Top of mind

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Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Zune and Wii Launch Warning!! Exciting times ahead for Consumer Tech.

Posted by topofmind on September 15, 2006

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In the last couple of months, the upcoming launch of Wii and Zune have received a lot of attention from tech fans like me. I neither have a PS2 or an iPOD but as a matter of interest am keen to see what happens to these two new consumer electronic brands. I am also interested to see how each will turn out – considering the fact that both are from well known companies in their own field. I have written about the Wii and Zune previously, separately, but now is a good time to review it together.

ZUNE

Microsoft recently released news on the detailed specs of the Zune and the consumer offering. Despite the rumors that it will retail around 250 US$ (most likely less), Microsoft hasn’t confirmed or denied it. Additionally it will most likely be released for the upcoming holiday season. Whether it is in 06 or07 remains to be seen.

So the big question on every ones mind is that, will Zune be the iPod killer?

I for one think that the term – iPOD killer is overused and almost a cliché. No one can be the iPOD killer, but based on what Microsoft did with XBOX, we can be sure that it will literally dump a lot of R&D and A&P (advertising and promotion) budget behind it.

But can advertising hype alone sustain the Zune? I doubt it. The feature sets included in the release version of the Zune needs to appeal to a certain amount of consumers. This will buy Microsoft the necessary market share into the Media Player category. In the long run Microsoft stands to profit from this investment.

How long is long enough? That remains to be seen, but it would be foolish of Microsoft to ignore the fast growing consumer segment – especially in the Media Player segment. Invest well Microsoft and try not to piss off the relatively minor but highly vocal tech fans – especially the ones with Blogs, and you will have a XBOX in your hand sin a couple of years.

Nintendo Wii

Despite the relatively low tech specifications of the Nintendo Wii, the fan-boys are excited about this. In any other circumstance, launching a less technically spec’ed product would be suicide. In the case of Nintendo Wii, it is an asset… well almost.

The price is almost about 250 US$ and it will launch two days after PS3. Is that a good thing or not. I don’t know. But one thing I am sure about is that it’s underdog status is what will sell the product to the fan-boys who felt betrayed by PS3. That and the innovative Wiimote and the games that it is expected to release. Note my emphasis on the word expected.

It is clear that Nintendo Wii is trying to appeal to a bigger audience of non-hardcore gamers – which is most likely a wise strategy, considering the fact that XBOX 360 and PS3 are more or less fighting for the same, but limited audience.

Ultimately the hardcore fan-boys could be disappointed by the Wii – as their expectations are probably too high, and they will probably go back to their default gaming console. But either way Wii will carve out a more than decent market share from the non-hardcore, causal gaming audience. If I was Microsoft or Sony, Wii can pose a big threat and I would watch it – closely.

So what does this all mean to the average pro-sumer out there? Well, exciting things are afoot and I for one am excited to see how this will all turn out. Heck, maybe I will even buy myself one of them things.

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Posted in Cool, Games, Tech | Leave a Comment »

Google Down : Yahooing Google

Posted by topofmind on September 9, 2006

google-down.jpg A funny thing happened last night. Google was down and I had to use Yahoo search.

Google went down, google.com, gmail.com, google analytics – but not google news. I noticed it as I was searching for something. At first I thought it was my screwy connection and tried again and again. But that didn’t work. Then I had to check my gmail and that was down too. So I thought that was a temporary thing too and tried again in a minute or two and that didn’t work.

While for search it was OK to find an alternative for search engines, but not for mail on gmail. Whatever the reason for the downage – it is still down 14 hours after I first noticed it, it shows that just like Windows, just like IE from Miscrosoft, Google is becoming a target of hackers.

Perhaps there is something about size that attracts hackers on the internet. Either way is this a sign of things to come? Google has almost become an Internet utility – just like water and electricity that when it goes down (for whatever reason) it effects a lot of things.

The funnier thing of course was I had to search for “Google Down,” on Yahoo Search to find out what was going on.

Posted in News, Tech | Leave a Comment »

Lights, cameras, sex and advertising

Posted by topofmind on August 24, 2006

Sooner or later you are bound to find all four in the same place. Using sex to sell stuff from softdrinks to home entertainment systems is as old as advertising, so why not use it to sell cameras. Sex, digital cameras .. now somehow that seems to have a very natural fit. Cameras and sex.. a match made in ad heaven.

