Friday, September 6, 2013

The World Of Technology - Where Sleeping Companies Sleep Together

Me: "Okay Google Now." (a rickshaw passes by). X: "Oi bhenchod, 10 rupee kis baat ke maang ra hai?"
Google Now: "I'm sorry, I don't understand what oi means. Or bhenchod. Or kis baat ke maang ra hai. Would you like me to search the web for it?"
There was a time when Nokia launched the N series, when Steve Jobs launched a new Apple product, Google came out with something new, Samsung did some break through copy cat work, a time where people actually looked forward to seeing a new phone or a product with an air of excitement. Social media went crazy lusting after a product, twitter trends crashed, facebook feeds exploded. Then Blackberry launched three phones *ehm ehm boxes* in two days, Samsung increased the screen size of the phones, reduced the IQ level of the people and started selling brick sized plastic boxes with sweets for software and people went gaga. Add to it the fact that their tag line was "Designed for Humans." Sure, I was bored of phones being designed for cats.
Umm alright, before I start writing and start imposing my teeny tiny beliefs on all you sweet minions, please lets all take a moment to notice that Android's next version is called Kit Kat. Apparently, whenever you get a new phone with Android on it, from this moment on, it's mandatory to split it into two and give one half of it to the person next to you. Seeing the size of Samsung phones that might as well be a nice idea and may make the phones easier to use, it's also important to note that in India not only will you have to split the phone into two, you'll also have to split the piece you have left into two more pieces, and those into two more so you end up by going back in time and have phones the size of a Nokia 3350. So now it's a multi use product. It makes calls, plays snake and can be used to hammer nails into walls.
But wait, you can't have that either, Nokia's no longer a company. Mighty (hahhahaha) Microsoft bought over Nokia over 7.2 billion dollars. Microsoft. Nokia. They remind me of two sad humans, who have no options left and end up sleeping with each other because no one else would even look at them.
7.2 billion, huge amount? Ha, Motorola was worth 12 billion. Apple is worth a measly 500 billion on the day of speaking and Google a little over 250 billion. So basically, Apple is worth over 70 times of Nokia. To think that Nokia had 68% market share the day the first iPhone was launched. Okay okay, Apple makes iPads and Macs and iPods and all the other things, but Apple's iPhone business is over 150 billion dollars, still over 20 times of Nokia. Not a fair comparison?
Alright then, let's take a little moment to reflect on the fact that Nokia was billion dollars cheaper than a freely downloadable software (Skype). But then again, this is the hilarious world of technology and I have nothing against Nokia. I must say I'm rather looking forward to Microsoft's all new Xbox Asha. Okay I'll shut up. Let's talk about dear old Blackberry. Rumour has it that they're looking to sell themselves. The hilarity of it is that Nokia beat them to that as well. HA, can't do a thing right, can you Blackberry?
If we're talking about everything tech then why leave out lovely Apple. "We think Apple makes luxury products. We may have had below 5% market share at one point of time in laptops. But so do BMW and Mercedes in cars. And they're considered the standard through which cars in the world are judged. We don't want to make sub standard me too products just to be a part of the competition" - Steve Jobs.
And now ladies and gentlemen, lo and behold. On the 10th of September, Apple is rumoured to launch the iPhone 5C, a budget iPhone. I shall not say anything more and leave you to laugh at Tim Cook.
But you know when all is said and done what really makes a difference is that Kit Kat is now going to come with a scratch card that might make you win a phone. That's a better deal than Ajay Devgn from Golmaal ever had. Then again, all that doesn't matter to The Dark Lord.
Me: "Alright Google Now, time to go to bed."
Google Now: "Whatever bro, my parent company owns Motorola, you didn't say a thing about that"

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Train Journey With Shah Rukh Khan

