Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry (Part 5- Apple’s Future)

This is Part 5, the Final Part of the Series “Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry.”

To read the other four parts in this series:

Part 1 (Google)

Part 2 (Samsung)

Part 3 (Amazon)

Part 4 (Other Competitors and Challenges)

Having gone through the challenges that Apple is facing from equally capable companies such as Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Pebble on several fronts, including the smartphone, tablet, and smartwatch categories, what does the future hold for Apple?

As was mentioned earlier in this series, expecting Apple to widen the gap to where they were far ahead of their competitors is unrealistic; those days are gone.  For Apple fans and investors, one must accept this fact: the rest of the industry has caught up, and in some ways, the rest of the industry is outdoing Apple in the tech industry, especially in terms of innovation.

Does this mean that Apple is finished in terms of being a profitable company in the tech sector?  No; Apple just needs to raise its game when it comes to innovation, both in the tech industry and beyond.  The good news is that there are rumors of them doing just that.

There are more rumors by the day that Apple is looking to connect its impending iWatch to the health industry.  As this 9to5Mac article points out, specifically, it’s the mobile healthcare industry that Apple is targeting.  That would certainly explain why Apple has taken a long time to release its iWatch, and it is an industry that the other main tech companies have not targeted.  That, alone, should appease Apple fans and investors, as this could be the impetus Apple needs to get some of its value back closer to its all-time high of $700+ (currently under $550 as of the time of this blog post).

Reportedly, the new iOS 8 operating system will include an application called “Healthbook” that will enable the iWatch to monitor one’s fitness (weight lost, calories burned, steps taken, etc.) and one’s health (heart rate, blood pressure, hydration levels, etc.).

While that is exciting, there are still some hurdles to take care of.  As this CiteWorld article points out, Apple is entering a different playing field that is more tightly regulated in virtually every country than either the music or entertainment industry.  Thus, Apple will not be able to easily and quickly differentiate themselves from other competitors in the field as they did for a long time in the tech field.

In addition, Apple likely would have to gain the proper clearance from such regulatory organizations as the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services in order to be able to market the iWatch as a medical device.  Note that this is just at the U.S. Federal level; many states and some cities have their own regulatory rules when it comes to health devices.  This doesn’t even take into account the European Union and other regulatory bodies in the countries of Europe and Asia.

Thus, the iWatch’s ability to penetrate the health industry is far from a done deal, and any roadblock could seriously hinder or even derail the full plans for the iWatch to disrupt the health industry and give Apple some much needed momentum for the company.

Apple introduced iRadio in June 2013 after years of rumors that Apple was going to get into the online radio market.  Many were predicting that Pandora, whom many considered to be the online radio leader, would suffer irreparable damage as a result, possibly leading to its collapse.

However, despite iRadio being in existence for over six months now, Pandora, as well as Spotify, are still kicking out the tunes.  In fact, Google also got into the act with its All Access Streaming Music service.  While iRadio added a nice feature to iOS7, it really didn’t distinguish itself from the other services, and in fact lacked features that Google All Access and Spotify provide – the ability to stream virtually any song any time the user wishes.  Surprisingly, iRadio is cheaper than Pandora (the most similar service to iRadio) – $24.99/year versus $36/year.  Of course, there are free versions in both, supported by ads.

This is another example of where Apple took a long time to develop a product, finally deliver it, but not distinguish itself from its competitors.  When it comes to Internet radio, it’s likely that most still think of Pandora or Spotify before Apple or Google (I know I do – and I use my iPad every day, but have only had iRadio on two times total in the last few months), showing the importance of being a first or early mover in the market.

At one time, most stock analysts and fans thought that Apple was the model company when it comes to tech, but that is no longer the case.

Ben Reitzes, analyst at Barclays, just downgraded Apple to “equal weight” from “overweight.”  That’s significant because, he has had Apple as “overweight” for 10 YEARS. Yes, 10 YEARS! As he states in this Benzinga article, he believes that iPhones will become more costly to make due to such new features as Sapphire glass, curved glass, and new batteries.  This will lessen Apple’s margins on its flagship smartphone product, thus leading to less profitability.  Reitzes doesn’t believe that AppleTVs or smartwatches will help to raise Apple’s valuation either.

