Most of the big and growing companies copy each other's technology. It is an imperfection of the system, and we are all trapped there.
Some companies, sometimes go too far. They try to emulate the design, the tone, the style. That is like stealing the soul of a brand.
I will talk about two shocking examples: HP and Microsoft.
HP Spectre, a beautiful clone
On April 16, 2016, HP presented the Spectre Laptop. The relation with the Apple MacBook is clear. It has some differences too. A screen that is a bit bigger, more ports, a different hinge, new materials, and colors. It runs a Windows operating system. It is beautiful, it works well, and I like it. But it is an Apple copy. I understand that HP needs to do that. I have explained in this series of posts that companies need to grow to survive.
The video where HP present the product is surprising. It is so similar to Apple ads that it seems like a parody. It's hard to believe that they did that seriously.
Even the HP voice over reminds me of Jony Ive. The Chief Design Officer of Apple is always in the video presentation of new Apple products. He gives an intense, passionate and elegant tone to what he explains. He has done that for years, and now it has become a piece of the Apple brand. An HP advertisement with a similar voice style sounds, at least, "strange."
The Spectre video says, "it is the best notebook HP has ever made. It is the thinnest notebook that we ever made. It is a marriage of engineering and design working together..."
They even copied the words and expressions of Apple. I did not expect that in a big, reputed company with years of history.
Do not get me wrong. I think HP made a great laptop and an excellent video. They should have invested all that talent and technology in something new. Apple has already solved that problem. With Spectre, they did not add anything significantly new. There are so many things to improve in our society and especially in tech. HP has done fantastic things in its history. They should search for their identity in their roots.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Apple has a unique way to advertise their products. Jony Ive explains the characteristics. They complete the narrative with macro images, details of the product, and slow motion. The general tone helps to position the product as a premium.
Apple has done that from the beginning. When Apple was small, it was a new style of communication. They did not copy the leader when it was Microsoft. They accentuated what makes them different. The product videos and ads were an important part of that strategy.
Now, Microsoft is struggling. They are not putting the accent on his personality, his history, his roots. They are copying Apple marketing. That makes them weak.
The Surface Pro is a great product. It has a lot of innovations and things that make them unique in front of the others. Some say that Apple copied Microsoft when they did the 2016 iPad Pro. Both devices have some things in common. I think that the application and style are different. Perhaps Apple learned from Microsoft’s experience.
What is clear is that the Surface was not a reactionary product. When it appeared, it was something new and refreshing. They made the first step. They created exciting technology and solutions. But with their marketing and communication, they ruined it. Copying the brand, advertising and the soul of the brand makes them followers. They put Apple as the leader. It is a good example of how marketing is more important than technology.
Learning from the technology of the competitors is always recommendable. Sometimes adapting part of that technology is understandable. Copying brand, marketing, communication, and advertising has no excuse.
In the last posts, we have seen that there are forces that push many companies to grow. (See related posts at the bottom)
That is not always good for consumers and the society in general. Those are not the best conditions to innovate. It makes them all research in the same direction. They copy each other and duplicate products and services.
With that strategy, the people related to the big companies make more money and get power. But at the same time, the pressure to grow makes them lose their focus.
There are a lot of people obsessed with making their company grow. I think to be small has a lot of advantages. Innovation is easiest in small specialized segments. I like small organizations that face significant problems of small groups. It is a way to make this world a bit better.
We need products with a deep, clear personality. I like when marketing highlights the differences. I understand that sometimes the imperfections of the market make some companies copy the technology of a competitor. There is never an excuse to copy the marketing or the communication.
This is part of a series of posts dedicated to small firms and innovation. You can read each part independently: