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If You Can't Beat Them, Copy Apple.

As I strolled through the Prudential Center in Boston, glancing down at my low-battery iPhone, I was surprised and excited to catch a glimpse of what could only be an Apple store. The sleek glassy store-front and roaming t-shirt clad employees that have come to symbolize the face of cutting edge technology greeted me. Much to my dismay I lifted my head to find not a glowing fruit, but a colorful Microsoft flag instead. In the following order, I realized: I can't charge my phone. Wow, they really jacked Apple's design. It looks pretty cool. Should I go in there? Image Source: Corporate Eye Hands down, Microsoft has completely and unapologetically cloned Apple's retail position, store design, and cult environment. It's interesting how, complete with a genius bar answer deck, they really aren't trying to fool anyone. Honestly speaking, I am tempted to write Microsoft off for their creative theft and inability to be cunning in their own right. How can cloning the competitor ever reap brand growth and success? Ironically, it just may be Microsoft's smartest move yet. Giving consumers a place to hang and actually partake in a brand experience is a big piece of the brand loyalty pie. Success is never certain, but the validation behind Microsoft's carbon copying approach is. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke'?¦ Here are a few insights as to why you shouldn't fix it: 1. No explanation needed. Consumers who pass by the new Microsoft stores know exactly what to expect (they have seen it before), and time is not wasted on pitching a new concept to visitors. Instead, effort can immediately be spent on enhancing consumer experience, new gadget exposure, and helping them find those perfect accessories. All of which lead to the ultimate bottom line'making the sale and building a relationship with the customer. 2. Proven success. The Apple retail blueprint has paved the way for Microsoft to find similar success by incorporating the same key elements that consumers are used to and have made the Apple retail business a huge success. When Apple first introduced retail stores, they presented a model that capitalized on consumer insights to keep their customers happy and involved. Displaying their products in a user friendly environment captured people's attention (who hasn't seen a video filmed from an Apple store?). In addition, Apple added a genius bar to serve as a support system for buyers, which quickly became an essential and appreciated element for anyone stuck with a frozen screen or interested in learning more. These two elements may seem like common sense now, but it was an innovative approach that has proven successful. Microsoft made sure to present the same store environment because they know it will keep store visitors playing with their latest devices for hours and coming back for more. 3. Cultivation of a space where brand followers and the tech savvy can come together creates that fuzzy feeling. And we know this because we originally felt that same feeling at the Apple store across the street. Who is to say we won't feel it again? On the behalf of Microsoft, I would like to thank Apple for doing the dirty work. If you were to have mentioned the Windows brand to me a year ago, the Apple loyalist in me would have said Microsoft who? Ask me today, and though still devoted to my iStuff, I would say I'm interested. If that's not moving the needle, I don't know what is.  

iPhone5: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

For the first time in recent history, the American public has become disenchanted with Apple. Despite reported record-breaking sales, the new Apple product has come out to an overwhelmingly negative reception by non-loyalists. One of the major issues is that consumers are accustomed to Apple products that boast new and exciting features and innovations. Unfortunately, Apple's latest creation has solved problems that consumers weren't asking to be fixed. It also boasts incremental changes, rather than the radical new developments that consumers have expected for the past two years. The iPhone 5 invented problems to solve. No one complained that the iPhone 4S was too heavy, that the screen was too short, the casing too wide, or the screen too blurry. Yet these are the major changes that Apple made. It boasts a new reversible connector dubbed the 'lightning,' that is incompatible with the millions of accessories that are currently on the market, including those in cars such as BMW and Mini. Another 'brag worthy' feature is the LTE network - networks already have trouble supporting 3S speeds, so LTE seems more like an empty promise than a functional upgrade. The most apparent misstep is the replacement of Google Maps with Apple's default travel tool, which boasts missing locations, inaccurate information and inferior visual displays. Perhaps rather than inventing problems to fix, and in some cases making problems worse, Apple should have spent a little more time listening to what consumers wanted in their newest upgrade. Even after upgrading the iPhone 5 to be 20% lighter, 18% thinner, and with a longer screen than its predecessor, it appears as though not much has been changed for the better. People expect innovation from Apple. They do not want the incremental improvements they've seen over the past couple of years, they want radical changes. Unfortunately, what they've been given is roughly the same product since 2007. All iterations of the iPhone have been about the same size with essentially the same interface, yet loyalists keep shelling out a premium to upgrade year over year. Apple's history of innovation and sleek, stylish designs has created a loyal fan base, which is still turning up to buy all their latest updates. Luckily for Apple, loyalists do not care that the new iPhone solves problems that never existed. They do not care that they now have to buy new connectors, adapters and accessories due to the new connector. They do not mind that this latest product is not revolutionary. But everyone else does. Non-loyalists are well aware that the iPhone is being beat by its competition, and that Apple, once known for industry advancements is falling further and further away from that reputation. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before we come to the end of the Apple era.    