This type of judgment on Apple is something that has not been seen in quite some time.  Even when Apple’s stock was dropping like a rock in 2013, most analysts brushed it off and thought that Apple would immediately come back in terms of value.  I know some analysts were even predicting that Apple would rise to $800, even $1000+ during 2014.

While that may still be possible, current evidence would suggest otherwise, as Apple is currently trading above $520, down about $1 (2.2%) on the day as of the time this post is written (about 12:15 PM ET on Monday, February 24, 2014).  While it has gained from the $385.10, the low it hit on April 19, 2013, it’s also a good margin away from the recent high of $575.14 on December 5, 2013, never mind the fact that Apple hasn’t been above $600 for over a year now.

Thus, more people are starting to realize that Apple is facing a much tougher tech environment, and Apple has been slow to adapt.  Every time Apple has more negative news about it or a positive development about a competitor surfaces, it does more damage to Apple than in the past.

Add in the fact that Apple has admitted that it has a “bug” that fails to encrypt sensitive data on iOS and Macs, and this just further intensifies the black cloud hanging over Apple.  This type of bug sounds more typical of Microsoft and Windows, yet the former tech leader is experiencing such a “bug” and is still working to resolve it on Macs (they have issued an iOS patch for iPhones and iPads).  Worse than that, as this Reuters article reveals, this bug has been present for months, but has only been identified very recently.  Thus, many Mac users may have inadvertently exposed their sensitive data on public WiFi without even knowing it until now.

This is another reason why Apple is being looked down upon, especially amongst the younger generation; Apple is not the most transparent company in terms of its operation, a quality that younger generations look more for than older generations do.  That is one problem Apple is facing.

Another problem Apple is facing is one that I mentioned earlier in this series: More and more people are looking at paying less for their technology.  This is likely to hold true in China, which is why most don’t think Apple will ever lead in market share there (they were up 1% in Q4 2013, a total of 7% market share, good for fifth place, 12% behind market leader Samsung – source).

Whereas at one time people thought that Apple was THE only choice in getting quality tech, even at higher prices, the competition has shown that that is no longer the case.  Add in the fact that the competition’s tech is cheaper, and it’s not surprising that other companies have more market share in places such as China, Android dominates the world (and leads in the U.S.), and times don’t look that bright for Apple right now.

So, what can Apple do about this downtrend?

Two things:

1. They need to be more adaptive to the competition – they can’t take as long in coming out with new products.  I pointed out both the delays in producing the iRadio and in the smartwatch.  Just as the iRadio didn’t do a whole lot for Apple or that much against its competition, I don’t expect the smartwatch to do much either, even if it is targeted more toward the health sector.  As mentioned earlier in this post, Apple has many governmental hurdles and restrictions to deal with before the smartwatch can even become a medical device reality, and that’s across many government levels.

2. Apple also must be more innovative in its product line.  While the health industry is one that its competitors aren’t in (yet), the delays aren’t helping Apple’s cause to be more innovative in the health industry.  As for its other products, the iRadio wasn’t that innovative, as noted above, and new models of the iPhone and iPad aren’t innovative enough anymore to outdo or even match its competitors.

Further proof that Apple has to pick up its “tech” game to make a comeback: I just seen in the latest Best Buy weekly flyer that Samsung has released its new, larger tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note PRO 12.2.  Apple has plans to release a 13″ iPad, but that won’t be until later this year or 2015, again leading to them being behind the ball when it comes to innovation.  Apple does plan to target more of the enterprise industry than the main consumer industry, but the innovation behind such an idea has again been taken away from Apple thanks to Samsung coming out with such a product first.