Here are two executions from the great minds of advertising. One is from Olympus Camera, and the other for Canon. Both use sex to somehow sell their brands. Call me old fashioned, but I feel that advertising has to have at least some form of message – how the brand is different, or better or even a obnoxious “Buy Now” call to action would do.

Just like the women in the old Wendy’s ads says; Where is the message??

The Canon TVC seems to say that with a Canon Digital Camera, you can make your ugly wife look better or even sexier. And is the way the dorky guy reacts supposed to be funny? Yes, there is a line at the end of the TVC that says that “With Cannon, You Can”. Aside from the cheesy line and bad acting, nothing comes out about Canon. If anything, it did more damage to the brand than anything.
A bit of advice for Canon, you need a new storyboard, new production house and new actors. Oh, yes, while you are at it, a new advertising agency would also help. Either that or probably too many Marketing MBAs stirring the pot.

Olympus TVC. Firstly, even with the grainy video from You Tube, the production values come through, and it does look great in black and white. While the branding is somewhat subtle at the end it does seem to say that Olympus is cool, trendy and sexy. But it all ends there; other than the coolness message, nothing else seems to come through about the brand Olympus. As far as getting the viewer attention, the TVC worked, but now that the viewer is somewhat paying attention, why not say something interesting about your brand? Better yet, say something that will get him interested in the product. Unless of course they want to say that the whole artsy thing was actually shot by an Olympus (riiiiight) and so can you if you use an Olympus. The thing is that they doesn’t even bother to say that. A wasted opportunity.

Did Olympus actually pay several hundred thousand dollars or a couple of billion won for this TVC? Guess they must have, what with a celebrity like Jeon Ji Hyun in it. Come on guys, image helps, but not if the message is missing about your brand.

I don’t know if those two ads worked, but both Canon and Olympus should ask for a refund from their respective agencies or fire whomever approved storyboards. And by the way, by now you should know that sex will most likely get you the attention you want for your brand, but you also got to have a worthwhile message.

Thanks to http://www.sillycorner.com where I first came across the TVCs.

EDIT : Upon further investigation, looks lilke there are 2 versions of the TVC. Here is the properly branded version. Can’t embed, so click here.

Posted in Advertising, Tech | 4 Comments »

Will Microsoft Zune be the Apple iPod Killer?

Posted by topofmind on July 28, 2006

303317.jpgWho coined that ridicules clichéd “iPod Killer” term to being with anyway?

The tech blogs are abuzz with the confirmation from Microsoft that they will be launching Zune by the end of this year or some time around that. Anyway here are things we should know about the whole hullabaloo.

iPod cannot be killed. It already has a mass following, and they are fanatical about the iPod. Short of nuking it from orbit; just to be sure, it cannot be killed. It can be hurt – a little, maybe a small .. er prick. Besides, iPod will not sit still as Zune enters the market.

iPod literally popularized the digital music player, and made it attractive and cool to the masses. They know what they are doing when it comes to digital music. Yes, Creative was already there with it’s Zen players, but they never really attained the cult status of the iPod, even with a “open” music format. iPOD made it a success despite the fact that they had a “closed,” music format which everyone thought wasn’t so nice.

Having said that, what about Zune?

Zune, comes from Microsoft. Now that is a very bad thing – if you believe what the tech blogs are saying, mainly because it comes from Microsoft. Oh, and because it also is a “closed,” or proprietary format – which will not Play on other WMP devices.

Zune comes from Microsoft. Now that is a very good thing – for Microsoft. Other than some elitist views on all things tech, who by the way are very vocal, the general population of Tom, Dick and Harry will not really care if it comes from Microsoft or Apple.

Microsoft is an extremely valuable brand and Zune will definitely benefit from it, and also from the deep pockets that Microsoft has for mass media campaigns.

Zune is not just a digital music player, and we are not quite sure what it is. Rumors are flying around that it will allow you to share music, got Wi-Fi, watch videos, even hook-up somehow with XBOX. See a nice analysis here and an insider’s view here.. It would be cool to be able to do all of that, but then what the heck is a Zune? A Jack of all trades, and a master of none.

Personally, if this is the case, Microsoft is approaching it ass backwards. iPod started off as a simple, but extremely cool digital music player, then diversified into other things like video. It is generally easy for consumers to accept a product that does one thing well first, then expand functionality. Kinda like mobile phones, started off as a phone, then an address book, then a PDA and now a camera – but we can still choose to buy just the phone if we want to. Consumers don’t like confusion and that can hurt Zune.

