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Happiness: The New American Dream

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“Find Your Beach”

I rarely write these days. I’ve never been the writer of the family — that was always my Dad — but I enjoy the art of expression from time to time. I’ve found that when I do write, it’s usually after a one-two combination from a life hurdle and finding an inspirational article online. Either way, who am I to knock inspiration?

It’s no secret that I, nor most people my age, don’t watch the news these days (much to my mother’s chagrin, by the way — particularly when she asks me about wildfires in Los Angeles that I didn’t even know were happening; even more, to my own chagrin when I’m stuck in traffic for three hours because some kid decided he wanted to try to jump off the 101 Freeway. I digress). Sadly, I installed the NBC7 app on my iPhone last week, only to be met with disdain shortly thereafter at the incessant number of highly negative news updates filling up my notification window. As if we need more notifications and more bad news in life. Anyway — the point is, my primary source of real, thought-provoking material always comes from Facebook (at least based on today’s algorithm. I’m sure after posting this, it’ll start sending me ads for help with existential crisis…).

There, I stumbled upon this amazingly written short piece from novelist, Zadie Smith, on NY Books.

Across the way from our apartment—on Houston, I guess—there’s a new wall ad. The site is forty feet high, twenty feet wide. It changes once or twice a year. Whatever’s on that wall is my view: I look at it more than the sky or the new World Trade Center, more than the water towers, the passing cabs. It has a subliminal effect. Last semester it was a spot for high-end vodka, and while I wrangled children into their snowsuits, chock-full of domestic resentment, I’d find myself dreaming of cold martinis.

But that was all some time ago. Now the ad says: Find your beach. The bottle of beer—it’s an ad for beer—is very yellow and the background luxury-holiday-blue. It seems to me uniquely well placed, like a piece of commissioned public art in perfect sympathy with its urban site. The tone is pure Manhattan. Echoes can be found in the personal growth section of the bookstore (“Find your happy”), and in exercise classes (“Find your soul”), and in the therapist’s office (“Find your self”). I find it significant that there exists a more expansive, national version of this ad that runs in magazines, and on television.

Find your beach. The construction is odd. A faintly threatening mixture of imperative and possessive forms, the transformation of a noun into a state of mind. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. On the one hand it means, simply, “Go out and discover what makes you happy.” Pursue happiness actively, as Americans believe it their right to do. And it’s an ad for beer, which makes you happy in the special way of all intoxicants, by reshaping reality around a sensation you alone are having. So, even more precisely, the ad means: “Go have a beer and let it make you happy.” Nothing strange there. Except beer used to be sold on the dream of communal fun: have a beer with a buddy, or lots of buddies. People crowded the frame, laughing and smiling. It was a lie about alcohol—as this ad is a lie about alcohol—but it was a different kind of lie, a wide-framed lie, including other people.

Here the focus is narrow, almost obsessive.Everything that is not absolutely necessary to your happiness has been removed from the visual horizon. The dream is not only of happiness, but of happiness conceived in perfect isolation. Find your beach in the middle of the city. Find your beach no matter what else is happening. Do not be distracted from finding your beach. Find your beach even if—as in the case of this wall painting—it is not actually there. Create this beach inside yourself. Carry it with you wherever you go. The pursuit of happiness has always seemed to me a somewhat heavy American burden, but in Manhattan it is conceived as a peculiar form of duty.

In an exercise class recently the instructor shouted at me, at all of us: “Don’t let your mind set limits that aren’t really there.” You’ll find this attitude all over the island. It is encouraged and reflected in the popular culture, especially the movies, so many of which, after all, begin their creative lives here, in Manhattan.According to the movies it’s only our own limited brains that are keeping us from happiness. In the future we will take a pill to make us limitless (and ideal citizens of Manhattan), or we will, like Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, use 100 percent of our brain’s capacity instead of the mythic 10. In these formulations the world as it is has no real claim on us. Our happiness, our miseries, our beaches, or our blasted heaths—they are all within our own power to create, or destroy. On Tina Fey’s television show 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy—the consummate citizen of this new Manhattan—deals with problems by crushing them with his “mind vise.”