In essence, Apple must improve the innovation in its product lines and its ability to get them to the market quickly (preferably first).  It is no longer good enough for them to just release a product and have everyone look upon Apple positively; it must now react to competition that wasn’t really present even a few years ago, and certainly not five years ago.  This is the only way, in my opinion, that Apple will start to gain value in the eyes of its fans and investors again.  Apple isn’t going away in the tech industry, but it’s no longer the tech leader, and it won’t be again either without it being more innovative and being more efficient in getting its technology out to the market before its competitors do.

I hope you enjoyed this series.  Feel free to post your comments below.  I will keep an eye on Apple and the tech industry in the coming months, delivering a few posts here and there.  If you have questions or would like to see an expansion of this series, looking at another specific aspect of Apple and/or the tech industry, feel free to leave a comment below.  Thanks!

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Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry – Part 4 (Other Competitors & Challenges)

This is Part 4 of the 5-Part Series, “Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry” – Other Competitors and Challenges.

To read Part 1 (Google)

To read Part 2 (Samsung)

To read Part 3 (Amazon)

As has been discussed in the three posts above, Apple is facing stiffer competition on many different technological fronts from companies such as Google, Samsung, and Amazon.  This is especially true when it comes to the smartphone and tablet market, where Apple made waves years ago with the original iPhone and iPad.

The problem is that Apple hasn’t been very innovative since that point.  Yes, they’ve updated the iPhone and iPad numerous times, some revisions with nice enhancements (such as the iPad 2), but the revisions of late have been of the “ho-hum” variety, which hasn’t impressed customers or investors.  In fact, I know more Apple fans often wait a version or two to upgrade, knowing some who are still on iPhone 4s who haven’t upgraded to the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s (or 5c).  In the past, it was quite common for Apple fans who would go grab every new version, but with the prices and the constant “rebooting” of the iPhone every year, but few notable upgrades, most Apple fans think they can wait a version or two before upgrading.  This is another notable shift in how people are viewing Apple.

Many people, including noted CNBC commentator Jim Cramer, think that Apple must be more innovative – this is because the technology field has become much more competitive and that the main rivals for Apple have caught up and even surpassed them in technology, as I’ve noted in earlier posts of this series.

Some are excited by the fact that Apple is purported to be introducing a new smartwatch this year, a type of watch that can be programmed in order to answer calls on your smartphone, hold those calls, surf the Internet, and more.  While it’s certainly different for Apple to be doing that, what some might even call “innovative,” personally, I think it will take much more than that for Apple to really regain some momentum in the tech industry.

“Why?” you ask.

Well, for starters, Apple was rumored to be releasing a smartwatch last year, but that obviously didn’t happen.  In the past, that might have been acceptable, but as I said above, the competition has become much better at matching and outdoing Apple in technology.  Samsung already released the “Galaxy Gear,” a type of smartwatch that works with their Samsung smartphones (though it’s purported to work with other Android phones as well).  Now, the “Galaxy Gear” didn’t come out to the most favorable reviews, which is why Samsung plans to release a second version of the “Galaxy Gear” in 2014.  Early indications seem to suggest that Samsung may release that second version before Apple even releases its initial smartwatch.  This certainly doesn’t help Apple’s image of being an innovator of technology when one of its main rivals will likely come out with a second version before Apple even comes out with a first.

However, the bigger problem for Apple in the growing smartwatch industry is not so much Samsung, but by a relatively new company that came out with a smartwatch that has received rave reviews: Pebble.  Pebble Technology developed this smartwatch thanks to the help of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, and began shipping the Pebble Smartwatch in January 2013, over a year ago.  This competitor is not going away anytime soon; besides the fact that most would consider it the leader in the smartwatch industry, apps are being developed for it.  In fact, it can communicate with both Apple and Android phones via many different third-party apps.

Thus, Apple (and Samsung, for that matter) has its work cut out for it.  Therefore, I don’t think releasing a smartwatch, no matter how favorable the reviews are, is really going to give the company the impetus of being the tech leader again.  Certainly, it may raise its standing a bit, could even boost the valuation of the company for a short period of time, but as for that “grand slam” that’s going to put it back out in front of the competition, that’s highly unlikely.  At best, it may put itself up there with Pebble and show that it, too, can come up with a solid smartwatch on its first try (something Samsung largely was unable to do), but as for being out in front in the smartwatch industry, that honor has to go to the rising upstart, Pebble.

