Tag Archives: Apple

Watching OTT: Is The Selection of Devices Over The Top?

With the rise in popularity of watching content online through streaming services, many companies are looking to create devices to make watching a variety content easier on your TV. These devices can be stand-alone products like Google’s Chromecast or TV’s with similar features from manufacturers like LG. These devices are making our TV watching experience more enjoyable, but with some many devices out there, which one should people go with? We will take a look at the different products and see which device may be the best investment for the future of TV.

ott apple TVTV is not just what is on cable or broadcast over the air anymore. TV has become mostly digital and is now obtained in many areas. The first companies to release these devices were Apple and Roku, with their Apple TV and Roku DVP, respectively. These devices were released almost 10 years ago and started the push for content outside of your cable subscription. These devices saw the early adoption of Netflix and Hulu, both streaming services that gained momentum around 2010. These services brought many new challenges, both in getting the content to your TV and getting content to these services.

As many companies released their own services to stream and/or purchase media, people needed new places to take advantage of this content and its high quality. This brought devices like Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV and even a new breed of HDTV’s, dubbed Smart TV’s to market. These devices all had a similar goal, bringing the content that had been collected over the years on streaming services back to the TV.

Each of these devices catered to its company’s proprietary services, but also supported the services that had the top spots in the market. Even devices like game consoles started to support streaming services, leading to less devices under your TV. They all would evolve with the adoption of new technologies, some supporting TV newest change, Ultra HD or 4K resolution.

As these platforms gained popularity with 3rd party streaming services, TV and cable networks wanted to get their content on these devices. TV Everywhere was the first step, a platform that brought TV episodes online after they aired, only requiring your account details to confirm you had access to the channel. TV Everywhere is now available on most devices that offer Netflix and Hulu compatibility, as it only requires a browser or app to watch content.

ott google chromeThe spread of TV consumption was investigated by GFK in an Over The Top TV study they conducted. In terms of TV Everywhere, it found that DirecTV customers were the largest users of the service, overtaking the founders, Time Warner, who led in consumption the last two years. The study also claims that the most popular device is a Roku, with Chromecast coming into a close second. Chromecast and Roku are continuing to release new devices and the Chromecast Ultra is Google’s newest edition, featuring 4K content support and improved WiFi functionality.

In the technology space, people are always looking for what’s best. Some have tried to answer that question, but only you can decide what is right for you. If you game on a PS4, it makes sense to also use it as streaming device, making the purchase of a Fire TV not necessary. All of these over-the-top TV devices do similar things, making the decision more about what device fits you and less about which is “best”.

Chris Dummer

Gaming Your Emotions: Life is Strange and the Graphic Adventure Genre

I have always been far more intrigued by emotional appeal and the effects of good storytelling than by explosions, violence, or action. Perhaps that is why I was never a big gamer growing up. Now, before you eviscerate me in the comments, I am FULLY aware that games are much more than the three things I listed above, but what I am saying is this: in entertainment, I was looking for emotional appeal, and I got that mostly from movies.

All of that changed this past August, however, when I played a game called Life is Strange.

Life is Strange is an episodic Graphic Adventure game by a small production company called Dontnod Entertainment. The game revolves around a high school senior named Maxine (Max) Caulfield, who suddenly discovers she has the ability to ‘rewind’ time and alter the events of the past. The vast majority of the game is spent making decisions for Max which will ultimately affect events that occur later in the game (a staple of the Graphic Adventure genre).

I won’t go into the details of the story from there (you should play it for yourself!), but suffice it to say, I was hooked. I played the entire 14-hour story, all five episodes, in about three days. I never game that way. I was a recluse, sealed away in my dark basement with cans of 7Up piled around me, wearing PJs and headphones and only leaving to eat and (occasionally) socialize. But my time as a hermit got me thinking: why did this particular game affect me so much? And did it have the same effect on others?

