AMAZON FIRE PHONE
We thought Jeff Bezos might be the new Steve Jobs. The Fire Phone proved otherwise.
Amazon throws half-baked products at the consumer, just like Google, but Google doesn’t usually charge for them. Furthermore, everybody knows mobile is not about the handset, but the service. And that in the U.S. you’re usually locked in for two years. So you want me to pay as much as I do for an iPhone just so I can give you more money via shopping?
The gimmicks didn’t work. It was not a quantum leap in quality. It’s history.
Proving that you don’t want to be in every market, that you’re better off creating new ones and owning them. That’s the story of Apple, it’s the story of Snapchat… Bezos could be too old to get the modern paradigm. People love the efficiency and honesty of Amazon, there’s no love for its products. The Kindle Paperwhite is the greatest advertisement for an iPad in existence. I know, because I own both. I love the non-backlit Kindle for reading, but its touch screen is unresponsive and the machine locks up, sometimes I want to throw it against the wall to wake it up.
And now we have the imperfect Echo.
Today it’s about releasing fully-formed products, that work from the get-go. Amazon fails to do this again and again, and this haunts its image. It’s hard to be everything to everyone.
GARTH BROOKS’S ONLINE STORE
I could Google the name of it, but the fact I can’t remember its moniker half proves the point, it was an abject failure. You can’t reinvent the wheel if it doesn’t need reinventing. And star power is overrated, just ask the principals in Tidal. We have enough ways to acquire music, we don’t need one more, especially when it just replicates what we’ve already got with the iTunes Store. And people don’t want to give one more entity their credit card info, what they’re looking for is a universal repository, one place that can store all their data that other sites can link to. If Target can’t keep your data safe, what are the odds Garth can?
You’ve got to take risks, but you can’t appear tone-deaf. That’s what we keep seeing over and over again in the music sphere. With Brooks, Tidal, Madonna… So eager for publicity and cash they’re out of tune with the public. You’ve got to have a great idea, and it’s got to push the envelope, it can’t be me-too, and it’s spread by word of mouth. Sans word of mouth, you’re nothing. James Taylor had the number one album in America this week, next week it’ll be somebody else, the album’s over unless his fans spread the word, and with so much cacophony in the marketplace the odds are low. So, the old media empire heralds the works of those who are famous while the youngsters reinvent the wheel… It’s a fascinating world we live in.
An unmitigated disaster.
First there’s the threshold issue. Do we need better sound? No, let me put it more succinctly, can we hear better sound?
Try this test, it’s fascinating:
We had to listen to the ravings of Mr. Young for months as he trumpeted a product that almost no one wanted, other than the early adopters who purchased it on Kickstarter, and there weren’t many. If, like with Garth Brooks, the business had been a success, we would have heard about it, these stars love to get their flacks to crow about their wins, and the press eats it up, but we haven’t heard a peep since the launch. And we can criticize the dearth of available material, i.e. how much can be gotten in hi-res, but come on…
You’ve got a misshapen box playing overpriced files in a world where everything goes through your smartphone and access is key, ownership is fading away. Furthermore, people expect it all for one low price a month. Introducing Pono and its store is like selling premium gasoline to Tesla drivers, assuming everybody has a Tesla, and anybody with cash has a smartphone.
GARTH BROOKS’S ALBUM
What he needed was a hit single. Instead he sold us a long player, an album, requiring too much of our time. Only diehard fans have that much time, and even they have competing interests. If you’re a has-been trying to come back, you need a hit single, an undeniable smash. This hobbled not only Garth, but U2 too. You lead with your single, only the hardest core wants more. If we like the single, we’ll partake of a couple more tracks. Don’t forget, you’re competing with the history of recorded music, we can flip the switch to Sinatra or Led Zeppelin instantly…as well as your old hits!
Dead and buried. History. A complete flop. Only this time, everybody but the principals knew this immediately. The proprietors tried to spin it otherwise, but they had no tools in their arsenal with which to do combat. You want to give us exclusives, you want us to pay for exclusives, when we haven’t got enough time to view what we want to, and we’re all about access for one low price? Exclusives are like buying an iPhone only to find out that certain installed apps don’t work, and only will if you buy an Android phone too. Does anybody need two phones?
1. Past success is no guarantee of future success. Society is fluid, especially when it comes to new products. And if you’re selling something old, based purely on your brand name, good luck! This is what haunts Apple Music. There’s not enough new there to convince people to switch, and there’s not enough new there to convince people who weren’t paying before to pay now.
2. Don’t pay attention to the hype, but the follow-up. We’ve got an antiquated media out of touch with consumers. Sure, awareness helps, we need an introduction. But new products and services are hyped for months, and then are dead after a week. But it scares purveyors to know that success or failure is in the hands of customers, not the media, not retail… How many people will buy the Apple Watch once early adopters have got theirs and supply is plentiful? I doubt many, and the Watch will either be vastly improved or fade away, yet we had to hear about it for the better part of a year.
3. Interior, not exterior. Functionality, not design. Quality, not star power. Alicia Keys couldn’t save BlackBerry, but she put a world of hurt on the credibility of artists. The proletariat knows that artists are beholden to those with the fattest wallet, therefore star endorsements mean less. A star might get you attention, but that’s all it’ll get. Fans will kick the tires, but they’ll only sign up and purchase if they like the underlying product.
4. Stay in your wheelhouse. You’re a musician, not a tech entrepreneur. You’re a service provider, not a gadget maker. The barrier to entry is high. And those who win have spent a long time in the trenches, and hire those who can help them. Good ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is everything. Which is why Friendster and MySpace failed and Facebook succeeded.
5. We want what everybody else has. To be unique today is to be completely off the radar screen. We’re all about standards. So either create a new standard…OR GET OUT OF THE WAY!