It's the year 1995. A thin, tiny little four year old with a negligible pony tail sits between his parents in a movie theatre. A bucket of pop corn to big for his hands lies on his lap and a glass of pepsi in the glass holder on the reclining chair he's sitting on with the straw about to fall out. He sits waiting in anticipation. The lights go dim, the doors close, the hall fills up and the feature starts. A 30 year old man with scruffy weird hair, piercing eyes, an eagle like nose and an overlarge Adam's apple comes onto screen, looks at a woman and says, "Bade bade desho mein, chotti chotti baatein hoti rehti hain SeƱorita." That is one of the first memories I have of being in a movie theatre. Shah Rukh Khan, with all his wit, all his passion, all his charisma being on screen and doing what he does best appealed to the four year old me. I was entertained.
The next eighteen years of my life have been spent watching every Shah Rukh Khan movie on the day it came out. Then again the day after and then again when the dvd (read illegal torrent download with a decent print) comes out. This was followed by watching him hosting game shows and film awards. Doing a better job than Mr. Amitabh Bachchan at hosting a game show in India is a tall order (in every sense of the word tall) and I think that even though Shah Rukh did a decent job, no one touches Mr. Bachchan. As for the film awards, from 2005-2013, Shah Rukh has been one of the main reasons a major part of the country tunes in year after year. Being a mind reader I know a lot of you shake your head in disgust, but let me explain. I, like all blindfolded fans do love Shah Rukh Khan movies, I absolutely adore his showmanship on stage but if you call that obsession, nothing matches up to my insane amount of admiration for the man's wit, sense of humour, power of communication, command over languages that I've seen in hours and hours of interview footage of the man. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that the man is a national treasure. The last few years of an unhealthy amount of love and respect for the man have been like a train journey. Sometimes fun, sometimes rickety, sometimes annoying but almost always a delight.
Which is why it's ironic that a movie named after a train is the main reason so many fingers are being pointed and voices are being raised against the man which has made it even harder for loyal admirers such as myself to defend him. Let me get it straight, it's the first time in years I'm not going to catch a Shah Rukh movie the weekend it releases. Although that may be because after weeks of trying I haven't been able to convince any of my friends or acquaintances or even family for that matter to be crazy enough to watch the movie with me. But still, my love for him is enough that I'd be willing to be a loner and watch the movie alone. However something holds me back this time. It's probably a review that Taran Adarsh wrote of the movie which uses the words, "Typical Rohit Shetty" 25 times in 500 words. Which actually means, "Yaar samajh lo, bakwaas movie hai, Shah Rukh Khan hai, zaada against nahi bol sakta, industry mein career khattam ho jaega"."
Don't get me wrong, I still respect the man's showmanship, wit and wisdom. I just fail to understand why a man with his sense of humour and intellect would do a Rohit Shetty slapstick non sensical movie or dance to something as wonderfully intellectual as Lungi Dance. I've seen him deliver speeches at the India Today Conclave in 2009 and 2011, and they remain the most artistically deep, beautifully worded speeches I've ever heard any Indian deliver. Why then must he try a South Indian accent in Ra.One, fail miserably at it then be willing to act in a movie with Deepika Padukone doing the accent this time around while he tries to crack pathetic jokes and act in a way which would never ever suit him? Surely making Rohit Shetty's beloved Scorpios topple over can't be more rewarding than hear people applaud to performances like the ones in Baazigar, Darr, Chak De India, Swades and Devdas?
Mr. Khan, I absolutely adore you and if while sitting in your room at the Sheraton with pillows that say, "Shah Rukh", if I ever have the guts, I'd like to show you a video of one of your many beautifully worded speeches or talks then show you the trailer of Chennai Express and do all this without uttering a word and leave your brilliant mind to do the deductions.
Having said all of that, all my heart really hopes is that this indeed is a train journey which eventually ends in a delight because as I've said all the time for Shah Rukh, "Kahin na kahin, laakhon karodo log khush hain, kyu ki tum khush ho."

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Psychologically Creepy World Of Cartoons