Apple Patent Suggests User-Relevant Ad Serving

Recently, Engadget uncovered a very interesting entry from the US Patent and Trademark Office from Apple that would allow 'systems and methods [to seamlessly switch] media playback between a media broadcast'?¦and media from a local media library.'? For example, say you're listening to streaming radio that cuts to a brief video ad and the algorithm determines that this ad isn't something that you would be receptive to (either based on specified preferences or previous usage / engagement), then you would instead be met with a video from your own iTunes library. Remember those puppies you recorded at Bob's house last weekend? SO ADORABLE. Ok, now back to your Creed channel on Pandora. Out of context, it seems as though this is an odd concept. Media networks can target a specific audience and if they happen to miss a few on the fringe, oh well (still nailing those impression numbers!). The idea of not serving an ad at all, not even an alternative ad, seems a bit odd as there could be missed advertising opportunities that the algorithm doesn't pick up on thus money left on the table for the media property. But what if that interpretation of the technology is not necessarily the case? What if this technology is using this algorithm to hyper-target, ultra-customize, uber-personalize the ads down to not only what it knows about the user but also has access to? For example, say in a few years, you're watching a stream of Apple's latest Worldwide Developers Conference and between speakers the player runs an ad for the new iPhone 8. The ad features a bunch of teenage hipsters playing around with the phone with the latest Gotye song playing in the background. But jump over to the cube next to you and your coworker Jim, is seeing that same video but set to a Phil Collins song. Next to him is Mary who has that video set to a song by Adele. Next to her is Frank, the IT Guy, who is yelling at everyone to STOP STREAMING, YOU'RE SLOWING DOWN THE NETWORK. (These problems still exist in the future.) What do they all have in common? Those songs were all on their respective 'recently played'? playlists on iTunes. Of course, this scenario is purely speculative (and totally ignoring copyright laws), but it's always fun way to think about what new and creative ways the advertising experience will be enhanced in the not-too-distant future. Source: Engadget, USPTO

