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Brand Loyalty – Should we? Why?

If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, you may have seen the banter back and forth between my brother and I arguing Samsung vs iPhone. Rather, he fights for Samsung, I simply state I like my iPhone since I switched into it.

Here’s a brief glimpse of our daily conversations (he posted a link about an iPhone burning):

Facebook Chat Discussing Samsung verse iPhone

This goes on a lot. I posted a link of Samsung burning people. ;) Before his Samsung (which he got a week ago) he was a huge HTC fan until he dropped it and smashed the screen. I remember him also stating his Kyocera was the best a few years past. I can pick on him because he’s my brother.

So this makes me think about brand loyalty… 

Rewind 20 years…

My same brother, late teens maybe early 20’s, gets his first car: blue Ford pickup truck (which he handed down to me and I totaled within a month). He loved that thing. He went to a Ford Taurus SHO, again, in love. My dad had Ford, we were a Ford family. I would argue with friends at the time (I was near 11/12 years old) that Ford was better (because dad said so).

Several years later, my brother jumps to Toyota. This was controversial, this was unheard of, he almost was excommunicated from the family. Now he drives a Dodge. <shuddering>. To this day, I prefer Ford (especially since their remake a few years ago), also I wouldn’t mind a Maserati.

Fast forward to about 6 years ago…

I’m a Microsoft man: Windows computer, Windows Phone, Microsoft EVERYTHING. I trashed talk my friends who got iPhones, Mac PCs, and anything else that wasn’t Microsoft. Brand loyal to the core… Then something changed, something sparked, oh, I remember, I dropped my Windows Phone into a puddle. I drove to Sprint immediately to get a new phone. All they had were Androids and the evil iPhone. I walked out with an Android and never regretted it, haven’t been back to Windows Phone since (though it’s tempting as of late).

This is where things changed for me. I had an epiphany

I loosened up my brand loyalty: verbally admitted Microsoft was terrible at creating phones. I shed a tear, and let go. By letting go this little bit, I became aware of so many other things I was holding onto that maybe I shouldn’t have. Chains were released, the burden lifted. I wasn’t afraid of the iPad anymore, I could actually enjoy a Mac, admiring my friend’s new cars though not Ford (I will still only buy a Ford) and so on.

Fast forward to about 2 months ago…

I caught myself doing it, desiring to stay and fight with a brand… We’ve been Verizon FIOS customers for years. I’m a huge fan of their service and TV offering. My wife and I decided to go cable free and use a Roku instead (awesome decision, I’ll blog on that once we’re on it for about 6 months, and yes, I know Apple TV exists). As part of the change, we went from Verizon to Comcast since Comcast had a 2 year deal at a great rate for internet only. I had a sour taste in my mouth moving to Comcast, I didn’t want to do it, but I forced myself to save some money and committed. It’s been great since. I keep myself in check though, I don’t let myself drink Comcast’s koolaide, they’re a corporation, a service, not a reason to fight.

Fast forward to Monday of this week…

chickenWe’ve been a member of JustAddCooking.com (if you sign up, use code CE8K for $20 off your first box), a food service that ships your food and recipes and all you do is cook. It’s a lot of fun and has allowed me to cook, a lot. I love it. They’re a local company, Boston based which makes them a little more special to me (Boston rocks!). Anyway, I had a conversation with a colleague about cooking and this service and he mentioned BlueApron.com… My gut wrenched as I wanted to tell him how much better JAC was, but instead I said, “oh yes, just like that, but Just Add Cooking provides 4 person meals, Blue Apron is only 2, right?”. How mature of me…

The only brands that get my loyalty now are those that continue to prove they are industry leaders and that benefit me (why would you be loyal to something that doesn’t benefit you?): iPhone, Windows 8, Ford, Coke, Five Guys, PayPal, Verizon (I’m a Sprint guy wanting Verizon) and I could go on. I bet you could argue with EVERY SINGLE one of those because

Opinions are like arm pits: everyone has them and they all stink.