I'm assuming based on the stats of my blog, that the people who are reading this post are probably aged between 13 and 30. So, before you read the post, here's a warning, don't read it. It'll potentially destroy all happy memories you had associated with your childhood days spent in front of a television watching Cartoon Network.
If you're still here out of the sheer love for me and the annoying brilliance of some of my posts, I shall like to start of by talking about the cartoon scene on television these days. Will one of you please, for the love of Hanna Barbera and everything nice explain to me, what in the flying fuck is Shin Chan? Or Ben 10? Whatever happened to Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, The Mask, The Adam's Family, Swat Kats, Captain Planet and everything that I grew up watching from the age to 3 to 10 sitting in my grandparent's house in front of the television eating seekh kebabs and an apple a day? Why has the apple kept all the amazing cartoons away instead of the doctor? Now while I punch myself repeatedly on the face with a brick for an attempt to make a joke, why don't you read on and destroy your childhood.
The first cartoon I remember watching is an adaptation of Batman. The first memory I have of an antagonist is The Joker in the cartoon. Back then, I was too young and the cartoon was too weird for me to understand the psychotic nature of The Joker which has clearly been immortalised almost a decade and a half later by Heath Ledger. Yet as I sat in my room, 18 years from seeing The Joker for the first time, I googled the psychological disorders of The Joker. One thing lead to another and I ordered books and books and pdfs about psychological disorders of cartoon characters in general. Here are a few things I found to be charmingly insane which lead me to believe that Hanna, Barbera and a man named David Levy were the creepiest people who ever lived.
One of the most famous cartoons to have ever been televised is Tom and Jerry. It was also one of the first cartoons that Hanna and Barbera wrote. Their main character was to be a cat named Tom who, hold your horses (or cats), who had a serious psychological disorder which made him not only hallucinate but also build characters in his head to keep himself happy. See the first ever unaired episode of Tom and Jerry involved a mouse named Jerry running around a suburban American household for months on end and being friends with a cat. The lady of the house (the one whose face we never see), orders her pet cat Tom to kill "the damn thing." That leads to a heroic chase around the house which ends in Tom catching, killing and eating the menace of a mouse, Jerry. Each and every episode of Tom and Jerry after that involves Tom going into depression, and beginning to hallucinate his dead friend Jerry around the house. He would then chase the mouse but never be able to catch it since it's already dead and exists only in Tom's head. The final episode of the show written by Hanna Barbera involved Tom being so creepily messed up in the head that he ends up committing suicide and imagines his friend Jerry doing the same with him. There, childhood ruined.
If you thought that was enough, here's a little more. My favourite all time cartoon has been Scooby Doo. Cute little talking dog eating scooby snacks and catching ghosts and criminals by plotting and making plans with "The Gang." Or so you would think. Fred, Shaagy, Dafne and Velma had a friend named Scooby. An actual person named Scooby who died years ago. Shaggy got a dog, named him Scooby and imagined his character being like their friend's character. Here's more, all four of them suffer from a disorder where they can imagine that the dog talks like their old friend Scooby. In reality, the dog can't actually utter a single word. Zoinks indeed.
The Addams family was written by a guy named J. Addams and despite the entire family being creepy, they didn't actually suffer from any disorders. Till J. Addams died and a guy named David Levy thought of adding just one more character. Cousin Itt. For those of you who don't remember Cousin Itt, he's the character who had insane amount of bushy orangey brown hair all over his body and wore shades and a hat. Now, Itt is the weirdest name anyone can have, but it's not his actual name. He's The Lord Voldemort of cartoon characters, all characters fear to speak the name. So he's called just Itt. The man doesn't actually have a body, it's just orangey brown hair with his sunglasses being the only feature about him. He sucks out the happiness out of other characters in the cartoon world. He is a mixture of Lord Voldemort and the Dementors of Azkaban in the cartoon world thanks to the twisted mind of one person who thought it would be nice to add such a character for infants and kids under the age of 10.
Here's a little more, the idea of Tom being able to see Jerry came from Hanna not being able to see a few faces. He suffered from a disorder where he couldn't see some people's facial features. They did the complete opposite of that for Tom's character. However, Hanna's disorder of not being able to see facial features lead to the creation of the lady of the house of Tom and Jerry and later Miss Bellum from Powerpuff Girls after which Hanna died and a few years later in 2006, Barbera died too and with it, died the cartoon industry.
Well that ends a pretty long post and with that a lot of happy childhood memories. To be really honest, I think after knowing all this, I'll prefer the first ever cartoon character I remember seeing, The Joker. His psychotic disorders are still more understandable. Till the next time we meet. *Goes off to shoot kids who watch things like Shin Chan*

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The World Is The Stage, Life Is A Performance

