Apple marketing magic is back!

Well, frak me. I'm writing something about Chromebook and early this morning swung by Apple's website to double-check iPad Air pricing. There's a 1:30-long commercial donning the front door that is absolutely fabulous. Beat me with a stick, so I can wake up because this must be a dream. Apple has got back its marketing mojo.

Commercial "Misunderstood" is self-depricating in the most surprising way -- a teenager obsesses over his iPhone instead of jollying with the family for the holidays. It's all so terribly stereotypical, and watching you have to wonder what insanity has taken over Apple marketers. But there's a great, sentimental story here which I won't explain. Watch the commercial and judge for yourself.

I'm quick to praise Google marketing. Apple deserves its due, too. Google's public engagement is truly aspirational, showing people how their lives will be better for using its stuff. No tech company on the planet generates more positive perceptions about innovation and good feelings around its products. Some examples:

More recently, Apple marketing is so-so -- nothing like the glory days under Steve Jobs' leadership. But "Misunderstood" pulls the heart-strings, like many recent Google TV spots. Google geeks will accuse Apple of copying, and maybe they're right. But, Hell, what copying.

Oded Shenkar says "Apple is itself a consummate imitator", in his book Copycats: How Smart Companies use Imitation to Gain a Strategic Edge. Apple has long practiced what he calls imovation -- that is imitative innovation. The approach defines many of the most successful companies. Apple isn't alone, just often the better imitator.

"More than anything, Apple is master of assembly imitation: it follows in the paths of many predecessors, which have existing technologies and materials to generate new technologies by recombining them", Shenkar says.

If you look closely at the history of Apple, there is a consistent pattern: Great innovation in a new product category followed by iteration over a long period of time, but few great new innovations following the first. Apple essentially moves into a nascent or establish category and produces a remarkable product. But eventually development stagnates, with Apple reinventing in a new product category.

With "Misunderstood", we have Apple marketers adopting Google's sentimental storytelling style but better. I hope we will see more like this from the fruit-logo company, although surely many BetaNews commenters will disagree. I say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" and you respond "Bah! Humbug!"

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