the nerd tax

Dollars Bill Maher had a great line, succinctly summing up this entire iPhone refund fiasco:

"It's not a price cut, it's a repeal on the nerd tax"

As an admitted (at times) nerd, I recognize that we often pay "taxes" for being the first out of the gate.

iPhone buyers weren't upset over the tax, they were upset that Apple didn't play by the tax rules.  If you pay the tax, you expect something in return, notably - the recognition as someone who is first, who is leading, who is light years ahead of everyone else.  Jobs didn't play by the rules - he tried to reinvent them.

The 3 Principles of The Early Adopter/Nerd Tax Dynamic
- from the eyes of a nerd -

  1. The nerd will do ridiculous things (ie paying the nerd tax) to get his or her hands on something new and possibly shiny
    • ridiculous things may include:
      1. waiting in line for hours or even days
      2. paying a pre-order fee
      3. overpaying (a direct form of nerd tax)
      4. dealing with an unfinished product - the "first gen" glitches
        • note: the nerd 2.0 does not consider leaving their mother's basement a ridiculous thing because the new nerd is the alpha in the pack, often presenting as an industry leader and successful business person.  The new nerd does not live in his mother's basement, the new nerd isn't an outcast.  The new nerd is a leader.
  2. This thing will make you feel superior, cooler and/or better because
    • you have this
    • everybody else doesn't
    • this thing is awesome (in the eyes of the nerd)
    • you are now an elite member of a select club
  3. Brands will recognize this nerd tax by giving nerds sufficient time to enjoy part 2, such that it offsets the inconveniences and inequities of part 1.

The Jobs Amendment

  • As the king of all nerds, I will not deliver on part 3.  Rather, I will refund some of your money, thereby allowing you to save face (kinda).

Why This Wasn't So Smart
Money is only a small (if at times significant) part of the overall picture.  Early adopters often adopt early because it is a personality statement: I am a leader. By marking down the price so drastically, so quickly he made the leaders look like fools.  The only way he could have restored their status would be by offering them something additional of meaning well in advance of anyone else, something that would restore their stature as leaders - and he didn't.

Sure returning the money was a smart move, but I would have expected more out of one of the greatest marketing gurus of our generation.  There should have been something else up his sleeve, something truly special that rewarded his early adopters for adopting early.

bottling the lightning

GlassSo this week was certainly fun and exciting!

Hulu recessed  back into their silent hole, Microsoft launched SilverLight, Veoh continued to challenge the wall that is IP content distribution while IP ownership began to bight back.  HP entered the IPTV market, Steve Jobs screwed everyone, then broke his own code of silence by giving the community a make good.  Vudu launched what is being called the first direct to TV digital download set top box, and Ogilvy released a Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics

So it's finally Friday and it's time for a story as told by leading viral videos!

Do you ever wonder what traditional media execs must be going through?  Think of their day to day business as: having a million baseballs thrown at them, all day, all the time.  Their world is turning upside down, and continues to evolve on a daily if not hourly basis!

At a certain point, new strategies will be crafted.  Some will adapt, some will shift, many will fall into the pool.  Traditional media isn't going away, traditional thinking is.

Innovators will innovate, revolutionaries will continue to push the envelope, and all the while the smartest among us new media people will be bridge building, sharing, moving forward.  Looking at the week to come, how will you take an old dog and teach her new tricks?

I know this may not be very 2.0, but I would like to propose that rather than just beat up on traditional media (which is admittedly, addictinginly fun) we work together - providing guidance,  collaborating to help move this hundred year old mammoth of an industry forward. 

Keep on trucking,
keep on dreaming,
the future is going to be here before we know it.

Have a great weekend!

Apple: getting it right... kinda

The Glory...
The Majesty...
The Wonder...
of me.

I am... Steve Jobs.

I sold you an overpriced gadget that may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread.

I then issued a $200 price cut just two months later.

But fear not... for I will give you a $100 rebate in iCash, that is - money you can spend on my iMerchandise at any iStore.

Oh "And One More Thing" - Love me.  For I did not need to give you this refund, but I love you because you love me, so enjoy this iGift of gifts.

- end of hyperbole -

Honestly, does anyone out there think early adopters aren't going to jump on his next overpriced piece of iGadgetry?  Will anyone out there wait for a month, or two, or three - to buy the next iPhone (now with a can opener!)  ? 

