A Blog by Jonathan Low


Feb 7, 2016

How Apple Produced Both the Best - and the Worst - Super Bowl Ads of All Time

It is curious that Apple, a company whose technology helps people transcend time, produced its two most memorable ads -  both best and worst - by focusing on the impact of temporal matters - 1984 and Y2K.  

It can also be argued that the commercial impact on product sales of both ads was muted, suggesting that that was never the point. And maybe still isn't.  JL

Justin Peters reports in Slate:

The '1984' ad was to Super Bowl commercials what Joe Montana was to Super Bowl quarterbacks: a new standard of excellence. Before “1984,” nobody ever claimed that they watched the Super Bowl for the commercials. (But) it is a surprise that Apple is also responsible for the worst. During the 1999 Super Bowl, Apple cast the murderous computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to frighten consumers into buying a Macintosh

Is Multi-Tasking Killing Your Brain?

The put down aside, walking and chewing gum at the same time is more challenging than you think. Especially if you're trying to read your texts while you're contemplating that. JL

Larry Kim reports in Medium:

When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And there’s a cognitive cost. Multitasking makes it more difficult to organize thoughts and filter out irrelevant information, and it reduces the efficiency and quality of our work. Subjects who multitasked while performing cognitive tasks experienced significant IQ drops similar to what you see in individuals who skip a night of sleep or who smoke marijuana.

US Ranks 55th Globally in 4G Download Speeds - Between Russia and Argentina

US carriers appear to have traded off speed for coverage. This is a sensible strategy given the economics of their oligopoly status which rewards market share.

But it may not be the optimal customer service strategy if you believe in the theory of technological disruption. JL

Stacy Liberatore reports in the Daily Mail:

No other large countries have managed to build the vast 4G infrastructures the U.S. and Japan have deployed, yet American and Japanese LTE networks can’t match the speed offered by most of the world’s 4G operators.

Error 53: Your Repaired iPhone Is Dead

Apple's distrust of third parties is well known. Some of it, historically, stems from a sense of superiority with regard to competitors and even alliance partners. But some is of more recent vintage and may be the result of concerns that the company's dominance is ending.

It is ironic that a firm so determined to fight 'Big Brother' is behaving identically when it comes to customers exhibiting even a modicum of personal initiative, especially when those efforts do not result in profits for Apple. It is hard to see how this type of abusive behavior will accrue to the brand's behavior in the short or long term. JL

Jack Nicas reports in the Wall Street Journal:

A cryptic Apple error message is informing some iPhone owners that their devices, repaired by outsiders, are dead, in what some people view as an Apple effort to exert more control over repairs to its products. Killing a phone because of a replaced or faulty fingerprint sensor is harsh because the replaced sensors are often recycled Apple parts and function as well as the original. The policy appears to fit a recent pattern to undermine third-party vendors.

Why Are Millennials So Unhappy At Work?

The reasons why Millennials are unhappy at work may not be all the different from the feelings of prior generations: disappointment, boredom, perceived lack of advancement opportunity.

What may be harder to to figure out is what to do about it in this socio-economic environment. JL

Peter Economy reports in Inc:

Seventy-one percent of Millennials are disengaged at their jobs. The disparity between expectation and reality is the reason.

How the Super Bowl Became America's Most Important Event

Televised violence, gambling, alcohol, nachos and friends. Why wouldn't we watch?

As for tonight: my house, 6PM (serious fans watch at least some of the pre-game festivities, which truth to tell, actually began two weeks ago): wings, barbecue, home-made guacamole, home-made pie, your adult beverage of choice. Don't be late, there is only so much couch space. JL

Justin Peters reports in Slate:

Why are we still watching it? Is it stupid habit? Is it a sense of obligation? Are we hooked to the annual Super Bowl party? Are we addicts who like combining all of our drugs—watching football, drinking, eating, gambling—into one glorious binge. No other major sporting championship consistently falls as flat as does the Super Bowl. Sociologist Émile Durkheim described “collective effervescence”: in which members of a community, catalyzed by some overwhelming ritual observance, become of one mind. The concept is useful to understand sporting manias. Just as the ties that bind us to faith seem to defy rational explanation.

Feb 6, 2016

The Uneven Rise of Data Driven Decision Making

In most organizations, if its 'my way or the information superhighway,' the boss' way still stands a pretty good chance of prevailing. JL

Kristina McElheran and Erik Brynjolfsson report in Harvard Business Review:

As Jim Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape quipped, “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”