BlackBerry and the Death of the Business Device

Last week, BlackBerry reported a dreadful fourth quarter, showing a net loss of $125 million. This prompted RIM, among other moves, to release a statement promising to focus more fully on the business consumer. If this was 2005, it would be an absolute no brainer. Enterprise solutions are what made BlackBerry a household name before they unsuccessfully tried their hand at the consumer market, so why wouldn't refocusing on enterprise save them now? The trouble is that since BlackBerry put smartphones on the map with their business-friendly offerings, they've been consistently leapfrogged by other manufacturers and operating platforms. And because both iOS, Android and even Windows phones have become ubiquitous in the business world, it's going to be extremely hard to regain that market. Redefining "The Business Consumer" BlackBerry's new focus on the "business consumer" may fall on deaf ears because, let's face it, when it comes to smartphone users, there's really no such thing as a strictly "business consumer" anymore. We have our devices on us at all times, and the typical user is looking for something that addresses both business needs and the need to smash pigs with disgruntled birds or Draw Something. So even though BlackBerry's ads want us to believe that anything outside of the BlackBerry operating system is a "toy," it's simply not true. There is a feeling that BlackBerry does have a leg up on the competition when it comes to network security, but since the other platforms have become more adopted in the corporate world, it won't be long before it's an equal playing field, and some may argue iOS is already there. And it's unfortunate that one of BlackBerry's so-called brand differentiators at the moment is the physical keyboard. While they hands down have the best physical keyboards, we've become very accustomed to writing emails with a touchscreen, and those who haven't have a handful of Android and Windows phones to choose from that feature more than capable physical keyboards. Creating handsets specifically for "The Business Consumer" also assumes that BlackBerry is going to be able to create devices that are going to be so superior at "business" solutions, that people will carry one of them for work, and then go back to using their "plaything" Androids and iPhones when they leave the office. Raise your hand if that sounds ideal to you. No one? Okay, moving on. The App Playground I have both an Android handset and an iPad. I like both of them for different reasons and think they both excel at different things. The truth is, and this might cause a bit of an uproar among Apple and Android fanboys, iOS and Android devices aren't all that different. Sure, there are differences in connection speeds, processor speeds, battery life, screen resolution, other surface level things but the overall form and functionality are similar enough. They're sleek, slim, glossy, utilize touch-screens, are great for surfing the web and are more than sufficient for answering work emails or viewing documents on the go. This is mainly the reason that everyone's suing each other over patent infringements. When smartphones came out, it was the features that set handsets apart. Now, the base features that are shipped with the device are only the beginning and are pretty standard. It's the apps that truly run the show. You buy a handset and the apps that you put on it define whether your device is business-focused, consumer-focused, or a bit of a mixture of both. Just because you have an iOS or Android device doesn't pin you as a "consumer" anymore as there are a number of solutions on both the iOS and Android platforms which make it easy for any of their devices to cater to the business user. And the fact that the number of apps on both Android and iOS outnumber BlackBerry by about 700,000, the chances are that the business user is probably better catered by the two former. What's Next for BlackBerry In short, the outlook is bleak. BlackBerry's lack of innovation over the past 5+ years compared to their competition shouldn't give anyone a good feeling that they know how to right the ship. But all is not lost. What's that saying about the first step to getting help being able to admit you have a problem? They know they have to do something radical to improve things, and it looks like they're making moves in the right direction. They're also close to launching their new operating system, BlackBerry 10 and some leaked photos of the new system are getting some people excited. However, by the time it reaches the market, iPhone 5 will be out and it may be too late. If BlackBerry 10 fails to turn things around, will they be out of options? A colleague of mine suggested that if that happens, the only remaining option might be to kill the operating platform, use their skills at creating business-focused devices, and focus solely on making the hardware for another platform. Would love to hear any thoughts on how you feel BlackBerry will be able to get back on their feet in our comments section below.

Jess and Jobs: a 21st Century Love Story

Steve Jobs died last week and it made me sad. It's confusing because I don't know the man, but his death tugged at my heartstrings in a way that was unique, and I believe it may be because of how his creations have shaped my life. His first computer came out the year that I was born and it is possible that this is what initially connected us, but from that point on Steve Jobs and I have had what can be best described as a lifelong love affair. Looking back on the beginning of our relationship I remember that I learned to type on the original Macintosh that looks like a concrete block (and is now prominently featured in museums and lofts as pieces of kitschy art, mostly to remind me of how old I am). At first introduction to Apple I marveled at the triangular cursor that I could move by manipulating the old rectangular mouse, and I made sure to regularly clean the device to ensure it worked properly. It was like it innately understood what I wanted to do, and it helped me get there. It was all so new and exciting when I listened to those first versions of a LaserWriter printer screech out my rudimentary illustrations, and when I first played Oregon Trail'?¦ oh I was in a new, heavenly world. When my family upgraded to a Macintosh II it was as though I was seeing the world through new eyes, and my sisters and I spent hours working our way through the trails of the game. Mac always had a way to bond the three of us together over these games and it was as a united Margolis-Pineo team we learned what polio was and how to feed our virtual families, and we often made it all the way to Oregon. (Well, someone usually died along the way.) Middle school rolled around and so did a required computer class, and thankfully our school had all Macintosh computers so we got to stay together during this awkward time. Learning to type was required for both boys and girls (only made mandatory for boys the year before!), so we used this time to flirt and print out pages of filthy words. The printers worked faster so we could get away with it at this point, and because I was already so comfortable with my old friend I didn't invest much time into learning during this class. Taking the flirting out of the classroom we'd spend hours at night using our dial-up internet to chat via AIM on our Mac at home. Was my affinity with the adolescent boys, or at the beautiful ease of communication with my Mac? I'll never be sure. Then came high school and we both changed so much. I walked the line of nerd-dom, and my old familiar Mac was barely recognizable. The new iMacs sported a bright blue back and pod-like shape, something very new and wild for my book-ish tastes. Unfortunately, the new iMacs were much more popular than I was and there was always a waiting list to use the new space-age computers, so I barely got any time alone with cool, high school Mac. And when my older sister got a new iMac and ran off to college with it, I was insane with jealousy and completely devastated. I thought I knew them so well! When it was my turn to go to college I worked all summer to buy myself a new iBook ' the same one I still use today. Like an old married couple we know each other so well that our time together is seamless and comfortable ' it knows all of my deepest, darkest searches. To spice up our romance I introduced an iPhone in to the mix last year, and the three of us have been a happy trio ever since. While it pains me to be without my iBook, I never have to leave the house without my iPhone. The Apple Company and Steve Jobs have been a part of my life longer than most of my closest friends and having them grow with me has shaped the way I've lived my life. Does it all have to come to an end now that Steve Jobs is no longer around to put his visions in to practice? No. I know that while the pioneer of these creations is gone it doesn't mean that his legacy and our affair is, and I am excited to see where the next chapter of our love story will take us.