I had to investigate.

life-is-strange

After finishing the game and wiping literal tears from my eyes (seriously, it’s great, play it), I took to Google to see if other people shared my experience. The results, it turned out, were astonishing. Of course, not everyone shared my experience, but it seemed like quite a few people, more than one might think, were deeply and truly affected by this game.

But, as amazing as Life is Strange is, why is it not the explosive hit that so many lesser other titles are? Shouldn’t everyone want to play this incredible, life-altering game?

The issue lies in the type of game that Life is Strange is. Graphic Adventure games lack much of what the general public wants from video games: they are lengthy, they lack action, they are dialogue and cut-scene driven, and they tend to tug at the heart strings more than the adrenal glands. They are, in many ways, video games’ answer to weird, arthouse cinema (which, incidentally, happens to be my favorite kind of cinema…). But is that a model that can still be profitable?

For the developers, yes. For the gaming industry as a whole? Of course not.

According to an article published on mcv.com, Life is Strange sold more than 1.2 million copies worldwide. This is a fantastic achievement for a little-known indie game from an even lesser known developer. But that achievement can seem minimal when compared to the successes of genre-giant Telltale Games, whose Graphic Adventure adaptations of The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and The Wolf Among Us have enjoyed massive critical acclaim and financial gains.

the walking dead promo art

But there is always another perspective. Yes, Telltale achieved a huge victory with The Walking Dead, their most successful game, selling around 8.5 million copies and bringing in more than $40 million. However, the newest Call of Duty game sold 21 million copies and brought in $840 million. So while The Walking Dead was a huge victory for Telltale, it barely ranked in the greater gaming industry. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however. As long as these games keep making money for their developers, we will keep seeing them.

What it does mean, though, is that these games aren’t going to be the huge hits we want them to be quite yet. Graphic Adventures are amazing, and people should play them, but they haven’t quite reached ‘water-cooler conversation’ status. We have a tendency to believe that, when something is really good, people should just naturally flock to that thing (we can call that the Netflix phenomena). But that’s not how pop-culture works. You need staying power, you need big money behind you, and you need a solid reputation. Telltales’ reputation is solid, yes, but it’s being shaken more and more as Telltale wades into the mainstream.

Like I said, none of this even remotely spells doom for Telltale or any other Graphic Adventure developer, but perhaps we should reign in our expectations just a tad.

So enjoy your trips to Arcadia Bay, fight your way through the hordes of Walkers, and brace yourself (winter is coming). After all, maybe we shouldn’t be so anxious for these games to explode into popularity. Graphic Adventure games are, after all, about you. Your experience, your adventures, and your emotions.

What you decide to do with that experience after the game is over, is entirely up to you.

Carrsan T. Morrissey

OUR WORLD INTO APPLE’S WORLD

Apple has had a big impact in our world throughout the years, along with Microsoft and other revolutionary companies all over the world. When Apple’s new software system came out on January 1984, it was named Mac OS. At that time Apple was not really famous and did not have a big influence.

Apple TechIn 2007, Apple introduced their new software iOS. It was a big competition with the other companies, especially for cellphone software. In June 2007, they released their iOS1.0 software for the new iPhone 3. At his keynote address Steve Jobs described the iPhone as three revolutionary products in one device that combines a widescreen iPod with touch controls, revolutionary mobile phone, and breakthrough internet communications device, that surpassed important brands like Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia.

Within a period of seven years, Apple has had around eighteen new releases of their iOS software for their computers, laptops, iPods, iPads and other products, especially their iPhones.

Their most resent software was released on September 9, 2015, called iOS9. This new software is more enhanced than any other iOS that has existed before. It has been designed to make consumers’ lives easier. An article titled, “10 Hidden iOS9 Features That Will Make Your iPhone Life Way Easier,” states, “In case you’ve been tucked away under a rock for the past month, iOS9 is one of the latest Apple rollouts reshaping the Smartphone and technology landscape, which have 3D touch, faster Wi-Fi capabilities.” Including many new features that can help consumers make their life easier.

