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  • Posted by: Alex Foss on Tuesday, March 5 2013 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Self-driving cars

    Self-driving cars have seen a lot of progress in the past year, but the latest represents a surprising intersection of robotics and consumer tech. Oxford University students recently demonstrated how an Apple iPad can be used as the control center for a self-driving Nissan. It can engage “autopilot” on familiar routes, avoid obstacles and pedestrians, and return control to the driver with a touch of the breaks.

    Cool-factor aside, this is one of many recent examples of how consumer software and technology are finding their ways into product classes traditionally dominated by industrial heavyweights. Some near century-old giants of automotive, aerospace and manufacturing are finding new competitors in previously unrelated categories.

    • The Federal Aviation Administration recently granted permission to American Airlines to use the iPad as pilots’ resource for regulations and aircraft manuals. In addition to eliminating 35 lbs. of paper from the pilots’ flight bags, it allows the airline to avoid costly aircraft retrofits with dedicated electronic flight bag consoles.
    • MirrorLink, a technology that duplicates the display and touch controls of smartphones into automotive head-units, is gaining support from device and entertainment companies. This could compromise automakers' ability to market their own branded infotainment and telematics systems and maintain consistency of the driving experience.
    • The increasing accessibility of 3D printing technology is threatening to disrupt the value chains of all kinds of industries. There are implications for intellectual property, labor, the size and location of plant and equipment, shipping and – perhaps most importantly – product design. 3D printers are already being used to make on-demand spare parts, prosthetics and product prototypes.

    The modern computing landscape, characterized by pocket-sized devices stuffed with sensors and backed by vast cloud computing power, has changed consumers’ expectations for usability, connectivity and access to the state-of-the-art. For brands whose product lifecycles are measured in decades, it will be ever more important to develop platforms that allow their products to keep pace with the innovation happening around them.

    The components of Brand Strength can be helpful tools for looking at this challenge. Some manufactures will attempt to stake out their differentiation with proprietary branded solutions, at the risk of losing relevance because of rapid obsolescence. Others will try to maintain relevance by creating transparent conduits for consumers’ existing tech ecosystems, at the risk of commoditizing their own products and compromising consistency. Successful brands in the durable goods and industrial categories will see these components not as tradeoffs, but as mutual necessities in maintaining and growing brand value.

    Alex Foss is an Associate Consultant, Brand Strategy at Interbrand San Francisco.

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  • Posted by: David Trahan on Friday, September 7 2012 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

    iPad Mini 

    If there’s one thing I think you should take away from Apple’s new naming conventions with the iPad, it’s this: It doesn’t matter what generation of an Apple product you have anymore.

    When was the last time someone asked you what generation iPod Touch you have? Probably not since 2008, and there’s a reason for it. Apple doesn’t want you to care about which generation of a product you have, but rather about which version of the product you have.

    You either have a Shuffle, a Nano, a Classic or a Touch. Naming around generations of products the way Apple has been doing with the iPad and iPhone makes older products seem obsolete, and discourages consumers from buying. Now that we know Apple is coming out with a smaller iPad called ‘iPad Mini’, I fully expect to see Apple apply this naming style across its product portfolio.

    I expect the next iPhone to simply be called "iPhone" – just like the new iPad. I also expect to see new iPad products in the future, like an "iPad XL" or an "iPad Surface." Apple knows that the future is just going to be about the size of the screen you’re using, and what it enables you to do.

    What remains to be seen is how Macbook fits in with all of this. It’s the only product that breaks ranks with these naming conventions, because it’s the original. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the name "Macbook" disappear soon and be replaced with "iMac." The new line of iMacs could function like a Mac mini, but be the size and shape of the iPad and iPad mini, and attach to them for laptop-like functionality. That would certainly open up a new market for Apple accessories.

    Eventually, Apple will likely consolidate product lines. Each will probably have 3-5 products within them based on size and functionality. The names will be simple, the platforms will be integrated, and the experience will be seamless. That’s what I believe "iPad Mini" means.

    David Trahan is a Verbal Identity Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Jerome McDonnell on Friday, July 6 2012 03:28 PM | Comments (0)
    iPhone 5 Ice Cream is popular in China
    Photo From China Hush

    Earlier this week it was announced that Apple and Proview Technology resolved their differences over the “iPad” trademark, and billions of consumers in China will now have access to the world’s most popular tablet. Brandchannel.com had an interesting take on the whole affair, suggesting that Apple’s actions could make matters worse for brand owners that struggle with China’s trademark system. It contends that the $60 million settlement figure may encourage trademark squatters to prolong their efforts and/or inspire others to engage in such tactics.

    It’s an interesting point of view—but I don’t think that brand owners need worry any more now than they should/already have been prior to this. As we know, this saga was not really about the workings of China’s intellectual property system, but/rather a breach of contract that happened to involve a trademark.

