In Which I Am Deceived by an Apple Helper and Turn Around and Deceive the World

On April 13, I reported on my experience going to an Apple Store and checking out the new Apple Watches.  I wrote:

The bands aren’t interchangeable.
Actually, you can interchange the bands, but Sport bands won’t go on the Watch Watch and the Watch Watch bands won’t go on the Sport Watch.  This means that if you, like me, were imagining wearing The Watch to the gym with a brightly-colored, fancy rubber (fluoroelastomer) band and then swapping the band out for something classy and metal or leather for the office… well, you can’t do that.

 

Also, Apple really wanted to stick it to you and gave each level of Watch a different finish. The Sport Watch is matte and the Watch Watch is shiny. Not that it matters because the friggin’ bands aren’t interchangeable between the two.

 

I find this extra, extra annoying because part of Apple’s messaging is about how you can mix and match and configure the watch in so many ways that it becomes a personal expression. Maybe that’s true of the screen, but it isn’t really true of the hardware.

Well, I was telling my boss — who is a HUUUUUUGE Apple fanboy — about my experience and he said that I was wrong about the above.  And he went out and researched to find the proof.  I don’t have all the links he showed me, but here’s the one that should settle the case for everyone.  From the Apple Watch User Guide:

Follow these general instructions for removing, changing, and fastening bands, and then find the instructions for your specific band later in this section. Make sure you’re replacing a band with one of the same size. The bands are sized according to the size of Apple Watch and should not be used interchangeably. Some band styles are made for a particular size Apple Watch only.

Basically, the only actual restriction on changing bands is that you make sure your band supports the size of watch face (42mm or 38mm) you bought. Duh.

So, the Apple helper was wrong. And to prove her wrongness, she showed us two different watch faces and attempted to interchange the bands.

Please accept my apologies for the wrong info I originally provided. I was misinformed and then I misinformed you, kind reader!

My First Apple Watch Experience

My household has become an Apple household. We have Macbook pros. We use iPhones. We have iPads. And there is even an iPod Nano in active use around here. So, believe me when I say we have been ecstatic about the Apple Watch for about two years now, ever since we heard it was a real thing that was happening.

And yesterday, my fiance and I showed up at an Apple Store for an appointment to actually look at the new Apple Watch.

Spoiler alert: this post is mostly a list of complaints about it. So, let me just get this out of the way: The Apple Watch is pretty. It’s well-designed like pretty much everything Apple makes.  I was worried it would be too thick, but it’s not. It’s light, sleek, and comfortable.

Here’s what I don’t like about the Watch and didn’t like about the experience.

The price is too high.
For all that is good about the Apple Watch, the price is still too high. I get that Apple is trying to go luxury and fashion, but this is still primarily a consumer electronic and there are some good smartphones that don’t cost as much as this gadget. The tiniest one with the aluminum case costs $350. The larger (which is more the style these days for men and women in watches) is $400.  If you bump up to the Watch Watch then you’re up in the $600+ range.

The names are confusing.
First of all, calling it The Watch is dumb because the thing is a watch. Can you imagine if the iPhone were simply called the “Apple Phone?”  You would have the same stupid conversations I keep having now about The Watch where I’m not sure if I’m saying watch or Watch. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. (See what I did there?)

Secondly, the different levels of The Watch are confusing. There’s the Apple Sport Watch, the Apple Watch Watch, and the Apple Kanye Watch. And just as with Kanye West, I do not care about that last one at all because it is ridiculous and obnoxious.

The bands aren’t interchangeable.
Actually, you can interchange the bands, but Sport bands won’t go on the Watch Watch and the Watch Watch bands won’t go on the Sport Watch.  This means that if you, like me, were imagining wearing The Watch to the gym with a brightly-colored, fancy rubber (fluoroelastomer) band and then swapping the band out for something classy and metal or leather for the office… well, you can’t do that.

Also, Apple really wanted to stick it to you and gave each level of Watch a different finish. The Sport Watch is matte and the Watch Watch is shiny. Not that it matters because the friggin’ bands aren’t interchangeable between the two.

I find this extra, extra annoying because part of Apple’s messaging is about how you can mix and match and configure the watch in so many ways that it becomes a personal expression. Maybe that’s true of the screen, but it isn’t really true of the hardware.