However, the real question is what makes Apple get our world into their world? The answer is very simple. Apple is creating a world that will work all together and will call consumers’ attention even more than it has done before. “Apple is building a world in which you will interact with a computer every moment of your daily activities, like walking and sleeping.” Honan said, “Apple’s ambitions consists of making everything in your life work together.”

Through their software products like watches, iPads, TV, computers and more, consumers are able to keep track of many things. This includes their activities, communicating with others, using it for their jobs, having a virtual wallet, and being able to keep themselves entertained. Each year they work on creating new products that can improve the ones from the years before. It creates big competition for other companies, like Samsung, with their galaxy phone, tablets and watches, and they also gain more consumers than the years before.

For every new release, we as a consumers are open to do anything that is on our hands to get the newest innovations in Apple’s products. On 2010 only 5.6% of the US population owned an Apple Smartphone, but by 2014, this percentage increased 19.8%. This is only for their iPhones, so imagine what the difference will be if we count all their products, and include the countries around the world that use the products? This amount will be extremely higher than it was for 2014, especially with their new releases in 2015.

So, what would make consumers want to get Apple’s new releases? We know that they want to have the last updates, but they also want to have the best products in their hands. We live in a consuming world in which we are being introduced to new technologies every single moment. These new products and technologies have a higher demand, because of the cost and their features on their products. They have become tempting for the consumers and Apple has done a great job in getting us into their world.

What will Apple do next to submerge us entirely into their world?

Astrid Araya

Death to the Download: Why the Competition for Listens is Tougher Than Ever

For most of the 2000’s, digital music downloads made up the majority of ways people would buy and listen to music. Everyone you knew in 2008 had an iPod/mp3 player and if they didn’t, they sure wanted one. To be able to take your little square music box and your white headphones anywhere you wanted was a total game changer. This was the way we listened and would continue to listen to music forever. Or so we thought…

Streaming MusicWith the emergence of streaming websites such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, we no longer have to pay for each individual song. Remember the countless hours of putting together the perfect playlist and waiting through downloads upon downloads? Well now Spotify does that for you. Do you remember spending hours and hours surfing the net to find that new sound you had been looking for? It was just barely worth showing your friends the next big song. Now Pandora does that for you.

Pandora LogoPandora is a massive player in the music streaming industry. Pandora was founded in 2000, establishing itself as one of the first sites to jump start the streaming bandwagon. Pandora attempts to be a different animal, and the same beast (maybe this will make that reference work a little bit better for you). It changes the game with how it lets you stream music. You don’t pick songs to listen to, you pick a song you like and it plays you songs that you would be interested in based on that selection. This clearly has it’s uses, and its drawbacks.

Spotify LogoAnother one of the music industry giants that contributed to the gradual decline of download music is Spotify. Based on its website, Spotify claims to have over 75 million active users. If each of those users listen to one song a day (which some won’t, but some could listen to dozens a day) that’s at least 75 million plays a day. I imagine the number is much higher than that, but that is a lot of traffic on one site. Spotify also boasts a library of more than 30 million songs, rivaling that of Apple Music. These numbers should be more than terrifying to Apple and Amazon, similar to trends of people ditching cable for streaming, it is apparent that people know what they want, and they aren’t going away from it any time soon.

Apple Music  Tidal Music

Apple Music and Tidal are a little bit new to the streaming scene. Apple quickly recognized that what it was doing before was no longer an option, so they had to change. Enter Apple Music. It’s a streaming service that for a monthly fee you can listen to all of the songs that you want on itunes. It also creates playlist based on songs you already have downloaded. It is by Apple obviously, so people like it because they already have their macbooks and iphones so the integration is nice.

Tidal is a new company that is more for the artist. Tidal, by far, pays more to the artist for their music. Spotify pays the least. Tidal is a pretty fresh concept and so far hasn’t worked out like they had planned. It definitely has potential, but it is almost too early to tell in many ways.

Company Pros Cons
Spotify User friendly, large library, free. Ads, some artist refuse to use it (Taylor Swift).
Pandora Free, large library. Can’t choose specific song.
Apple Music Apple integration, large library, huge potential. Not free, relatively new and unknown.
Tidal Jay Z’s circle, fresh idea, pays more. Not free, to new to fully understand.