The beach is always there: you just have to conceive of it.It follows that those who fail to find their beach are, in the final analysis, mentally fragile; in Manhattan terms, simply weak. Jack Donaghy’s verbal swordplay with Liz Lemon was a comic rendering of the various things many citizens of Manhattan have come to regard as fatal weakness: childlessness, obesity, poverty. To find your beach you have to be ruthless. Manhattan is for the hard-bodied, the hard-minded, the multitasker, the alpha mamas and papas.A perfect place for self-empowerment—as long as you’re pretty empowered to begin with. As long as you’re one of these people who simply do not allow anything—not even reality—to impinge upon that clear field of blue.

 

Whew. No pressure?

Have we really gotten to a place where if you are not drenched in solitude, isolated from the world, and living life on your own beach of “happiness” that you are mentally fragile? What does that say about us as a society?

Regardless, she’s making an incredible point that I fear few people are thinking about. The entire world today is predicated on self-empowerment, happiness, self-motivation, The Secret, Oprah, and every other kind of self-help mantra you can come up with. Living in Los Angeles, you see it everywhere you go. From the Cold Pressed Juice stores to the crazy Cross Fitters doing their WOD’s on the sidewalk to Trader Joes to the chalk art outside your local pub with “empowering” advice on how you should life to its fullest and have another beer!

Each man and woman in this town is in pursuit of his or her beach and God help you if you get in their way. I suppose it should follow that I am happier in pragmatic England than idealist Manhattan, but I can’t honestly say that this is so. You don’t come to live here unless the delusion of a reality shaped around your own desires isn’t a strong aspect of your personality. “A reality shaped around your own desires”—there is something sociopathic in that ambition.

 

A reality shaped around your own desires. Sociopathic.

The Future: A World Full of Sociopathic, Isolated, Narcissists. (Or SIN, if you’re the Religious Kind?)

Anyone who knows my Dad knows that he had a lot of “sayings”. One of them was, “has the world kicked you in the ass yet today?” This is somewhat ironic, given that my Dad also told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, but his approach to parenting was something I sometimes long for in today’s society: real.

My parents never sugarcoated anything. I saw every fight. I saw every conversation. I saw every logic-based decision from inception to execution. Being an only child, I also got to hear logic from both sides of the coin, unfettered and uninterrupted. I got to be in the control room for every major thing that ever happened in my life. And if it pertained to me? I got to make the choices, because my parents always treated me like an adult. Perhaps that’s just the perks of growing up, but I would also like to think I have some pretty salt of the Earth folks.

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And despite all of the empowerment talk of being whatever you want to be, there was also never a void of the “reality”. The reality that if you wanted to be a certain something, you had to go where those certain someones who did that something were and step up to the batters box and swing. Sometimes you were gonna strike out, and sometimes you were gonna hit a line drive, and sometimes, you’d knock it out of the park. But without stepping into the batter’s box, you weren’t going anywhere. Period.

As I re-read the remnants of this article and think about life, I fear the outcome of a society continuing on this trajectory. If left to our own devices as is, I fear we are truly becoming these isolated, sociopathic narcissists. People so selfish and consumed with their own thoughts, their own happy, and their own well-being while being glued to their phones with no real attachments or experiences in life outside of themselves. What kind of world is that?

It’s scary, from a societal standpoint. And from an every day standpoint? It just makes me crave real. It makes me want to smash my phone, delete social media accounts, and only foster real relationships and real scenarios.

