On The Warc Blog: privacy, generosity and the iPad

02 June 2010

LONDON/WASHINGTON: Online privacy, the role of "brand generosity" and the emergence of rivals to Apple's iPad were among the subjects attracting attention on The Warc Blog in the last week.

Andrew Curry, a director at The Futures Company, looked at Facebook's attempts to amend the default privacy settings that apply to its members' accounts.

While the company stated this “radical transparency” is a positive development, some observers have warned Facebook is effectively trying to assume the status of the “owner of its users' online identity”.

The widespread discontent with Facebook's strategy has broader implications both for the social network and for other businesses, Curry argued.

“When the mental map which your customer has of your product or service becomes too divergent from their experience of it, the business suffers,” he said.

Moreover, the increasing importance that netizens are attaching to privacy will be a long-term trend, and thus while short-term profits may follow for firms able to exploit information, this model is not sustainable.

Indeed, through its current strategy, Facebook risks undermining public trust in the independence of the web, and could even ultimately encourage heightened formal regulation.

In a separate post, Tracey Follows, planning partner at VCCP, discussed the concept of “brand generosity” as a way to connect with consumers.

BMW, the German automaker, has recently unveiled a TV ad campaign based around the idea that driving its vehicles results in a feeling of “joy”.

Follows suggested that simply “telling” viewers about this kind of emotion does not produce a response, which requires a genuine stimulus rather than a message alone.

“If you entertain me, I might feel happy; if you interest me I might feel amazed; if you provoke me, I might feel energised. And if you show me generosity, I may well feel joy,” she said.

Apple is one company that has achieved the right balance in this area, offering tools like apps which enable owners of the iPhone to be creative and personalise their handset in unique ways.

This, Follows continued, constitutes “generous giving” and means people “literally can't enjoy something without the sense of sharing it with another.”

Elsewhere, Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, analysed the rise of “tablet” computers like Apple's iPad, which has sold over two million units since launch.

“The iPad can send emails, draw pictures, play games, and is an electronic reader. With more and more apps available, it's blurred the lines between smartphones and tablets and computers,” he said.

Dell now plans to enter this sector with the “Streak”, which utilises Google's Android operating system, has a screen that is half of the size of that of the iPad and can also make phone calls.

At present, however, Dell does not have a major presence in the smartphone market, which is led by brands like Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry according to Brand Keys' Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

As such, the challenge for Dell will be to leverage its high levels of overall recognition and to position its new “tweener” technology in a way that will appeal to a broad audience.

“Dell's brand recognition might help differentiate the device from the dozens of other upcoming Android devices, but as everyone knows, brand awareness is no leading-indicator of consumer engagement or sales,” said Passikoff.

Data sourced from Warc