To me the clear winner in this comparison is Spotify. It has a hold on the streaming game and is not about to let go any time soon. That being said, Apple Music and Tidal do have the potential to overtake Spotify if they make all the right moves. If Jay Z can get music that other services can’t, it will put a real strangle hold on Spotify. Apple Music already has the plat form to be successful. They just need to utilize what they have and not be ignorant to what the people want. As for now, however, it is and will continue to be all about Spotify.

Trey Kamberling

Inheriting an Empire: Tim Cook and Apple

Tim Cook looks and acts like the products that his company is so famous for producing.

Tim CookThe full head of silvery-white hair looks like something Jony Ive, Apple’s famous lead industrial designer, could have slaved over in the engineering labs and formed from brushed aluminum in a Chinese factory. He is quiet, timid, precise, meticulous, he runs smoothly and without haste. He was chosen to take over the worlds most valuable company, by the most perfectionistic, and visionary businessman of the 21st Century. This choice was no accident.

Bob Dylan once wrote, “All I can be is me, whoever that is”. Cook has allowed Apple’s legacy of excellence, innovation, and bravery to inspire and inform his directing of the company, but not shackle it. He is not Steve, and Apple is better for it. Many of Apple’s most successful products over the last four to five years, have been ones that wouldn’t have been allowed under the old guard. Larger iPhones, smaller iPads, MacBooks with HDMI, products with gold finishes.

Apple has become more open under Cook, devoting titanic amounts of resources, both time and money, into renewable energy, funding for HIV AIDS research, marching for LGBT rights, and a huge push for equality. The world learned the kind of man Cook is, when at a recent shareholders meeting, he told a reporter, “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He is a man who cares deeply about equality, fairness, and accessibility. His office is bookended by two portraits: One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and another of Robert Kennedy. He describes them as “two civil rights leaders who put their lives on the line for what they believed in.”

Not everything has gone exactly according to plan, though. Both Maps, & Siri, as well as Apple’s most recently iOS operating system updates, have been less than well-received. Apple’s mantra used to be “It Just Works,” in reference to having software and hardware that worked together like magic. Now, with pressure to release a new update every fall, that has fallen to the wayside, in favor of an annual feature bump. And that’s just their software.

iPhone 5cThe iPhone 5C has been criticized for being made of “non-premium materials”, meaning plastic. Apple usually only uses higher quality glass, and aluminum in its designs, and a sudden shift to a cheaper housing put it in the realm of Samsung, and other competitors in terms of build quality.

But maybe, to Samsung, that comparison would have been taken more favorably. The Korean electronics giant has come under criticism, both by tech journalists and Apple in recent years, for copying Cupertino’s most popular products. Even worse, is the blatant bootlegging of design by Chinese copycat products, going so far as to recreate the aesthetic of Apple’s retail outlets

When thinking of Cook’s place in Apple’s story, I’m reminded of my upbringing as a young Catholic boy, and the “gloria” prayer. There was a verse, “He is seated at the right hand of the father…” And that to me is Tim Cook.

While Steve Jobs will always be looked at as the iconoclastic figurehead, the high priest of the computer age, Tim Cook is very much the right hand man, the man behind the legend.

Sam Strajack

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is Bold, Just Like Their Marketing Strategy

In America’s electronics field, it seems like it is Apple versus the world. If it is not PC versus Mac, then it is IOS versus Android. I was not surprised when I did a quick Google search to find out some information about mobile devices, specifically what percentage of smartphone users use Apple’s iPhone versus the percentage of users that use Android devices. According to a recent Yahoo Tech page, 42.7% of smartphone users in the U.S. use the iPhone, while 52% use Android devices. That isn’t a surprise, considering that I see about one in every two people using an iPhone. As most people know, Android devices come from multiple companies including HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung. While Android might have a slightly larger share of the market, the prize for the most phones in use easily goes to Apple. Of all U.S. smartphone users, 43% of them use the iPhone, while Samsung comes in second with 29%.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4While Samsung does make up over half of the Android smartphones in use, it is still lagging behind the juggernaut of Apple with its weapon of choice: the iPhone. How does one stand up to these odds? Can it be done? Samsung seems to think so.