I still don’t know what it’s like to use it.
If you go to the store like I did on an appointment in order to get a hands-on experience with the watch, you won’t actually get to USE the watch.  The screen just plays this demo video loop that shows you what the different things are. It also does the shaky “taptic” thing so you can feel that. But you can’t scroll, touch, press, or anything like that. It’s just a non-responsive video loop.

The non-responsive video loop is nice and really shows off the display, but Apple has bragged about how they created a whole new interface with the digital crown and the force touch thing.  And you can’t really get a sense of what it’s like to use these new inventions.

The iHelper didn’t know everything about it.
I know. It’s not fair to expect them to know everything about the new gadget two days after it arrives in stores.

But this is Apple, so yes, it is.

There were all sorts of little questions I had that she just didn’t know about. I happened to know the answers because I’d heard/read things about them, but I wanted confirmation from a first-hand authority. She was very sweet, but she couldn’t tell me what I wanted to know.

The price is too high.
I know I mentioned this already, but seriously. The price is kind of ridiculous for what it is. The Watch is expensive. The bands are expensive. It’s expensive.

And you know there will be a new one next year and the year after that.

So, I think I’m going to hold off on this. As nice as it seems to be, I just can’t wrap my head around paying so much for so little.

Apple Watch Pricing

Everyone is talking about Apple’s event from Monday in which they revealed a few more details about the Apple Watch.  So, I’m talking about it, too.

I want to discuss the pricing. And how everyone seems to be bugging out a bit about it.

I think Apple’s pricing on the normal people options for the Apple Watch are pretty much right in line with those sportsy watches with GPS and heart monitors. For instance, the Garmin Fenix 3 is going for $620 right now on Amazon.

Many point out that the Apple Watch doesn’t hold a charge as long as those, but I think if you look closely, they’re actually pretty close. The Garmin Fenix will hold a charge for 6 weeks… in watch-only mode. If you’re in training mode — which the Apple Watch is arguably in all the time — it only lasts for 20 hours.  And the Apple Watch seems to do more than those watches.

The question that one has to consider in this comparison, though, is this: is all that functionality worth the same to the people who buy Garmin Fenix 3 watches? I have serious doubts about that. Sports watches tend to be for a market that values durability and the Apple Watch doesn’t strike me as being all that durable. It’s water resistant, not waterproof, so it’s not recommended that you submerge it.  You probably shouldn’t even shower with it. [See edit below regarding the Apple Watch’s water resistance.]

So, given all this, I tend to think the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport are priced a little high for what they are.  The value to justify those $350+ numbers just is not clear enough yet and that’s how you know if the price is right.  Sales will tell!

Price is determined by value perceived by the buyer.

However, I think this $10K (AND UP!) number is reeedonkulous. Yes, it’s in line with lower end luxury watches, but I don’t think it offers the appropriate sort of luxe to match. Sorry Apple, but it’s not THAT pretty. Based solely on the design, I can’t imagine that there’s that much overlap between the Apple Watch market and the luxury watch market. Meaning: I don’t think the Apple Watch will be on many people’s list when they think, “I’d like to spend over $10K on a really nice watch.”

I really want an Apple Watch, but I don’t think I want one that badly.  I will need to see one in person and even then I’m probably going to wait a couple of months before I actually shop for one.  That’s kind of how I buy all Apple products, but the prices do have me moving more slowly than usual.

EDIT: I inferred incorrectly that the Apple Watch’s level of water resistance which is appropriate for “washing your hands” would not be OK for showering.  Here’s what the IPX7 designation actually means:

Under the IPX7 designation, the Apple Watch will be able to withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. This means that a session in the shower, getting caught in the rain, or washing your hands will not cause damage, but prolonged exposure — such as swimming — would be harmful.

This still does not seem like it would be durable enough for the sportsfolks who buy those fancy watches.

Musing Over Semantics

Do the terms “online” and “offline” really mean anything to marketers any more?

If I walk into a store and a beacon pinpoints my location and triggers a notification of a special offer on my phone, am I online or offline? If I am in a store looking at a product on the shelf for which I have a coupon I received in the mail and I decide to compare the product and offer against what I find using my smartphone, am I online or offline?

The terms are traditionally used as opposites, but the addition of mobile really blurs the line.  What’s more, the introduction of mobile technology has also augmented the amount of data that can be brought in from “offline” channels for marketing use.