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Think about it. We all fill the void of connection with our phones, choosing to connect with all the whomevers on our Facebook chat at that moment instead of valuing the people we’re already with in the flesh. We choose to Facebook and Instagram and worry about likes and followers as validation for who we are as people, instead of valuing ourselves internally without a like or a comment attached. We don’t know how to unplug. We sit there with our phones, thinking we are being isolated and living on our own specially crafted beaches, when really — we’re just clouding our minds with algorithm-induced bullshit that already leans in a biased direction for a click and a coin in the bank to an advertiser under the guise of actually living our lives. Hallelujah, user behavior!!! All of this is predicated on the concept that we’re building our perfect little lives, our own imaginary world in our own head built just for us while searching for true happiness. My world is mine! All mine! Eff the rest of you and your anti-synchronistic concepts that don’t fit my world! ME ME ME ME ME! HAPPY! ME! MINE! LISTEN TO ME! LIKE ME! MY OPINION IS RIGHT AND YOURS IS WRONG IF YOU DISAGREE!!!

It’s bullshit.

And I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it’s not real.

A Dose of Reality

A month or two ago when Spotify rolled out their “weekly” discover playlist that served up curated content based on music you listened to, I realized just how wrong we were getting it. My favorite musician of all time is Jason Mraz. Love him. Have for decades. I still play a lot of his music. As a result, most of my playlist was acoustic-y coffee house type music. Almost every. Single. Song. After the third song, I wanted to turn the stereo off altogether.

The most beautiful aspect of life is the magical surprise — the surprise of something you hadn’t expected. There’s nothing new in the singer-songwriter coffee house genre, and none of it is appealing to me in a 20 hour playlist full of just that. I want to find something new. I want to find something to awaken my soul and snap me out of my traffic-induced trance.

Which is why magic is the key to life. It’s the surprise of trying your new favorite food for the first time, of arguing differing viewpoints with someone from the complete opposite end of the spectrum from you and learning more about life because of it, of meeting someone you fall in love with at the soul level, of laughing until your face hurts because you’ve finally met someone funnier than you, of having crazy wormhole discussions about art, life, physics, and blackholes. You see it when you meet that person who turns you on to something you’ve never known before that you probably would have never known before you met them. When you discover that cute little place on the corner by accident just because you happened to walk by. When you find a new book to check out because of a friend of yours insisted that you borrow it.

Happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a state of mind. And all of the self help books in the world can’t teach you that. It’s not something you can strive for, it’s something you work on every single day. And it doesn’t come from you, because life is not about you. Life is about us, collectively. You are me, I am you, we are life. So is the cat. And the dog. And Cecile the Lion. And the trees. This world is one that was given to us, how and why isn’t important. We have it, it’s a blessing, and it is up to us to take care of it, of us, and of ourselves.

And in that — it’s also about realizing that sometimes you have to be okay with reality. It’s okay to be sad sometimes. It’s okay to experience every emotion under the sun because it’s what reminds us that we are alive. We’re breathing. We’re here! Don’t let some effervescent pursuit of some fake new-age bullshit take that away from you.

At the end of the day, I hope, if nothing else, you take away that life is not about what you or I want. It’s about learning the delicate balance between exploring our own passions and desires while also giving love, insight, knowledge, and inspiration back to those you love; perhaps, even strangers. And I think that’s why most people consider some of the richest people in the world as the most miserable at their core — they gave up everything to get something they thought would make them happy — without really knowing what happiness is.

Life. Is. Not. A. Beach.

Neither is happiness.

It’s about time to change a few things;
we’re enslaved to the bank and we only wanna buy new shoes,
but the way that we think — we can do anything that we really wanna put our minds to.
The american dream is a pyramid scheme
And it feels outta reach when it’s hard and times are tough
But change starts with us yep, yep
We all want freedom yea to be who we be
I don’t wanna be afraid when I speak to say what I’m feeling
Yea together we’re strong but divided never been so weak
It’s time we get even, yea yea, and really what I mean is, is, is
This change I can feel it, yea yea, Mr. President I think it’s all gonna be O.K.