Samsung has recently released its newest flagship “phablet,” the Galaxy Note 4. The bold marketing campaign hopes to increase the market share of smartphones. Samsung has approached it in three specific ways: taking shots at the competition, focusing on Samsung products, and branding.

The Note 4 was released on September 3, 2014. Ten days later an advertisement was released that showcased the strategies that Samsung would be using to accomplish their goal. For their campaign, their competition is obvious: Apple.

In this one-minute spot, shots at Apple can be seen from 18 to 24 seconds, and from 37 to 52. It belittles (no pun intended) the iPhone 6 and Apple in general. It basically labels Apple as a copycat brand with little innovation. At least, that is the message they hope viewers will receive. This is a major way that Samsung has marketed itself recently, by attempting to drag down the competition of Apple. At the same time, Samsung does a great job at focusing on their products and the functionality of them.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 AdLooking at the advertisement once again, the Note 4 is focused on from the beginning to 18 seconds in, and from 24 to 37 seconds. This is what really sets them apart from Apple, as Samsung puts a much larger emphasis on their products, and features of the products, then actual branding. During a middle section, there is a feature shown called multi-window, which allows more than one application to be shown on the screen at the same time, a feature that Apple does not offer. This also reinforces the subtle branding of “Samsung does it better” when thinking about how large screens should function. View Samsung’s other ads here and here and here.

Samsung is communicating that they do it better, and they have been doing it for longer. The branding is far overshadowed by the focus on the product, but it is still present if you look close enough.

How effective was this ad for you? Do you think Samsung should change their strategy? Is it effective on a large-scale? Also, take a look at some discussion regarding the “bendgate” issue here.

Thanks for reading!

-Seth Ebling

Beats by Dre: #SoloSelfie

Beats by Dre has done it again. Their #SoloSelfie campaign is designed to promote the new Solo Beats 2 headphones. The campaign calls for users to take their #SoloSelfie and upload it to social media with the hashtag #SoloSelfie. In this blog post I will provide information about Beats by Dre’s marketing strategy, their innovation on the selfie, and the power of the hashtag. I will also question the effectiveness of Beats by Dre’s current strategies.

Soloselfie

Beats by Dre was originally founded by rapper and hip-hop producer, Dr. Dre, and Intercope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman, Jimmy Lovine. On August 1, 2014, Apple Inc. acquired Beats for $3 billion in a cash and stock deal. Beats by Dre’s primary focus is on headphones and speakers. Dr. Dre claims his headphones allow listeners to hear “all the music”.

I own a pair of Beats by Dre Studio headphones, and to be honest, I did not buy them for their high quality of audio. I bought them because they look good and their noise cancellation is awesome. I also like the company because my favorite NBA player, LeBron James, has his own Beats line of headphones.

The headphones have a strong emphasis on the bass in songs. So for hip-hop and most pop songs the headphones are perfect, however for anything else the audio quality is not really worth the high price. So why are they one of the most popular headphones on the market? They became popular through their marketing practices. Beats by Dre focuses heavily on product placement and branding deals with celebrities.

The #SoloSelfie campaign is loaded with celebrity endorsers wearing the new Solo2 Beats headphones while performing the “Solo Selfie. Beats by Dre produced several promotional videos showing off the new Solo2 headphones, with directions on how to do the Solo Selfie. The video below was their first promotional video for the campaign and currently has about 17 mil views on YouTube.

The promotional video has many celebrities performing the Solo Selfie. Shortly after this video was launched, Beats by Dre revealed an extended version designed to teach users how to take a solo selfie. This video is filled with the same celebrities; only they are the ones teaching how to do the Solo Selfie. This video currently has about 1.5 mil views on YouTube.