So will Zune be the iPod killer when the time comes?

Most likely scenario is that Zune will repeated the PS2 Vs. XBOX fight. It will gain shares over-time against iPod, but the market dominance of iPod cannot and will not be overturned – unless in the extremely unlikely event that Apple decides to close shop. In time, it will become a respectable player in the category – just like the XBOX.

Personally I see another player (or more) entering the Mobile Digital Entertainment fray,whether it is Creative remains to be seen, and Zune will have to fight it out with that third or forth player.

Posted in News, Tech | 1 Comment »

Wii Evangalize – Creating Buzz that works for your brand

Posted by topofmind on June 22, 2006

Well this is not exactly about advertising…

How much is goodwill and positive buzz worth for a company?

I would say a lot. Way more than they know. Consider the last E3. Another year, another E3 and as usual there were bombs and da bombs. There are two companies that I want to focus on. After a month or two after E3 I was expecting the tone of the coverage and fanboy reaction to change, but fortunately or unfortunately it didn’t.

Sony – The Cool Goliath

No brand name is better known for it’s consumer electronics than Sony.

At E3, PS3 bombed by most accounts. Of course it is not fair to judge and make a call on a Console that is not even out yet, but already here are several strikes against it. The price at appx US$ 600, the seemingly ripped-off controller and the prerendered game demos. And some unfortunate quotes from the head honchos of Sony about – how the revolution will not start until Sony says so – or something to that effect.

Even after a month or so after E3, Sony continues to receive negative coverage – from the claim that we don’t need PCs, when there is the PS3 or the news that allegedly says that we cannot resell our old PS3 games, or an earlier news that PS3 has been downgraded less USB, a crippled CPU. Now some of it is news and most likely true, others are probably rumors.

All of that has generated some negative buzz on the net. While any PR is good PR, in the case of PS3, it might not hold true. Now they need some serious damage control to correct that or somehow turn it to their advantage. Besides, read anything about PS3 these days and you will see that it is negative.

But will PS3 fail? I doubt it, purely because of the number of PS fanboys out there. You heard it here first!!

Wii – Will it really rock?

wii1.jpgPeople seem to think so, sometimes perception is reality.

Wii – this is Da Bomb. Despite or because of the weird sounding name that came out a couple of days before E3, it has already generated enough Buzz, discussion, word of mouth interest on the net – and that type of exposure is all good for it.

Then people got to see the controler in action – or like me saw it on Google Video or Youtube. More than anything that is also another “talk,” point. And from what I have seen, it is mostly good.

And the type of games they are offering – while graphically will not be competitive to PS3 or the 360 – also received good feedback – mainly because people do believe that they will offer better gameplay and pure fun, that has been missing from the Consoles in the last couple of years. While this remains to be seen, another plus for the Wii.

And did I mention the price? Did someone say US$ 200? Wasn’t PSP selling for US$ 150 earlier?

That all adds up to the benefit of Wii. Somehow, there sure is a lot of positive stuff on Wii on the net, and somehow Wii managed to get gamers to create good buzz about their product. Now that is pure Word Of Mouth Campaign (kinda like the banner ad that we now seem to have on the Vine)..

Verdict

The only thing for Wii to watch out for is to keep the pressure up and not make any silly gaffs like Sony did. Of course the PS3 apologist are saying that Sony, which is a company known for it’s marketing savvy will not make such silly mistakes. Perhaps Sony simply underestimated fanboy response.

Personally, I think that Sony could have done better at E3. It was a great opportunity missed, and Wii somehow managed to steal PS3’s thunder – not to mention that of the 360.

Of course the real test will be when the products ship – will Wii disappoint or create even more buzz? Can PS3 somehow manage to make a comeback and once again be the king of the hill? I just can’t wait to see!!

Oh, I forgot to answer my own question of how much goodwill is worth to a company….

PS3 priced at US$ 500 expects to sell about 6 Million units by March 2007. Wii also has the same target but at a much lesser price of US$ 200. Doing the math, Sony will stand to win or lose 3 Billion US$, while Wii will be about 1.2 Billion US$.

How is that for chump change??

Posted in Games, Tech | 4 Comments »