Millennial Entrepreneurs: Coming of Age Interpersonal Duality

Just over a decade ago, the launch and subsequent evolution of social behemoths like MySpace and Facebook changed the way we communicate, access information, and view the role of business and purpose in society. Now that social media is past the early adoption phase and is fully integrated into every day society, we’re beginning to see a paradigm shift as these Millennials (myself included) come of age into full blown “adulthood” in the social age. I’m not sure if this concept has been discussed at length, or if it even has a name, but I will be referring to it henceforth as interpersonal duality.

A Brief Background

Before the birth of modern-day social media, it was assumed that only highly educated people had access to quality information. When it came to business, only those that fought their way up the corporate ladder could run, let alone create, successful ventures — especially large Fortune 500 entities. The only approved societal path for a fresh-faced college graduate was to put in sweat equity at a large corporation until they could retire with their 401k’s and whatever the corporation was willing to give them with their departure into the abyss.

The elite Millennials like Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson changed that perception. They showed that you didn’t have to have a college education to make the world a better place, and even more so, you didn’t need an MBA to create a successful company. The sentiment of the time was simple: we didn’t like the way the world was telling us to behave, so we changed it. Coding, technology, bootstrapping, and start-ups carved a path where Millennial kids, burdened with impending college debt and a disenfranchised view of the way corporations suck away your soul, found a more efficient path. Don’t like the way something is done? Do it differently. Go your own way.

And it worked.

I mirrored that sentiment, even in college. I was unwilling to accept that I would have to put in 5 years of wasted effort as an assistant when I knew I had more to offer the world today. After skipping my way to be Head Producer at a large music tech startup, I watched it suck the life out of me and everyone in it. It was then that I realized I wanted no part of the traditional work journey. At 22, I started my own company with the sole purpose of fulfilling my passion. I’ve never looked back. Most of my peers, especially friends from college and high school, have also gone on to build successful businesses with the same philosophical construct. Every single one of them (us?) was unwilling to accept a societal standard of rules that our parents and elders dictated to us. Our time here is short, so why waste it being inefficient?

Because of this philosophy, it’s now the people in tech under 35 that are making rockstar money and living lavish lives. In the meantime, rockstars and celebrities are trying desperately to hang on to what’s left of their notoriety by flaunting drama just to stay relevant in an over-saturated, content-driven market (thanks, TMZ). The ability to be heard thanks to social media and technology is infinite, yet the mountain to become (and stay) someone with true influence on the masses is now nearly impossible. We have become a society with access to limitless information at our fingertips, yet we use it to share pictures of cats, dogs, and viral entertainment. No one cares about the crisis in Libya, AIDS in Africa, or that tickets are now on sale for Justin Timberlake’s new tour (in fact, I didn’t even know he was on tour until he cancelled his MSG show last week! Proof in the pudding). The irony.

The rise of Interpersonal Duality

This background is all well and good, but it’s still not the point of this blog. Here’s the point:

10 years ago, services like MySpace and Facebook became popular because they were tools built by Millennials for Millennials to serve our angsty early 20s purposes. When Facebook was TheFacebook, it’s biggest draw (at least for me) was the fact that I could connect with my classmates. On a campus of 25,000+ students, that was invaluable to my social college experience. Even with MySpace or Xanga, social media was a way to personally express yourself in an environment where digital was the new kid on the block. You could write your passive aggressive blogs about your ex anonymously and feel like you were connecting with everyone on a bigger scale. It was like a canvas to a painter with no social repercussions.

Millennials used social media to connect emotionally to one another. That’s why it was built. That’s why it worked. Period.

But now that social media is so mainstream, people are beginning to recoil on the initial Millennial uses of social media. Today, if you go to jail for something, the media scours your Facebook and Twitter to make assumptions about your lifestyle and personal essence based on your posts. If you’re looking for a job, your potential employers scan your social media to see if you’re a partier, a threat, or if you’re as intelligent as you made yourself out to be on your resume. Social media’s cardinal rule of emotional expression is now the exact tool that gets used against you. This means that people are now more vague, or even worse, are avoiding using social media for what made it popular — connecting in an authentic manner. This is why teens are abandoning traditional social sites at alarming rates, opting for services like Snapchat that make their interactions a mere blip in existence before they’re completely forgotten (or so they think ;)).

