Apple Unveils iPad

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, a tablet-style computer that resembles the iPhone, but with a larger screen and other features for work and play.

“It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone,” Jobs said. I would love to get one of these.

I had heard speculation that this would be available at Verizon but it was announced that AT&T will offer an unlimited data plan for $30 a month, and will not require the usual longer-term service contract, he added.

Jobs demonstrated how the iPad is used for surfing the Web with Apple’s Safari browser. He typed an e-mail using an on-screen keyboard and flipped through photo albums by flicking his finger across the screen, using gestures common to the iPhone.

The iPad also has a custom version of iWorks, productivity software that includes applications for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

As part of today’s announcement, Apple came out with an online bookstore called the iBookstore, along with Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette as partners. It will compete head-on with the Amazon Kindle device and bookstore. The Kindle lacks the color screen and rich-media capabilities of the iPad and its mobile operating system.

The iPad will also run all iPhone apps, and Apple is making a software development kit for the new device available to developers this week.

Zhu Zhu Viral Marketing

The must-have toy this holiday season is the electronic hamster. I think the marketing push was as simple and unique as the toy itself.
Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of five furry interactive hamsters (pronounced Zoo Zoo) have been selling so briskly they have gone missing from retailers’ shelves for weeks. The little hamsters are so popular, Toys ‘R’ Us is using them as a Black Friday marketing centerpiece. Every Toys ‘R’ Us will have 100 of the furry bots for sale at midnight when the stores open for Black Friday shopping, with a limit of one per customer.

Walmart and Target aren’t even bothering to advertise it in their circulars anymore as the shelves empty as soon as the little critters arrive. And the play pets’ $8 price tag has risen accordingly. On eBay and Amazon, just one pet is now going for $60 to $100, if you can even find them at all.
The toy’s manufacturer, Cepia, isn’t marketing the product anymore either. A Cepia-created TV spot featuring the frenzied furballs and their Habitrail-like accessories, ran in late summer and early fall on children’s cable channels such as Nickelodeon and the Disney XD, generating a lot of buzz before it was halted in mid-October. Beacon Media Group placed the media. Zhu Zhu’s PR and promotions agency, the Martz Agency, Phoenix, is pushing back other marketing plans, such as a planned fourth-quarter promotional party at Toys ‘R’ Us in New York’s Times Square, until the first quarter of 2010.

“It doesn’t make sense to continue to build demand right now,” said Carrie Martz, CEO of the Martz Agency. “They’ve gotten to where they want to be, the top of the toy lists.”

Still it was marketing that helped Zhu Zhus get there. The Martz Agency helmed an event and promotion-driven campaign that began as a one-city test market in Phoenix in July. The agency mounted a strong PR push and partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks major-league baseball team for a series of events including toy drop-offs at children’s hospitals and a night at the ballpark with giveaways and trials, and even convinced a local dance troupe to create a routine for “Zhu Zhu Flow,” a song created by a St. Louis rapper.

Influencer parties were key. Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media, joined the effort by putting on 40 “Mom Maven” influencer parties. The agency, which specializes in marketing to moms, created Zhu Zhu parties in a box with 12 hamsters and habitrails, featuring recipes (for Hamster Crunch) and games. Many of those moms were also bloggers who did their own giveaways online. To date, more than 300 in-home parties have been conducted for Zhu Zhu Pets.

The result? The Phoenix Toys ‘R’ Us sold out of Zhu Zhus in less than two weeks.
toys r us image

The Martz Agency then took the campaign nationwide, partnering with sports teams and hospitals in 25 markets, while BSM Media threw more than 300 hamster parties across the country, and hooked up with 10 city zoos for “Boo in the Zoo” parties. According to Ms. Bailey, 25% of all moms who attended the parties said they have told 21 or more moms about the Zhu Zhu Pets. And 80% of the moms who attended said they have told at least six other mothers about the hamsters, she said.

The latest marketing, and likely the last for now, was a Twitter party thrown by Ms. Bailey for mothers and kids together. Held from 7- 8 p.m. on Nov. 11, it generated more than 9,000 tweets and catapulted the #zhuzhupets hashtag into the trending topics top 10 list within 20 minutes, where it remained for an hour.