Other avenues for Apple seem to have a bit more promise for the company in terms of it being considered an innovator again.  Two, in particular, come to mind: Its “iBeacon” technology, and rumors of entering the health-monitoring industry.  The latter is pretty interesting, and we’ll explore this in Part 5.  I bring up the former here because, while it is interesting in its own right, there’s one hurdle that could torpedo much of the momentum from such a technology.

The “iBeacon” technology is one of the technologies that retailers hope to use to learn more about their customer while in-store, and then use that information to provide relevant ads and offers on their mobile devices (usually smartphones) while they’re in certain areas of the store.  So, for instance, if you’re in a Target store near the clothing area, you may get a special offer for a new pair of jeans.  If you’re in a local grocery store and you’re nearing the frozen food section, you might get a special offer for Van de Kamp fish sticks, etc.  Essentially, it relies on push notifications when a person is in a specific area of a store. It runs on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart.  Certainly, this technology shows a lot of promise for retailers to provide real-time marketing offers to their customers while they are in-store.  And, to my knowledge, Apple is the first one to offer such a technology.

The problem that I think will torpedo much of the momentum from this technology was highlighted in this Mobile Marketer article from February 11.  There is an upcoming Federal Trade Commission workshop on geolocation to address such technologies as the iBeacon, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and others that can track customers while in-store in an effort to learn more about what areas of the store they visit and stay in most often and provide relevant offers based on what’s near-by to them.

The problem comes in where some privacy advocacy groups are claiming that too much information is being revealed because of this technology.  One privacy advocacy group even claims that some marketers are even tracking in-store users in order to make stocking decisions based on income and/or race.  If true, obviously, this will cause the FTC to “raise an eyebrow” and greatly hinder the information that retailers can gather from this technology, thus negating much of the benefits retailers can get from it, and torpedoing much of the benefits for Apple.

Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA certainly did not help Apple when it came to the iBeacon.  Nor did the recent revelation that Nordstrom was tracking its customers’ every movement (without their knowledge) when they used the company’s Wi-Fi in-store networks.  Nordstrom immediately stopped that practice when it was revealed, thus putting an onus on the collection of too much data.

Thus, it would seem likely that the information the iBeacon system can collect will be limited in scope.  While it may still help retailers to some extent, the chances of that information being regulated is likely, and this will limit how much positive benefit Apple will receive from such a technology.  Whereas the iBeacon could have been a saving grace for Apple in terms of it regaining much of its former “tech leader” status, the fact that the technology will likely be limited and regulated due to privacy concerns and even racial/ethnic issues, the iBeacon technology will likely only benefit Apple slightly in terms of innovation and ingenuity.

So, again, Apple’s best efforts will likely not provide the “grand slam” it really needs to get back out in front of its competitors in the tech industry.  Can Apple even get back out in front of them?  And, if they can, what would do it?  These questions we will explore in the fifth and final part of this series, “Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry.”  That post will appear early next week – keep an eye out for it.

Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry (Part 3 – Amazon)

This is Part 3 of the continuing series, “Why Apple Has Gotten Rotten In The Tech Industry.”

To read Part 1 (Google)

To read Part 2 (Samsung)

Apple has gotten rotten (or “stale,” if you prefer) in the tech industry from many competitors who have not only been able to match Apple’s ingenuity, but overtake them in many areas.  We discussed how Google and Samsung have been doing so in the areas of smartphones and tablets.  Well, Amazon has been doing a pretty good number on Apple as well.

As you know, Amazon is the giant online retailer that is causing a major problem for many retailers the world over; even behemoths like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have had to make adjustments to their sales processes and develop their online selling systems more in order to try to hold off Amazon from taking more of their market share.   Even online food retailers like FreshDirect are having to make adjustments in the anticipation that AmazonFresh is preparing to expand to other areas of the nation (only in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco at the time of this post).