Applause. Standing ovation. Extreme silence. Darkness. Loneliness. Sadness. Applause.
India is a place where performing arts are done in abundance. Be it a snake charmer at a fare, a fakir lying on a bed of nails, the old Indian rope trick done in forts, a "magician" making himself fly on the streets with a cloth around him and a monkey with a drum as an assistant or a man eating swords and breathing fire.
Performances in the country have always been at a plenty. Of late, the charm of the snake charmers has begun to die, the rope trick has a fallen rope, the nails on the bed of the fakir are sharper and the only things monkeys do is torment housing places by breaking flower pots and stealing banans.
However the influence of the west is ever present in the world of performances in the country. Be it one act plays, be it a one man play, be it English stand up comedy or be it what I do, magic and mind reading. Yes the snake charmers and fakirs still exist, but the audiences are more open to "modern" forms of performances.
As a performer of an evolving and what I like to believe is a modern art, nothing makes me happier than to have an enthusiastic audience. But as it is famously said, the life of a performer has more ups and downs than a girl on a period. If you're a performer, I strongly believe you would relate to the remainder of this post, if you're not a performer and you're reading this AND have a friend/family member who is a performer, learn to accept that he/she has two lives.
The moment I step on stage, the world changes and becomes prettier. People seem nicer. Problems in life are thrown off and all the love, hate and other emotions are transferred onto performances which makes them seem better. Then there is applause which sounds better than any instrument, there are people's faces, which look prettier than people anywhere ever have and there are appreciative words which sound more poetic than anything Wordsworth ever wrote. But what follows is the strangest feeling a person can have. The extreme high of performing and hearing that applause is replaced by the silence of your room. You don't have the energy and the mental state to talk to people, television is boring, the computer beats you at FIFA and the coffee doesn't taste right. The high of being surrounded by cheering people is replaced by the low of being alone in a very familiar place which begins to feel like a deserted compound. 
However, this strange feeling can teach life lessons which being a hard earned billionaire can't teach you. It teaches you to learn how to be happy in a darkened room with no forms of life around you, it teaches you that when you're in a crowd, even your own shadow leaves you and if you can be happy then, you'll be the most successful person there ever was. 
Apart from that any performer who hasn't been booed of stage at least once in his life isn't a performer. He or she is an enthusiast. I've been booed off stage by 500 people, nothing, no person leaving, no injuries, no defeats can make a performer sadder than the sound of boos echoing around a theatre. But in what I've been told is a psychotic way, it's a strangely enriching experience. Being booed of stage teaches you how to handle rejection better than anything ever can. If you work in a company, usually you have appraisals where someone tells you how you're doing at work. I don't have a boss, I do my own appraisal. Or my audiences do it for me. Once in a while, your boss or manager will tell you that you're not doing well. That's one person, one time in one room with no one around. To have five hundred people reject you at the same time in front of each other makes you handle rejection. No girl turning you down, no deal not going through, no person disapproving of you after that can make you feel as bad. 
And of course if you still feel dejected, the hate for rejection, the love for a person and all the other emotions can be transferred into the performance, all the emotions can be thrown off stage which when done properly is followed by applause. Then standing ovations. Then extreme silence. Then darkness. Then loneliness. Then sadness. Then applause. And life becomes a performance.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Butter Chicken, Of Performances.... Of A Stereotypical World

"The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything." - The Prestige
We live in a world of stereotypes. Not just for different castes, regions or religions but for performers and professions as well. Being a magician the most common thing I get to hear is "Go on then, make my wife disappear" which is followed by the man (in some creepy cases woman) looking at me waiting for me to laugh along even though they're only the 2848687584867th person to say that to me.
The second most common thing I get to hear is, "What are you doing in my living room?" Though I doubt that has much to do with me being a magician.

Last five years, I've convinced myself living with the fact that I do not stereotype people or things unless I want to crack jokes on them. That was until last week when I attended the Saffola Masala Oats Foodathon (bloggers meet) event which had the celebrated chef Vikas Khanna attending. I heard Masterchef and my mind started stereotyping. Ham, Roast Meat, Cheddar Cheese and people in suits drinking rare wine started playing in my head. I got there and was served Tindas with Badaam Milk mixed with Oats. So much for wine and cheese. 
However it so happened that to my surprise, the tindas and the badaam milk turned out to be pretty good. More than the food and the drink what I couldn't help but notice was a completely new form of performances. Cooking. Vikas Khanna, stood on stage and spoke about food with love, cooked with love and charmingly distracted people from what he was doing with the food by putting on a show for them. His secret was talking, his talking was what was being used to cook and make people like me somehow like Tindas. The secret would impress no one. The trick he used it for was everything.

