2012: When the foundations were washed away in a digital tide

Marketing, Technology 2013-01-31

Last Wednesday (January 25th), Roger Capriotti, Director, Internet Explorer Marketing, invited those of you who haven’t thought about Internet Explorer in a while to take a trip down memory lane with the new Microsoft campaign ‘Child of the 90s.

Since its debut in 1995, Internet Explorer has remained a prominent browser – despite losing market dominance in recent years due to tough competition from the likes of Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Opera.

The ad, a short, nostalgic video, which invites users to ‘Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer’ has already become a viral success, celebrating over 8 million views less than a week since its unveiling.

But in an age of digital revolution and changing user expectations, is it still possible for an old business model to recapture the modern day tech-savvy audience, whom are always just a single ‘swipe’ or ‘click’ away from a multitude of options?

Reconnecting requires a revival strategy that addresses two key areas of business; product innovation and marketing.

Microsoft, like many global giants have had to adapt their technology to extend beyond their primitive business model.  They have listened to consumer dissatisfaction, recognized inherent flaws and responded to industry changes.  The result is what looks set to be (IE10) an innovative touch screen browser, offering “fast, fluid, fun” browsing.  Perfect for integrating with tablets and mobile devices.

In contrast, 2012 saw the demise of Kodak – a brand name that defined an industry and who ironically invented the digital camera in 1975.  Considering that it was Kodak that presented the innovative technology that rendered their traditional business obsolete, it is interesting to ponder why long-time rival Fujifilm transformed itselfand Kodak did not.

In recent weeks retailers HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster have all filed for administration.  What unites these companies is a failure to adapt and thrive in the transition to a multi-channel, digital world.  Could these traditional businesses have survived, or was the end always inevitable?  There are many things that we don’t do anymore because of technological advancements.  Buying CDs, DVDs and compact cameras are just three.

The rate that technology and consumer behavior developed has been rapid.  But just because the way media is consumed has transformed doesn’t mean that a traditional business model can’t realign with contemporary needs and wants.  EntrepreneurPeter Jones is to revive Jessops as a purely online retailer, recognising the lack of demand for physical stores.

Just 11 years ago, HMV was valued at £1bn.  It’s been reported that a previous CEO said of music downloads, back in 2002: “It’ll never catch on,” yet digital sales of films, music and games in the UK broke the £1bn barrier in 2012, the highest annual total to date.  This is an 11.4% increase on the previous year, meaning that a quarter of the entertainment market is now digital.  The Sunday Times reported of (HMV) the 92 year old retailer that “the level of their enthusiasm will determine whether or not HMV is reborn, and in what form.”  The same article (The Sunday Times, January-21-2013) also stated that Apple’s iTunes store is now responsible for close to 30% of all music sold worldwide.  Apple is not only an example of how digital sales have impacted the music industry, but also how the failing high-street model can be used to its full potential.  Retailers are increasingly recognizing the possibilities of ‘show-rooming’ and creating exciting and dynamic ‘multimedia destinations’.  Only yesterday, it was announced that the Apple store design has received trademark approval.  The future of HMV on the highstreet shouldn’t be a library of CDs and DVDs, but something of the next generation.

Like with HMV and Apple; the services and offerings of parts of Blockbuster’s business were very similar to that of its competitors Love Film and Netflix.  HMV and Blockbuster both had strong online platforms that perhaps took too long to come to fruition, and were not vocalized loudly enough.  Today’s user expectations have been molded by platforms such as Google Chrome.  The supply of instantaneous delivery of an endless source of information, services and choice has created an extreme intolerance for anything that is not readily accessible or of high functionality.

To complete the transition, Microsoft has invested in not only a great viral ad, but it has also launched http://browseryoulovedtohate.com/.  Focused around the end user and their existing perceptions of Internet Explorer, this nicely designed microsite combats the negative associations of the product and brings potential users full circle to appreciate the advancements and the kind of innovative technology that they once pioneered.  Human, trustworthy, in tone, this ad moves along with the notion that we all make mistakes along the way, and wasn’t it fun?  This is a campaign that stands to strategically reinforce IE10’s position for the year ahead.  Simply all they had to declare was: “You grew up.  So did we.”