Suffice it to say, Amazon is branching out into other areas, more so than Apple has been doing of late (more on that in parts 4 and 5).  Against Apple, Amazon has also made inroads with its popular Kindle tablets.  In fact, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) has made Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite tablet the official reader, and the two organizations are working together to help America’s children read more often to boost reading comprehension and proficiency.

This is significant because, at one time, it was only Apple that was getting the accolades and the contracts with organizations for its iPads, but that is no longer the case.  Additionally, Amazon has solidified its position as being the e-reader of choice with its Kindle tablets, not the iPad.  In addition, when most think of digital publishing, they think of Amazon’s Kindle Store, not Apple’s iBookstore, another important victory for Amazon in blocking Apple’s dominance in the tech industry.

Now, some might argue that Apple’s iPad wasn’t really made to be an e-reader (even though many do use it for that very purpose, and happily so), but to be a productive entertainment and work tablet.

Fair point, but consider that the latest version of the iPad, the iPad Air, was highly touted when it was released on November 1, 2013.  There was much fanfare (as there often is with Apple products), and there was much publicity and commercials about it when it first came out.  However, you may have noticed that those commercials didn’t last too long.  Why is that?

One main reason is because Amazon effectively countered that publicity with an effective counter-ad of their own.  It involved their Kindle HDX 8.9 tablet, which itself boasted impressive specs (including having the fastest processor – 2.2 GHz – of any tablet at the time of its release on September 25, 2013, over a month earlier than the iPad Air, powered by a SnapDragon 800 quad-core processor).

The main way that Amazon countered Apple’s publicity about the iPad Air and largely rendered it mute was by turning Apple’s own features against it, a clever use of “counter marketing.”  Where Apple proclaimed the iPad Air to be lighter than the previous generation, the iPad 4, yet more powerful, Amazon countered by saying that the Kindle Fire HDX was 20% lighter than the iPad Air.  When Apple proclaimed that the iPad Air would not cost anything more than the iPad 4 did, Amazon countered by stating that the equivalent Fire HDX would cost $120 less than the iPad Air: $379 vs. $499. (In fact, at the time of this post, Amazon was discounting the Fire HDX by $40, so it’s actually $339 vs. $499, a $160 difference).

As you can see by the link to the Apple Store, they remark about how incredibly light it is and how incredibly powerful it is, yet Amazon effectively countered these points by directly putting its tablet up against the vaunted iPad Air.  In many respects, the Fire HDX held its own or even beat the iPad Air, even though the Air came out about five weeks AFTER the Fire HDX did.

Two other points where Amazon effectively countered Apple’s iPad Air:

1. Apple proclaimed with the Air that it got 10 hours of battery time, same as the iPad 4, even though the Air is more powerful than the iPad 4.  Yet, Amazon countered this point by stating that the Fire HDX 8.9 could get 11 hours of surfing time and other activities, one full hour more than the iPad Air.  Amazon also proclaimed that its Fire HDX could reach 17 hours for e-reading, as it was “smart” enough to turn off non-critical power systems, a feature that the iPad Air did not have.

2. Apple touted that its Air had the Retina display; yet, Amazon countered that its Kindle Fire HDX actually got more pixels than the Air did.  Thus, Apple’s Retina display technology did not remain on top for too long, as Amazon was able to match and outdo it.  This was something that hasn’t happened to Apple in the past (its technology being outdone), but it has here.

Thus, I haven’t seen too many Apple commercials about the iPad Air itself after the first week or two; I have seen many Amazon commercials where it emphasizes the Fire HDX being lighter than the iPad Air and being $120 less than the iPad Air.  Essentially, Amazon took the air right out of Apple’s flagship tablet.

