As we're inundated with hero shots of the iPad every day, on every billboard and the back of every magazine cover, it appears to be a good time to rethink the relationship between advertising and product, between marketing and innovation. It's not that Apple doesn't spend any money on advertising--no, it was pouring a whopping $500 million into its launch campaign for the iPad. But what is different is that Apple's marketing doesn't have to be clever or utterly creative. In fact, it is stunningly not so. No major social media campaign needed to be sparked, no user-generated content contest needed to be held. And while the ongoing tongue-in-cheek anti-Microsoft ads are undeniably cute, they are not really an advertising revelation. Gone are the days of the bold "1984" campaigns. Today, Apple earns enough attention to forgo any ostentatious marketing, in fact, so much that a cleverly orchestrated campaign would distract from the brand rather than boosting it. The company simply displays its products--that's all it takes. Apple's products are viral without any viral marketing.… Read more
LOS ANGELES--At a show that's as large as it gets for video games, in a corner of E3 the was a product designed to be hidden from sight entirely.
Hitech Innovation's Wiretape, which the company claims is the world's thinnest wire at 0.16 millimeters, has been designed to de-clutter the usual mess of wires that can stretch down from high-mounted televisions, or across rooms.
It works like a roll of tape, running as long as it's needed before consumers can cut it with a pair of scissors. Then, the loose ends can be fed into … Read more
Bill Gates and other corporate figures say America's current energy strategy is hurting the economy, the environment, and national security and is asking the government to devote more money to fuel alternative energy.
The group, dubbed the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), released a detailed report on Thursday highlighting the problem and offering its own recommendations (PDF). Members of the group were due to meet with President Obama in the White House to discuss their concerns and possible remedies.
The group sees the energy challenge as more serious and much worse than most people realize, predicting a burden that will become more costly unless the U.S. can change its current energy policies.
In its findings, the group pointed out that the nation spends $80 billion a year on military research and $30 billion a year on health and medical R&D, but only around $5 billion each year on new energy R&D. With such a small amount of the national budget devoted toward energy research, the group believes the U.S. lags behind other countries in spending on alternative energy.… Read more
IBM has just released its fourth annual survey based on 1500 face-to-face interviews with global CEOs. Past studies have been rich sources of understanding the trends that company leaders are seeing shaping their businesses. The opening statement by IBM's own CEO, Samuel J. Palmisano, sets the stage for this year's study:
"[E]vents, threats and opportunities aren’t just coming at us faster or with less predictability; they are converging and influencing each other to create entirely unique situations. These firsts-of-their-kind developments require unprecedented degrees of creativity — which has become a more important leadership quality than attributes … Read more
Specifically, I listened to the 802 Diamond speaker that sells for $15,000 a pair. The speaker has a big and beautiful, carefully honed design. The 159-pound speaker stands 44-inches high by 14.5-inches wide by 22-inches deep. It has a 1-inch synthetic diamond dome tweeter, 6-inch woven Kevlar midrange driver, and two 8-inch Rohacell woofers. Rohacell is a super lightweight, yet highly rigid material that is ideal for woofers that need to move a lot of air without flexing.
The 6-inch midrange driver is housed in a teardrop shaped "head" that is crafted from inert Marlan composite material, a synthetic, mineral-filled resin. This granite-hard enclosure is sprayed with seven coats of hand-polished black lacquer. The head's internal cavity--a sphere closely coupled to a short tube--absorbs most of the sound from the back of the driver. On the outside, the teardrop shape smoothly disperses the sound around the speaker, creating a solid, three-dimensional stereo image.
The diamond tweeter is fitted to a tapering tube that is filled with absorbent wadding to control the energy that radiates off the tweeter's backside. The diamond tweeter doesn't look like a diamond at all, it's a dull gray dome, so it wasn't just used for show. B&W favored aluminum tweeters for its top models for years, but now uses diamond domes because of their higher stiffness-to-density ratio. According to B&W, diamond gets closest to the sound of a hypothetically perfect tweeter.
I've heard my share of high-end speakers, but the thing that struck me first about the 802 Diamond's sound was its purity. It's the second-generation diamond model, the original version was the 802 D--the company changes it models every five to seven years. B&W offers a complete range of 800 Diamond Series speakers for hi-fi and home theater systems. … Read more
The living dead never looked so good.
For several years now Microsoft has been written off by friends and foes alike as a shuffling shadow of its former self, doomed to feed off the profits of past successes while it goes gentle into the good night of irrelevance. And yet Microsoft's profits remain enviable and its outlook far from bleak.
It may be too soon to engrave Microsoft's headstone as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recently did.
Microsoft, after all, has a history of making dramatic changes in direction, changes that have saved it more than once from software … Read more
In a bid to stimulate future jobs and industries, the U.S. Department of Commerce is offering a million dollar incentive for people who can come up with the best ideas to commercialize technology.
Announced on Monday, the new i6 Challenge will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with the most creative ideas on how to make different innovative technologies profitable in their regions. Washington's goal is to ensure that the right technologies make the leap from the test lab to the marketplace to help the U.S. economy stay alive and competitive.
Run … Read more
For years, Microsoft set the agenda for anything and everything related to personal computers. Linux tried, and largely failed, to make a dent in the Windows hegemony. Back then even Apple couldn't get past the infallible "But it's not like Windows!" argument.
In recent years Apple has created its own reality distortion field, similar to the one created by Microsoft, by virtue of a steady stream of winning, innovative products.
Sure, people still say "But it's not like Windows," but now they mean that as a reason to use Apple products, rather than … Read more
Cory Doctorow believes the iPad signals an end to innovation. It doesn't. Apple's iPad actually points to a beginning of innovation in personal computing.
Where Doctorow and I likely agree, however, is that such innovation won't come within the confines of Apple's beautiful iPad device, but rather at its margins.
I believe--really believe--in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can't open it, you don't own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who … Read more
Good companies create new technology. Great companies integrate existing technology.
At least, that's how innovation happens today. Apple gets a lot of credit for its highly polished products, and rightly so. It may be, however, that Apple is simply the best at putting a pretty face on tightly integrated home-grown and open-source projects like FreeBSD (underpinning Mac OS X), Lucene (powering search on iTunes), and more.
That's innovation in the vendor community, but, as Gartner analyst Mark McDonald points out, it applies equally well for enterprise IT:
Does technology change the value of the IT professional?
Yes, as … Read more