tech in the spotlight

Apple Reveals World's Thinnest Tablet, Confirms Apple Pay Launch on Monday

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2014 05:06 PM

Wall Street may have shrugged, but will consumers stampede to the stores yet again following Apple's latest product reveal?

That was the big question following today’s Apple press event, which offered few surprises as details of slimmer tablets and fuller-sized versions were accidentally published along with a new user guide yesterday. 

Just in time for the holidays, here’s a recap of today’s announcements by the world's most valuable brand: Continue reading...

branding together

Apple Squashes Rumor Mill Over Beats Music Plans

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 23, 2014 11:08 AM

"Apple Plans To Shut Down Beats Music." "Apple denies it is shutting down Beats Music."

Those headlines, from TechCrunch and USA Today respectively, came with hours of one another, proving that even if Apple is not "shutting down" Beats Music, it's sensitive about its role as proud new papa.

It also signals that Apple watchers and Beats fans alike are jumpy, maybe even distrustful, about what the big Apple might have in store for the popular music brand started by Pepsi-endorsed game-changer Dr Dre, whose headphones to streaming music brand arguably has more street cred and cool than Apple's white earbuds and iTunes combined.

Oddly, Dre (the richest hip-hop artist ever thanks to the Apple deal, Forbes announced today) and the Beats brand were mostly MIA during Apple's big iPhone/Apple Watch product reveal earlier this month. And given the subsequent news that Apple is developing a new music format with U2 (linked to Apple by Beats' Jimmy Iovine and a long relationship with Steve Jobs), it could appear that the honeymoon following the $3.2 billion Apple-Beats marriage is over.Continue reading...

sustainability

Brands Unite Around Climate Change Ahead of UN Summit

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 22, 2014 02:01 PM

A tipping point has been reached vis-à-vis climate change. Sunday's People’s Climate March (supported by Ben & Jerry's and a host of organizations) drew an estimated 400,000 people in New York alone, making it the largest climate march in history. And it's not just private citizens, but corporate citizens that are taking a stand in response to customer demands ahead of Tuesday’s opening of the UN Climate Summit in New York.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has identified the issue as a top priority and is using NYC's Climate Week to set the stage for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Paris in December 2015.

On the eve of this week's Climate Summit, companies are speaking out and aligning their brands with popular sentiment by making pledges to help fight global warming, with the Climate Group announcing commitments by "100 of the world's largest companies" to adopt renewable power by 2020.

Case in point: Apple CEO Tim Cook, barely catching his breath from a record opening weekend for iPhone 6 sales, flew from California to attend a Climate Week kick-off event in New York, where he commented that "Apple has a very core value of leaving the world better than we found it."

In addition to calling Apple's new HQ the "greenest building on the planet," Cook announced that the company's 2013 goal to get its data centers fully powered by renewable energy sources is six percent shy of that goal.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Apple, Alibaba, Climate Change and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 22, 2014 09:14 AM

TOP STORIES

Apple sets new record with 10 million iPhone 6 sales its first weekend, dispatching Tim Cook to Palo Alto and Angela Ahrendts to Sydney to meet fans, while pre-scheduled Joan Rivers endorsement backfires on social media. The music industry, meanwhile, is watching Apple's Beats acquisition closely amid rumors it may fold the service.

Alibaba's next step, following world's largest IPO: helping US small businesses.

Jaguar taps Stella McCartney for XE launch at Paris auto show, where MINI will show new five-door hatchback among other auto brand reveals.

Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Nestle, PepsiCo and other food and CGP giants sign landmark agreement on children's marketing rules.

NFL changes player-conduct policy and names a female CMO in PepsiCo veteran Dawn Hudson, as P&G cancels breast-cancer awareness tie-in with league and '47 brand stands by league.

MORE BRAND NEWS

Air France pilots vote to extend strike.

Applebee's sees social lift from "food porn."

AT&T and other brand publishers find their relationship with Facebook "complicated."

BlackBerry makeover starts to take shape and show results.

Chipotle's "brilliant" hiring process featured on LinkedIn.

