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The Product Is Still King

The upshot is that every company wants a differentiator. On the tech side you may see unique Android user interfaces, exclusive smart TV content or ever thinner laptops, but ever more there is an obsession about branding.

More often than not this results in a slap dash approach: Nokias appear in the Batman films, Vaios in The Social Network and Macs in, well, everything. Apple partners with U2 then RIM partners with U2. Samsung sponsors Chelsea, then Take That, then Beckham. O2 sponsors the Wireless Festival, then SanDisk sponsors it, then O2 sponsors Arsenal. LG sponsors Fulham FC. Virgin has the V Festival, Vodafone sponsored Ferrari F1 then moved to McLaren F1, AMD now sponsors Ferrari F1. Sony sponsors The Champions' League. And so it goes on and on and on. At times it is throwing mud at the wall, but tech is embraced by the mainstream. It doesn't matter where you advertise your next big gadget - you can find a market anywhere.

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There is a very significant further point to all this: chill out. Companies like Dropbox, Spotify and even Facebook in its early days have proved that you don't need big ad budgets to get off the ground.

That said don't be surprised when success makes them more bombastic. Look at HTC: it had followed a similar path, but the more popular it got the bigger and louder its branding has become. It may still dine out on the tagline "quietly brilliant", but that couldn't be further from the truth. At CES 2011 the Desire HD covered the 600 room Las Vegas Renaissance hotel from top to bottom. I'm sure a first celebrity endorsement won't be far off either. Will these ads be irritating? Almost certainly yes. Will more people own HTC phones as a result? Yes. Are HTC phones likely to get worse because of this? No. To the contrary, the extra revenue should bring new innovation. The product is still king.

Much like seeing your favourite band embraced by popular culture (*cough* Arcade Fire *cough*), seeing the tech companies and products you have long evangelised reach, and be marketed to, a mainstream audience can be frustrating. But don't worry, unlike your band which will sell out – most likely to Sony – and produce that pop record you dread; big tech companies just play dumb in an effort to equip us all with technology that, dear readers, ultimately arms us with the tools to become smarter.

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