The perks of ubiquity
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While watching TV last night, I saw Sprint’s Kyocera commercial (“the phone with two screens”) and I noticed something interesting: this phone runs Android but neither the name “Android” nor the cute green robot icon appear anywhere. Not even in small prints at the end.
This might not be the first commercial of a mobile phone omitting to name the operating system it runs on, but I think this is pretty significant for the Android brand: it means that Android has moved from the status “dominant” to the more coveted “pervasive” category.
When was the last time that you watched a commercial from HP, Dell or Lenovo that mentioned the operating system it’s running on? Right, never. Okay, maybe they do mention Windows because they have to specify which version of Windows you will be getting (e.g. Vista or Windows 7) but there is no doubt in the mind of the viewers of these commercials that the operating system is Windows.
Pervasiveness comes with a lot of perks whose value is very often undervalued.
For starters, free commercials. Every time a device running Android is being advertised on TV, radio or on the Internet, Google receives a free plug.
Repeated buzz is another benefit of pervasiveness. Apple releases one new phone a year (although there are rumors claiming this might soon become “two”). When they do, they undoubtedly receive a very high amount of coverage and hype, along with pictures of customers lining up around the block to buy the new device and providing enthusiastic testimonies about the greatness of Apple. But once the frenzy subsides, the iPhone brand soon recedes into obscurity and doesn’t receive much exposure until the next phone comes out, one year later. In contrast, Android is receiving free lip service and buzz on a regular basis, which contributes greatly to making sure that potential phone buyers are never further than a thought away from the word “Android”.
In contrast to the iPhone, you hardly see a lot of excitement for upcoming Android devices, but since new devices come out pretty much on a weekly basis, not a week goes by without the tech industry reporting on a new Android phone or tablet, showing close ups and screen shots, testing its camera, video and other features, comparing it to the iPhone, etc…
This buzz is limited in scope, though, because of its high frequency: you never really watch a commercial for an Android device that shows a revolutionary new feature (the Kyocera and its intriguing two screens is an exception to this observation) but this doesn’t prevent from slowly adding up, layer after layer, into the industry’s psyche and, more importantly, into potential buyers’ subconscious.
Another aspect of pervasiveness is that whenever a new Android ad is shown, Android’s graphical user interface becomes more familiar to viewers. It’s clear now that pretty much anyone who has watched a few of these commercials will feel some sense of comfort and familiarity with Android’s user interface, even though they might never have used an Android phone directly.
And of course, the main advantage behind pervasiveness is product placement. I’m not talking about direct ads, like the one I mentioned above, but direct inclusion in popular shows such as 24 or even Survivor, just last week.
The amount of daily exposure that Android receives through all these means is nothing short of staggering, and the fact that it’s happening in such a discreet and continuous way makes it all the more effective.
A few years ago, I heard the following anecdote:
A Nokia executive was in an elevator with a dozen other people. During the ride up, several cell phones started ringing and all of them played Nokia’s famous default ring tone. The Nokia executive smiled and said “Ah… the sound of market share”.
It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that you will soon be able to replace the name “Nokia” in the anecdote above with “Android”.
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