Monday, November 06, 2006

Compatibly Connectible

Hey so you have to love those commercials for Mercury, I think, where the guy and the woman are walking out of some office building, and he -- very dorkily, I might add -- has a pair of white earbuds draped over his shoulders, iPod in hand.

The woman says "we can take my car, you can plug that right in" and then the announcer (or maybe text flashes up on the screen, or both) says "iPod integration."

But then they get in the car, and, just like the Nissan Sentra and its slew of commercials featuring a John Heder-like dude who decides to live in his car for a week (Happily, of course, to allow a full film crew to "document." It's about as real as those sappy Coca-Cola commercials about "a group of friends who set out to make a movie."), he is presented with a stereo mini-jack to slap on his plastic-and-metal status symbol and rock away with the woman.

But wait, you ask. If the plug is all it takes to integrate your iPod, why do you have that silly white cord Apple put in the box? Oh yeah, for connecting the mp3 player to a computer.

There are cars that offer true integration. All of Honda's cars do, as well as other that escape my train of thought at this time.

The point is, those cars have software on-board to allow you to plug in the iPod and control your player through the car's sound system. In other words, not having to stare at a tiny LCD to navigate your playlist. Safer, yes. Apple-specific, yes.

Good, and bad (if you prefer any of the other mp3 players out there).

Sure, Mercury doesn't play favorites in that sense, but then why show an iPod in the commercial?

Well, for one thing, you aren't cool if you don't have an iPod. It's standard graphic design. Think back to your favorite television shows, and if those shows happen to be CSI: NY, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The West Wing, Sex and the City, How I Met Your Mother, and others I can't think of, then listen up.

Also pay attention if you watch TV at all.

Next time you watch, look at what computers are shown. Example: those annoying commercials with the Good Idea/Bad Idea guys.

The guy that wants to put a talcum powder ball on your notebook? PC
The guy that annoyingly suggests "Vehix TV, cool video test drives powered by wheels TV?" 12" Powerbook.

I just saw a commercial for Lexus, or something, that had a Mac in it. They don't display it prominently, but it's there.

Look at print ads as well. Nine times out of 10, if the ad isn't for computers or software, but it has a computer in it, it's a Mac.

CSI: NY has Macs at all the detectives' desks. Now come on. Who networks one department with brand-new Macs, and then integrates it with the PC-driven real world? No one. Set designers.

I won't deny Apple products are chosen often because they are just plain beautiful. They have the industrial design part of the business down to a big freaking T.

But with iPods its different. Sure it's 80% or whatever of the mp3-player market, but you cannot deny its a status-symbol.

Moral of the story? Don't confuse compatibility with connectivity. You can get any 15-year-old kid working at Radio Shack to install a sound system in your car that has an auxillary line you can connect to a stereo mini-plug and bypass the tape adapter.

Also, seriously look at all the shows you watch. Betcha there's a Mac in them.

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