The Buzz - 17

Marketing

What if Microsoft had created the iPod?

Lets play the "what if" game and hand over the marketing of Apples iPod to Microsoft.

What would happen can be summed up in one word: disaster. But to really get the feel for what would happen, watch a video on YouTube. (Search for "Microsoft iPod" on www.youtube.com.) The video is arguably brilliant, if slightly dated.

The video starts off with an iPod. Then Microsofts marketing department gets hold of it.

Round 1: "Make sure its on brand." The iPod gets a nifty box with the Microsoft logo. It is then renamed I-pod Pro 2005 Human Ear Professional Edition with Subscription. Of course, Microsofts marketing gurus "still need something expressively human." Enter a jumping guy on the package.

Round 2: "FOB stands for Full of Bullets." Microsoft adds a series of bullets listing features.

Round 3: "Stars and Snipes." The marketing wonks add an "upgrade" sticker to the box along with server pack pitches and the rebate. Of course, the box says, "This is an empty box."

Round 4: "Spines and Sys Reqs." Here our marketing heroes look at an iPod ad with a singer and ask, "Why isnt she using our product?" The solution: Make sure it says: "I-pod Pro 2005 Human Ear Professional Edition." Then add the Microsoft logo. Phew, cant believe they almost missed that one. But they arent done yet. After all, these folks have to "communicate the richness of the product," so a simplistic yet effective ad gets muddled up again with logos and a 500-word (slight exaggeration) description of 5GB.

Round 5: "Back of Box." You guessed it. The back of the box just has to have a product chart, not to mention a few thousand words (another slight exaggeration) explaining the chart.

Round 6: "Final Review." You get a final product that looks almost as jumbled as a Vista beta.

Bottom line: Lets hope Microsoft never buys Apple. Such a deal would be the first to be shot down by regulators solely on the grounds of bad marketing.

Communications

Deep Space Network: Can you hear me now?

President Bushs vision for space exploration calls for human and robotic missions to the moon and Mars, not to mention other far-flung planets. The problem: NASA needs an improved space communications network, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In a report released May 22, the GAO noted that NASAs Deep Space Network isnt likely to support such space exploration. The conclusion: NASA may spend $100 million over the next two decades on new technologies and facilities that will be hampered by the lack of reliable ground communication.

"While NASAs Deep Space Network can meet most requirements of its current workload, it may not be able to meet near-term and future demand," concluded the GAO. "The system—suffering from an aging, fragile infrastructure with some crucial components over 40 years old—has lost science data during routine operations and critical events."

The GAO reported that NASA has to submit a plan for updating its space communications architecture for low-Earth orbital operations and deep space to ensure it can handle demand 20 years into the future. The plan is due no later than Feb. 17, 2007.

Blog Watch

Digging Digg

Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs, wonders why people spend so much time contributing to Digg. "Who are these people who spend hours a day contributing to things like Digg and Wikipedia for no financial gain?" asked Calacanis, who cited the case of one contributor who submitted 776 stories to Digg over the past 278 days.

"Thats basically three stories every single day without a day off for almost a year. … This person is spending around eight full-time weeks a year. Wow," Calacanis said.

The motive? Calacanis figures the extreme contributors publish their own sites and use Digg as a tool to get traffic. Gee, ya think?

—Compiled by Larry Dignan