Brand loyalty. It’s so odd. I do it, my brother does it, chances are you do it as well. There are some brands we’re loyal about and we have no idea why (milk, oil in the car, gas station). I’d guess we do this for a few reasons:

  1. I just spent a whole lotta money on this, it better be the best.
  2. I’m too proud to admit I didn’t get the best.
  3. This thing is good for me, it works really well and I want to share, tell the world, that it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
  4. I want to fight for something, it’s the human element to defend a cause, pour our energies into something, even if it’s a silly corporation (human rights and hunger would be a better cause).
  5. Sometimes it’s cool to be the odd guy out, to be loyal to the minority (how many of you still love Blackberry?)
  6. Again, it was a lot of money.

Sometimes we can be fickle, and loyalties can change as fast as technology does. I believe they should. That’s my goal, to keep moving and keeping up with what’s the best, now, not 3 months ago. Granted, in technology that can get really expensive, so maybe every 6-9 months. I guess that isn’t brand loyalty anymore is it? It’s doing what’s best for me, my family, within my budget and my expectation of satisfaction. Why should I keep with Windows Phone 6.5 for years when Androids are just that much better?

Think of how companies would have to react if more people did this, went to the latest and greatest regardless of the corporation. iPhone is great, for me, now. It isn’t always the greatest, it’ll be behind the times in a few months when HTC/Samsung/Nokia/Acme comes out with their latest and greatest (though iPhone has something none of them do, awesome APPS! oops there I go again). What if Apple couldn’t rely on brand loyalty, would they treat their customers differently? Their market is strong due to loyalty, and it continues to thrive. They get away with a lot due to loyalty…

Can we get around this, ever?

There are things in life worth being loyal to: not brands or companies, but human rights, your religion/beliefs, the hungry, poor, desolate, Earth, our authorities, the USA, and there’s more.

What I have decided to do is to share my opinions and preferences how I want, and I will not judge, criticize, fight, condemn, shame, prosecute, humiliate or destroy another human based on their opinions (unless you’re my brother). I believe we were made with passion and emotion, we were made to care, to pour our energy into something. If you decide to pour that into companies, services, gadgets, or vehicles, that’s your opinion and it’s your right, but it is yours and if I disagree, that’s cool. I may have a fun casual argument just to flex our intellectual muscles. ;)

And to my brother, your Samsung is a great phone, I don’t think I’ve ever denied that. It works for you, and meets your needs. I’ve decided to move from Android to iPhone because it works for me and my family. And on that day when you decide to move to another phone, I won’t remind you of this at all.

How to get the new Facebook Paper App

I’m fairly new to the iPhone, just switched about 2 weeks ago, then I heard about Facebook’s latest app Paper. Eager to try anything new on my iPhone, I search for Paper, er… maybe Facebook Paper… noo… hmm…

It appears Apple’s App Store Search is terrible, which surprises me Apple does anything sub par. I suppose I should get used to it.

One thing you can do to find it is to:

Search for Facebook

Facebook Paper

Press Facebook, then press Related on the right

Facebook Paper

Swipe right and you’ll find Paper

Facebook Paper

Blamo!

photo 4

Annoying? Yes. Not impossible though.

I’ve made the jump to the iPhone

Since smart phones came out, I was a huge Microsoft fan, and then that stalled when v6.5 was their latest and greatest, and I saw Android screaming past. So I jumped on the Android train about 4 or 5 years ago. Loved it, still do, great phone, huge improvements every release. Never looked back. The new Windows Phones look nice, but there’s still a bad taste in my mouth from them never keeping up with it like they should have.

