Dear Gadget Maker,
There, there, don't cry. I know Samsung and Apple got soooo much press this year. You want to fight back with a hit product that'll sweep the Internet like gadget-porno wildfire? You have to build a device that stands out from the background noise. You can't possibly win by turning out yet another cellphone with Bluetooth, a speakerphone, EDGE and that dials just fine. Will the gadget blogs pick it up? Will the Digg-horde descend upon the story with a rain of a thousand clicks? Will Chen put it in his pants? Likely, no.
Instead, here are a few guiding questions you might want to ask yourself as you create the world's next, hot gadget.
Does your gadget have a lot of buttons? Unless it's a phone—and, really, even if it is a phone—buttons are yesterday's news. No one likes to press anything—we like to touch, sure, but press? In the morning? Before coffee? Come on. So, if you've just made a hip new stereo that plays CD's, MP3s, and the thoughts of your enemies—take a book out of the iPhone page and give it a touchscreen, because touch beats out press any day of the week.
Is it made by Apple? Anything shimmering white or eternally black and made by Apple is a sure sell, but you can use this to your advantage by pretending your device is made by Apple. No matter if it's highly overpriced, no matter if it barely works, no matter if you can get the same thing for six times less, if Apple made it, people will not only buy it, they'll find themselves sexually attracted to it (I'm looking in your direction, PowerBook). Microsoft's J. Allard is slowly mastering this effect. Just look at all those $20 knockoff iPods from China. Say your company can't industrial-design itself out of a paper bag, and even knocking off Apple is too much to hope for. Then, just trademark everything with the letter "i" in front of it. (iPooPoo, for example.) And wait for the eventual conflict in trademark to give your low-profile gadget cough*ciscoiphone*cough a high-profile lift.