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From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

by Steve Prentice  |  December 21, 2009  |  Comments Off on From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

I  have been pondering a lot recently on the notion of “value” and the motivations we have for investing in technology and the like. This is a subject I will likely be exploring a lot more in my research in 2010. In the meantime I have to share two examples of technology advertising that I encountered in the past week. They show how far the industry still has to go, but that some may be starting to see things differently.

First the ridiculous.  I keep an eye on developments in the semiconductor space as part of an interest in emerging trends and technologies. So I happened to glance through a press release from a semiconductor manufacturer (whose name will be omitted to spare their shame!) and found myself crying (and almost laughing at the same time!). The press release related to the use of the companies specialist chips in wind turbines and contained the following paragraph:

At the heart of this system is ……. deleted…….. embedded in the data acquisition hardware …. deleted …..sub-assembly part affixed to the turbine’s nacelle. Delivering core processing performance up to 333 MHz/2 GFLOPS with support for IEEE 32-bit/40-bit floating point and 32-bit fixed point operations, …..deleted…… processors employ an enhanced Single Instruction, Multiple-Data (SIMD) architecture to provide the real-time processing bandwidth and atomicity required to keep these subsystems running in precise coordination.

Now my semis colleagues earnestly assure me that this is all very relevant stuff and fail to see the absurdity. Come on guys! This is about a chip being used to make wind turbines more efficient. Great news! Issued at the same time that the world’s leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to address climate change this was a week when green issues were front and centre. Ergo, this was a glorious opportunity to link a piece of technology with global environmental issues. Save the whales! Save the Polar Bears! Save the Planet! Nope, let’s just hit them with the technobabble! Sorry – this was a missed opportunity of major proportions – 0/10 – Must try harder in future!

So it was with great surprise that I came across a poster for a new notebook from HP whilst charging through Heathrow airport in the same week, en-route to visit clients (yes, I know it isn’t very green either – sorry planet!).

It contained just one big word – “ENVY”.

It stopped me dead in my tracks. No tech specs. No tech babble. No features. No functionality. Just a good old-fashioned appeal to my emotions. Hooray! Tech advertising finally catches up with the rest of the discretionary spending items like cars, clothes, holidays, food and the rest. “Buy me and make everyone envious!” – now there is an appeal to tug at the purse strings. At least one notebook manufacturer (or at least their advertising/marketing people) have realised that there are higher order appeals than technology and they need to do something other than proclaim they are faster, cheaper than the rest. Well done to you all! 10/10 – Has reached new heights in imagination this year.

More on the notion of value in the new year!

Happy Holidays!

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Category: marketing  

Tags: value  

Stephen Prentice
VP & Gartner Fellow
13 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Stephen Prentice is a VP and Gartner Fellow working in the Executive Leadership and Innovation Group (part of CIO Research). He takes a specific interest in emerging trends and the long-term future of technology - looking at the intersection of technology, business and society. Current research interests include... Read Full Bio




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