Thank you for continuing to provide innovative products. Having said that I now implore you to stop. More specifically, stop providing so many new products with such frequency.
As a technologist working in public K-12 schools it is very difficult to manage, plan and budget with the rapid release of new and improved products and services. For example, it is now November 2013. Schools need to plan now for any purchases through June 30 2015. Yes 2015. The budget for the next school year is prepared now. It is then presented for public review and scrutiny. This is followed by revisions and multiple public presentations of the revised proposed budget. Finally, the budget goes before the voters for approval.
School districts do not have the flexibility to change direction from planned purchases in order to take advantage of new technologies which may become available throughout the school year.
Apple or any other tech companies cannot really be expected to slow down the rate of product development. In all reality, There is a simple solution which may be helpful for educators.
Apple should develop an Educational Advisory Board. This group can provide Apple with insight regarding the technology needs in schools. Further, the group may be able to help Apple understand the financial realities schools face when developing a technology budget.
While schools do consume technology, schools should not be treated as typical consumers. The needs of the students and faculty of a school are very different from those of a home consumer or a corporate entity. Educators serving on this board will be able to clearly articulate what these differences are. Instead of schools being forced to make consumer solutions work, Apple needs to develop solutions specifically for the education sector.
Through this Educational Advisory Board, Apple will have the ability to provide schools with a road map of what products are forthcoming to provide schools with an opportunity to properly budget. Educators can provide Apple with an insight to the unique technology needs of schools and the best way for new technologies to to aide in instruction.
Schools want new technologies. What is needed is a better way for new technologies to be acquired and integrated.
It is Monday morning, and 150 “Nooglers” are gathered in a large room on Google’s campus in Mountain View, California.
Jennifer, a woman in her early thirties wearing a pair of hi-tech “Google Glass” spectacles, bounces around the stage welcoming the new starters. She is a compelling mix of preppy California girl and science fiction-obsessed geek that is de rigueur in Silicon Valley.
“I’m a little bit nerd. I love Star Trek. But I also love reading,” she says. “This summer, in fact, I’m reading all of Shakespeare’s works in chronological order.”
Her presentation is interspersed with science fiction jokes and slides of the Starship Enterprise as she tells the assembled audience they are now part of a company with the ability to turn “super-cool” sci-fi ideas into reality.
In the past few months Google has launched Google Glass, which allows users to photograph whatever they can see, or pull up information in their peripheral vision. Then there is Project Loon, which will use giant balloons to connect a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa to broadband.
Outside, self-driving cars navigate the campus. In the next-door buildings engineers are hard at work improving Google’s voice-activated search and translation tools, so that soon even people who cannot read or write will be able to request information in any language and find exactly what they are looking for.
Over the next few days the new starters – or “Nooglers” (for “new Googlers”) – will be drilled in the company’s mission to “organise the world’s information”, its history, and how, as “part of the Google family”, they must keep everything they are working on a secret.
“You can’t even tell your mom,” says Jennifer. At the end of the course they will attend a staff meeting hosted by Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The glasses and the broadband balloons are examples of what Page, now chief executive, calls “moonshot” ideas, adding glamour and the promise of new growth opportunities to what is, at its heart, a hyper-efficient advertising business.
Google’s slick web search engine helped to pull in US$50.2 billion ($64.4 billion) in revenue last year, more than US$40 billion of which came from display advertising. Its profit stood at US$10.7 billion.
Its shares may have slipped from their May peak of US$920.60, but at US$887.88 they have still climbed more than 50 per cent in the past 12 months, making the entire company worth US$295 billion. More than one technology analyst has bet their reputation on Google stock topping US$1000 within the next year.
But as Google’s near neighbours, Facebook and Apple, can attest, investors grow nervous at the hint of a slowdown or absence of a new growth story, never mind that the main machine is going full throttle.
Last year Google investors took fright at a 20 per cent dip in profit and a decline in the revenue it receives each time a user clicks on one of its ads. The balloon project might be inspirational, but it is also there to do the basic job of stimulating demand and keeping the foot on Google’s gas.
Shareholders are also concerned about the company’s outgoings – not least the cost of its enormous appetite for Nooglers. Google had nearly 39,000 staff at the end of the last quarter, a figure which is steadily growing.
Much has been written about the free food and the zany decor of Google’s HQ – the slide in reception, the treadmill desks, the sleep pods and the colourful bikes on which employees get around campus. Less well documented are the free dry-cleaning services, the complimentary buses to work, the on-site doctors, dentists and hairdressers.
The pay is also considerable. According to the jobs website Glassdoor, the average Googler – the company’s favourite term for its staff – receives US$110,000 a year, before share awards or bonuses. Even Google interns reportedly receive the equivalent of US$69,000 a year. And if an employee dies, his or her partner can collect half their salary for the following decade.
Just like on a university campus, staff are invited to join groups that reflect their interests. There are the “Gayglers” for gay employees, and “Jewglers” for Jewish staff.
