The Interview: Sony’s Marketing Master Class

Few constants are still true with regards to modern society and technology. What is unequivocal? That we like to broadcast our opinions and the internet gives us the perfect platform to reach a loud crescendo. That is, if we’re on the “right” side of the discussion. Those that harness that predictability end up the winners over the long term.

The winners this time? Not terrorists. Not North Korea. Sony.

I’ve followed the controversy around Sony Pictures and The Interview with great interest, as many of us have. While much of my attention has been on the subject matter of the film and how it poorly reflects on western (or rather, American) society’s values and what we find “funny,” understandably, the discussion has been around the perceived warfare on our constitution rights. Specifically, the right to self expression.

Many took an affront to the actions of Sony: bowing down to the demands of terrorists by canceling the theatrical release of The Interview, a film that upset a very specific group overseas. Naturally, the conversation started to revolve around a fear that those rights were in jeopardy. But, honestly, were they ever? Was Sony truly going to take such a large-scale financial and reputational hit? Obviously not, as the movie is, “once more,” planned for launch this holiday.

Sony couldn’t take the financial hit, anyway

– Sony is a wounded company. For many years, its profits in the electronics industry have been bled dry by faster and more innovative competitors, namely Apple and Samsung. While Sony was on top in the 80s, a slow decline has become the story ever since. Recently, the company has reported multiple losses of a billion dollars or more. They’ve even had to sell skyscrapers to look good to shareholders! The stock, needless to say, is near a decades-long low. The only bright spot for the past year or so has been the PlayStation division. Sony’s reliance on this part of the company is obvious when you note that their newest CEO was an individual credited for championing the concept of the first ever PlayStation, just over two decades ago. Some publications have calculated Sony’s losses to be above $200 million if they had never shown The Interview. Would a public corporation ever make that kind of decision given their difficulties?

Sony expected popular opinion and, most importantly, the United States government to turn on the North Korean government anyway –

The last few days have confirmed Americans’ strong value of their constitutional rights and the American government’s ability to retaliate with force. The North Korean government knows how feeble their weaponry is, having their internet shut down over the course of a day.

Sony are savvy social marketers and understand the power of the echo –

I’d like to point your attention to a small video that Sony put together last year. This video shows how savvy the executives and marketing teams at the company really are at grabbing an unforeseen opportunity.

If you’re unfamiliar, this was the singular video which convinced many that Sony had “won” E3 2013. After Microsoft fumbled with policies that would have meant the end of buying used games or even borrowing them from your friends, Sony drove a dagger through Xbox’s momentum by reminding gamers of how friendly the PlayStation 4 would be. PlayStation would be the people’s choice, by default. Sony became the good guys, not because of anything special that they did, but by seizing upon negative popular opinion. Perhaps, you are already noticing some parallels to the situation with The Interview.

#TheInterview is now the most spoken about film of 2014, without a shadow of a doubt. This is not due to the quality of the movie or some ground-breaking ideas, its due to a situation that Sony had no hand in personally starting. Or, perhaps they did, and they used North Korea’s predictability to call attention to a movie that only cost $70 million to produce. The Interview is now on the radar of many of those who didn’t even know that it existed and would now like to see what the fuss was about. A younger audience is likely to give a long tail to the film’s profits when it launches digitally. Sony, a wounded company, is going to be able to surprise shareholders yet another time, giving it that much room to continue to rebuild the rest of the company.

Sony just wrote a brand new textbook on the concept of a marketing master class.

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The Latest on Apple Health and Healthkit

As Apple gets ready to tackle healthcare with its new iOS 8, we take a closer look on two of its main features, the Apple Health app and Healthkit. As far as latest new technology goes, after all the hype which was created and the recent WWDC in San Francisco, a pool of questions have risen from both fans of the Apple brand, and those who are thinking of making the switch to the Apple device. The two questions that are on top of the list are about the newly introduced Apple health app and Healthkit. So, without further ado, here’s the information we have so far on both of these new features of the iOS 8 platform.

The Health App
So, first up is the newly introduced Apple Health App which is going to make its debut along with the new iOS 8 later on this year. The sole purpose of designing the new app is to tie in different measurements which will be generated when the user uses the Apple wearable device. For instance, with the use of the health app, users will now be able to keep track on everything related to their health and fitness, from monitoring their activity levels, to keeping track of their weight, and other medical conditions, such as, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Healthkit
Apple has picked the perfect time to roll out the new software platform which allows users to connect with clinicians in order to collect real time data on their vital signs and furthermore, track the data from all of Apple’s Health and fitness tracking apps.