So, as a Millennial, whose entire “awkward teen” life was centered around emo status updates and angsty blogs, how do you handle the transition into “adulthood”? It’s no longer appropriate for us to make status updates about the difficult parts of our lives (like divorces, deaths, or health problems) because it leaves you open and vulnerable to tarnishing your “public image”. But if you’ve spent your entire life getting used to connecting to other people in a digital world, how do you transition to connecting in real life? I’ve found it a lot harder than I thought I would.

As an example, I’ve been going through a lot of very intense family drama over the past six months. Of course, I posted a pretty vague status update a few months ago on my personal Facebook page (friends only) about the frustration I was feeling, only to be met with text messages and IMs from a client about how it was inappropriate, and that I need to always maintain my public image. I should never let anyone know that anything is ever wrong. Ever. To an extent, she’s not wrong. My mom taught me that as well, which is why connecting with people is harder for me than some in the first place. I care more about other people’s problems than my own because then I never have to be vulnerable, which is almost always easier. But is it? Is it really easier if you can never express who you really are with people?

Ultimately, is that the world I want to live in? Is it the world you want to live in? A world where social media can no longer be utilized to connect in a vague way while going through difficult things? Where does the line get drawn on what is publicly or privately acceptable, and what is not?

This is the true essence of the interpersonal duality dilemma, in my opinion.

I don’t think that there’s a right or a wrong answer, but it is an impending battle that I firmly believe will only get harder as social media and technology continues to inject itself into the every day, especially for Millennials and the generation below us. I’m already concerned with teenage kids who do not seem to know how to have real conversations because they’re only used to texting, but I’m also not sure how to fix it.

Either way, as humans, I don’t think we can give up our humanity or the need for connection. Will we begin to turn our back on technology to connect again with real people?Will we even be capable of doing so? Or are we destined to become robots with perfect lives on the surface while the inner turmoil slowly eats away at our souls.

And the bigger question: which is worse? The corporate soul sucker, or your inner-self soul sucker?

You decide. I’m out of answers. :)

Big Data: The Winners & Losers are Content Creators

Whew! Been awhile since I wrote a blog, eh? I often envy the CEO/Founder bloggers that have nothing better to do with their time than to blog 24/7, either because they’ve figured out some epic magic trick to keep them from working like a maniac on client projects for 22 of the 24 hours of their day, or because they’re just plain smarter than I am at running a business. Either way, let’s just be happy I cranked this out despite my mile long to-do list staring me point-blank in the face. (gun reference, #1)

When I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning in Boston, a city much quieter than the throws of Los Angeles sirens, morning traffic, and summer construction, I felt relaxed. Relaxed enough to actually take the time to sit at the dining room table, make half a bagel, and *gasp* read the newspaper. I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

Normally, much like daily television news programs (outside of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report), there isn’t much that interests me in the newspaper. My interests lie in entertainment, technology, and social change (i.e. forward-thinking peace-like movements). Sadly, there’s not much of that in the news, since everything today is about traffic numbers, and those seem to peak from bombings, gun-shootings, horrific accidents, and melee that was drama for someone somewhere. We’ll get back to traffic in a minute, though.

new york times

The paper that happened to be sitting on the table was The New York Times (way more intellectual than the LA Times, by the way — now I see where I’ve been going wrong), and the headline was “Computer Scientist Begins Fight Against Big Data.” Interest piqued. The article is really a big boner stroke for Jaron Lanier‘s new book, “Who Owns the Future?”, and while I haven’t actually read the book (but plan to), it brought up a lot of great points that should resonate with anyone involved in creating content or marketing said content (which by the way, is pretty much — everyone!).

