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Is the new iphone prototype theft a tad suspicious …

… or am I over-reacting?

Steve Jobs and Apple are notoriously protective of their gadgets.  All details are kept under very high security wraps until the management are ready to release them in a highly visible marketing event. This makes sense for an organisation that keeps itself so prominent in the computer gadgets business.

Why then would they allow a 20-something year old technician to take it out on the town?  Apparently, this technician took the phone to a bar, introduced it to some German beers and anyone else who might be interested. The beers were so popular the phone got left behind in the bar.  This just doesn’t fit with the Apple high security and protectivism.

The finder sold the phone to a Gizmodo web editor who promptly blogged about it.  Now, the heavy hands at Apple have managed to have a police search of the home of the Gizmodo editor in case he should commit a felony with this phone. It’s all very odd. The fact that the police search is illegal under California law only adds to the strangeness.

Is it all a big publicity stunt?

If it is, is it a good one?  Yes, it gets people taking about the phone. It gets a reputable web site to dissect, analyse and talk about the phone. On the other hand, the parameters are poor – having a young employee lose the phone on a drinking binge is a tad silly.

Maybe, Apple are human after all.  Like in every organisation on the planet, their high level security has a hole in it on occasion? Perhaps.

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This type of business is not supposed to work

A significant feature of online business and marketing emphasises the need to interact with the customer, engage the customer, build a relationship with the customer. At the very very very least, don’t antagonise the customer unnecessarily. Yet Ryanair do so on a regular basis and somehow it doesn’t seem to matter.

The latest concerns the “lunatic” (the words of Ryanair) blogger who discovered a glitch in the Ryanair booking system. Read it here from the source. He got a hefty 400+ comments. The more in-your-face comments, however, came from Ryanair themselves. Read about it here and here.

I find it hard to believe that there can a single school of business anywhere promoting the direct labeling of a customer as an idiot, a liar, stupid, a bragger, having a pathetic life. Yet, Ryanair have done exactly this.

Even more bizarre is that this dreadful example of customer service isn’t likely to make one jot of difference. Customers will continue to flock to Ryanair’s planes, even if they no longer use the bathroom facilities (!). In a recession, cheap flights are a cheap price to pay for lack of courtesy.

Can you think of any other product, organisation or industry where this might work?

Net ways to hit target

The headline on todays IT In Business from SPB is …. Bye bye blogs, hello Bebo!. The exclamation mark is all mine.  It’s all about marketing’s very tricky jobs of getting us finicky (and in-a-recession-so-not-spending-money) consumers to spend some money.

Thing is, marketing is tricky business. I know because I used to work in it (it was a long time ago), You try something and an exact measurement of how and to what extent it works is actually hard to measure.

The latest is that blogs are not the way to go. Engaging with the customer (called EWTC) for short is to be done through social networking sites like Bebo and Facebook.

The SPB tells us about the experience of Pat the Bakers (yup, the bread guys) and their adventures on Bebo. It seems to have given them a lot of interactive exposure (as opposed to the passive experience of watching the cheery guy on their tv ad telling us to wake up early), and it cost them a mere 1.2% of their advertising budget. How much of the 1.2% and customer interactivity can be turned into actual sales. Hmm, it cold be good!

Pat the Baker

Pat the Baker

Even if the sums cannot be computed, the relationship marketing can only be good. Building brand awareness is a big part of selling units of your branded products. The direct contact with customers is there to be used. An example is given by Brendan Hughes of FBD Insurance on exactly this. Personal contact with an irate poster initiated by Brendan turned a negative into a positive.

The human touch is never going to go out fashion. Now, we have tech tools to enhance that touch and organisations can be closer than ever to their customers. It’s a case of figuring out how to do it constructively.

Now, if only we could convince the 65% of orgs who block employee access to these sites to see the value…..