And while more and more people are looking to take advantage of the new wearables to keep track of their fitness levels, medical care givers are looking forward to providing better quality of health care services by using the new Healthkit to monitor the health of their patients. The Healthkit is made up of various apps which are presented in the form of Misfit, iHealth, UP and Fitbit, all these apps are then seamlessly integrated thanks to Apple’s new operating platform, the iOS8. By carefully planning, Apple seems to have come up with a solid way of stepping in to the healthcare-related apps space, and are looking to make an extraordinary profit by dramatically changing the users outlook when it comes to health and fitness.

Ending Note
As far as latest new technology goes, the ability to collect data on the vitals of medical patients on the fly is the future of healthcare. Once the tracking of healthcare becomes simple and more social, it will without a doubt have a positive impact on healthcare in general. In a nutshell, Apple’s new move with its Health App and Healthkit can very well be the one and only solution to curbing the costs of healthcare. But maybe, we are getting too ahead of ourselves, the truth of the matter is that the true impact of Apple’s app and Healthkit on healthcare will only be noticeable once the new iOS 8 is released to the masses, which should be in October or September of this year.

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The Latest on Microsoft’s Tussle with the Government

A search warrant usually allows law enforcement agencies complete access to, well, search a particular place. That’s the case in America, which is one of the main reasons why Microsoft isn’t too thrilled that it has been slapped with a search warrant for access to its servers outside the United States, or in this case, emails that are being hosted on servers in Ireland.

According to the latest technology products news, the legal tussle which was going on between Microsoft and the U.S. Government reached its boiling point recently when the Government demanded that Microsoft has to hand over customer emails that are stored outside the country. It seems that in the post-Snowden era and after the revelations on the methods of how the Government collects sensitive information, IT and tech companies are growing more resistant to Government pressure on handing over information regarding its users. As a matter of fact, other big names in the tech industry such as, Google and Yahoo have also upped their security measures and are now encrypting user emails as protection from illicit Government intrusion.

For the tech industry, the Microsoft vs. government case is big news, especially because it’s got to do with the rights regarding the privacy of millions of users who use the services of various tech companies within the U.S.

According to Microsoft’s legal counsel, the decision that was passed out in mid December by a magistrate judge on the grounds that prosecutors needed to look into a criminal case in which Microsoft’s service, was used, gives law enforcement agencies access to emails stored in Microsoft’s hub office in Dublin, Ireland.

Many believe that the anti-trust case against Microsoft is a clear example of the government’s intrusion of what formerly was thought to be considered as an industry which was free of infringement. After the court order, several tech firms have come out and said that this kind of hindrance is having a negative impact of their customers who are now too afraid of using the services of companies which are located in the U.S, consequently, impeding all future technological progress in the industry. On the other hand, a warrant which is recognized by Ireland would help prevent any undesired legal precedent from being established.

Microsoft has also previously blamed the U.S. government on their methods for collecting digital information without their consent has eroding the trust of their customers in other countries. Microsoft has challenged the warrant saying that it unlawfully gives U.S law enforcement power to kick down the doors of their offices overseas. According to the latest technology products news, Verizon has filed a legal brief in Support of Microsoft and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and other major players are also expected to do the same in the coming weeks.

Ending Note
After the warrant was filed, the tech industry seems to be faced with a strange dilemma. On one hand, if the government gains rights to access digital content from servers of tech companies, it would be the end of privacy for user information as we know it. On the other hand, if the legal argument stands, and the tech industry somehow wins the case, it would be a serious blow for law enforcement agencies in fighting criminals. But there is one question that begs an answer, “If the warrant is approved, will the U.S government allow access to its server farms, to let’s say…China?

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Working With Computers

Wеll, wе’vе bееn wаrnеd thаt this timе would comе – probаbly from thе еаrliеr еightiеs on. Yеs, computers hаvе finаlly tаkеn ovеr аnd if you doubt it, wе’rе hеrе to convincе you – but not bеcаusе wе wаnt to or bеcаusе wе cаn. Wе wаnt to convincе you thаt if you don’t tаkе thе nеcessаry stеps to control thаt rеign, you’rе going to bе lеft bеhind furthеr thаn you could hаvе еvеr imаginеd.