There was one paragraph in particular that really inspired me to share this with you:

Mr. Lanier may not have any personal animus against Mr. Schmidt (Eric, Google). But he describes listening to him and Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos discuss the future of books just as he, Mr. Lanier, was struggling to write his first one. This prompts an attack on how Siren Servers (read the article) could undermine and impoverish the world of reading, just as they did music.

His point here, less clear without having read the full context of the article, is that “web businesses exploit a peasant class”. I know, I know — what the f@$% does that mean? It means this:

The big web companies are growing larger and larger by the second. They also monitor your data and web usage, and then use that data to serve up advertisements and content they think you will find relevant. Meanwhile, all the content you publish not only becomes their property, but now we’re beginning to see lack of privacy and control over said data, which in all technicality, should still be your property (although, I say if you don’t want it on the ‘net, don’t put it there). The more we allow these big data companies (Facebook, Google) to control our web experience (and thus, our world, really), the more risk we have of losing the “middle class” of the Internet.

But how?

You see, the Internet and .commers have all been successful because they’ve done one thing: unite us. For example, my background is in music and tv/film. I’ve been doing it for over a decade now, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with top of the top in those industries; but even with that, that’s limited to America, nowhere else. But with the Internet, the entire world now becomes your oyster — you have access to everything, from people to information to, most importantly, content.

An Example: My Mad Fat Diary

My Mad Fat Diary on E4

Last week, I stumbled across a blog in my news feed touting a show called My Mad Fat Diary, which is a British series set in the 90s. I’m going to go ahead and post the OP’s comments that got me to watch the show in the first place:

Maybe I’ve never been to England, but – like Rae (Sharon Rooney) and everyone in the gang on the show – I was 16 in 1996, and that makes everything about this show a nostalgia goldmine. It’s like they pulled it all directly out of my 8th-10th grade years. The fashion: chokers and Dwayne Wayne sunglasses, denim spaghetti strap mini-dresses and baby tees, rollneck sweaters, hunter green and navy Tommy Hilfiger shirts, grunge plaid tied around your waist. CK1. Going to raves. Spin the bottle. I’m pretty sure my best friend had the same alarm clock as Rae. Really bad teenage sex advice. Caesar cuts and tiny backpacks. Being worried about Toxic Shock Syndrome. That horrible time before everyone had cell phones. The detail paid to the decade is awesome.

Yup, that was me too. She goes on to outline the music, of which, I couldn’t deny reliving. Who could abandon the temptation of Oasis (wow, 90s website!?)? But you know what else it did? I made me start researching some of these other bands in the show that I liked, but had never heard of. I started learning more about British culture and catchphrases, which are fascinating. I started recognizing the incredible amount of talent over the pond that I would have never known existed (Sharon Rooney and Nico Mirallegro are both incredibly talented. I was wowed with their performances. Keep these folks working, people!).

sharon rooney and nico mirallegro finn and rae

So that’s all great and all. Thanks to the Internet, we’ve found ways to access information on a global scale, although even that’s diminishing. With Google’s local view on search, it’s becoming nearly impossible to find things outside of your geocached zip code unless you happen to be savvy enough to access the in-depth advanced features. Even if you do find the content, such as I did thanks to YouTube with My Mad Fat Diary (thank God e4 didn’t protest that!), good luck getting that money back to the people that deserve it. E4 isn’t making ad money off the folks that put it on YouTube, which means the actors aren’t getting residuals (if they do in the UK? I would assume so, right?). Is E4 going to front making multi-region DVDs and risk high shipping costs in a down economy? Not likely, at least not without a massive spike in Interest. But if everyone can watch it for free on YouTube already, what’s the appeal in buying the product once you’ve gotten it for free? Welcome to the Napster conundrum. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s why Spotify is great. Thanks for redeeming yourself, Sean Parker.