Citi sees New York audit of troubled Citi Bike program.Continue reading...

branding together

U2unes Download: Apple and U2 Announce Next Big Gift to Music

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 18, 2014 03:24 PM

After exclusively launching U2’s new Songs of Innocence album to 500 million iTunes accounts this past week, Apple is delivering something else in response to customer demand. And true to Apple form, it’s an intuitive, easy-to-use and simple piece of technology—a delete button

A case study in how not to show customer appreciation, the unwanted gift of U2 music to all iTunes customers, whether they were fans of the Irish rockers or not, was hyped as the largest album release ever, and a "shrewd" marketing partnership (to the reported tune of $100 million) to celebrate the roots of the brand's longstanding tie-in with the band.

It turns out that the U2 album giveaway was a teaser for a bigger gift to come—and not only to music lovers but to musicians and the music industry as a whole. As TIME reveals in an exclusive cover story today, Apple is working with U2 on a bigger "secret project": a new digital music format designed to delight and excite customers to buy not only individual tracks but whole albums-as-experiences, and in so doing, "save the music industry."Continue reading...

tech innovation

Apple, Watch Your Back: Is Google Going More Boldly Into the Future?

Posted by Ilan Beesen on September 15, 2014 03:14 PM

After months of anticipation, and a few days of perspective, the big Apple keynote last week proved less thrill, and more drill. Not to sound like an ingrate—I’m a longtime Apple admirer and loyal customer—but as far as surprises go, Apple is about as full of them, lately, as a bale of hay.

For its latest worldwide product reveal, Apple’s "one more thing" was the highly anticipated, and long overdue, Apple Watch. The sales pitch by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake was unexpected, although U2's appearance wasn't. And the missing 'i' in Apple’s Pay and Watch caught everyone off guard, but that’s about it. While stirring interest by Apple fans, iPhone devotees (who snapped up the pre-order phones) and the global tech press, the big event by Tim Cook & Co. was a feature-rich, impeccably-designed bale of hay.

Compared to its history full of silicon-fueled subversion, today’s Apple plays it conservative. While typically the winner at whatever it does, Apple is not even close to being first out to the field with wearable tech, for example. It’s the obsessive batter who takes 10,000 practice swings before stepping to the plate and hitting a homerun. Impressive, but where’s the eccentricity, the wonder, the audacity? Whatever happened to going toe to toe with spectacular failure? Expected awesomeness is still expected.

In the euphoric afterglow of Apple’s keynote, it’s sobering to compare Apple's just-announced innovations with some of the recent work of another tech titan.Continue reading...

brand faces

Staying Truett: Chick-fil-A’s Path Forward in the Wake of its Legendary Founder

Posted by Darcy Newell on September 10, 2014 06:34 PM

Monday was a sad day for fans of chicken sandwiches and the Chick-fil-A brand—the company’s founder and chairman emeritus, S. Truett Cathy, died at age 93 in his home. 

For many, Cathy was the embodiment of the Chick-Fil-A brand. Having grown the company from a small Atlanta diner in 1964 to one of the largest (1,800 locations in 40 states) and most beloved chicken restaurants in the United States, Cathy exemplified the American Dream. And despite strong business acuity, he was known for not choosing profitability over piety. From the company’s founding, restaurants have always closed on Sundays for a day of rest—missing out on opportunities for substantial revenue gains.

Of course, this religious focus has not always bided well for the man or the brand. Recent lawsuits claim the company’ discriminated against non-Christians, the LGBT community and others, and sparked debate on the role of religion—and religious commentary—in business today. Despite this, Cathy remained revered by the brand's intensely loyal fans for the experiences (and delightfully simple sandwiches) he created.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

Time's Up: Apple Unveils Larger iPhones, Wows with Apple Watch and Payments

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 9, 2014 05:15 PM

Today, at what seemed like its largest press event ever, Apple unveiled the future of communication—and it's beautiful. 

CEO Tim Cook took the stage after countless brand fans and media kept their eye on a countdown clock on Apple's website, effortlessly building anticipation for a product launch that many have been counting on for the last year. And in true Apple fashion—minimalist introductory video and slideshow presentations, live demos and a parade of Apple executives not to mention U2—the brand introduced what everyone had been waiting for: two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus; a new payment platform, Apple Pay; and the highly-anticipated Apple Watch

After years—decades, really, in tech time—of shunning the "bigger is better" trend in mobile, Apple unveiled not one, but two new iPhones, both of which offer a larger screen experience. But the two new phones turned out to be perhaps the least ground-breaking announcement of the day.Continue reading...

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