    China’s first-to-file rule can be a challenge for brands that wish to expand there, but it’s hardly the only country that employs such a system in assigning trademark rights. And Chinese law does provide some protection for foreign brands; those than can prove their name was too well-known for the Chinese holder to have registered it in good faith can prevail.

    Starbucks and auctioneer Sotheby’s both won cases against squatters. It’s not easy, but the reality is that it’s the price of doing business these days, and every brand owner should know that trademark rights are territorial.

    It’s rumored that Proview agreed to settle because of debts and looming bankruptcy. But as one Beijing IP lawyer has pointed out, ultimately the settlement amount isn’t really so bad for either party. While Proview may own the rights to the trademark, it wasn’t the one responsible for building the brand value. And, with China currently accounting for approximately 20% of Apple’s overall revenue, the tech giant can write this off as money well spent.

    With this matter behind them, Apple can focus its efforts on more pressing issues: After he dismissed Apple’s lawsuit over patent infringement against Motorola Mobility (aka Google) a couple weeks ago, Judge Posner yesterday declared that patents in most industries are doing more harm than good. While this won’t lead to a drastic overhaul of the patent system, rulings on individual cases will likely give pause to those that use lawsuits in an attempt to weaken the competition.

    Meanwhile, the iPhone 5™ is already available in China.

    Jerome McDonnell is Group Trademark Director for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Kathryn Geraghty on Wednesday, April 18 2012 05:28 PM | Comments (0)
    iPad is described as the magical window where nothing comes between you and what you love. If the capital P becomes at risk for deflation then it becomes a nominee for a new dictionary word to mean tablet computers. The magic of Apple disappearing by the generic use of iPad is a ghastly look.

    Apple dominated the tablet category with nearly 75% market share in 2011, but its share is dropping because of an increase in competition. The generic use of a brand name allows the competition to accelerate the sales process in the short term. Major brands like Microsoft and Amazon are not arriving to the market with the use of iPad, but their customers may use the term to refer to their products. Customers may not be mistaken by the actual brand, but they’ll begin to cross attributes between brands. The users of Microsoft “iPads” allow them to find what they love through the lens of a different brand.

    It’s been pointed out that the generic use of iPod gave Apple a boost in the market. Others say the conversation around iPad genericide is overreaction as we all said the same thing about the risks of the generic use of Google. The difference is we live in a post Steve Jobs era. Does Apple really want to share Jobs’ legacy with other brands?

    Interbrand advises brands to actively protect against genericide to drive choice, promote loyalty and command a premium. Trademarks protect identity and guide the market real estate for brands to promote its persona and interactions with their audiences. They are the promise of the brand, which serves as a sign of trust and strengthens customer loyalty. Create market share dominance through loyalty over genericide. Also, trademarks allow brands to differentiate, whereas generic use only serves to inform consumers.

    What do you think? Does Apple need to protect the capital P to indicate the differentiation of iPad from other brands? Does anything happen to the legacy of Steve Jobs over the next 10 to 15 years if they don’t protect it? What could a lack of legacy mean for Apple?

    Kathryn Geraghty is a Trademark Consultant in Interbrand's Verbal Identity group.

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  • Posted by: Morrin Carlin on Monday, August 1 2011 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

    The old is out and the new is in. The way people consume information has dramatically changed over the past five, four, three, two years and even the past several months. Technology is advancing every day and with that, touchpoints for consumers are increasing across all technological outlets. All that being said, Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are under some pressure. But it is good pressure!

    The DAM world is examining all possibilities and acting on those that seem most productive for users and clients. It is inevitable that technologies will keep advancing. Look at Apple for example - when will Apple stop creating new products? Future predictions for human behavior are also just as, if not more, important. As a consumer, we have such high expectations bringing forth an impending problem for companies – how to keep up and continuously be innovative while tending to what humans fancy?

    I predict that the consumer will be the center of attention from here on out. DAM systems have become humanized and are really focused on user experience. Although this may seem a small point, it will ultimately determine which systems are used more, and consequently produce the highest ROI. A key design that will shape future technologies will be establishing what makes consumers "lean-in." New apps for iPads and interactive home pages will be designed with enhanced features using 3D video and intuitive blogging forums. Differentiating products with engaging functionalities are aspects that will be explored in the future. All this means one thing – how you do it is just as important as what you do. 

    Nevertheless, technology is the underlining base of all future plans. There are new dynamics for content consumption. What was OK yesterday is outdated today. The way we experience collaboration is less through face-to-face meetings and increasingly through Workflow and Lightbox functionalities. Now, an ad is not just through the paper but on an iPad where we can touch through the different products, creating an interactive experience. The visuals at stores are not just signs but rather multimedia shop windows. We get frustrated when an item takes more than 20 seconds to download. Consumers expect a rich online interaction and if one site lacks it, we can move along to the next web site in seconds. Accessing information and using technology has changed.

    The key idea here is to predict future consumer preferences and expectations; then, to establish innovative technology that will enrich user experience live up to these standards. Easy enough, right?

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