Posted by: David Kiley on June 22, 2007
In the current issue of Advertising Age, marketing consultanat Al Ries argues that the Apple iPhone won’t be a success. In the same issue, editor Jonah Bloom argues the other side. Ries’s argument reminds me of the time when I was in college, and was assigned to argue that “Adam was Eve’s Son” in a debate.
Ries argues that the iPhone is a convergence device and that few if any of these such devices have been successful. Examples: One example Ries cites is the computer/TV. Apple, Gateway and, Toshiba, Philips and others tried to market combination products with little success. Another example cited by Ries is Interactive TV. Microsoft, he notes, spent $425 million to buy WebTV and then poured more than a half-billion into the venture, which didn’t help.
There are two and possibly three key things Ries misses here. The first is the power of brand. Apple as a brand in this space of personal electronics/communications is in a class by itself. Its “convergence” of design, cool-factor and technical execution in its products is unmatched. Second: The execution of the iPhone appears to be stunning. Third: Ask anyone who walks around with an a iPod and Treo strapped to them, bulking up a pocket or laying about on the front seat of their car if they aren’t genuinely interested in a cell, well executed device that combines the functions of both. I actually believe the iPhone will prove to be an unmet need for people who are slaves to their mobile phones and at least devotees of their Ipods.
For a significant number of consumers, the cell-phone and MP3 player have become as essential as car keys and wallet. We simply don’t go anywhere without them. If we get a mile away from our homes and find we forgot one or the other, we very often go back rather than go through the day without either one.
None of the other examples of failed convergence in Ries’s article fit that description.
I’ll go out on a limb and state that Mr. Ries will be proven wrong by Mr. Jobs.
By the way…that college debate. As in most college debate competitions, I had to argue both sides of that rather absurd statement: “Adam was Eve’s son.” I won both sides.