It's a Good Thing Apple Didn't Acquire Twitter

Social media is a powerful force, and it's generally a very good thing for everyone. But when Twitter was at its peak, there were suggestions that Apple should acquire Twitter for marketing purposes. Some reports even said Apple tried. But the truth is that companies are rediscovering the value of a clear, inspiring, one-way video story directed towards customers that sidesteps the noise of social media. Apple has known this all along.

Apple's "Not much has changed" ad.

The article that got me thinking about all this is my showcase article of the week by Myles Udland. "The #hashtag is a false idol." Amongst the many things the essay addresses is the modern futility of thinking that social media can further the goals of a corporation. Mr. Udland writes:

A brand can look "cool" or "quirky" or whatever sort of persona they want to adopt if they use social media in a deliberate fashion. But when companies or governments use hashtags to interact with their customers or whatever on Twitter, the end result will assuredly be the definition of a bumbling corporate initiative gone horribly wrong.

In conversations with folks at a number of companies over the last few years it has been made clear that a corporate social media account is more or less a nightmare. Almost all messages out of all accounts must be cleared by some sort of compliance-like entity, which renders the spontaneity of social media all but moot for major brands.

There's more.

The fluidity of communication channels used by young people changes more quickly than any company can cope with. The author goes on to tell the story of a colleague (Maya Kosoff) who spent some time with teenagers over the Thanksgiving holiday. The observations are summarized here:

  • Facebook is necessary, perhaps like AIM was for someone around my age:
  • Instagram is still popular but has major competition from VSCOcam
  • Twitter is dead in the water. (Because of the many mistakes the company has made.)

The Video Story

In contrast to the ebb and flow of social media, there remains the enduring prospect of the awe inspiring visual story that connects with the customer's emotions and hopes.

Apple has always engaged in that art form and is pouring on the coals now with its "Not much has changed" series of iPhone 6s video ads. Here's one that I like. There are more.

Apple isn't the only company that recognizes the value to combining great video with a compelling story and charming special effects to engage the viewer without distraction. Recently I've seen two other very good TV ads that do that.

The Belsomra ad has some elements that are upsetting, according to one critic, but there's no doubt that its visuals are captivating and the production values are to be admired.

We are immersed in a world of chatter and conflicting opinions, with many shouting in order to gain attention. But time and experience has shown that if a company, like Apple. has a deliverable vision that can be brilliantly instantiated in a mesmerizing video ad that speaks to the needs of the customer, the message gets though and the brand is crisply defined. For all you who aspire to a career in marketing, take note.

This goes a long way towards explaining why Apple doesn't have a major presence on Twitter and other social media. It's a Good Thing™.

Next: The tech News Debris for the Week of November 30th. Robots who just say "no."

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of November 30th


Recent research suggests that fewer consumers have purchased a new TV on this year's Black Friday than last year. Instead, the data shows they were after "smart phones, laptops, video game consoles and smart watches." I don't find this surprising at all. Last year, any 1080p HDTV one could name was a steal. This year, however, the installed base is saturated with 1080p HDTVs and, I think, a certain subset of consumers is waiting for the magic moment to spring for a 4K UHD TV. The question in my mind now is, how long is the gap, in time, from when Apple shipped the 4th generation Apple TV and an identifiable rush toward UHD TV sales? Did Apple guess right by omitting 4K capability?

Did Apple guess right settling for 1080p?

Speaking of the 4G Apple TV, I have found Siri to be uncooperative at times in my testing. There are many things you'd like Siri to do, things that seem reasonable, but Siri can't do them. (Like quit an app.) How much more frustrating will Siri be as it becomes more widely available in your car? "Ford is bringing Siri to 5 million SYNC-enabled cars." Note: I haven't had a chance to test that. I'm just pondering how advanced, sometimes limited and fragile, technology, gets pushed into all kinds of devices that "just worked" before. I mention this because of the next entry. But some background is in order.

Sure. Wait!  No.

The topic of robots keeps coming up in this column for a variety of reasons. This time, it's all about the voice commands humans will give robots and how that will play out in a variety of areas. To be extreme about it, suppose you tell Siri, in an autonomous vehicle, "Stop the car. I have an emergency." You don't want to hear, "Sorry, I don't know how to do that." Its a fanciful notion and under appreciates the tremendous amount of R&D dollars and safety thinking that go into these systems. And yet, it seems, we always end up with high-profile exceptions and dramatic cases, often caused because the customer didn't RTFM or the manufacturer cut corners.

Along these lines, I present, "Thank God someone is now teaching robots to disobey human orders." The article talks about how, given our technical evolution, Isaac Asimov's 2nd Law of Robotics may no longer be sufficient. It's a good read.

Barnes and Noble continues to falter. In this report, data is provided on the Nook hardware sales. If I read it right, US$12 million in hardware sales for the most recent quarter translates to roughly 120,000 tablet sales per quarter. It puts Apple's sales of about 10 million iPads per quarter in perspective. Why is B&N still doing hardware?

The verdict has gone back and forth on the idea of an iPhone 6c with a 4-inch display. This is the best evidence yet that it really is coming. "KGI: New 4-inch iPhone will resemble iPhone 5s, expect A9 chip and NFC for Apple Pay."

Jonny Evans at Computerworld thinks he has a good list of "10 great Apple Watch OS 2-compatible apps you’ll use." Tops on my list to test is tops on his: iTranslate.

Is Apple's MacBook Air line doomed? This essay makes the case that Apple will expand the MacBook sizes and drop the MacBook Air line. I found it compelling. What do you think? "Get ready to wave goodbye to the MacBook Air, and say hello to the additional MacBooks."

Finally, for the inner geek in you, here are all the delicious technical details of Apple's A9X SoC in the iPad Pro. There's a lot to learn here: "More on Apple's A9X SoC: 147 mm2...." Pour yourself a big cup of coffee for this one and sit back with your iPad.


Robot image via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.