My latest Android, the HTC One on Sprint, rocks. Best phone I’ve ever had, bar none. Camera is beautiful, audio is solid, it’s stinkin fast too. However, nothing is perfect. I had a couple of issues with it so it went out to get fixed. In the mean time I swapped into my wife’s old iPhone 4s…

All of a sudden, I’m in this new strange world that I can’t explain, but something just feels right. So I decided when my phone came back from service, to sit on the iPhone for a month, and live life. I’m 5 days into it now, and I must say so far so good.

I’ve been tweeting my finds, which you can view here. I’ll compile a list at the end of the month, and let you know if I’ll be selling the HTC One or the iPhone 4s.

 

3 years in cell phone years is like 60 people years

I went two weeks with a dumb phone (a phone that isn’t a smart phone). I went from the Sprint HTC Evo 4G to a Samsung Rant, which in its own rights was a great phone when it came out. However, “3 years in cell phone years is like 60 people years.” As noted by my good friend Dan Savlon.
It wore on me quickly. I initially fought the urge to want a smart phone again, I wanted to force myself to use this one and be content. It didn’t last long. Two weeks later I jumped into the Sprint HTC Evo 3D running Google Android. I learned some things along the way that truly justify a smart phone, and prove that I’m not just a spoiled brat.

Know your where. I don’t get lost often, but I was exploring a new area with my old phone. The Sprint Navigation on the phone is horrendous. Once I know where I want to go it’ll walk me through (usually 100-200 feet behind though, which is great driving around the city), but just exploring (trying to find a different route to the Cheesecake Factory) it tanked. The small screen makes it difficult to see what’s around me. Also, the Google Maps app for the phone doesn’t know where I am; it’ll do directions but doesn’t pull in my GPS coordinates. Also, I was at a customer and couldn’t simply find stuff around me, I opened Google Maps, then I had to navigate the map to my location then search near me, then once I found something I wanted, Google Maps couldn’t get me there, I had to jump back into Sprint Navigation to get there. Ug…

On the Evo 3D, I get a large screen, and the Google Maps app rocks. Shows exactly where I am, I can search around me for anything I need, and it will then navigate me there flawlessly. That alone makes a smart phone worth it in my book. In addition to getting to where I want, additional apps like Foursquare allow me to have a little fun and share with my friends (I was ousted as major in TWO locations during my 2 week stint).

Get information, fast. I recently ran into car problems and needed a tow, all I had was my Rant. I searched for a tow company using the internet on the phone, which took its sweet time, but found a number for a local place. For some reason, I couldn’t just call it, I had to memorize the number then enter it in and call it. Very frustrating, took a few times to get it right, and each time I had to research for the number since it didn’t keep the window open. Another down side was that my contacts didn’t sync, I had to manually enter the contacts I cared about into the phone. Also there isn’t a calendar.

Back in Droid land, the above isn’t a thought. I can search for info, not just through the web but I can use other apps like Facebook, Yelp (to get some reviews along the way), or target specific apps for specific information like movie times (Fandango). My contacts and calendar sync with Google services and my work email. Oh so lovely.

Get more done. In my above example about Get information, fast, I couldn’t minimize the browser to make a call, it closed every time on the Rant.  Same went for the navigation. When I used Sprint Navigation, and then needed to jump out to text someone (not while driving of course) I had to initiate the navigation route all over again. And that’s all the phone could do, there wasn’t much in way of apps on the thing.

This should go without saying, but the Android OS loves multitasking, probably more so than Apple’s iOS. I can run multiple applications simultaneously without issue: I can search the web, find an address, pull it up on Google Maps, check movie times near my destination, text my friend and call my wife without ever having to reopen anything. It’s fantastic.

Fun! Outside of the above, a smart phone can really be a toy. With Angry Birds, Netflix, Google+, Shazam, Skype, and more, it’s a device that can lower stress and give my brain a break once in a while. The Rant didn’t have one full game on it.

A new phone, a new lease on life?

