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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sealing the fate of optical disks

9:12 PM Posted by Deepak Nayal No comments
In 1998, Apple signed on the demise of floppy disk drives by removing these from its iMac range of computers. The company had its doubters then, but it carried its way forward. Eventually other major PC manufacturers followed the suit, and now floppy disks are nowhere to be seen (though some PC makers still support it). The problem with floppies was that they were bulky and outdated technology. It was relatively easy to get rid of floppy drives, because the shift from floppy disks to CD drives - though a big one - was not a fundamental one. We were still talking about disks.

Come 2010 and Apple does it again. This time with optical drives (CD/DVD). Apple launched MacBook Air in 2008; it was an ultrathin laptop, without an optical disk drive. This was Apple's first step - from the disk towards the cloud. Then in 2010 Apple released iTunes 10 and changed its logo, dropping the CD. This was a strong symbol of how Apple saw the future. And then came the masterstroke - launch of the Mac App Store. The app store along with iTunes means that almost all needs of a computer user regarding software, songs, movies etc. can be sufficed with no need for an optical disk. And in cases where the software or song you want is with a friend, you can get it to your laptop using external USB drives or some online file-sharing software. This three-step strategy to remove consumers' dependency on CDs/DVDs is applaudable. Apple not just removed the optical disks from its laptop, but also provided a better alternative. In fact, if you think about it, when was the last time you used a CD in your laptop. I can literally count the number of times I had to pop a CD in my laptop. With everything available online and with websites offering virtually unlimited data storage facility, you can spend months before you need any optical disks.

However, it will still not be easy for Apple this time. It is a fundamental shift this time - we are talking about moving from optical disks to clouds. These disks, though bulky, hold large amounts of data - specially the new Blu-ray format, and are fast (unlike floppy disks). And with massive investments in optical disks technologies, players such as Sony will not let these go away easily.

Business reasons aside, it is highly certain that optical disks will face the fate of floppy disks, possibly a decade from now or hopefully sooner - with USB drives (or some other advanced and compact technology) taking over. In this power struggle, the only true winner will be the cloud - the all powerful, omnipresent cloud. We will be able to access our information anywhere anytime on any device, and will not have to worry about losing our memory stick or scratching our DVD. The question here is not if it will happen, rather when will it happen. For now, we know that the fate of optical disks has been sealed.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Advertising for dummies

5:53 PM Posted by Deepak Nayal No comments
I am no professional adman, but I believe what you need for effective advertising is not years of experience or a degree, but common sense and empathy with target consumer segment. I have seen many ads in which you can clearly make out that the company either had a lot of money to spend, or was not sure about the message they want to convey to the public – or worse, had a mix of both.

I have always had problems with expensive advertisements, and truly believe that one does not have to shell out big money for making effective ads. I especially despise the ones in which companies hire top celebrities for filming an ad film. First you shell out a lot of money to hire that celebrity and then, in case your guy gets into a scandal or controversy, you run for cover or go after another celebrity. On the contrary, most of the best ads I have scene till date do not involve multi-million dollar payouts to celebrities. Smaller budgets force people to come up with more creative ideas.

Another category of dumb ads involve ad-men's desire to exploit man’s lust. Even though men are sexually more active than women and (according to some weird statistics) think of sex several times in a minute, you cannot really sell a car to them just by showing some hot female models – the link between the product and the girls needs to come out. Ad men need to understand that hot girls do not necessary attract hot sales (it can work the other way round though).

And then off course there are ads in which you cannot make out the message, or sometimes even the product, even after you have watched them completely – what a waste! And the point of more concern here is that such ads are made by professional ad makers. These ads lack basic storyline and clarity of thought. Common sense is not really common!

Best ads connect with people at an emotional level and convey the message loud and clear. I think the best and most successful ads are the ones that make people laugh or feel good about themselves. Most successful ads are the ones that people talk about, long after they have watched these, with their friends, family and colleagues.