Brand News: Apple, Facebook, Instagram, and Target


Business_and_technology_trends
Does personalization appeal to you? Are you spoiled by product choices? Screen and memory size, color, shapes and materials — the choices afforded by the decline in production costs for objects that feel custom-made.

How about marrying your favorite app with your most visited network? Do you view it as an arranged affair or a match made in Heaven?

Quality, convenience, value, and in stock? How to make every shopper's dream come true while fending off the competition.

Apple, Facebook, Instagram, and Target

The brands making headlines this week interest me because they highlight inflections in broader trends and discussion points.

The three stories that caught my eye this week are:

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1Jean-Louis Gassée predicts that the end is nigh for Apple — the end of one screen size fits or rather pleases all, that is. He breaks down his argument by weaving different angles into one argument:

How long before customers look left, look right, see everyone with the same phone or tablet and start itching for something different?

[…] Apple has long ceased to be marginal, on the brink of disaster, imprudently challenging established giants. Apple has become a dominant brand whose rise to ubiquity now requires a differentiation it didn’t need in pre-iOS years.  

[…] iPad. Unit sales are climbing faster than the iPhone and sameness is — or soon will be — an issue. There’s an “obvious” solution: Our old friend, the rumored 7” tablet (measured on the diagonal).

[…] Now that Apple has become The Man, the company might have to adopt the Not A Single Crack In The Wall strategy used by the previous occupant of the hightech throne.

The one-size-fits-all simplicity that has served Apple well may not be the way of the future.

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2Paul Ford incisive commentary on the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook is summed up in the title — when your favorite app sells out — and in the process enlightens readers on how:

On the web, “product” has gone meta. Companies once made sleds or dreamcatchers or software, but that’s all outsourced; an Internet product is very often a thing that lets other people make things — a kind of metaproduct — and you can get 30 million people working for you, for free, if you do a good job of it.

[…] All of those products together are worth some billions. […] if you take them separately, there’s an awful lot of them — even if you don’t include all the Mafia Wars plugins and Scrabble ripoffs. From a certain angle, Facebook runs the risk of becoming like Apple before Steve Jobs returned — too many products, each with teams sworn to defend them.

Then along comes Instagram. Instagram has as many employees as you can count on your fingers (if you have polydactyly) and does a sum total of one thing. It’s beloved and hip, two things Facebook is not, and plus the company is pure nerd candy.

Ford concludes that Facebook bought the thing that is hardest to fake. It bought sincerity.

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3At HBR, Frances Frei and Ann Morriss started a good conversation on Target and the threat of free riders. They paint the picture in the post — Target shoppers are browsing comfortably in the company's high-design stores, then close the deal online with lower-priced vendors — then ask: What should Target do?

From the comments:

 SKennedy says:

1.  If you're going to compete on in-store experience, then you better have a really nice store. Make the store environment somewhere I wouldn't mind hanging around for a while.

2. Have a sales staff.  It's a lot easier to put an item back on the shelf when you're all alone.  It's harder to tell an actual person helping you that you don't want to buy it because you might save a buck or two online.

3. Reduce the time from selecting a product to paying.  The longer the delay before I pay, the greater the chance I change my mind.

4. Reduce the number of similar items on the sales floor.  This also avoids option overload.

5. Increase the number of exclusive brands. 

ABones says:

Here's what absolutely blows my mind about Target: when you search for an item (or category thereof) on their website, they actually have…a Google Adsense widget on every page, directing you to other retailers.

Many pointed out that blurring the lines between bricks and clicks would benefit Target, along with store brands and unique products.

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It's online and offline, Web and mobile, social and search — both/and.

 

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