Google and its staff are almost relentlessly upbeat, which can make some people uneasy. As the first British journalist to be allowed into the Noogler session, I couldn’t help but recall Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
The company, as Jennifer tells the Nooglers, goes to some lengths to hire “the smartest people on the planet”.
Google’s prowess in search technology depends entirely on the quality of its engineers, many hired from Stanford University where Page and Brin met. The company’s entire campus is designed to make them want to stay.
“It’s the revenge of the nerds,” says one analyst who has followed Google since it started. “These were not the guys who were popular at high school. They don’t have a girlfriend waiting for them at home. They don’t have a life outside work. This is it. But life is so easy for them, they feel they have the last laugh.”
That stereotype may be a little extreme. There are certainly enough charismatic characters to balance the geeks. JOB CANDIDATES sit through four interviews with executives they may never work with, who are looking for four things. The individual’s skills are the least significant. The most important, says Lazlo Bock, Google’s senior vice-president of “people operations”, are the candidates’ cognitive ability; evidence of “at least a tiny, tiny bit of humility”; and their “Googliness”.
Humility is not a trait many people would associate with this company but Googliness is a word used often at the Mountain View campus. Some employees say they found it cringeworthy at first, but have now adopted it to describe a certain mindset. It means “comfort with ambiguity”, says Bock.
Sunil Chandra, who, as vice-president of “people technology” and operations, heads Google’s recruitment machine, defines it as people who are 100 per cent themselves at work. “They are people who are really inquisitive and want to do what’s right by others. You’ll find that they’re unbelievably down to earth,” he says.
Whatever it is, Page must be personally convinced that new recruits have it. He signs off on every single hire – upwards of 200 staff, week in, week out.
There is an argument to say that this focus on hiring people in a certain image can distance Google from public feeling, particularly over issues such as its tax bill in Britain or the privacy of its users.
But Chandra argues that the obsession with how staff “fit in” has been key to preserving its innovative start-up culture, even as it has developed into a multibillion-dollar machine.
Managing this evolution has been difficult. Page has made it a priority to slash the number of projects on which Google spends time and money. It has shut down – or “sunsetted” – at least a dozen operations in the past three years.
“We want more wood behind fewer arrows,” says Bock, borrowing his boss’ favoured metaphor. “Instead of launching 1000 arrows at our enemies, we launch one or two big ones.
“You used to very much have a system where anyone could work on anything on the technical side. You got a lot of creativity and innovation, but what you also got was a lot of pet projects which didn’t have a big impact on the world. Or, quite frankly, you got things where we were trying to do something and someone else was doing a better job.”
One of these was Knol, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia launched in 2007, six years after Wikipedia, a similar and superior service. Knol was shut down just over a year ago.
In recent weeks reports have emerged of a Google smartwatch and a Google videogame console. It also has plans to expand its Streetview project to include hiking and biking trails, as part of its ambition to create a detailed 3D map of the entire world. But all these are accessories to search, which remains its core.
Google already has an iron grip on the search market, but the way it views things, there is still huge change ahead.
“Google search is not done. It is far from done, in fact. I’d say it’s maybe 20 per cent, 25 per cent done,” says Jon Wiley, head of user experience for the search operation.
Users have become used to modifying their search criteria so they extract the best results from Google, he says. The company wants them to be able to ask questions using normal speech, to have discussions with Google’s technology and to use it to find answers to subjective issues.
If you asked an interior designer what colour to paint your bedroom, they would not shoot back “red” or “green”, Wiley explains. The first thing they would do is ask questions back, about the size of the room, its aspect, what colours the person happened to like.
“When we look at that class of problem, we say here is an opportunity for innovation for the types of problems we could try to solve. What kind of artificial intelligence could we create that could help people actually have a dialogue about what colour to paint their bedroom?”
Wiley also hints at how the new technology will help Google harness enormous new markets in the developing world. Voice-activated search, coupled with sub-Saharan broadband, could transform education and economic growth in those regions.
“People can ask a question, get a response, and ask again, and go back and forth and have a dialogue of information, in their native language,” he says. “I look at that as a goal, to be able to have that kind of experience.”
But Google is not relying on organic growth. Its appetite for acquisition has steadily increased over the past few years.
In 2011 Google paid US$12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, to get its hands on valuable patents. Last month it signed a US$1.3 billion deal for Waze, a traffic-mapping tool set to transform Google’s maps service, widening its lead over Apple’s rival product.
Against this backdrop, Google’s “Googliness” can cause problems. The company has had to tread a fine line as it has expanded overseas, coming up against cultures which take a dim view of the amount of data it collects about users.
Users in Europe, in particular, have been riled by projects such as Streetview, Google’s mission to photograph and map every street in the world by driving down it with a camera, or Google Glass, which enables people to discreetly take photographs without James Bond-style hidden cameras.
Last month Google was one of nine technology giants accused of routinely handing information over to the US Government as part of the Prism surveillance project. Google claims it has done no such thing, and asked the authorities to be allowed to publish statistics about the number of information requests it has pushed back on.