spotify-for-linux

So, back to Mr. Lanier’s point. It’s the content creators that suffer. If this is the case for a show on a major network in the UK with proven desire internationally, then what about the baby content creators that don’t even have an opportunity to get their shown seen or marketed t?. When big data companies like Facebook and Google automate the content curation process to an algorithm and only serve the needs of traffic and advertisers, it limits your ability to discover new content naturally. You can see this today in your news feed and in your search results — in fact, I’ll screen grab my attempt at finding the NY Times article through search. Advertisers. None of it was what I wanted (yes, this is not the only search I tried, nor the only parameters. I’m not an idiot, promise). My friends statuses are becoming less and less visible in Facebook. My search results are almost always irrelevant to what I’m looking for. The system is broken. And it’s only going to get worse the more people put content on a platform that no longer serves them.

We’re in danger of losing what was great about the Internet: uniting through discovery.

NY Times Search

Look, as marketers, we all understand it’s about monetizing. I’ve spent the last year with Plastick Media trying to figure out how to get butts in seats at the theater, convince people to buy VOD, support Day & Date VOD / theatrical releases, and get people to buy music on iTunes, content from websites, and how to get sponsors to buy in to the whole ordeal. It’s a jungle out there, I get it. But at some point, you have to stop chasing the dollar and start remembering where the dollar is coming from. Serve the content, and the users will come. Serve the advertiser, and you lose the free market discovery tool that gives everyone, equally, an opportunity to get their content in front of valuable eyeballs.

Why I love my HTC Android Thunderbolt // iPhone vs. Droid

For any of you that know me, you are blatantly aware of how much I love my Droid, which is especially true if you’re one of my many friends that has an iPhone shoved insofar where the sun doesn’t shine that you fail to recognize more convenient technology because your Mac elitist behavior won’t let you.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that if you own an iPhone, we’ve probably gotten into a fight about it at some social setting, in which we’ve had to agree to disagree that our relevant phones are better than the other because I get tired of wasting my breath on someone who reasons like a 12 year old that still believes in Santa Claus. Example of this behavior can be found here: http://bit.ly/muxsXM.

Convenient for me, however, was a nice little post that appeared today on my favorite social news outlet, Mashable.  The article talked about the latest news from Google/Droid Chief, Andy Rubin, who boasted how Google now has over 500,000 new activations per day.  If you dig a little deeper, it will not only share that the Android platform has surpassed Apple as the number one mobile platform in the US for quite some time, but that there’s no way (iPod Touch and iPad included) that Apple could ever recover those statistics.

The broader question, however, is why?  Why is Apple losing marketshare for a device that many of my iPhone friends will say to the death is the “best phone ever invented?”  Well, here’s my take:

  1. Shoddy Craftsmanship.
    Yeah, I said it.  It’s not well crafted.  Aside from the typical antenna bumper issues, dropped calls, and everything else my friends always have wrong with their phones but will never admit that it’s an actual issue,  the reality is that dropping a phone is inevitable.  Our friends at iFixyouri did a few drop tests on the iPhone 4 and its glass durability claims, and they shattered, quite literally. After only two drops from 1 meter, the phone failed to respond to commands. Don’t believe me?  Check it out here

    Contrast that with my personal experience, where a few weeks ago, I dropped my Droid from the bleachers at a Roller Derby match over 30 feet high.  The screen shattered, but it still works like a charm.  There’s not a single area that didn’t respond to touch, and the casing had absolutely zero cracks, bumps, or bruises in it.  Now this is a well built phone:

  2. The Apple Marketing Machine.
    Apple products, overall, are incredibly innovative.  However, releasing a new product every few months with a new feature that is barely worth a re-issue is nothing more than a marketing ploy to get brainwashed constituents back in the store for the next shiny thing on the shelf.  And let’s not mention the overly expensive coverage and training forced on you by salesman that are starting to model after a used car lot. 

