Monday, 30 October 2006

Freedom Phones

It's easy to recognise how liberating mobile phones are, at a personal level. But what about their socio-political impact? Liberation technology ( covers this very well, and summarises with a telling quote: “When the dominant institutions of society no longer have the monopoly of mass-communication networks, the dialectics between power and counter-power is, for better or worse, altered for ever.”

Then there's the economic impact: in this article the headline number is 1/2 million South Africans banking by mobile phone, in preference to (and mostly in absence of) cash or physical banks.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Macs should be made by Dell, says Gartner

I always wonder what analysts are thinking when they write this sort of summary. Are they really blind to the Apple brand equity, and their reknowned ethos of design perfection? Or are they looking too hard at the numbers? Or are they blithely applying history's magic brush? [Apple refused to license their early computers and got crushed by the burgeoning PC market].

Their assumption is that Apple are a software company, whereas most pundits assume the opposite: they are a hardware company, with the OS being a loss-leading differentiator. I prefer to think of them as more of a Nike: a brand representing a philosophy. The key for such a company is to set the tone of your market, whatever that may be, to maximise customer loyalty. Loyalists buy you because you're the best, and the 'cool factor' wows the initiates. Who assembles Apple computers? Who cares? Only Apple need to care because their brand assures the customer that they will receive a high quality purchasing experience. If Apple felt they could get a better production deal from Dell, I'm sure they'd happily bring them on board as long as it didn't diminish their brand.

To use a car analogy: Ford owns Jaguar, but Jaguars are not Fords, and never should be. [Ford tried that with the early X-type and it flopped].