I’m a HUGE fan of Microsoft, and almost anything Microsoft does (except for Windows Media Player, still lacking). Ask my friends, I can get a little carried away with it. I’ve always been a fan of Windows Mobile. It is a work horse of an OS for a phone and always ran great for me. I’ve always had more issues with hardware than software, so I can’t blame Microsoft. And that leads me to this post.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a trade show and talking with a customer on my HTC Touch with Windows Mobile 6. I love this phone, been my best phone by far. I was getting into my car and my phone slid out of my hand and into a puddle. Picked it up and kept talking with the customer. After I got off with the customer, I popped the cover off and the battery to let it dry out. A little bit later I reassembled my phone and found that the power button was missing. Looking in the hole where the button of power wasn’t, I saw it floating in there. After a few shakes it came out along with what appears to be the little metal piece that should be attached to the circuit board. Needless to say I was sad, I fought off the tears since I was amongst co-workers. Being at a trade show lacking a phone my boss told me to go out and get a new one. Fortunately there was a Sprint store minutes away.

I walked in and simply showed him the phone and begged for another Windows Mobile phone. He said they had none in stock so I went with the best Android phone he had. I walked out shortly thereafter with the HTC Hero. Angered by Sprint and Microsoft for not having more phones available, I left the store in bitter disappointment. My goal was to keep my HTC Touch until Windows Mobile 7 came out. I was hoping that in typical Microsoft fashion (3rd time’s the charm) that Windows Mobile 7 would be the bees knees.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure stuff out, grunting at things it couldn’t do, or at least didn’t seem intuitive. This went on for a long time. A few days later, I dove into the Market Place and boy was I pleased. I downloaded a slew of apps from games to sound boards to mapping and social networking. So much fun! My biggest requirements were met: Exchange Email, Calendar, Contacts; GPS; Web Browsing. So I entertained my fun side and I will admit that I am a fan of this phone! Not only because of the gazillion apps available, but it really is a nice phone all around.

My favorite features

- Screen is large, clear, crisp, bright and has brilliant colors
– 5 mega pixel camera is sweet (had 1.3 before)
– Battery lasts all day even with web browsing, gaming, GPS and calls
– Social networking hooks are easy to use
– Multi-tasking appears simple and keeps running fast
– Don’t have to worry about memory management or where to save stuff, everything goes where it should

Owning an Android has sparked an interest in me to develop an app for it. I have some cool ideas, both business and personal, that I think would be fun to make and I might make a buck or two. I’ll let you know when I roll something out. 

Has getting a new phone given me a new lease on life? Meh, I’m not that superficial. Has it opened a new world to explore and experience through a fun and easy to use window called Android? I think so!

Save the world one byte at a time!

So there are enough tree huggers out there that are bent on recycling and saving the world and certain things in it like the rain forest, ozone, star-nosed mole, etc. I’m not necessarily against all of that, I’ll rant about how we spend our money later. What I wanted to share is a concept of saving the world one byte at a time. Divulge my inner-crazy for a moment and read on…

If there are less bytes floating from computer to computer the world would be a little happier and a little cleaner. The more bytes your computer has to crunch the more power it needs so the more power the power stations need to produce therefore more pollution. Our current solution for dealing with this is making more energy effecient computers. Well, energy efficient means slow. Computers need power to do their thing. The more power you can give a computer the faster and better it does its thing. Period. If we make slower computers, we’ll all go crazy waiting for things to load then we’ll want fast ones again. Think about your day to day tasks that you complete on a computer. If you cut your work load in half, your computer would have to work half as much therefore effectively saving about half as much power (which in turns requires less power to be generated).

Don’t believe me? Download something that will cause you computer to compute and crunch. Try the SETI@Home app from http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/. This is a little app that downloads data from a server and processes it in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Whether or not you believe in aliens, this app will use your computer’s resources to crunch data. This will make your computer work hard when you’re not on it. Now monitor your home’s power consumption, or at least your monthly bill. It will go up, and noticebly. Why? Because your computer needs power to do its thing.