Guest Daddy Blogger, Mike: "Papa Needs a New Pair of Pre-Ripped Jeans (against his better judgment)"

With Father's Day around the corner, this month we've reached out a few dads to share their insights and perspectives. We spoke with Mike, a 34 year old first-time father living in Brooklyn, NY. Mike blogs about fatherhood at www.dadandburied.com. Here are his responses to a few questions about his shopping habits, brand alliances and his recent foray into fatherhood. What kind of shopper do you consider yourself to be? First and foremost, I'm a shopper of convenience. I don't like shopping and I don't like planning and HATE planning my shopping. So I usually wing it. orlistat or alli Once I find a brand/product I like, I stick with it, until my wife tells me what I should be buying instead, and then I buy that. I have no pride when it comes to being a shopper; tell me what to get and I'll get it, so long as I'm done with the whole experience yesterday. What do you look for in the brands you use? Value and reliability. I also like those jeans that already have rips in them, because I'm in my mid 30s and I no longer do things that cause my jeans to rip, but I like to convince people that I still do those kinds of things. Sadly, though, despite the fact that I buy those jeans for that reason, I remain starkly aware of the fact that everyone, including myself, knows that anyone who buys pre-ripped jeans is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the kind of person who does things that cause their jeans to rip. And yet I continue to buy them. It's a circle of denial and aspiration that I can't escape. I also like Apple products. What item that you have purchased best represents your personality? I can't say ripped jeans here, both because I've already said it and also because if I revisit the paradox of what buying ripped jeans means about me, I'll start crying again. So instead I'll say it's the cans of Sixpoint Brewing's Bengali Tiger that just landed in my fridge. Because I like beer, and even though it's only a four-pack, and an expensive one, I am loyal to the Sixpoint brand and when I'm loyal to a brand, and that brand delivers, price is not an issue. What makes you a good dad? My total lack of shame. I entered into fatherhood with the same mixture of fear, anxiety and insecurity as everyone else. I also wanted to be sure I was a 'cool'? dad, and not just in an 'I wear ripped jeans that may or may not be pre-ripped'? way, but in a 'being a dad is not going to change me'? kind of way. I quickly realized that being a dad was absolutely going to change me, in fact it already had, because suddenly I didn't care about that anymore. These days, when it comes to my kid, I have absolutely no qualms about being an idiot in public. I have no issues changing diapers, no worries about wiping slimy food or snot or drool off his filthy face, and I have absolutely no inhibitions when it comes trying to make my son laugh. I will do anything to make that happen, mostly because when he's laughing, he's not crying. Please, God, stop crying. What advice would you give to a new dad or a soon-to-be new dad? Relax. Before you have a kid, the prospect of being responsible for a child is terrifying. Once you actually have the kid, it very quickly becomes your life, and you just simply have to live it, one day at a time. The most pleasant surprise for me has been that even the stuff I expected to suck ' even the stuff I KNEW definitely would suck ' isn't so bad after all. Not compared to the good stuff, which is pretty great. If you had a million dollars, what would you buy?! A house. And an iPad. I can't believe I don't have an iPad yet. Not having a house I can believe; not having an iPad makes me a little nauseous. But Father's Day is coming up... What is the most important thing you've ever done in your life? Had a kid. Sad but true. It's all downhill from here. Even if I have another kid, it will take years before I know which one will be more 'important'? in the grand scheme of things. At least right now there's no competition; the one kid I have is the most important one. I haven't done much else that stands up against him. I mean, I was also on the local news once, but no one watched. So I'll stick with the kid thing.