“It’s very unusual. I can’t remember when something took off like this from a company that is so under the radar,” said Cliff Annicelli, editor in chief of Playthings magazine, although he noted that Cepia founder Russell Hornsby does have a long history in the toy business.

And while events and PR helped Zhu Zhu’s case, TV advertising drove a lot of early recognition and interest. “Marketing is important for toys, and TV advertising is still the most important way to get your toy in front of kids,” Mr. Annicelli said. “For a toy like this based on entertainment, TV is still best.”

And oh yes: The hamsters got their own iPhone app on Tuesday. The $1.99 hamster game is officially sanctioned by the toy’s maker Cepia, and it likely won’t be long after school’s out until it begins to creep up the chart-topper lists.

TV Remains the Screen of Choice

Americans may choose to consume video on the “best screen available,” yet traditional TV remains the screen of choice. The recent results of Nielsen’s Three Screen Report a quarterly analysis from Nielsen’s Anywhere Anytime Media
The measurement initiative (A2/M2) shows that the average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, a 1.2% increase from last year. In addition, the 131 million Americans who watch video on the Internet watch on average about 3 hours of video online each month at home and work. The 13.4 million Americans who watch video on mobile phones watch on average about 3 ½ hours of mobile video each month.

In addition, Nielsen data shows that consumers’ time with TV, Internet and Mobile video continues to increase across the board. Online video grew 13% in Q1 2009, driven by both strong brand marketing and large media events including the Presidential inauguration, the Super Bowl and March Madness. With broadband levels increasing in the U.S., online video audiences will continue to grow as consumers begin to upgrade their PCs to support increased video consumption.

Mobile video viewing has grown a significant 52% from the previous year, up to 13.4 million Americans. Much of this growth continues to come from increased mobile content and the rise of the mobile web as a viewing option.

Out of all different age groups, 18-24 year olds show signs of watching DVR and online video the same amount of time timeshifting 5 hrs, 47 minutes per month, and watching video online 5 hrs, 3 minutes each month.

Perhaps the merging of web and TV will begin to drive the growth of true interactive TV with Google leading the way.

Steve Jobs – CEO of the Decade
How’s this for a gripping corporate story line: Youthful founder gets booted from his company in the 1980s, returns in the 1990s, and in the following decade survives two brushes with death, one securities-law scandal, an also-ran product lineup, and his own often unpleasant demeanor to become the dominant personality in four distinct industries, a billionaire many times over, and CEO of the most valuable company in Silicon Valley.

Sound too far-fetched to be true? Perhaps. Yet it happens to be the real-life story of Steve Jobs and his outsize impact on everything he touches.

The past decade in business belongs to Jobs. What makes that simple statement even more remarkable is that barely a year ago it seemed likely that any review of his accomplishments would be valedictory. But by deeds and accounts, Jobs is back.

Consumers who have never picked up an annual report or even a business magazine gush about his design taste, his elegant retail stores, and his outside-the-box approach to advertising. (“Think different,” indeed.)

It’s often noted that he’s a showman, a born salesman, a magician who creates a famed reality-distortion field, a tyrannical perfectionist. It’s totally accurate, of course, and the descriptions contribute to his legend.

Yet for all his hanging out with copywriters and industrial designers and musicians — and despite his anti-corporate attire — make no mistake: Jobs is all about business. He may not pay attention to customer research, but he works slavishly to make products customers will buy.

He’s a visionary, but he’s grounded in reality too, closely monitoring Apple’s various operational and market metrics. He isn’t motivated by money, says friend Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. Rather, Jobs is understandably driven by a visceral ardor for Apple, his first love (to which he returned after being spurned — proof that you can go home again) and the vehicle through which he can be both an arbiter of cool and a force for changing the world.

The financial results have been nothing short of astounding — for Apple and for Jobs. The company was worth about $5 billion in 2000, just before Jobs unleashed Apple’s groundbreaking “digital lifestyle” strategy, understood at the time by few critics. Today, at about $170 billion, Apple is slightly more valuable than Google.