So how can you help stop this energy consumption crisis? There are a few things you can do which will help minimize how much crunching your computer will do, and in turn minimize its power consumption. Also, by minimizing what your computer does the services that serve your computer will be minized as well.

Check your email

Unsubscribe from e-newsletters. Take a look at your junk e-mail folder in your email system and read through and manually unsubscribe from newsletters that you are apparently not even reading. Important note, some of your junk e-mail might be legitimate spam (oxy moron I know). Basically, there will be emails in your junk e-mail that are spam, not newsletters. Unsubscribing from these might open you up to more emails. Pay attention to what you’re looking at and unsubscribing from.

Stop receiving your “important” alerts. Very similar to unsubscribing from newsletters, but instead check out the emails that do make it to your inbox. Do you really need them? Do you need an email alert everytime someone comments on your Facebook? You go to Facebook daily, why waste bytes on email alerts? Update your profile and stop receiving these emails.

There may be some alerts that may be real important like from your bank or work. Keep these, but look at the data being sent. Can you configure your alerts to send less data? Why receive an alert from work that is 2 paragraphs long, when all you’re going to do is log into the system and read through it anyway? Can your alerts be reduced to a sentence or two? Can the alert be sent via SMS to your phone instead of email?

How this helps: If you use an email client like Outlook, unsubscribing will minimize the amount of bytes your computer downloads and crunches. Also, each email that is downloaded is also processed by your antivirus scanner, yup, that means more crunching. Unsubscribing will also minimize the amount of bytes sent to your email server, and other network devices like your home modem, router, your ISP’s routers and firewalls. And finally it will minimize the crunching the sending server has to do as well. Unsubscribing from that one email that you never read will reduce the bytes from the source all the way to your home. Easy enough!

Really Simple Syndication

Also known as RSS, really simple syndication allows people to subscribe to a feed, like a blog or twitter, and read a summary of the item. If there is interest, then they can click to read the full article. So instead of going to your favorite news website and blogs, get a free RSS reader and subscribe to the lists and sites you love most.

How this helps: Using this blog post as an example, if you were to read it through an RSS reader, you would get a summary, a small portion of the article, and then a link to read the entire thing. This allows you to choose whether or not you want to go to the site and read the article. Also, because the RSS reader is only downloading the content, there is no wasted bytes on the site images, ads, and other stuff that clogs up the internet. You simply download text and read text. Pretty sweet!

Automatic Updates

Chances are your computer is talking to the internet more than you know! Windows, Antivirus, iTunes, Quicktime, Rhapsody, Instant Messengers, Adobe Acrobat, Logitech, Dell and more all connect to their associated servers periodically to check for updates and statuses. In most cases this occurs behind the scenes and you only find out about it if there is an update available. Go through your installed applications and disable the automatic updating. Important note, do not disable automatic updates for Windows or your Antivirus. These two components are critical to remain as up to date as possible.

How this helps: When your computer starts up, shuts down, is idle for a period or whenever else it wants, your applications check for updates. They crunch some bytes on your computer, then send these bytes to their server (over several routers/firewalls/etc) and then their server crunches the bytes and returns more bytes. In most cases, this transaction results in nothing, there is no update available but your computer is checking anyway. By disabling the automatic updates (again, do not disable them for Windows or Antivirus) you are limiting the amount of automatic crunching by your computer. At any point in time you can manually update your applications when you want to. Why upgrade when it isn’t broken?

Do your part

If we all contribute and reduce the amount of crunching our computers need to so, we can and will reduce the amount of power needed. Some of the side benefits will be faster internet browsing speeds since the internet connections aren’t all clogged up with useless bytes.

If you have other ideas on how to help reduce your computer’s power consumption, let me know!!

Facebook Lite!

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t get any cooler, it did. There is now a lite version available, check it out at http://lite.facebook.com/.

No more stupid apps! Just the stuff you want from Facebook, the reason you signed up for Facebook: statuses (or is that stati)!

Enjoy!

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