So, if you’re a marketer who is interested in collecting as much data as possible to understand your customers and their habits, is it really necessary to say that you’d like to collect data from both “online and offline” sources?

I really don’t think so.

#DailyDigital Hair’s on Fire Edition

This month is going to be a really crazy month, but I am going to do my best to squeeze in some of these daily digital posts where I can.

Authorities Issue Native Transparency Guidelines
You may recall last year when there was a lot of talk about native advertising after John Oliver went on his show and says that the lack of transparency about what is and what is not an advertisement has led some to cross lines of journalistic ethics. Well, that debate never really stopped and here now we have some guidelines from the IAB on how to make sure everyone knows what’s what online.

SlideShare: The Marketing Playbook Is Dead
Over at my seat in product marketing, we’ve been doing some talking recently about what “engagement” is and how traditional measurements seem to fail at capturing what the essence of it is and what impact, if any, marketers have in driving it. This slide deck has some really excellent observations and data on this front. Very worth the read.

The 15 Digital Trends Getting the Most Buzz Online
Who doesn’t love an infographic?  This is just neat, so check it out.

Direct Mail Specialist Pitney Bowes Makes Digital Strides
Here’s an interesting piece on Pitney Bowes.  I’m going to have to re-read this interview later, but skimming it I saw a few interesting nuggets.

One last blast:

Mattermark Has Focus And So Should You

An acquaintance of mine, Danielle Morill, is the CEO over at Mattermark, a startup tracking and research tool.  It’s a great product. I signed up for the 14 day trial to see how it works and to look into a few companies that I’d been hearing about.

A few months ago, I sent her some DMs on Twitter suggesting that they should add a job-hunters version of Mattermark. I proposed a pared down, cheaper account version that just provides information that job hunters are interested in.  Secondarily, by aligning with the hunting/recruiting community, I think that it would give Mattermark some interesting exit options as sites like LinkedIn seek to expand their capabilities.

She didn’t reply to my DMs (I’m positive that she gets a zillion DMs from all over the place and we are just acquaintances.) but she did tweet a few days later that they were not interested in job hunters as customers because they aren’t there for the long haul. So, I’m also positive that I’m not the only person to have suggested this to her.

And just the other day she tweeted this:

She’s right.

In that blog post, she focuses on how job seekers are different from their core customers and she provides some really nice advice to job seekers. But I’d like to talk about why it’s good that Mattermark isn’t pursuing them as customers because I think the reasons given in that post are superficial qualities; it isn’t because they churn. It’s because of this:

Focus is a vital and necessary quality in startup product strategy.

When we talk about a market, what do we mean? I mean a group of people who share the same problem.

VCs come to Mattermark because they have a problem: they need to find startups to invest in.  But job seekers who come to Mattermark are trying to solve a different problem: they need to find jobs at startups.

Now, you might think “they’re both looking for startups,” but they aren’t really. VCs want investments and job seekers want jobs.  It just happens they they both want those things from startups.  Finding startups is not the problem they have.

Adding a new market to your product strategy is not the same as adding a new product to your product portfolio. And that’s the mistake my suggestion to Danielle makes.

If you’re adding a new product to your portfolio, the assumption is that you’re still building something for the same market, the same people who have that one big, overarching problem. And you add products so that you can address the various mini-problems that exist within that big one.

If you’re adding a new market, you have to restart your product development process from scratch. You have to make sure you’ve defined the market correctly. You have to make sure you understand the buyer and user personas. You have to define your position in the market.  Basically, you have to start building a whole new product strategy!

Focus! Focus! Focus!

It’s not impossible to run a company that has products that are focused on different markets. People do it all the time. But if you have two markets using the same product, then you have two separate interests driving the direction of your product development.  And what would you do if those interests compete?

At some point you’re going to run the risk of failing to satisfy one or — more likely — both markets with whatever changes you make to the product.  By maintaining focus on one market, Mattermark is ensuring that their attention is given to satisfying those customers’ needs.  So, they’re building a great tool for investors.

Perhaps at some point in their growth they can create a Mattermark Jobs division which could take the Mattermark tool and start driving it on a separate evolutionary path that is focused on job seekers.  But not today.

 

#DailyDigital Earningspalooza. I made that up. “Copy written so don’t copy me.”