  • 4 min read
  • June 15, 2011

Guest Daddy Blogger, Mike: "Papa Needs a New Pair of Pre-Ripped Jeans (against his better judgment)"

With Father's Day around the corner, this month we've reached out a few dads to share their insights and perspectives. We spoke with Mike, a 34 year old first-time father living in Brooklyn, NY. Mike blogs about fatherhood at www.dadandburied.com. Here are his responses to a few questions about his shopping habits, brand alliances and his recent foray into fatherhood. What kind of shopper do you consider yourself to be? First and foremost, I'm a shopper of convenience. I don't like shopping and I don't like planning and HATE planning my shopping. So I usually wing it. orlistat or alli Once I find a brand/product I like, I stick with it, until my wife tells me what I should be buying instead, and then I buy that. I have no pride when it comes to being a shopper; tell me what to get and I'll get it, so long as I'm done with the whole experience yesterday. What do you look for in the brands you use? Value and reliability. I also like those jeans that already have rips in them, because I'm in my mid 30s and I no longer do things that cause my jeans to rip, but I like to convince people that I still do those kinds of things. Sadly, though, despite the fact that I buy those jeans for that reason, I remain starkly aware of the fact that everyone, including myself, knows that anyone who buys pre-ripped jeans is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the kind of person who does things that cause their jeans to rip. And yet I continue to buy them. It's a circle of denial and aspiration that I can't escape. I also like Apple products. What item that you have purchased best represents your personality? I can't say ripped jeans here, both because I've already said it and also because if I revisit the paradox of what buying ripped jeans means about me, I'll start crying again. So instead I'll say it's the cans of Sixpoint Brewing's Bengali Tiger that just landed in my fridge. Because I like beer, and even though it's only a four-pack, and an expensive one, I am loyal to the Sixpoint brand and when I'm loyal to a brand, and that brand delivers, price is not an issue. What makes you a good dad? My total lack of shame. I entered into fatherhood with the same mixture of fear, anxiety and insecurity as everyone else. I also wanted to be sure I was a 'cool'? dad, and not just in an 'I wear ripped jeans that may or may not be pre-ripped'? way, but in a 'being a dad is not going to change me'? kind of way. I quickly realized that being a dad was absolutely going to change me, in fact it already had, because suddenly I didn't care about that anymore. These days, when it comes to my kid, I have absolutely no qualms about being an idiot in public. I have no issues changing diapers, no worries about wiping slimy food or snot or drool off his filthy face, and I have absolutely no inhibitions when it comes trying to make my son laugh. I will do anything to make that happen, mostly because when he's laughing, he's not crying. Please, God, stop crying. What advice would you give to a new dad or a soon-to-be new dad? Relax. Before you have a kid, the prospect of being responsible for a child is terrifying. Once you actually have the kid, it very quickly becomes your life, and you just simply have to live it, one day at a time. The most pleasant surprise for me has been that even the stuff I expected to suck ' even the stuff I KNEW definitely would suck ' isn't so bad after all. Not compared to the good stuff, which is pretty great. If you had a million dollars, what would you buy?! A house. And an iPad. I can't believe I don't have an iPad yet. Not having a house I can believe; not having an iPad makes me a little nauseous. But Father's Day is coming up... What is the most important thing you've ever done in your life? Had a kid. Sad but true. It's all downhill from here. Even if I have another kid, it will take years before I know which one will be more 'important'? in the grand scheme of things. At least right now there's no competition; the one kid I have is the most important one. I haven't done much else that stands up against him. I mean, I was also on the local news once, but no one watched. So I'll stick with the kid thing.

