From the monthly archives:

April 2012

AOL fake auction?

by Andrew Watson on 13 April 2012

I, Cringely is worth a read this morning carrying an insight into the AOL patent sale. All may not have been as it seemed. For now I’ll merely put the link up and follow up with a call or two. We are talking here about two public companies, one intending to be one shortly and an investment bank with a slightly tarnished reputation that should be watching its behaviour. Intriguing whether factually accurate or not entirely.

http://www.cringely.com/2012/04/microsoft-aol-patent-theater/

Late Friday update. I’ve not been able to uncover anything more about this story from those I know who should know. There does seem to be some reluctance to comment. More digging to do when back on Sunday.

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Brands that deserve to die. Part 1-Ryanair

by Andrew Watson on 10 April 2012

I for one can’t name another brand that is so universally, well continentally, used but loathed as Ryanair. It’s surely rare that so many people use a brand but so many also loathe it. Count me in on the loathers of this skanky, take the piss out of customers, offer so little in terms of a customer experience, piece of travel turd. That felt good, there is surely nothing like travelling Takethepiss Air to stimulate the creative juices and scour the depths of loathing. 

Let’s Go with Ryanair this quarter has a picture of it’s chief skank officer, claiming “thank you for choosing to fly with Ryanair, the worlds favourite airline”…ha! firstly nobody in their right mind would “choose” to ride with your airline, it’s just there is often no choice. Second, just because a lot of people use your airline doesn’t make it a favourite….people use it often as there is no choice, but that doesn’t mean using it is anything other than a tortuous, horrific and awful customer experience. Look up favourite in any dictionary Mr o Bleary, you’ll find words that describe an experience you’ll want to repeat, not something that is anticipated with dread and regret for choosing one of the worlds truly dreadful customer experiences. 

Looking at this objectively and with an advisors hat on, what is it that is wrong with Ryanair? Let me give you two very fresh examples. I’m flying back from Sevilla and find I’m 4 kilos over. Bugger, I think. I thought it was close but not over, as the smiling assistant tells me that will be €80 to pay. €80!  Not that they haven’t got space, it’s just another way of taking the piss by maximising profit at the customers expense. Loathe point #1. Angry, disillusioned, yes I know you charge but it’s like excess parking charges and private contractors who enforce them…punish me but please there is no need to take the piss because it makes me hate you. There is just no need. I’m then standing in the queue to board and I’ve got my tennis racket in my backpack. Sorry, can’t travel with that even though we have tons of space in the cabin. That will be…..let’s pause to let you guess……..that will be an arbitrary and punishing, way out of context and scale €50 to put that in the cabin. Grrrrrrrrrrrr. 

I totally utterly and absolutely despise you Ryanair and I hold you personally responsible Michael o Leary. Don’t think you can be the smiling laughing face of Ryanair doing your aeroplane impression in your magazine and expect that the shit doesn’t stick. Ugh, yuk, aaaarggh, steam. 

So if I were your adviser on brand what would I say? Get to know what your customers like and want. And get to know what it feels like when someone is taking the piss and only trying to take every penny from your pocket during the experience. Look at Apple if you want to learn. A brand with universal appeal and massive margins in the most hostile competitive environment, but which will achieve longevity by delighting it’s customers. Not in showing contempt for them. Just because you started out with a taking the piss apparently low cost but not really model, don’t feel that need to perpetuate it. Adapt, take slightly lower profits to engender goodwill. Find new roots and brand values. Grow up! Probably replace the founder with someone who cares even 1% about customers and not 100% about profit. 

Or what? Or else you will find in time that people will delight in finding an alternative. And alternatives there will be, as you’ll grow too big and, like Tesco, you’ll cap out and start slipping back and never recover. It will happen and you know it. And by the time you realise it will be too late to adapt. 

There are barriers to entry but they aren’t that high and you aren’t that cheap any more. So learn and adapt or please, just die. 

As an anecdote for you btw, I travelled by Easyjet to Sevilla in November and, to my amazement, one of the worlds favourite brands, Rafael Nadal, travelled on the same flight (now isn’t that cool, with Cisca too, braving the natives to travel at 7am from Gatwick and he didn’t even have speedy boarding!) With a huge bag of Babolat rackets on his back. Any extra charge for that bag. No? You see Easyjet has adapted, caused by a change in founder. Profit sacrificed for longevity. It can happen. If it doesn’t with Ryanair, then sell. Fast. 

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Shopping seems to be the in hobby

April 9, 2012

After Facebook last week comes Microsoft’s latest acquisition with 800 patent families acquired from AOL for a figure of $1bn. How to read this: 1. AOL needs the cash and cannot monetize the portfolio itself in the time needed to give its board some breathing space; 2. MSFT clearly has a need for these, and […]

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