I was amused to see this quote in an Advertising Age column last week by Al Ries:
“I must admit, I didn’t think the iPhone would be successful because I initially viewed it as a convergence product, a combination cellphone/computer. In reality, the iPhone and other smartphones are “divergence” devices. We used to have one type of mobile phone and now we have two types: cellphones and smartphones.”
As long-time readers of this blog know, Mr. Ries went far beyond “thinking” the iPhone would not be successful. A lot of people had such thoughts. But unlike Mr. Ries, those other people didn’t write a column in Advertising Age that is a marketing pundit’s equivalent of “Dewey Defeats Truman,” a piece subtly headlined, “Why the iPhone Will Fail.” Just listen to a few minutes of this video on YouTube and you’ll see how Ries went far beyond merely thinking the iPhone would be a failure, he mocked the mere notion of the device. Indeed, he was so effusive in his declaration of the iPhone’s certain failure that earlier this year, when someone wrote a similar pre-release column on the website PCWorld.com about the “trainwreck” awaiting the iPad, I awarded that writer the “Al Ries Why the iPhone will Fail Award.”
Bottomline: When experts start using terms like “convergence” and “divergence” and “consumption” and “creation” to describe anything about a platform technology or network like the iPad or iPhone or Twitter or the internet, itself, they are resorting to mumbo-jumbo to explain something they obviously don’t comprehend — because they can’t comprehend it. Even Edison rarely predicted correctly how his inventions would eventually be used. As I say over-and-over here, it’s not the technology; it’s about how you use the technology. Maybe they can explain a breakfast cereal in such terms as “convergence” or whatever. But marketing gurus should as soon try to explain electricity as to attempt to explain the iPad.