Applying Apple's Success Factors To Our Brands

Apple overtook Google in this year's 'Top 100 Most Valuable Brands'? BrandZ study, which brand consultancy Millward Brown recently released. The technology giant nabbed the top ranking after receiving an 84 percent increase in brand value this year while Google dropped by two percent. As a result, Google (which held the number one spot for four years straight) took the second ranking, followed consecutively by IBM, McDonald's, Microsoft and Coca Cola. The annual BrandZ study identifies and ranks brands using a number of factors, including an 'estimate of the brand's contribution to earnings, valuation of intangible assets, measures of customer perception and an estimate of growth potential,'? according to the Financial Times. While it's no wonder Apple received the number one ranking this year due to the wild success of its iPad and iPhone, it makes me wonder, 'What are the overarching communications and business factors that lead to Apple's success?' And better yet, 'How can we apply them to our brands?' Constant innovation. Apple is a leader, not a follower. It's continuous how much is prednisone advancement and groundbreaking product line sets the company apart. 'By nurturing its brand and constantly innovating, Apple is able to command a high price premium and weather economic turbulence, providing a global business success story that other brands can learn from,'? said Eileen Brown, CEO of Millward Brown. We need to push our brands to persistently strive to do greater things instead of taking breathers after bouts of success. Whether it's creating new products or developing new 'outside of the box'? marketing initiatives, the need for reinvention is critical in today's competitive landscape. Selling an experience. Apple doesn't just sell products, it sells an experience. It leverages eye-pleasing store aesthetics, 'user experience'?-focused commercials, and smartly-crafted communications messaging to convey the experiential benefit of its brand. In fact, check out its recent press release announcing the latest version of its iMac; Apple used 80 adjectives in 10 paragraphs to describe the experience! We should guide our brands to focus on user experience through our marketing strategies. Oftentimes, consumers may not remember specific product details, but they remember their overall experience and related feelings associated with the product. Capitalizing on this notion is a great way to generate effective marketing campaigns. Understanding the target audience. Apple researches and understands its consumers. It launched its iPod in 2001 and despite the fact that digital music players had been around for the previous three years, Apple wanted to be the first to 'make a big splash'? by understanding what consumers want in their portable digital music players. Apple's research revealed that consumers want to bring as much music with them as possible when on-the-go, but in the least obtrusive way. This revelation inspired Apple to make the iPod sleek and small, yet able to hold 1,000 songs. By 2004, Apple had sold more than three million iPods, creating a billion-dollar business for Apple. We should encourage our brands to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. By equipping our brands with a fresh perspective, they will have a strong competitive advantage. After all, what 'works'? may not be obvious to the naked eye. In today's competitive world, the race to the top can be challenging and downright taxing. Inputting basic principles from Apple, the wizard in the world of tech, can give us the competitive advantage we need for success.

Guest Blogger: College Senior, Jon ' 'Thanks for my degree, now what???'?