Sure, waiting might save you a buck, but after all, Isn't being an early adopter about being the first? 

when silence spoke volumes

ShhThe end of an era

We are all familiar with Apple's secrecy.  But what happens when they speak up, when they request that "leaked photos" be taken down?  They "inadvertently" confirm the rumors, generating ever more buzz.  Can Apple PR do no wrong?  Yes, and as a matter of fact - they just messed up big time.

If you're not sure what I'm referring to, check out these posts on Gizmondo here, here and hereCrunchGear and Techeblog both covered the story as well.  Update: Engadget is now reporting this as well (more here and here).

One Line Summary: It seems there are legit pics of a new potentially OSX powered iPhone nano floating around the web and Apple requested that they be taken down.

Spyshots_1_2 With  AppleInsider and UBS reporting the upcoming launch of a new line of iPods with stonger OSX integration, it looks like the rumors are coming together to create a compelling story.

But if we look at the long term picture, did Apple just shoot themselves in the foot?  The sheer black wall of silence that was Apple PR lent secrecy, sex appeal and allure to their product launches.  Techies and Mac Fans became the heros of popular media with their semi-educated speculation around the next iPod launch.  As a society, we held our breath, waiting for the next big thing to come out of Steve Jobs' crew cut head.

Newipodnanomock_2But today Apple made a big mistake.  By requesting that specific photos of the new nano be taken down while ignoring the dozens of fake photos circulating the net, they seem to be killing the rumor mills.  We now know - if a photo is real Apple will comment, if they aren't commenting then there is no reason to pay it any attention!  Are they destroying their own hype? 

Was today the beginning of the end of the tremendously influential hype powered PR circus that was an Apple product launch?

defining the product, not the marketing

Hellomac Last week we discussed the evolution of mobile media.  In the current, it appears that  mobile phones are being used in two ways - peer to peer communication and as extensions of PC and Web based digital lives.  So where does the iPhone fall?

I would posit that the iPhone functionalities can be bucketed as follows:

  1. Internet tablet
  2. Phone
  3. Multimedia Device
  4. Messaging (SMS and Email)
  5. Utility tool

1) As an internet tablet its capabilities are largely on par with a small screened computer – with the only limitation being its ability to play some flash files.  Overall, as an internet device the iPhone does not need a computer and is it's own dedicated channel (falling under the "future" bucket from last week).

2) As a phone the call quality isn’t great but overall there are some really nice innovations in the interface and functionality.  As voice doesn’t relate to our digital/computer connected lives this measure doesn’t really change our end game analysis.

3) As a multimedia device its capabilities, interface and output rock.  Its screen is still a bit small for viewing longer form content and the limited storage capacity position the iPhone’s multimedia capabilities as extensions of the computer.  Additionally, the inability for OTA (over the air) content downloads (think iTunes on the iPhone or iTunes purchases wirelessly through at&t) further tether the iPhone to the computer as a multimedia device.  If all it’s content comes from a computer, and is constantly being refreshed off a computer, it’s still just an extension of the computer.

4) a – email - As an email device the iPhone looks to be targeting the casual emailer and not the business user.  It doesn’t look like a blackberry substitute (due to limited integration with existing popular email suites) but rather a replacement for the other mobile device many blackberry users lug around – their cell phone.  The inclusion of popular web mail features (utilized more for casual than business usage) suggest that this is the direction the current iPhone has taken.  I don’t think the current iPhone email solution is going to replace our desktop/laptop email solutions, so in this aspect I would still consider the iPhone an extension of our existing digital lives. 

4) b – SMS – The messaging application on the iPhone looks remarkably similar to iChat, the mac messaging client.  While user to user SMS has been largely cell to cell, the online integration via wifi and edge on the iPhone could extend our digital PC based messaging interactions to the phone in a more meaningful way.  So for SMS, I would consider the iPhone both a valid standalone device and an extension of our existence digital (PC based) lives.

5)    As a utility tool the iPhone has been somewhat crippled by the closed API.  While Apple has offered a number of quality programs for the iPhone, these programs (such as PDA and Quicken functionality) are positioned largely as extensions of your PC digital life, with all content to be synced with your computer.  Once again, the PC is the home base with the iPhone as an extension of that base.

So, overall, would you guys say that the iPhone is still an extension of the PC and our PC web browsing? 

I would like to suggest that it’s Internet and Phone capabilities have extended the leash, but as a multimedia, messaging and utility device it remains tethered to the PC (or mac) and as such is still a digital extension of our PC based behaviors.