Particle Debris (week ending 12/4) Corporate Confusion and The Big iPhone Lie

On Monday, there was a story at ZDNet that sent reverberations through the blogosphere. Namely, that "The iPhone's next carrier is likely T-Mobile, not Verizon." Now, writers who follow Apple have speculated on that for a long time. However, when an analyst like Doug Reid with Thomas Weisel says it, traders and investors perk up. Mr. Reid's analysis, detailed in the article linked above, seemed compelling and some have suggested that it was responsible for a big drop in Apple's stock (AAPL) on Tuesday. The reason? If Apple partners with T-Mobile instead of Verizon, Apple won't sell nearly as many iPhones. But it's all just speculation. One report like that can cost investors a lot of money. Such is the state of the market these days.

Also on Monday, I laughed out loud when I read about a Nokia strategist talk about how they've focused too much on the technology of their smartphones instead of ease of use. Also mentioned was the glacial response to the Apple iPhone, borne of a bit of overconfidence. Anssi Vanjoki, chief strategist and number two in the [Nokia] group, said, according to the German publication, Handelsblatt, [translated here into English] "But I am very confident that we now know what we must do, namely to build cell phones that are easy to use and look good."

Maybe they'll look too good, then Verizon will make fun of how feminine they are. (More on that below.) It just keeps going round and round as the competitors are befuddled by the iPhone.

On Tuesday, I saw a fabulous compendium of all the criticism of the iPhone back in 2006 & 2007: "The great iPhone death watch." The comments are hilarious and reinforce the idea that the age of hyped marketing is over. Analysts can pontificate and ad agencies can come up with cute, deceptive ads, but on the Internet, people will tell people about their experiences. When customers tap into that Borg mind, the game's over for companies that make crap.

Do you like being hunted? Does it make you feel good to be a target. Do you like being victimized by deceptive advertising. Are you a market to be "penetrated?" Michael Martine (@remarkablogger) has written a thoughtful article on how a subtle change in corporate language can have a powerful impact on customers. For example, selling should not be coercion. It's education and trust. The money transaction is merely the side effect of the trust. Put in an Apple perspective, that's one reason why the Apple retail stores are jammed this holiday season. Highly recommended reading.

If you're familiar with Rupert Murdoch, the publisher, you may have been reading about his frustrations with enforcing the old business models of newspapers in the Internet age. He's even talked about having Google de-list all references to his empire's publications so people will be forced to cough up money for his products. It was interesting, then, that the Wall Street Journal, owned by Mr. Murdoch, invited Google CEO Eric Schmidt to explain his side of the argument. Thank goodness we don't need a WSJ subscription to read it.

In my opinion, the Apple iTablet is technically ready to go. What's holding it up is the delay while newspapers struggle with figuring out their business model -- if they can. Maybe it's just better to focus on the journalism and leave distribution to a company who knows how to deliver, like Apple. The result is loss of control, but greater revenues. I hope Mr. Murdoch and others figure out the trade-off before they go out of business completely.

Rolling around to Friday, I noted a humorous article at the Edible Apple about how Steve Ballmer, having copied everything else from Apple, is now seeking to change his name to, wait for it... Steve Jobs. It's hilarious and loaded with cogent sarcasm and wit.

I have always believed that the majority of iPhone users are male. Some research backs that up. In the summer of 2008, 67 percent of U.S. iPhone users were male, and I doubt that the number has changed much. Even so, if Verizon can get away with the Big Lie that iPhones appeal mostly to feminine (or effeminate) users, then the door is open to a typical advertising technique: Assume a fact not in evidence, then attack the pseudo-fact with claims about your own product. It's textbook, and here's how it works:


Most of you know that I wrote extensively for in the late 1990s before going to work for Apple in 2000. I have many good friends there, including the venerable Charles Moore. Each Christmas, Mr. Moore collects a boatload of material, his Festive Mac series, about software for the Mac (and now iPhone), such as Christmas-themed calendars, screen savers and even apps that make it snow right on your Mac OS X desktop. He's just getting started, but here are the links to date for Advent Calendars and Screen Savers. These apps are fun and help put some of the spirit of Christmas right on your Mac's display.

Technical Word of the Week

This holiday season, many of us will be buying our favorite movies to watch or give as a gift. Whether it's DVD, Blu-ray or iTunes, here's a term the guys will need to know.

Chick-flicky. (adj.) Referring to a movie as being over the top as a chick flick. Usage: "That movie is too chick-flicky for me." With thanks to M. Behl in New Mexico.