It was a similar story with the iPad Mini with Retina display.  In fact, I didn’t see much direct advertising promotion with the iPad Mini Retina display at all.  This is why Amazon really didn’t promote the Kindle Fire HDX 7″, even though it costs much less than the iPad Mini Retina.  In fact, the Fire HDX 7″ costs 50% less than the equivalent iPad Mini Retina ($199 vs. $399).  Again, Amazon outdid Apple in terms of the display, an area that Apple dominated in for a while.

Even in the product lines, Amazon has outdone Apple when it comes to tablets.  Consider that Apple is discontinuing the iPad 3 and 4, but continues to produce the iPad 2 as a cheaper alternative for those who don’t want to fork over $500 for the cheapest iPad Air.   (An iPad 2 costs $399 from Apple, though some retailers will only charge $299 or $399 with a $100 gift card to their establishment).  Yet, as revolutionary as the iPad 2 was when it came out, some consider it to be a bit “old in the tooth” nowadays.  It’s still a solid tablet, but can’t even match up to the specs of the previous Kindle Fire HD series that was released in 2012 (the iPad 2 was released in March 2011, versus the Kindle Fire HD released in September 2012).  The Kindle Fire HD series is harder to find than the iPad 2 (as Amazon is slowly phasing it out), but still can be at the time of this post, and it’s only about $189 for the 8.9″ equivalent version of the iPad 2.

Even if you consider the iPad Mini (1st generation without Retina), it’s $299.  Yet, Amazon re-released a newer version of the Kindle Fire HD that costs just $139, thus upping the ante in terms of specs over the iPad Mini AND charging less than half the price.

This signifies two things:

1. Amazon is outdoing Apple in many areas of the tablet marketplace, both in terms of coming out with equivalent or better tablets at a cheaper price, even using Apple’s own iPad Air features against it.

2. The tech marketplace has changed; people want powerful, easy-to-use tablets at cheaper prices, whereas at one time, Apple was really the only game in town. (We will discuss more about how this important change in the tech marketplace will make things more difficult for Apple in the future in Parts 4 and 5).

You may have noticed also how Apple added the MIMO antenna to its Wi-Fi in the iPad Air. Yet, Amazon was the first one to utilize the MIMO antenna in its tablets, including that distinctive feature in the Kindle Fire HD tablets it released in September 2012.  The MIMO antenna allows a tablet to utilize multiple channels in order to obtain faster speeds via the WiFi network it is using.  Thus, this is further proof that Apple has lost some of the innovativeness it once was known for, as it was again outflanked by a competitor in not being the first manufacturer to come out with an innovative new feature first.

One other area that Amazon innovated with its tablets that no other competitor has to this point, including Apple, is with its revolutionary “MayDay” feature.  This is where you push a button on an HDX tablet and a helpful Amazon associate will appear on your tablet screen to help you out with whatever problem you’re dealing with on your tablet, whether it’s with finding and activating a feature, conserving power, and more.  It helps that Amazon is involved in the retail sector, as they understand that having real-time help is vital to understanding and utilizing technology, especially for those not as savvy with tech.  This helps those not comfortable with tech to utilize Kindle Fire HDX tablets as well.  This is what they introduced with the “MayDay” feature.

There are reports that Apple will rush the next generation of the iPad (iPad 6), iPad Mini (3rd edition), and the new iPad Pro (between 12.9″-13.0″).  The main reason cited is because of Samsung’s new line of tablets, including a larger 12″ version, but certainly Amazon (as well as Google) have also caused Apple to have to speed things up, thus showing that Apple is feeling the heat of its competitors, showing that it has lost the advantage it once held in the tech industry.

Odds are that it can be up amongst the leaders in the future, but it will no longer be out in front.  The real question now: Can Apple match the new leaders? Google, Samsung, and Amazon all appear to be outdoing Apple in the tech industry when it comes to smartphones and tablets.  We will explore the future of Apple in the tech industry, why it’s struggling with its competitors, and how it can regain some momentum in the industry in Parts 4 and 5, both of which will be published soon.

“Apple’s Gotten Rotten In Tech” Series Will Continue This Week

I hope all of you are well!

