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What apple could learn from nike

February 14, 2007

Just under a year ago, Nike and Apple got together to collaborate on the Nike+ project.

Many were astounded that these two power brands were able to work together, but few will have realized at the time that it was Nike that would emerge out of the partnership the stronger for the experience.

For Nike, the Plus project is far more than a cool extra use of the Nano, it’s a new way to connect to its base of runners getting them to challenge and participate with one another through a community that Nike enabled.

Nike has always been a top-down brand and was pioneering in its use of lavishly produced works of art subtly disguised as TV commercials.

Plus is very different and just as revolutionary, because it works from the bottom up and for runners, one of Nike’s most cynical audiences when it comes to marketing, it’s the perfect alternative because they, the users, control it.

One can’t help thinking that while Nike has moved on to learn about and embrace the idea of community, not just with Plus, but also with its World Cup soccer initiative, Joga, Apple meanwhile has missed a trick.

Apple seems to have a single-minded obsession with their version of Nike’s lavishly produced commercials, the “The Steve Show” You can’t get more top down than that and you can’t argue that it delivers the results; rabid fans and the media both responding like Pavlov’s dogs to a spectacle from which Apple gains thousands of column inches and stories that make headline national television news.

Apple should learn a lesson from Nike, it shouldn’t abandon the “The Steve Show”, Nike hasn’t abandoned its television commercials, but it needs to add some bottom-up to its top-down approach.

As Nike CEO Mark Parker said about Web 2.0 recently in Davos.

“If you don’t embrace this movement, this change, this access, this empowerment for consumers I think you’re at risk, and potentially . . . it’s deadly?

All Apple needs to do is build and add a community dimension to its brand and what an incredible community dimension that could be.

Apple has within its grasp the opportunity to create networks around the most potent mix of human creativity imaginable including; art, film, television, photography and music.

A glimpse at a tiny aspect of what Apple could achieve is visible in the new start-up Joost, a peer-to-peer television network. Its mission is to deliver lavish quality long form programming with all the bells and whistles of community built around it.

As you can see from the screen shot below, its television with a difference because it gives users the opportunity to rate content and use their buddy lists and IM. They can even create their own personal TV networks.

Joost Screen

It’s a liquid television center with a crunchy community outer shell.

Apple could do worse fly the corporate jet up to Beaverton, Oregon and then on to Joost’s HQ in Leiden, Holland.

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