New areas of performances continue to arise, new stereotypes are born with them. True magic, lies in being different. If you're in a band, you're expected to be growling, playing hard rock or metal music and are expected to be in your late teens or in your early to mid twenties. It's not supposed to be your main profession and it's common knowledge that you smoke weed before going on stage. Being in a Sufi band is branded "uncool."
If you're a painter, you're expected to paint either portraits or sceneries of snow capped mountains, streams and the sun. If you're a stand up comedian in India and you don't crack sexist jokes or husband and wife jokes you're just a man standing on stage trying to talk and making unimpressed people laugh.
If you're a magician, you're expected to make things fly, make people's wives disappear and take rabbits out of hats. Being anything else is "uncool."

Dare to be uncool. Dare to be different. Dare to be in a Sufi band, there was a time when metal was uncool and we had something called Iron Maiden being born. Dare to paint something like Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Dare to be a stand up comic who does bits of humour on topics the audience gives on the spot, dare to be a magician who doesn't use a deck of cards.
Dare to be Saffola and Vikas Khanna who make you have Tindas and Badaam Milk and somehow make you like them.
BUT never tell anyone how you got where you get, because the secret impresses no one, the trick you use it for is everything.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Retarded Indian Premier League

Sri Sri Sir Ravindra Jadeja Baba ki Jai. Jumping Japang and all of that.
Hello hello hello, welcome to that wonderful time of the year. No no, not the IPL or the overdose of horrible advertisement time. The time when Farah Khan pops into random people's rooms, kitchens and loos and asks them to dance on a song whose lyrics remind proud parents of their infants first beautiful words. "Japang. Gilli gilli aa."
Before moving on to the main subject of this post, this is what has been happening so far in the league. Chris Gayle seems scarier than Gabbar Singh ever did and his shots fly higher than anything Vijay Mallya ever owned. Virat Kohli is the first Indian cricketer to speak proper English since Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly without sounding like a 14 year old girl (Yes yes I mean Sachin) or saying "But of course" in the beginning of every sentence. The Pune Warriors are fallen Warriors who need more than just "Sahara" from their owners, Hyderabad have named their team after a time of the day I've never seen. As per usual it's the most important time in Preity Zinta's calendar and to top it all of, there's the hilarity of seeing Delhi men get raped for a change. All of that and the over abundance of obviousness of match fixing for TRPs has lead me to call the league, The Retartded Indian Premier League or RIP(L).
This year's edition of the IPL was preceded by a pretty boring and non eventful test match series where India beat the mighty Aussies 4 matches to none. Which was preceded by an even more boring England's tour to India. All through the calendar year we had boring matches which hardly anyone watched apart from the serious cricket lovers who were going on about how amazing New Zealand vs South Africa was, while some people were like "New Zealand? Woh abhi bhi cricket khelte hain?"
Then lo and behold, out comes the Pepsi IPL and all of a sudden we have dramatic last ball finishes, tied matches, nervous nail bitting and a nation going, "Wow man, cricket is the best sport in the world." While the more astute of us question, "Pepsi? Weren't they trying to "Change The Game" to football only a year ago? And while some other men go, "Bhai, Karishma Kotak maal hai."
Here's what happens in every IPL match ever played. A team makes runs, loses a wicket or two, then gets a solid partnership going, all of a sudden in the 8th or 9th over the umpire signals "Up yours" and they take a 2 minute 30 second break where they're told by bookies how the next few overs are going to pan out. The time out ends, and BANG. In the first over a wicket falls and a commentator's voice says, "How many times have we seen this? A lapse in concentration and a wicket?" Seriously bro, if you're a cricketer and more often than not you play on the international level and you lose a wicket after a 2 minute break, then you'd be better of being a part of the Indian Parliament. I mean, playing gully cricket we've often taken 10 minute breaks to find lost cricket balls every 5 minutes only to come back and score runs again and then spend another 10 minutes looking for the lost ball.
But wait there's more, there are another 7 overs of slow runs being scored and before you know it there's another 2 minute 30 second break for the bookies to earn more money. Then the second innings gets under way and it all starts again. Up until the 15th or 16th over of that match, you're pretty sure which team might win.
Oh but wait, the last "Strategic Match Fixing Time Out Break" of the match is what defies all odds and the matches take a serious turn and as Ravi Shastri would say, "Go down to the wire." A team scores 180 runs, the match is a close finish. A team scores 150, the match is a close finish. A team scores 120, and yeah, you guessed it right, the match is a close finish. And obviously, if a team needs two runs to win of the last ball, Sir Jadeja is batting and RP Singh is bowling, you know Jadeja is going to get out but still end up winning the match because RP Singh manages to bowl a no ball so big that even Mohammed Amir and Yaseer Hammed who were banned for bowling deliberate no balls and fixing matches would say, "Bismil El Rehman E Rahim, yeh thoda zyada ho gaya."
The Indian Premier League is fixed, it always has been. Don't get me wrong, I love cricket, I really do. Like all Indian children, when I was growing up I dreamed of being a cricketer but the fact that I have to go into the "movies and entertainment" section on a set top box to watch the IPL speaks volumes of what the league really is.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Six Years Of A Dream