As you can see in both of these videos, the #SoloSelfie campaign is definitely targeting younger generations that love to share pictures of themselves. Beats by Dre stepped it up by doing a video selfie, an innovation following the photo selfie.

Once people across the world found out about this campaign, Vine exploded with users posting their Solo Selfies. Some users made Vines making fun of it while others just posted their own Solo Selfie. Good publicity or bad publicity is still a good thing for Beats by Dre and their campaign. As long as people are posting their videos with the hashtag Solo Selfie, it is earned media for the company.

According the Beats by Dre website, about 17 mil people have joined their movement. This number is based on how many people have shared their Solo selfie on any social media site with their hashtag. This just shows how powerful the hashtag can be. With this campaign they want their users to feel connected and have the ability to like, comment, and share other Solo Selfies. The hashtag makes this happen.

Beats by Dre has built their company around their branding. The #SoloSelfie campaign is no different. Is their celebrity strategy working? It seems to be connecting with younger audiences, but they haven’t reached the older crowd just yet. Beats by Dre will continue to have great success as long as they remain true to their branding and continue to receive celebrity support. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog post. Feel free to respond with your opinions on whether or not Beats by Dre’s current marketing strategies are working for their brand.

-Thomas Zittergruen

Google Glass: A Game Changer?

Google Glass, if you haven’t heard of it already, is Google’s experimental new invention that is causing quite the ruckus in the tech world.  Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD).  It works through somewhat of a smartphone interface, but in a completely hands-free format via voice control, other than the small touch pad on the side of the head-mount.

Many will go out and purchase this fine piece of engineering, as soon as it’s available, to be used as a versatile and revolutionary tool in their everyday life.  Others will want it just to have the latest high-tech toy.  If these things really start to take off, then you can imagine it will be the “smartphone revolution” all over again.

The new device has already been turning some heads in the advertising industry.  Many people in the industry believe that there will be a huge opportunity to take advantage of what they are calling a new platform in advertising.  Is Google Glass going to be an advertising game changer?

googleglassPay-Per-Gaze Advertising, have you ever heard of it?  No one has! Google recently patented the new format of advertising.  So what is it?  Pay-Per-Gaze technology tracks how many times a consumer looks at branded content, whether it be online, on TV, or glancing at a poster or billboard while walking down the street.

The technology also may have the potential to measure how people react emotionally to ads that they see, creating very valuable demographic data.  This data, with everything in this world, will have a price tag that Google will have the utmost freedom to set.   It’s a dream come true for Google and it’s wallet.  For more about the importance of this kind of data, check out this article on AdAge.

Putting business aside, how is this going to change advertising creatively?  How are ads we see everyday going to adapt to this new technology?  Whether it is Google that takes advantage of this technology, Apple, or some other new company that develops a similar product, surely we will see a shift in the way we advertise.

What are ads going to look like? Will they be loaded right in front of you in a “cyber ad space”, or will they notify you when you are next to them and give you the option of looking at them or not.  Here are a couple examples that might realistically represent would future advertising may be like with Pay-Per-Gaze.  Digital ads could pop up in a smart glass wearer’s view depending on what real-world scene he or she is gazing, or advertisers could deliberately replace real-world ads in a wearer’s vision with virtual ads, the possibilities are almost endless when you are constantly looking through a screen capable of displaying virtual-reality advertisements.  How long until they work this micro technology into our prescription contact lenses?  Then maybe our world will be more like this:

With this new technology, comes a boatload of new privacy issues.  It is seemingly obvious that with all of the recent NSA “big brother is watching you” chatter, that something intrusive as “reading your emotions” when you look at an advertisement might come off as a negative feature.  If this scene from Minority Report creeped you out, then you are definitely not alone.  There are plenty of people out there that don’t exactly like the idea of this.

So what do you think?  Is Google Glass just too intrusive to take off?  Or is this the beginning of a whole new world of advertising?  Is this idea really that absurd of a concept to grasp? Or is Google just ahead of the curve?

Rob Bauer