It has been said people don’t judge art. They may posture and opine, but in the end the only real critic of art is time. And when time judges the visual legacy of the 21st century, this will undoubtedly be seen as one of the most beautiful and inspiring things of all.
As always, you can click on the picture to see it in all of its full-sized glory. And it is undeniably glorious. Go ahead, click.
I know there was a fair amount of eye-rolling yesterday at Budweiser’s Canada-only Super Bowl ad featuring the Automatic Game-Synched Home Goal Light. A traditionally-styled WiFi-driven goal light that fires off when your team scores, whether you are watching the game or not? Fun? Sure. But at 150 bucks? Maybe not so much.
And yes, that first sentence there was a bit of a mouthful. Sorry.
Ahem. First impressions aside, this thing looks like it could be a hit. Not only has it gotten national media attention in the U.S. – where the ad did not play – but the first round of product is Sold Right Out. You can pre-order for the next batch, but you won’t see your toy until the end of the regular season. That’s okay for knowledgeable hockey fans, since the playoffs are the real show anyway, but it means that supporters of the always-hapless Maple Leafs will be left out in the post-season cold again. A pity, since in the Toronto area the folks from Bud will even drive out to your cave and install the thing for you at no extra charge.
Worth pointing out, part 1: Regardless of any profit or loss associated with this project, this is already a win for Bud. People are talking about it, people are hitting the web page, and even jaded and cynical mopes like me are linking the ad like crazy. In an age where traditional marketing has gone into the toilet, this is a heck of a clever play.
Worth pointing out, part 2: Budweiser is an advertising partner of the NHL and it seems odd that they weren’t able to use actual NHL game footage in the ad.
Worth pointing out, part 3: The connectivity is provided by a wildly clever little slice of silicon built by a wildly clever little start-up called Electric Imp. It’s a self-contained Wi-Fi reciever, addressable processor, and output stack crammed onto what is more or less an SD card. If your product can pack an SD slot your product can now be both connected to the Interpipes and configured on the fly. Two days ago Electric Imp was an interesting little curiousity. But after yesterday … something tells me you are going to be hearing about these guys (or at least using their products, whether you know it or not) a lot.
Some people like to blather on about market share in the small- and compact-screen computer market. Those people are, or course, idiots … what you want to talk about is profit share. Having 60 percent of the market but only 10 percent of the profits isn’t really anything to be bragging about. As in anything else, you want to follow the money. This is especially true if you are a developer. Not only do you want to hook your wagon to the winning team, you want to make sure that there are people willing to support that particular team and plunk down some of their hard-earned moolah in the process.
Unfortunately it’s not always easy to know who is actually making money and (more importably) how much. You can pick through annual reports and the like, make some shred guesses, try and estimate numbers for companies that don’t report publicly, maybe cast some chicken bones and entrails while you are at it … or you can just peek at the world’s most useful bellwether stat: Mobile Internet Usage. How platforms consume data online is a really solid indicator of how much money is being made – both by the handset maker and by developers – on a particular mobile OS. Better, the information is updated constantly and is generally available at a top-level resolution for free.
All of which brings us to the latest data for January 2013. Note that the only three companies who are making money in small-screen computing are also the only three companies not clustered down with the dregs and has-beens at the bottom of the chart. What might be more interesting is that this finally erases the line between what the media calls “smartphones” and the rest of the handset formats. The iOS platform has long been in the lead for mobile internet use among smartphones but now it has passed Nokia for total usage … and considering how many of those Nokia candy bar handsets are still out there and in heavy use, this is a serious tipping point in the history of mobile computing.
Anyone who has ever watched a Super Bowl – or paged through the ads on YouTube the next day – knows that two things are set in stone: One, Pepsi will buy four ad slots, and two, the Pepsi ad in any given year will be a snarky-verging-on-whiney attack on Coca-Cola that doesn’t do much beyond loudly reinforcing Pepsi’s position as the perennial also-ran in the cola wars.
Hey, whatever floats your boat.
But, according to CBS, you can only attack one of their advertisers if you are willing to spend as much as the guy you are attacking. They have just informed Sodastream that their ad is not welcome in the Super Bowl lineup because it is “directly aimed at two of the largest and most valued sponsors” – Coke and (ta-dah!) Pepsi. Yep. You can position yourself as the little guy willing to take on the Big Evil of the market leader … but only if you are willing to spend the same big bucks as, you know, Big Evil. Goliath pays the bills, so no Davids are wanted in this particular marketplace.
The problem for CBS, of course, is that the “marketplace” has long passed them by. There was a time where the big three US networks decided what people did and did not see, and that was it. And while the big brains at the network obviously don’t understand that times have changed, the fact of the matter is the power has long devolved from a handful of guys in corner offices to the viewers themselves. And if CBS doesn’t want you to see something that might change the way you think about their two biggest sponsors, well tough. It’s not 1988 anymore. It’s not their call.