Monday, December 24, 2012

Ken Segall succinctly articulates my thoughts on the Surface ad campaign


Ken Segall, over on his blog wrote a piece on the Microsoft Surface ad campaign that captures both my initial and now reaffirmed reaction to the campaign. In my opinion, the tactile "Click" sound is an anachronism in this age of touch surfaces and keyboards. When was the last time you "Clicked in" to anything? Even car doors, especially those of the luxury brands, are doing away with the click sound. Why not showcase the key differentiating features of the device? To quote Ken,
Assuming that any or all of these features are enough to do battle with the titans of tablets (iPad and Android), you might expect to see mention of them in Surface advertising.

Not really.

Instead, Microsoft has opted for the gimmick.It seems that Surface makes an audible click when you attach the keyboard/cover to the tablet. And along the way, someone decided that the click would make a nice “hook” for the campaign. That led to a launch commercial based entirely on the click.
Puneet, my partner in crime, liked the commercial because it had a catchy soundtrack and piqued her curiosity sufficiently for her to want to try one out at one of the many Microsoft stores. Sorry, I couldn't resist that bit of sarcasm. We live in New Jersey, known by many as the Mall capital of the World. Yes, even Minneapolis does not have as many malls or mall-rats as New Jersey does. In the great Bergen County of NJ that boasts 6 malls, there is only one Microsoft pop-up store. In contrast, there are about 3 Apple stores around these parts. Microsoft's retail unit does not recognize the extreme buying power of this county where most retail purchases are in cash. I have seen customers buy a new MacBook Pro in cold, hard cash. Only in Bergen County!

Back to the Microsoft campaign then. Maybe there are two (2) classes of viewers then. The kind that have flipped the bit on Microsoft and look at all of its advertising with a toxic eye. The other kind that see merit in their advertising. Ken and I are clearly in the first camp. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the second camp relies on the reviews and the perspectives that folks in the first camp tend to espouse. This my friends is the reason why no one is buying the Microsoft Surface despite its potential merits and "appealing" advertising campaign.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cute iPad Mini Commercial idea


My fiancee and I are both surprised that Apple is no longer showcasing how human connections prosper when using their devices. They did this with great success in their earlier FaceTime ad campaign. Look no further than this one for an example of what I am referring to:



Similar to these commercials, Puneet had a great idea for a new iPad Mini commercial. The storyline goes like this:
Cue a kid (4 or 5) tugging at his dad's shirt. His dad is seemingly doing something important. The focus shifts to the dad's iPad and, lo and behold, his dad is playing a video game. The tugging continues unabated - the kid wants his dad to spend time with him...

The dad reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out an iPad Mini, and hands it over to his son. The son intuitively launches the game and the two play the same game in multi-player mode on their individual devices.
Now that's what I call a holiday commercial! Apple, are you listening?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Perception is reality


I have been involved with computers and technology in some form or the other since 6th grade; now that's a long enough time for me to see trends, spot inconsistencies, and call bullshit when I see it. I have decided against calling people out in the future, starting now. Why you ask - because it hurts!

Very recently, I had an experience that made me rethink the oft-bandied concept of "perception is reality". At first I didn't believe this to be true. Then I joined Microsoft and was introduced to the notion of "stack ranks". Someone then told me about "glory coders" and "table thumpers". Slowly, but surely, I began to grasp both the importance and the pitfalls of playing the perception game. It was around then that I realized that unlike most people, I have always played catch up in the perception department.

My childhood was spent trying to figure out my place in the World. Though my upbringing was simple, my environs were quite the opposite. Bombay can be a difficult place, high school can be rough, and many a wound is inflicted on you when you cannot fend off the attack. You cannot defend yourself because you don't see the attack coming or have the faculty to ascertain the damage. Let me not belabor this point; each of us carries wounds from that time in our lives. It does underscore my point though - there was a gap between perception and reality even then.

I have spent most of my adult years bridging that gap. I thought I was finally in the black vis-a-vis the reality vs. the perception equation when everything came crashing down. I was back to where I was a few years ago - doubting myself and the very foundation on which I had built my professional life. A myriad of questions popped into my head: "Is it time to quit, again?"; "Is this the right profession for me?"; "Do I have technical depth or is it all a facade?"; I was questioning whether I knew myself at all, whether I truly was the master of my fate. As I searched for answer to these existential, and totally ego-bashing, questions, a spell of brooding ensued. My sense of self-worth was warped; days turned into nights; everything was hazy.

That's when I got a shot in the arm. Puneet and a few angels at work helped to restore some of my confidence and self-worth. The put me on the path to piecing it all back together. For that, I am in their debt. Thank you all for restoring the perception-reality equilibrium; your support means the world to me.