fell by more than 90 per cent last quarter.

The problem is that there are so many brands out there and the ones that are winning the match are those that have strong brand identities. Whilst Apple focuses on experiences for customers rather than sponsorship and celebrity, the brand keeps consumers at the heart of everything it does, allowing it to anticipate what they want next, breaking new ground in design and performance. Samsung’s products are equally as good (just look at the recently launched S5) and the brand’s marketing approach, a large investment set to drive brand loyalty, is as scientific as its nearest rival. A “brand dependence” index revealed at CES suggested that more people are dependent on the Samsung brand than any other in consumer electronics. As part of its brand strategy, it has invested heavily in social engagement and that too is paying off as it clearly knows its audience and how to target it. With EE in the UK announcing a 68% increase in 4G customers, consumers want a handset which not only compliments the network, but also meets their needs – whether this be functionality, speed or style.

For brands on the periphery to succeed, there needs to be some deep-seated consideration taken in what the brand stands for and what its target audiences are. The brands out there at the moment seem to be clambering after everyone rather than taking a step back and establishing a concrete outlook into the future and where they want to be. Nokia, which – we don’t need to be reminded – is now owned by Microsoft and oddly launching an Android device, is a great example. As with any demographic, brand is everything. For a category that we cannot live without in this connected world (where our smartphones get thinner, get larger in screen size and become not only phones, but also cameras and media devices), these brands could possibly transform their businesses by holding back on the random star endorsements and sponsorships until they know who they’re targeting.

The land grab opportunity is huge and everyone attending MWC this week knows the value of a 1% global decline in emerging markets as predicted by GfK, but who will dominate and buck this predicted trend in our brand-fickle world?

Written by Daniel Todaro

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2014/02/25/mobile-world-congress-2014/

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