This week was earningspalooza with LinkedIn, Pandora, Twitter, and many, many others doing their earnings calls this week. So, there has been a swell of commentary on those things. So, today’s post has a lot less to do with ad tech than usual. Happy Friday!

The Psychology Of Notifications
OK. This isn’t an article I would ordinarily call out for attention because it has little to do with ad tech directly. It’s much more of a UX/interaction type of article. But it’s really, really fascinating to me. Especially because I’ve turned off all but one or two notifications and badges on my phone.

Vice takes Snapchat users on a tour of a secretive Chinese bitcoin mine
Another odd article to share. I’m sharing this one because I was talking to my manager just yesterday about the marketing potential of SnapChat.  We thought it might help a television show to send behind the scenes snaps or snaps of clues to the mystery in a show in order to drive additional interest and excitement.  So, here, Vice is using Snapchat as part of their journalistic efforts. I think that’s pretty clever.

5 things we learned about brands this week
No real commentary to offer here. It’s just a nice read about the brand perspective.

One last blast:

#DailyDigital Looking at Some Publisher Challenges in Ad Tech

Today, everyone seems to be talking about Twitter. Tweets in Google search, tweets in Flipboard, tweets everywhere. And there are lots of other headlines about the company.  But I think the biggest, most alarming news this morning is about the huge data breach over at Anthem. It’s the second largest insurer in the US and the hackers got lots of PII including birthdays and social security numbers for about 80 million people.  That’s bad. Real bad.  So, maybe press coverage will pick up over the next few days.

Publishers hunt for the new ad-sales unicorn
The publisher perspective in ad tech is one that a lot of people have a hard time really grasping.  It sounds simple at first — hey, they’re just selling ad space — but when you dig in, it actually gets more challenging — how do you monetize data in a way that delivers results for advertisers, but doesn’t give the milk away for free.  This article is a nice read over the ad sales challenges in the space today and it helps see how publishers themselves are trying new approaches in order to evolve with the market.

Facebook is bigger than anyone knew, even Facebook
So, remember how late last year people were talking about the problem of dark social?  No? Well, it’s just web traffic that a website (publisher) can’t tell where it came from because it lacks referrer data.  Well, this article is about how a huge chunk of that traffic is coming from Facebook and there is data to prove it.

The New Premium: How Programmatic Changes The Way Advertisers Value Inventory
I don’t have a lot to say about this article. I just thought it was an interesting read about the evolving meaning of “premium” in ad inventory.

Broadcasters Like Digital Amplification, But Demand More Credit For Their Content
OK. Here’s a rather innocuous-seeming article. It’s just about how television “publishers” like NBC Universal are looking at the way their shows get boosts in viewership thanks to people talking about it on social media.  But there’s more going on here that is only hinted at in this piece. First of all (BTW, did you see that “firstable” is apparently a thing in some corners? I can’t even.) the GRP from Nielsen has been under attack for several years now and to their credit, Nielsen has been rolling out new measurements.  But also in this story are signs of how television is grappling with… partnering with… frenemies with the over-the-top trends.

One last blast:

#DailyDigital Water, Water Everywhere…

After complaining yesterday that tech news was overwhelming I find myself struggling to find items worthy of commentary.

What product features should I focus on?
Here’s something a little different.  It’s more product management-y. The gist of the post is that when you’re choosing features to focus effort on, you should choose based on the number of customers and the amount of time they use the feature.

I think this is a pretty good heuristic if you don’t have anything else. The biggest issue I have with it is that it seems incomplete. I mean, lots of people are willing to use Facebook and they use it often, but how much are they willing to pay to use it? Not a lot and that’s why Facebook has to sell ads. (You could argue that Facebook isn’t a product for users, but is for advertisers. Most people can’t afford to build products on the timeline that Facebook used to introduce advertising.)  The second issue I have is that frequency of use seems kind of fuzzy.

I much prefer Pragmatic Marketing’s three axes approach: pervasiveness, urgency, willingness to pay.  Basically, you should focus on the features or products that are highly ranked in all three categories. If everyone has the problem and the need is immediate, but no one is willing to pay for it… don’t bother.  If the market has urgent need and is willing to pay, but the market consists of only a handful of customers, well, save that for another day.