My apologies for not continuing the “Apple’s Gotten Rotten In Tech” series last week – I had some business to attend to that couldn’t wait.  However, I have learned more interesting things about Apple just over the last week where the wait will hopefully be worth it.

To refresh your memory, here is Part 1 (Google) and Part 2 (Samsung).

In fact, I am planning on making this at least a five-part series (for now – I may revisit this topic periodically over time).

As mentioned before,

Part 3 will be how Amazon has made life harder for Apple.

Part 4 will be how Apple’s efforts have fallen short in regards to the increasing tech competition.

Part 5 will be a continuation of Part 4, since there is a lot of information to cover, including some new information I have learned just over the last week.

Tentatively, I will attempt to post Part 3 either Wednesday or Thursday of this week, Part 4 either Thursday or Friday of this week, and Part 5 Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Therefore, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for this continuing series; again, I apologize for the delay and hope the wait is worth it.

3 Reasons Why Real-Time Marketing Is Anything But A Slam Dunk (In The Milk)

As we’ve arrived at Super Bowl Sunday, there is much talk about the ads (as usual), including how there will be more ads with hashtags than with website URLs, as discussed by AdWeek.  There is also much talk about real-time marketing.  You may be wondering, “What is real-time marketing?”

Real-time marketing is marketing that is essentially done at the “right time, right place, and to the right audience.”  In essence, the marketing takes into account events that are happening at that moment, thus leading to the “real-time” moniker.  The perfect example was last year’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens and the clever ad Oreo did.

As you’ll likely recall, there was a power outage in the third quarter, putting a halt on the game for 34 minutes, though it felt like an eternity to most fans and probably the players and coaches as well.  Oreo was able to utilize that power outage to put up this clever ad, “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.”  It was real-time marketing at its finest because it took advantage of the situation where fans, players, and coaches had to stop everything because of the darkness caused by the power outage.

As everyone knew what Oreo was referring to by “in the dark,” Oreo got rave reviews for being ready and able to act.  Due to their success, many companies are looking to hit it big with real-time marketing this year.

However, that will be anything but a slam dunk in the milk (pardon the Oreo pun), even with many companies employing NFL-Draft-like “war rooms” to monitor the game for any opportunity.  There are three main reasons why it will be much harder to pull off as great a feat as Oreo did last year:

1. The event must be big enough to create that moment.

For real-time marketing to be effective, that moment has to be big enough to really create a moment that can be captured in an ad.  Obviously, having a rare power outage at one of the biggest sporting venues in the United States qualifies.  Certainly, it would seem unlikely that such an event like that would occur again.  Smaller events won’t provide the same impact, never mind the fact that people must notice these events in order for the ads to be effective.  There will likely be few opportunities for such a large event to take place that people actually notice.

2. The event must last long enough to create that moment.

Another factor in Oreo’s success was the fact that the power outage lasted 34 minutes and really put a halt to the game, which viewers clearly noticed.  That gave Oreo enough time to react and the stage for people to notice the ad.  This is another reason why it will be much harder for companies to have as successful real-time marketing as Oreo did last year.  There will likely be few opportunities that last long enough to have enough impact to make an ad for.

3. Virtually, every company is trying to capture the moment.

With Oreo’s success last year, now, every company is trying to duplicate that success.  As a result, virtually every company is employing their employees, hiring ad agencies, and even hiring celebrities to watch the game and tweet during it.  Thus, it will be quite difficult for any one real-time marketing ad to have the power that Oreo did last year because, there will likely be few opportunities for such an ad to take place, and it’s quite possible that more than one company will target the same moment, thus limiting the amount of impact that one company will get from that moment.

This doesn’t mean that companies can’t benefit from real-time marketing opportunities during the Super Bowl and other big-time events (such as the Sochi Olympics that begin later this week), but they shouldn’t expect the same impact that Oreo got last year.  Oreo was the trendsetter, and in some ways, made it look easy.  Now, however, everyone is involved, which means that real-time marketing for the Super Bowl and other big-time events will be anything but a slam dunk (in the milk).