Not Cool Enough

Most people who follow high tech companies and their gadgets with even the slightest interest know that Apple has among the best branding in the industry—perhaps the best of any company in any industry. Everyone knows the Apple logo, and everyone knows that Apple makes the “i” products: Pod, Phone and Pad.

At any music festival or symphony hall, at any fast-food place or high-class restaurant, at any new, small start-up or well-established large enterprise, ask what music player, smartphone or tablet computer people are using and you will find that of all the individual brands, Apple is most popular.

Why? Because, in part, the Apple brand is identified with products that are desirable, well built, well designed, and, let’s face it, cool.

Being cool has, until this week, been a major beneficial attribute of the Apple brand. But a judge in the United Kingdom turned this positive characteristic on its head, when he announced a verdict against Apple because its competitor’s products are less cool.

Judge Colin Birss on Monday ruled against Apple in a lawsuit to stop Samsung from selling its new Galaxy Tab tablets on the grounds that it infringed on Apple’s iPad design. Although noting similarities between the two companies’ products, he ruled in favor of Samsung, stating that it did not infringe on Apple’s designs because the South Korean company’s products “do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design.”

He added, “They are not as cool.”

While Samsung may be pleased to win the case, it’s unlikely it will soon be running any ad campaigns announcing its victory on the grounds that being cool is not among its products’ qualities.

Apple, though, may just feel the verdict is ad worthy. With its long history of off-beat advertising dating back at least to the 1984 Macintosh commercial, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYecfV3ubP8, Apple may find a sense of pride in losing this case for such a silly, certainly legal-precedent-setting reason as being cooler than the defendant.

I can’t wait for the ad.

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