Twitter Finally Reveals Its Plan to Make Money From All Those Free Tweets Posted Everywhere
This is nice. I’m happy to see Twitter aggressively pursuing revenue, but I have to admit I’m having a hard time imagining what a tweet looks like when it appears outside of Twitter.  I mean, tweets are tweets because they’re in Twitter.  Twitter is what sets the 140 character constraint and puts it within the context of a “real time communications platform.” So, why limit yourself to 140 characters if you’re not inside Twitter? The medium is the message, right?  Sooooo… if I were an advertiser who wanted an ad to appear on websites, why would I choose the platform that limits my copy and creative?  Twitter has amazing data possibilities, but will that offset those other limitations for advertisers?

I dunno, but I will keep watching.

Half Of Biggest Publishers Have Viewability Problem: comScore’s Fulgoni
Here’s a nice set of videos around the viewability challenges in ad tech. (It’s also an advertisement for comScore a bit.)  The topic has been widely discussed, but I find that it doesn’t hurt to hear the issue applied to different situations and reworded. Be sure to watch other videos as well, like the one with Jane Hong from Google.

One last blast:

#DailyDigital Swimming Back to the Surface

I’ve been trying to figure out a more efficient and quick way to do my Daily Digitals, but I just don’t know that there is one.  To put together these posts, I click through my RSS aggregator and choose stories that at a glance seem interesting to me. The worst part about this is that I often end up with more tabs open than my browser can handle, which might be a good thing because it adds another filter to the production. Then, I go through the selected stories and give them a closer look or even a full read.  Finally, I have to do all the copy & pasting and comment composition. My goal is to complete the whole process in under an hour, but work life being what it is these posts often don’t get done until several hours into the day.  This is why when I fall behind it can be overwhelming to get back into the flow of producing these posts. Anyway, enough whining. I’m open to suggestions, though!

If you can tear yourself away from the post-Super Bowl commentary, here are some interesting articles from my feeds this morning:

The 10 Best Digital Marketing Stats of the Week
AdWeek started doing these pieces a little while ago and because I just love numbers and trends I always find them fascinating.  This one is no different, but there are two interesting trends that I think they missed and they’re even more interesting when put next to one another. First, Facebook ad prices are still trending upward and they’re serving fewer and fewer ads! Google’s ad revenue is also continuing an upward trend, but their ad prices are heading down.  I think both trends are reflections of the distinctive positions that the two companies occupy in the market, so comparing them is a bit unfair.  And THAT is something of a trend I’ve noticed in my own thinking about the space: “we” as marketers need to get better at understanding the nuances of each touchpoint in the customer journey. Facebook is not Twitter is not Google is not Medium is not the corporate website is not the mobile app. Measurement probably needs to be different for each as do our expectations.

Verizon will now let users kill previously indestructible tracking code
The biggest ad tech story right now in terms of my own interests is this business with Verizon tracking.  If you weren’t already aware, ProPublica did an article in mid-January revealing that Verizon’s use of a persistent ID in URL strings on mobile traffic was being used by Turn to create “zombie cookies.” Basically, these cookies come back after you delete them because they’ve been cross-referenced with the Verizon ID.  When this ID rolled out initially, security and privacy people pointed out the risks, but Verizon brushed aside those concerns saying no one would do that. I was genuinely shocked that it was Turn that turned out to be doing that because Turn is well aware of the privacy concerns around online traffic. To their credit, they responded fairly quickly and stopped using it, but it took Verizon two more weeks to announce that they would allow users to opt out of the tracking program… but not that they were killing it altogether.

People Erasing Digital Footprints Out Of Privacy Fears
Speaking of privacy, here are some numbers to help quantify the level of concern the public has about online privacy and some of the numbers were higher than I expected.

Why QR codes are the blinking VCR clock of the 21st century
I make no secret my love of QR codes even though I know most people think they are super duper lame. But I’m also a person who always set the clock on his VCR. *shrug*

The splintering TV consumption landscape, in 5 charts
I have more stories to share this morning than I have space for and I had to choose between commenting on cloud computing trends or on television because I’ve seen a few stories that confirm my predictions about those spaces and if there’s any kind of bias I like it’s confirmation bias. So, anyway, Television won the coin toss.  This piece is all about trends in television that I think are worth noting because they explain a number of the other trends in technology and advertising practices that we’re seeing.

What Role Should Agencies Play In Data Management?
I know I’m over my five story limit, but this was one of the first stories this morning that caught my eye and it’s extremely relevant to the ad tech market. I think this piece is spot-on.

One last blast: