Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Apple Story

We know Apple for it’s Macintosh computers (lovingly called ‘The Mac’), iPods, iTunes and iPhones.

Apple iPods stand out from the other brands in their respective categories because of their style - the lovely vibrant colors accompanied by a white wire connecting the earphones to the gadget - that has become a signature of the brand.

Just a little bit of history about Apple first. In the mid-80s, one of the co-founders of Apple, Steve Jobs, was asked to resign from the company as a result of an internal power struggle between him and the new CEO John Sculley. The board of directors of the company sided with Sculley & Jobs was asked to leave. After his departure in 1985, Apple’s stocks started plummeting, partly because Apple had two incompatible platforms that it was selling to different sections of consumers and partly also because IBM was making its presence felt stronger in the PC market. After twelve years, in 1997, Jobs was asked to join back the company as CEO, a position he serves in till the present.

Steve Jobs took a number of steps to get Apple back to the position it was at. Apart from strategic moves such as tying up with Microsoft software (rather than trying to compete with Microsoft), he also re-designed the Apple products and the company’s marketing, communications & branding strategy. Thus Apple came up with the transparent, brightly colored iMac computers, and more recently the pink, green, orange, yellow, red, blue iPods!

The re-designing of the products was not just to make the product stand out on shelves. It was more a result of understanding & segmenting the consumers. And indeed, today there are two types of consumers – there are the Apple consumers & the Dell-IBM kind of consumers.

So what does Apple stand for today? It stands for simplicity, user-friendliness, style, personalization & “coolness”. Apple isn’t about the latest technology in computers, phones & music players, and yet it has changed the way people listen to music or use their phones & PCs!

Apple is about people having fun, and their advertising campaign too is in line with this image. Take for example these print ads. Simple & fun!

Another very interesting concept Apple has adopted, that has borrowed right from the heart of Experiential Branding, is that of the Apple stores. They created these stores because the kind of brand experience they wanted customers to experience was not possible at third party retail outlets. The interiors of Apple stores are completely white, and they have something called the ‘Genius Bar’ where Apple “geniuses” help you repair your iPod/iPhone. The layout of the Genius Bar is like a bar – it has bar stools where the Apple “geniuses” sit with you while fixing your gadget & in case they can’t fix it on the spot, they call the Apple service center using red phones – an allusion to the Cold War between the United States & Soviet Union before the latter disintegrated, when red telephones were used for confidential, top level talks between the heads of the two countries.

So Apple has tried to create this “cool” image among its customers which, along with the revised product line, has done wonders for the company.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Two best friends, a boy & a girl, who spend ALL their time together, can't live without each other, yet do not know they are in love. In fact, they vehemently deny being in love with each other whenever someone suggests they are. That's one of the most common, hackeneyed & done-to-death story lines in Bollywood, idn't it? The first movie that comes to mind is Karan Johar's 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (gag!)

However, what separates Jaane Tu...from the other movies made on this subject is the way the movie has been handled by debutant director Abbas Tyrewala. There's no over-the-top melodrama as we saw in KJo's movie. The story has been handled in a straight-forward, youthful manner with TONS of humor and college banter. Sweet (I hate the word 'cute'), funny and most of all, REFRESHING are the words I would use to describe the movie.

As for the lead actors, I don't find Imran Khan all that cute but he's a package deal. He can act reasonably well and has good comic timing. Maybe he'll go the Aamir Khan way, playing the "romantic chocolate hero" before carving out a niche for himself as a "thinking actor", for he surely can act. Genelia might not fit the bill of the conventional Hindi movie heroine (she's too much of a pao for that, no offense to my pao friends :) but is quite apt to play a college-goer.

I haven't stopped singing 'Kabhi Kabhi' & 'Pappu can't dance' since I saw the movie last night. Especially 'Kabhi Kabhi'...I don't remember the last time a Hindi movie song had the name of the protagonist in its lyrics, showing how customized the song is to the situation in the movie. And ofcourse, there's A R Rehman's music! It's lilting, catchy & flows perfectly with the mood of the movie. Good stuff.

I think the last time I left the theater with a smile on my face that came from the heart was after watching Jhankaar Beats. I've watched funny, even hilarious movies since then but none that has put me in such a mellow yet happy frame of mind.

The movie isn't college-goer nonsense that only college going kids would enjoy. It's a movie that can be watched & loved by people of all ages. Irrespective of whether you had that one special friend in college, you would still identify with the movie because it's also about friendships. It'll make you call/SMS your closest friends to tell them how much you love them. It surely made me do that!

One more thing I loved about the movie was the shots of Bombay. I ABSOLUTELY love movies that are shot in Bombay, Life in A Metro being a case in point. Jaane Tu...had Marine Drive, Bandstand, Bandra Fort, Asiatic Library & the Fort area all through. Places I've spent 5 years hanging out at.

Watch the movie if you haven't yet. It's worth it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

We love you, Roger...

...for the game you play...for your elegance...for your class...for your sportsmanship...for your spirit...for the respect you have for your contemporaries...for your magic on court...for being ROGER FEDERER

Lionheart tames The King

The commentator, at the end of the marathon 5-set Wimbledon Men's 2008 Final between Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal, said "What we have witnessed here tonight is something very special, very extraordinary..."

His words couldn't have been more apt. After five successive Wimbledon Championships, Federer had to hand the cup over to Nadal. We all love Roger. It was very sad to see him lose last night, but throughout the match I was supporting Nadal...because he has always been touted as a player that can win only on slow clay surfaces. He was perceived not to possess the calibre to win on grass, and we've read enough about how much he wanted to win on grass. But the bigger reason I wanted Nadal to win was because he has worked really hard on his game on grass & the way he was playing yesterday, he totally deserved to win. Not that Roger deserved it any less. He's a player of a different class altogether but Nadal gave him a fight on every ball.

Yesterday, while Nadal held the champion's trophy, Federer held the runners-up trophy. Am not sure when Federer saw himself holding the runners-up trophy last!

What's extraordinary is the respect the two players have for each other. While Federer said that Nadal was a deserving champion, here's what Nadal said about his great rival :

"Well, it is disappointing for me I am in the same time as the best player in history, Roger Federer.

...I just congratulate Roger, because he always fights unbelievably

I lost the last two finals, close finals. But he's still the number one. He's still the best. He's still five times champion here."

If watching Federer & Nadal stand side-by-side on Center Court, holding trophies that the other generally holds, and reading the words above didn't touch your heart and put you in a mellow mood, I don't know what would.