Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marketing 101

This is my blog and I'll post what I like.  And right now I am obsessed with marketing and smartphones, so this is a rambling smartphone post.

First I like to think that Microsoft has the worst marketing department since General Motors.  I mean what was the Jerry Seinfeld commercial supposed to sell?  It was funny but I didn't get it at all.

So Microsoft released their Windows phone 7 update, called Mango.  I want to start with this as an example of terrible marketing.  The new Windows mobile OS was a huge departure from the old and terrible Windows Mobile OS.  They rethought the mobile platform and came up with a concept of making the GUI like a subway map.  The philosophy led them to a color scheme of solid primary colors and the Metro typeface.  So why didn't they call it Windows Metro?  It makes sense.  It is something that identifies the brand and what it is trying to accomplish.  Calling it Windows Phone 7 leads the average consumer to think it is more of the same old crap rather than something new and different.  Fail.

Mango.  The first thing that mangos spring to mind is that Saturday Night Live skit.  The second is that naming each OS iteration after a fruit is simply copying Google's plan of naming each OS iteration after a confectionery treat.  Mango and guava.  Honeycomb and gingerbread.  I get it.  Second fiddle to Google.  Poor man's Android.  That's what this marketing tells me.

I'm not married to Apple, Lord knows I hate iTunes.  Seriously, they took away the delete key?  I have to click edit -> delete now?  FUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK!!

Still Apple has some of the best marketing around.  Just look at the iPhone marketing.  It is brilliant in its simplicity.  A close up of the actual phone with a hand model demonstrating the phone's ease of use.  In contrast Microsoft tried to market 7 by showing people spending too much time looking at their screens.  How does Microsoft's phone do better?  I don't know because the commercial didn't show me.  Just showed a bunch of iPhone losers looking at their screens instead of talking to girls.  Doesn't exactly sell me on the hub crap.

When I survey the smartphone market I think about what phone I'll buy next.  I love my 3GS and see no reason to upgrade anytime soon.  It still does all the things I want and none of the new phones, including the iPhone 4, do things significantly better.  But I know that one day it will break and it will be time for an upgrade.  A friend has an Android and I like the widget thing.  Very useful.  Maybe the new iOS 5 will match the widgets.  The Mango has live updates on their icons, seemingly similar to widgets.  Which one looks the best?  Not RIM.  Buhzing!

Would I buy a Windows Metro phone?  Maybe.  I think marketing plays a big role right now, since other smartphones have finally caught up with the iPhone.  I've researched this probably more carefully than most consumers, and there is a lot to like about Metro.  The problem is that they don't do a very good job at showing people what there is to like about Metro.  Androids have marketed well by showing that they have better hardware than the iPhone but comparable features from the OS.  In some ways slightly better, for example cordless syncing.  So while the Android ecosystem is incredibly diverse in terms of OS versions and hardware iterations, consumers at least know something about the brand.  And this brings us back to marketing 101.

Will Windows Metro flourish or flounder?  I can't tell right now.  There is a lot to like about the OS, but a few problems, and a lot of hardware question marks.  But what I can tell is that the marketing for this product is fairly poor and this will hurt sales.  That will limit developer participation, which in turn reinforces poor sales.  My own humble policy recommendation is to rename it Metro, and work closely with the handset manufacturers to market and brand the Metro phone ecosystem as its own thing, and then advertise all the ways that Metro gives you the best combination of hardware and user experience.  This isn't a profound insight, this is Marketing 101.

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