No Apple of Online Media?

June 10, 2008

With Apple’s WWDC in full swing this week, it’s hard not to have Apple on the brain. I posted previously about my love affair with LinkedIn. LinkedIn may provide great utility, but the Apple brand has a grip on me like no other.

I made my first visit to the Apple store in Boston yesterday, intending to upgrade to iLife ’08. I walked out with a rather expensive solution: I bought the latest iMac (pre-loaded with the latest version of iLife) and an Apple TV box to project photos onto my big screen TV. I suppose the streaming movie library might have had something to do with it, too.

The salesman booked my order on one of the demo machines in the store, indicating our precise location on the floor so my goodies could be delivered to us from inventory, and processed my credit card from a wireless device. I never went near a cash register. I never waited in line. In fact, my order was delivered so quickly that I barely had time to tell the story of my religious conversion from PC to Mac three Christmases earlier. And then the guy offered to help carry my parcels to my car!

When it comes to Apple, I am like a kid in a candy store. My heart races. My senses are in overdrive. I can smell the technology – and I love it. I want to talk about it – with a sales person, with fellow shoppers, with just about anybody who will listen. My kids share my enthusiasm as we experience the most incredible out-of-the-box experience going. Feel the rush of the expanding universe as we boot the machine for the first time. It’s not even a machine – it’s magic. I would love to share my passion with Steve Jobs. Am I out of my mind?

I don’t think I’m the only person with a passion for Apple and everything it stands for. So here’s the question: Why aren’t there any web sites that deliver a similar thrill? Are there any online media brands that inspire the same passion?

John Battelle talked about media brands recently. Two of my favorite quotes:

“Think of some of the best loved media brands – American Idol, Wired, Oprah, The New York Times. All places with a distinctly engaged audience. Consumer brands are drawn to these winners because they want to be associated with quality, sure, but also because they know that if they can just get their executions right, something magical can happen, and they can influence that space between our ears, and in the right context.”

“I believe we are at the beginning of an explosion in online media brands, akin to the explosion of consumer magazine brands in the 1940s and 50s, or the explosion of cable TV brands in the 1980s and 90s.”

Battelle cites a number of examples, including Boing Boing, ProTrade, Graffiti Wall, Dooce, Left Lane News, and TechCrunch. Why are they powerful? Because their users are deeply engaged – like I am with Apple.

That’s my vision for SchoolPulse: Deeply engaged members who can’t stop talking about us.