Archives for October 2013

Never Say Never

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Here is a message to all the high-profile businessmen and women in the world of constantly adapting technology: Never Say Never!

 

Steve Ballmer, has announced that he will be stepping down as CEO of Microsoft, whose operating system monopoly has fallen behind Apple and Google in mobile devices, tablets, and smart phone technology. Perhaps because of lack of vision!

 

Of the iphone, Mr. Ballmer did say:

 

“$500, fully subsidized with a plan?!… That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard.”

 

The iPhone did seem expensive at the time, and the lack of a physical keyboard was a shock. Yet the iPhone caught on and set a standard for the diffusion of innovation in smart phone technology. Microsoft, in fact, went on to copy this touch keyboard, however it was too late to make an impact. Apple currently holds 13% of the worldwide smart phone market, while Microsoft holds 4%.

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When asked who is most important in technology development, Mr. Ballmer did say:

 

“Developers! Developers! Developers!”

Oddly enough, Windows Phone has no developers. And an operating system is only as good as the applications that run on it. Until now, Windows Phone has lacked many major apps, including Instagram, Vine, and Flipboard that kept people from purchasing it. As of last week, Instagram, will finally be available for the Windows Phone operating system. This is a huge step that opens their consumer base to the 150 million users of the app, but is it too late?

 

Of the Android, Mr. Ballmer did say:

 

“It is very hard to be excited… about the Android phones. Apple is a good competitor, a different kind of competitor.”

Mr. Ballmer had finally seen Apple as significant competition, but he dismissed the Android-based Google operating system as “difficult.” Because, he said, “you have to be a ‘computer scientist’ to use the phone,” Mr. Ballmer didn’t see the Android as a direct threat to Microsoft’s own operating system.

 

Ironically, Google used Microsoft’s tactic of letting various hardware manufacturers produce Android devices. This allowed for the operating system to be made in a wide range of mobile devices at every price point. Consequently, Android accounts for 79% of the smart phones sold worldwide.

 

Mr. Ballmer, however, is not the first Microsoft executive to be caught making a prediction. Predecessor and billionaire, Bill Gates, said the following in 2004 at the World Economic Forum:

 

“Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.”

 

 

And in 1939, the New York TIMES reported:

 

                                    “The problem with television is that people have to glue their eyes

                                                 to a screen. People won’t have time for it.”

 

Enough said.

 

 

Media Mistakes Not to Make

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Some 2,000 dollar bills fluttered from the fifth-floor balcony of the Hart Senate Office Building last week, falling upon activists who shouted “Monsanto Money!” while tossing piles of cash in the air and making snow angels in pools of the bills.

Although it may be hard to believe, even the media makes mistakes. The Associated Press misidentified the protest and credited Hemp activists who propose substituting the natural raw material for petrochemical products. The protesters were actually critics of seed giant Monsanto and its role in genetically modified food production.

Intending to publicly criticize Monsanto, the protesters even went as far as giving out “Monsanto Minion Awards” to members of the House and Senate [Reps. Steve King, (R-Iowa) Fred Upton, (R-Michigan) and Hal Rogers, (R-Ky) and Senators Thad Cochran (R. Miss.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo,)] whom they accused of being too friendly with that company.  Protester  Alexis Baden-Mayer hoped to spread the word to the FDA to implement stricter labeling guidelines for genetically modified food.

A perfect example of not knowing how to use media coverage to best advantage. These Monsanto activists were putting the effort and dollars into fighting for something they believe in, however they did not make it clear enough for the media to relay their message to the public.

Although the AP later corrected their headline and responded with a statement when they realized what had happened, the protesters’ efforts and their cash was lost in translation!

Trying to “Satisfry” the Customer

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From “Home of the Whopper” to “Home of the Satisfries,” Burger King has changed their brand name “temporarily,” from Burger King to Fries King, and created some negative social media buzz.  The fast food chain tweeted the following:

“And you thought we were bluffing. Long live the #FriesKing!”

According to Ad Week, consumers expressed their confusion of the chain’s new name on Twitter and other social media sites.

“Can’t tell if it’s true or not but did Burger King really change their name to Fries King…? I don’t… what?”

“So Burger King is now called Fries King? Why would they change their name??”

Consequently, both #Satisfries and #WTFF (“What the French Fry”) became trending topics on Twitter.

Seizing on USA TODAY’s recent report that these new “Satisfries” are in fact healthier than other fast food restaurants with “40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than McDonald’s,” Burger King decided to differentiate its fries with a larger, waffled, crisp cut fry.

According to manufacturer Lane Weston, Size matters. When it comes to french fries, the physical size of the cut style has a definite effect on the amount of oil that is used to cook it. A serving of thinner cuts absorbs more oil than a serving of thicker cuts and therefore has more calories and fat!

The questionable name change is not only stirring up confusion for customers, it is unclear whether or not this marketing strategy was the right choice for Burger King.  Why change the brand name?

Bloomberg TV reports that French fries have a gross profit margin of 75%, with 10% in revenues for Burger King, 4.5% for McDonald’s, with its greater number of product offerings.  “It’s easier to get customers to buy fries than order a bigger sandwich.”

The Business Insider reflects on this “rebrand,” as nothing more than a marketing stunt. It’s been met with a collective eye-roll from savvy consumers who remember Pizza Huts 2008 “name change” to Pasta Hut!

While Satisfries have received a lot of press, Burger King customers are less excited about the chain’s apparent name change to Fries King. Twitter and Facebook users have responded with skepticism. “‘Burger King’ is a well known family name,” says one Facebook user. “That is what most people loved and remember about this franchise. Please keep it original!”