Scene One, Act One. - The Pledge
Setting: Two 11th grade boys standing on stage compering the annual farewell of The Mother's International School. 30th of January, 2007.
Compere One: "I have a playing card in my hand. Hocus Pocus. See.. it vanishes." (nervous laughter)
Compere Two: "Ummm.... it's still there, in your right hand."
Compere One: "Oh well, I hope our in house magician Karan Singh will be able to do better."
And then I stepped on stage. Walking towards the edge, looking down at my feet, remotely aware of two hundred and fifty pairs of hands applauding and five hundred eye balls of my seniors and teachers looking up at me, waiting in anticipation for what was going to be my first ever performance on stage. Quick deep breathes and I looked up, my hands started trembling because of stage fright. Thoughts of every thing I'd planned to do going horribly wrong started entering my head. The next seven minutes on stage felt like the four years of practicing magic prior to that all coming together.

Scene Two, Act One.
Setting: Applause from two hundred and fifty people as they see a skinny boy of 16 taking his first ever bow.
Applause. Wonderful, all consuming, beautiful applause. Seven minutes were enough. Enough to make me realize that I'd be willing to spend the rest of my life on stage, entertaining people, performing for them. Because like Hugh Jackman said in The Prestige...
"The audience knows the truth. The world is simple. Miserable. Solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, and if you can make them wonder, then you know, that you've achieved something really special. It was the look on their faces." 
It was the look on their faces. That look of being fooled and entertained. That look of wonder, that look of wanting to know how something is done, at the same time not wanting to know how it's done. That look that's been driving me on and on and on for the last six years and counting.
Scene One, Act Two. - The Turn
Setting: Spread across 6 countries and 13 cities in India.
The last six years of my life have been undeservingly beautiful. I've performed for more people than I can remember, I've learnt an awful lot from exceptionally talented people and I've spoken to a Broadway performer who said these words to me, these exact words. "The life of a performer has more highs and lows than a girl on a period."
I've come across people who can't stand the sight of me and I've come across people who want to get a picture clicked with me. I've gone wrong on stage in front of 300 people and I've got a standing ovation from close to 1,000 people. I've gone three years of doing magic and not getting paid a single rupee for it and I've been paid by the minute by various companies for the last three years of my life. I've had people telling me not to dream of a career in magic and I've had random people stopping me on the streets and asking me to perform. I've stood alone in front of a mirror hoping for an audience to magically appear in front of me and I've had one million people watch me perform on national television.
Having said all that, the negatives don't seem to matter. The lows of being a performer fade away because of the high of being on stage. The rejection and the dejection of performances act as an injection for motivation to do better each and every time.
And then, there is silence....
Scene One, Act Three. - The Prestige
Setting: Backstage
And as I sit here on the 30th of January 2013, six years from my first stage performance. As I sit here, backstage, sipping on coffee, writing this post and waiting for a couple of non 11th grade women to introduce me to my audience for tonight. I wait, I take deep breaths. In a moment I'll hear my name and I'll begin to walk towards the edge of the stage, looking down at my feet, taking in the applause of two hundred and fifty pairs of hands, feeling the gaze of five hundred slightly nervous excited eyeballs looking at me and then I'll look up.... and I'll smile.
(Somewhere in the distance, a voice says, "Give him 30 seconds of your attention, and I assure you, you'll be hooked on for the next 30 minutes. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Karan Singh Magic)
                                                            *Karan Enters*

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Marketing Psychology Of Apple.