This month's guest blogger is a member of one of the most sought after consumer demographics ' a college student. We spoke with Jon, who is 22 years old, and currently finishing up his senior year at Bentley University in Waltham, MA. Here are his responses to the questions we asked him: 1. What kind of shopper do you consider yourself to be? I would like to think that I buy what I need when I need it, but that doesn't usually end up being the case.  I'll admit, I also fall victim to many fads and desperately can't wait until I can get my hands on newer products. After I buy something that's 'in'? I get tired of it and want the newest version of it when it comes out. There's always room for improvement, but unfortunately my bank account can't keep up. 2. What do you look for in the brands you use? Usability for sure. Why buy something that won't do what you need it to do?  It also depends on what it is I am buying. I couldn't care less who makes my clothes or what shampoo will give me the most nutrients or whatever. The brands of my big kid toys matter to me: MP3 players, cameras, TVs ' you don't mess around with that stuff. If I'm going to drop a couple hundred on something, it better be best in class. 3. Which brand do you feel best describes your personality? Why? I'd say that Apple would best describe my personality for a few reasons. First off, Apple is always looking to improve its products based on feedback on previous products. Like that, I like to think that I learn and grow from my personal experiences to continuously change how I live my life. If I were an Apple product, I'd probably be iTunes. I'm fun and outgoing and love to have a good time. And plus, who doesn't love their iTunes??? 4. What is one thing you could not live without? I'm obsessed with my BlackBerry. It keeps me connected to everything in my life. I've got my Facebook and Twitter at my fingertips to let me know what my friends are up to. I can keep up with the Red Sox and the rollercoaster ride of emotions they put me through every season. It even has a pretty decent camera to take pics of those random moments that need to be captured. Oh, and I don't own a watch so it tells me what time it is too. I'd be so lost without my BlackBerry. 5. What is your biggest concern as you prepare to finish up college? I am lucky enough to have landed a job right out of college. The biggest problem I think I will face will be handling my money. The paychecks I will be getting every two weeks will be the biggest checks I have ever been given. I have to prepare myself to not get in the habit of spending so frivolously. I'm going to have to budget for rent, bills, and food first no matter what. Something tells me that's easier said than done though. 6. What will you miss most about college? In the time I've been at college, I have grown extremely close so my group of friends. Every year at the end of the year, we've had the comfort of knowing that come September we would see each other again for another year of shenanigans. This time it's completely different. We're all from all over the country and we won't be able to see each other as often as we would like since we're all starting our careers. It's going to be difficult dealing with not having my closest friends around me all the time. 7. Do you anticipate the brands/products you use will change after college? Why/why not? After college I know I'll have to manage my money way better and with that, the stuff I buy may change as well. While I don't pay attention to the brands I buy for little things like detergent, paper towels, or toothpaste, I may need to look at brands besides the big names for luxury items in my life. I mean, maybe Apple products aren't all they're cipro purchase online hyped up to be? 8. What advice would you give to an incoming freshman who will be living away from home for the first time? Buy in bulk as much as you can by joining a wholesale club. I got a Costco membership my freshman year of college and have been so glad I did ever since. They legit have EVERYTHING you will need to survive in college: plasticware, solos cups, toilet paper, late night food snacks, ramen, you name it they probably have it and a lot of it to offer. It will save you many trips to the regular store and money too. 9. If you had a million dollars, what would you buy? If I had a million bucks, the very first thing I'd get is a sick penthouse overlooking a city. It wouldn't have to be in Boston just in a city somewhere. I'd fill it with tons of cool gadgets and electronics too, like huge TVs and stereo systems, the works. I'd also have to get a car since I'm currently lacking one and wouldn't mind just having one to drive around in, maybe two. With whatever's left I'll try to get rid of some student loans, but definitely the penthouse and car(s) first. 10. What is the most important thing you've ever done in your life? The most important thing I have done in my life is gone away for college. It's a wild world out there and I think college is an essential transition period to ease the changeover to the real world. That small amount of independence has helped me learn to manage my time and my money better than I could have if I didn't go away for school. The last four years have been the best ones yet and I am happy I experienced them.

Grammy Award Winning Band Touring the US with Tons of Downtime? There's an App for that'?¦

I know I'm not alone in thinking the iPad is for the most part, pretty pointless. Is it an e-reader, a gaming device or an iPod for old people with bad eyesight? I'm head over heels in love with everything my iPhone and iPod Touch have to offer, and one of the things I adore the most is their portability. My purse is literally overflowing at all times, and I can't imagine adding a 1.5 pound 9.56'? x 7.47'? x .5'? device to the mix. When I need a bigger screen or yearn for a keyboard, I turn to my MacBook Pro. However, when Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn told NME Magazine last month that his band was poised to release the first album ever recorded on an iPad, I was intrigued. 'I've made it on an iPad ' I hope I'll be making the first record on an iPad,'? he said. 'I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I've made a completely different kind of record.'? I'm not familiar with the countless music production applications out there, or their capabilities, but I can't help but wonder if 'completely different'? will translate to 'awful sound quality.'? I'm skeptical, but my Bose headphones and I are ready to be proven wrong. The Gorillaz album, titled 'The Fall'?, will be released as a free download for fan club members on Christmas day, and is expected to be distributed through traditional music channels in 2011. Fans are excited to hear new music from the band, whose last album was released in March 2010, and typically average 4-5 years between projects. Now, I'm sure there are millions of bands in basements across America who are ready to dispute the fact that the Gorillaz album will be the first produced on an iPad, but it will likely be the first to get any global attention. The idea that the iPad can be used for creation, not just consumption, excites me. If the device  helps busy musicians that might not be fortunate enough to have a mobile recording studio on their tour bus deliver new content to their fans, then I'm all for it. Music has played a huge role in Apple's TV advertising, and has offered several artists (including the Gorillaz in 2005) a career boost over the years.  Despite a recent Microsoft endorsement deal by the Gorillaz, Albarn is hyping the iPad and its capabilities, and Apple would be smart to take advantage. I'm predicting a 2011 iPad commercial that features a new Gorillaz song from their album created on an actual iPad. I mean, seriously, does it get any better than that? Sources: http://nme.com, http://gorillaz.com, http://www.twitter.com/gorillazband

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