In this part, I’ll take a look at whether the industry can get out of the mess it’s in.
Before looking forward, let’s take a look back at some ads from a couple of decades ago.
Click each image to enlarge.
Notice something about these ads? They all look rather similar. Pictures of (similar looking) computers and lots of text! Check out those headlines. “A new way of personal-professional computation”???? What’s that all about? Is it a personal computer or a professional compute? Well it’s both (and neither)! Ouch.
And that’s one fine looking set of muttonchops on Issac Asimov in the Radio Shack ad!
Even Apple was not immune to kind of advertising. Here’s the original Macintosh print ad. A double-page spread! Click images to enlarge.
Cool. Did you catch the specs on the Mac? 64K ROM, 128K RAM, 32bit MC68000 processor, and even a clock/calendar chip!
Comparing these ads to advertising today, it’s clear that things have changed for the better in 25 years. Apple certainly leads most other technology companies in their sophistication, but then, they’ve been at it much longer than most other technology companies!
As every industry matures, so does the audience for it’s products. Forty or fifty years ago, a lot of advertising for cars talked about engine horsepower, size (in cubic inches), acceleration, top speed etc. The only metrics that are frequently mentioned today are mileage or fuel consumption (and sometimes number of cup holders!). But that’s because those are important to us.
In personal technology, few consumers, truly care about the processor in their device. Quick, what kind of of CPU does you iPod have? What about a Blackberry? What about an iPhone? The Palm Pre? The Motorola Razr? The MacBook Air?
If you know any or (even worse) all of the CPUs in those device, you’re a serious geek. 🙂
But for the vast, vast majority of people, it doesn’t really matter one bit. Those days are behind us. We have matured and so has the industry. Of course, there are still many companies that talk in “speeds and feeds” or mumbo-jumbo, but in a maturing industry, they pay a price. The segment of the market that listens to the “tech-speak” is shrinking steadily.
The days of the big desktop computer will be gone. We will carry, wear and perhaps even embed devices within our bodies.
A second full generation of people will have reached adulthood living in an Web-enabled world. The word “offline” will be an anachronism. Augmented reality will be our reality.
In a world like that, how will people relate to technology? How will companies need to communicate with the market about their products?
The current “craze” known as social-media will be old news, and will just be part of the communication process vendors have with their customers. Consumers, particularly younger ones, will likely give up a lot of what is now considered “personal” information to companies, in exchange for individualized products and services.
In the context of the digital world, “Give me what I want, when I want and how I want” will simply be a common state of affairs.
Remember the phrase “personal computer”? That of course was shortened to PC, which is still used today, but few people think about the “personal” part explicitly anymore. Messaging and advertising will become “personal” in the future as well.
And of course there will be those that do it well, and those that do not.
So getting back to the original question – Can we get out of this mess? – the answer is yes, but it will take time. But for those of us who are at the forefront of this change, let’s see if we can’t make that change happen just a little bit faster and easier and ensure we don’t get emails that promise to help do things like “Design a Monetization Strategy to Enhance Strategic Goals while Protecting Core Assets” any more.