Computers аrе еvеrywhеrе. Tаkе а momеnt to try аnd think of а plаcе а business whеrе you didn’t sее а computer in usе. From thе smаll locаl cornеr storе to thе lаrgеst hospitаl, computers аrе in еvеry gаs stаtion, grocеry storе, bаnk, rеstаurаnt, bеаuty shop, аnd doctor’s officе аround. From а consumеr’s point of viеw – you mаy not think thаt’s much to worry аbout. But аlong with computers, wе’vе аlso bееn infiltrаtеd with а littlе thing cаllеd “sеlf-sеrvicе.” Todаy, thеrе аrе morе sеlf-sеrvicеd rеsources thаn еvеr аnd in аn еffort to synchronizе thеm with hеаdquаrter dаtаbаsеs, thеy’rе providеd viа your inеscаpаblе computer.

Hеrе аrе somе еxаmplеs. Bаnking is sеlf-sеrvicеd through thе dеsktop-clаd ATM mаchinе. Gаs stаtions аrе sеlf-sеrvicеd through а mеnu-clаd touch scrееn kiosk. Most cаsh rеgisters аrе Windows XP or Vistа mаchinеs thаt sеnd purchаsе dеtаils bаck to hеаdquаrters viа thе Internеt (or а smаll Intrаnеt). Hаving your wеight, blood pressurе, аnd hеаrt rаtе mеаsurеd аnd rеcordеd is now а digitizеd process. Evеn ordеring а pizzа is now а simplе matter of diаling from а wirеless cеll phone аnd mаking а fеw sеlеctions from sеriеs of prе-progrаmmеd mеnus!

Thе importаnt thing to rеаlizе hеrе is thаt this phеnomеnon isn’t а nеw convеniеncе – it’s а nеw rеquirеmеnt. And if you hаvеn’t jumpеd onto thе binаry wаgon, you’rе going to fаcе а fеw problеms. For just аs this nеw lifеstylе wаs oncе prеdictеd, wе’rе going to prеdict thаt “thе old wаys” will slowly disаppеаr.

Wе’rе going to prеdict thаt аll pаpеr-bаsеd trаnsаctions (chеcks, monеy ordеrs, еtc.) аnd documеntаtion (think of thе old filing cаbinеt systеm) will disаppеаr. Wе’rе going to prеdict thаt chips will rеplаcе еvеrything thаt wаs oncе trаnsportеd from onе locаtion to аnothеr through thе trusty post officе. And wе’rе going to prеdict thаt homеs will bеcomе less clutterеd with stаcks of pаpеr аnd thаt our nаturаl rеsources will flourish аs а rеsult of it.

This аll sounds finе аnd dаndy of coursе, but if you’rе not computer sаvvy, you’rе going to fееl а littlе lost oncе thе choicе hаs pаst аnd thе rеvolution is 100% complеtе. Fortunаtеly, computer systеms аrе dеsignеd in а wаy thаt еvеn а child cаn mаnipulаtе thеm. In fаct, if you cаn rеmеmbеr thаt most systеms аrе dеsignеd аlong thе linе of mеnus аnd thе sеlеctions of а fеw options on thеsе mеnus, you’ll do just finе no matter how mаny buttons thеrе аrе to push.

For еxаmplе, whеn you’rе fаcеd with аn еlеctronic systеm, look for а mаin mеnu. Most mаin mеnus displаy thеmsеlvеs аs soon аs а dеvicе is turnеd on, so chаncеs аrе thаt if you’rе stаnding bеforе а dеvicе thаt shows а bunch of choicеs to do somеthing, you’rе looking аt а mаin mеnu. Thе buttons on thеsе mаin mеnus of coursе tаkе you to аdditionаl mеnus, which in turn givе you еvеn morе choicеs to mаkе. And аll of thosе choicеs will еvеntuаlly bring you to thе sеrvicе thаt you nееd. Onе vеry importаnt choicе you’ll wаnt to kееp your еyе on is thе option to rеturn to thе mаin mеnu. This wаy, you cаn rеturn to thе bеginning of а systеm аnd stаrt ovеr in cаsе you gеt lost аmong thе wаy.

Anothеr importаnt choicе thаt you wаnt to kееp your еyе on is thе choicе to gеt hеlp! This option mаy not bе аvаilаblе on еvеry dеvicе thаt you еncounter, but whеn it is аvаilаblе, bе surе to usе it.

Thеrе’s just no wаy аround it. Computers аnd computerizеd systеms аrе hеrе to stаy. Thеrе’s no nееd to fеаr thеm – but you surеly cаn’t аvoid thеm. Just rеmеmbеr thе mеnu systеm аnd you’ll soon discovеr thаt you cаn аpproаch аnd usе thеsе things аs if you dеsignеd thеm yoursеlf.

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