Editorial: Why 2011 Is Still Not Another 1984
Yesterday’s “Motorola – Empower People” Superbowl commercial left me with one of those sarcastic smiles you only get when you feel somebody is exaggerating reality. The commercial was all about the Motorola Xoom in comparison to an iPad world. Surely we don’t cover tablets at pocketnow.com, but I’d like to talk about the main idea behind the ad. It’s something current Apple competitors still haven’t gotten right, and it’s called releasing true breakthrough products. Have a look at the Ad before we continue:
You’ll ask why 1984 was such an important comparison year. Have a look at the Apple Superbowl ad where they introduce Macintosh:
As history shows, before the Mac all people knew in a computer were commands. There wasn’t anything close to a Graphics User Interface and the breakthrough with the Mac was making a computer that was consumer friendly. Before the iPod, all you could carry was a Diskman, a gigantic Mp3 player that would barely hold a couple of songs, or probably still a cassette Walkman. The iPod was the first device to ever allow you to store as many as 1,000 songs on one device and make it fit your pocket. Before the iPhone, the existing touch user interface was anything but natural. Learn Graffiti, pull a stylus, and search for the scroll bars because Kinetic scrolling was still inexistent. Mobile browsing was anything but nice, and phones were big and bulky. Before the iPad, tablet PC’s were a niche product that never took off, were expensive and huge!
What disappoints me about Motorola’s commercial is having them assume they’re offering another breakthrough product. Surely the Droid line of smartphones was cool, and I have no doubt the Xoom will also be, but can you really compare this product to any true breakthrough? In what way does it empower people more than they already are? In what way has Motorola changed the way we use a Smartphone, or a tablet for the sake of this case? In what way has any manufacturer changed the way we interact with our devices lately after Apple’s release of the iPhone?
Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with me applauding Apple. My disappointment has to do with seeing all of Apple’s competitors playing catch up, and not really focusing on bringing new and innovating things to the table. Android may be open (..right), it may be cool, but is it a huge departure from iOS after it was released? Windows Phone 7 may be even cooler with its Tiled UI, but did it change the game by becoming the same closed ecosystem Apple invented and they made fun about while Windows Mobile was king? I’d call WebOS the most innovative OS of them all, but we all know why it has flopped, and the story goes on…
I’d love to see R&D departments all over get this memo. We want break through products people! For once we’d wish Motorola was the same company it was 30 years ago when they invented the cellphone! We’d love to see Microsoft back in those days where Windows called the shots, and Windows Mobile was an example of how a complete mobile experience should be. We miss the old Palm, and how they slapped Apple’s Newton off the face of the planet with their truly portable PDAs. We wish RIM would stop slapping lipstick on their old OS and focusing on making life connected with some style for a change.
A sad story for manufacturers is that the market has changed. IT doesn’t call the shots anymore, we do! By we, I mean us consumers. Yeah, we the consumers who were neglected for so long by these same manufacturers who are now trying to compete against the only company that did care about us (sort of…). It’s such an irony that a company that sells products that are more expensive, have little or no variations, are limited to only certain carriers, and can barely be customized is beating such a large list of competitors. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t more options, at a cheaper price appeal better with consumers? My thoughts are that it should if those products were better, but they clearly aren’t. Cheap prices usually equal cheap quality, and consumers have grown to become more aware of what’s good and what’s not worth being considered an investment. Reality has done a good job in showing that less can sometimes equal to more. What good is having more, if the added features don’t work right!
So yeah, my thoughts are that the only way I’d consider it fair to feel 2011 resemble what we all enjoyed after 1984, would be when “others” focus on really changing the name of the game. People were already empowered 25 years ago, so the strategy must be different. There must be something they can bring to the table that’s revolutionary. I’m not talking about 4G, or 5G whenever it begins existing. New features aren’t game changers. Changes in the way we interact with our phone are. Whether it is true voice control, the correct adoption of 3D, facial recognition or even hovering commands, the changes must be revolutionary and not just evolutionary. For consumers it’ll all be about the experience, and not the device itself. Manufacturers have to stop worrying about selling phones, and focus on offering a true improvement in user experience if they ever plan to dominate the consumer market just as Apple has.