"I don't do market research. The consumers aren't supposed to know what they want." - Steve Jobs.
If you're reading this through a laptop or a computer, look down at the keyboard. If you're reading this on a phone or a tablet, picture your keyboard in front of you. Think of the top row, see all the F1, F2, F3 etc keys? Back in the 1980s, only Windows computers had these not Apple computers.
The moment Steve was fired, the board of Apple introduced Apple computers with those keys on them. And on a sunny afternoon in 1987 a kid studying in Stanford University asked Steve to sign his keyboard. Steve looked down and it was one of the newer versions of Apple with the F1 etc keys on them. Steve asked him, "If I'm signing them, I'm guessing you don't need the computer anymore?" The kid replied, "No, I got an IBM PC." Steve plucked out all 12 keys and signed it as, "Changing the world, one keyboard at a time."
From then to now, Apple hasn't only been admired for it's products but it's widely praised for it's marketing strategies, even by it's competitors.
Let's rewind. 29 years ago, in the year 1984, Apple launched the first ever Macintosh. The ad that ran out just once on that year's superbowl was rated the best ad ever made in the history of advertisements. Why? Because it didn't talk about the product directly. It didn't talk about the company making the product. It didn't even talk about the competitor (IBM) which was mocked by Apple without mentioning the company at all.
Fast forward to 1997. Steve Jobs iconic return to Apple. The ad "Think Different" got people talking all around the world. They still do so, 16 years from that ad. What was so special about that ad? It didn't talk about a single product. It didn't talk about the company. It just spoke about people. People who've made it. It wasn't even directed towards the consumers. It was directed towards the people working within Apple. To make them realize that they were working in a company that was on the threshold of changing the world, many times over. Below is an image of a note that's stuck onto the desk of an employee the day he joins work.
Let's fast forward to today. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world. It has more cash reserves than the US government. But more than that, it is probably the most "desired" company. People WANT Apple products. People associate Apple with awesomeness. Well at least most people. Why? Because Apple induces us to want their products by being in places that we like.
How many of you watch Sherlock? Or Suits? Or Two & A Half Men with Ashton Kutcher in it? Sherlock Season 1, both Sherlock and John Watson were seen using a Blackberry and an HP laptop. Season 1's rating were sky high, what does Apple do? It realizes that Sherlock is getting cool. Come Season 2, in come the iPhones and the Macbook Airs, and a certain scene in Season 2 also shows John Watson reading a newspaper with an iPhone ad on the last page. Not a coincidence. 
Suits season 1. Mike Ross uses a Blackberry and then an Android in the later episodes. Ratings go through the roof. What happens? Come season 2, Mike Ross has an iPhone in every episode. 
Two & A Half Men went into some losses after the ever so awesome Charlie Sheen left the show. How many of you noticed Ashton Kutcher using a Mac and an iPhone with the Apple logo blurred out? Ever wonder why it's blurred out in that show only and not in the shows mentioned above. Same goes for How I Met Your Mother.
 Apple is in all big budget movies around the world. It's at cricket matches, football games, NBA seasons. Oh it was also given to Felix Baumgartner. Why would someone need a phone in space? Well he did apparently. He even had to get a picture clicked with it the moment he landed.
Why does that happen? Simple. We as people are always looking for inspiration. Something to get us going, something to make us seem better in the eyes of the world. Even people who say that they don't care what people think of them want to be liked by people. And to be liked we do what people think is smart, awesome, creative, "cool", desired and I could go on and on with the adjectives. And the moment people see characters from TV shows, sports starts and admired people around the world using a particular product we have a general need to be like them. We get "products" that they use. We think WE become them.
Mr. Jobs, you clearly never did market research, but you sure did know how to get people to lust after your products.