    Don’t get me wrong–it’s genius capitalistic marketing, but a far cry from what Apple used to stand for, which was taking care of the customers.  Now, we’re just another number.  Maybe you like that, but I don’t.

  3. Proprietary Technology.
    We all remember the massive battle between Apple and Adobe.  Apple refused to find a way to use Flash on its devices because it “used too many resources” and bogged the system down.  You can debate the real reasons all day long, but I find their involvement in pushing HTML5 to be skeezily intriguing.  Whether you side with Apple or Adobe, the reality is that they can only piss off developers and constituents for so long before they abandon ship.  You should really read this article on VentureBeat, if you want a deeper look into the strategy behind Apple’s fight with Adobe and how it effects developers and the future state of the industry.
  4. Apple’s Way or the Highway.
    Apple only makes one iPhone.  They release different versions of the phone, but they manufacture it.  You can’t unlock it, and until recently, you could only use it on AT&T (which we all know is terrible).  You can’t use the OS on a different phone platform, and you’re forced to use the phone as they planned you to use it.  And that’s exactly how they want it: their way. 

    This is not the way the Android platform was built, which is why Google, in my humble opinion, did it the right way.  Instead of limiting their OS to one phone manufacturer or one mobile carrier, they worked with multiple.  So no matter what, if I like slide out keyboards or touch phones, I can find one on the network I want (especially important because I will never leave Verizon).   This is the primary reason why the Android OS is up to 500,000 activations per day, while Apple is fizzling in numbers.

  5. In-Efficiency.
    As much as Apple says it’s about ease of use and efficiency, any one who has ever used a Droid and an iPhone will point out rather quickly that the Apple OS is incredibly cumbersome.  Let’s say I’m in my Mail app, and I want to change my signature.  Instead of just being able to select that application’s menu while I’m in it, I have to go back to the home screen, find the settings icon, find the application within the settings menu, change it, and then find my way back to the application I was in.  By the time I’ve changed one stupid setting, I’ve probably forgotten what I was doing in the first place. 

    I don’t need to do that on my droid.  I can change my settings or configure options within each individual app within one or two clicks.  Also, because I can customize my home screens (all six of them) to display the exact content from widgets that I configure, I don’t have to waste time searching or reconfiguring my application icons.  My data is there, where I want it, and when I need it.  This gives the droid the ease of use and simplicity of the Apple OS with the customization of a Windows OS.  Who doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it too?

  6. The Apple Ego.
    Apple has started to believe its own hype.  Like many of the major record labels, film studios, and social networks over the past decade, they’ve begun to think that their “innovation” and “superiority” is unbeatable (*cough* myspace *cough*).  Unfortunately, as MySpace taught us with Facebook, if you don’t bend and merge to your customers and the marketplace, you won’t continue to grow and succeed.  Apple is winning insofar that they’re pushing users to buy in to all of their iProducts, but forcing consumers in a down economy to repurchase every few months for little innovation, forced sales, and no customization, which will ultimately lead to their downfall. But as Google releases more of its technology, and merges it with things people already use for FREE (i.e. Gmail, Google Docs), Apple fandom will start to wane.  Just like it did for MySpace because Facebook had a better offering that gave people what they wanted.  Apple customers just have to realize there’s something better out there, first.  Maybe if Google made things sexy in chrome, perception would change.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love Apple products, but I refuse to be a part of their machine.  When they truly innovate and create another great product, I will certainly give it a shot.  But pardon me if I exercise a bit more scrutiny in the products and companies I’m willing to put my money into, and so should you.  Apple is not God (nor is Google, or any company).  We live in a world where amazing technological innovations occur every single day.  That means that there are better options and solutions that are more cost-effective and that solve our problems better and faster.  We just have to get over ourselves and go look for them.

Oh, and just so you know–just because I love my Droid, doesn’t mean I won’t be looking for the next great innovation in mobile technology. That’s a piece of advice to my Apple friends.

So–iPhone, Droid? Why do you love your device? Comments welcome!