But even with the categorical denial, the episode remains incendiary for staff as well as the public. Google employees demanded answers from Brin and Page at their routine meeting that week. In Britain, anger has also rumbled around the company’s tax contributions. Google paid just over £10 million in corporation tax to the Treasury in the past five years, on revenue of £11.5 billion.
Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, has argued that the company has a moral duty to shareholders to pay the tax that the laws of each country say it owes, and no one has accused it of breaking any laws.
Many would agree, but the row over Google’s financial contribution has tarnished its reputation. Last year Britons identified Google as the fifth most desirable brand in the world. In the same survey this year it had tumbled out of the top 20. Senior Google staff privately admit the episode has taken a toll on morale.
It remains in Google’s nature to constantly push the envelope. Its modus operandi is to experiment, get products out fast and fix any problems on the fly. “Launch and iterate” is a phrase used often.
Allied to Google’s fearless ambition, and its increasingly strategic approach to investment, is also the fleet-of-foot behaviour that will underpin its future growth. Google might shoot past the US$1000-a-share mark before the year is out.
By Katherine Rushton
A good friend of mine and respected colleague, David Gamberg, recently posted some thoughts on the state od education. David always provides an insight that provokes thought and discussion, and frequently challenges the way we think and behave.
How do we judge performance while maintaining the humanity of a profession that rests on an exchange of ideas between the child and adult? Thus is the dilemma faced throughout our nation as we grapple with the impact of testing our students and evaluating our teachers in the age of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process. The art and science of teaching and learning is of course more than either the sharing of ideas and the grading of students and teachers.
The system of educating our youth has been a public covenant, which has supported our economic, political, and social growth for over 230 years. In recent years, we have arrived at a crossroads in education, one that requires a careful balance to move forward. The basic platform for the delivery of knowledge and skills that has been the centerpiece of our system for the past 100 years often referred to as a factory model of education is under assault. Disruptive forces from many directions are challenging the very foundation of the educational establishment as we know it. What will it take to preserve our democratic way of life throughout the twenty-first century given the tumultuous changes that are at hand?
Our American way of life has benefited greatly by supporting and promoting this covenant with education. Public schooling has led to advancements in science, business, and culture that transcend the borders of our country. As the beneficiaries of this covenant we are now wondering how to rekindle the spark of innovation in public education that has been the thread of our democracy woven together since the days of Jefferson and Franklin. Is it through charter schools? Merit pay? Enhanced testing and evaluation measures?
In times of data driven decision-making, rapidly advancing technologies, and disruptive innovation, a battle is being waged for the hearts and minds of many stakeholder groups both inside and outside the world of education. The public-at-large demands results and looks to either a return to basics, or to an elevation of expectations by applying pressure on students, teachers, and schools that is born out of a competitive spirit which is as American as apple pie.
The rhetoric is at a fever pitch given the high stakes of how a well-educated populace will drive economic growth both now and in the future. Those who seek to reform education simply by applying the metrics of a return to the good old days, or those who apply the analytics of contemporary high performing corporate entities, possess only a partisan or a partial view of the picture. The image of a Norman Rockwell classroom, or a teacher crunching numbers as though they were reading the latest profit and loss statement reflects the larger chasm between those who cling to the past and those who have taken up the false mantle of educational reform predicated on an overly simplistic business model.
Many teaching and learning models of old, along with the dispositions of practice that reigned supreme can appear outmoded. In the front of the room looking out at rows of desks, the teacher has stood at the chalkboard lecturing to students with them dutifully following along in their textbooks. The fountain of information that was once poured from a singular source be it the teacher or the textbook, now flows both to and from multiple sources at lightning speed. There is, however, one element of the process that is essentially the same since the dawn of time—rapport. This is the element that shall not give way to any new methodology, technology, or structure.
When a teacher and student have rapport there is a relationship built on trust and respect. The student can confidently approach new material, take risks, and know that their interests are primary. It is not simply that the student enjoys either a class or the teacher. Rather, as with a great coach, the teacher can demand and expect an intrinsic desire on the part of the student to come to a deeper understanding of why something is so, or how something works. To be taught something is to acquire this understanding such that the student may use this knowledge or skill in ways that lift the quality of any process or product.
We see this every time a teacher kneels down and reassuringly works at the eye level of a student to provide insight into a problem or task. When a teacher checks in or checks back repeatedly to ensure that learning has taken place that reassurance pays dividends, as the student is more willing to step forward in new, more difficult directions. What may be misrepresented as building self-esteem is actually a carefully orchestrated set of uniquely human traits to create the conditions for optimal learning.
Delivering content at the touch of a finger on a 24 hour, seven day a week basis is now possible and cost effective. However, who will step in and guide a child towards a path of self-discovery that bears any resemblance to what we may consider to be truthful and accurate? Separating fact from fiction, and imparting the basic tenets of an understanding as to why and how things are in math, science, history, and literature has always been the province of our teachers in school.
Unfortunately, the notion of exercising what may be akin to “a bedside manner” in rendering the teacher-learner relationship now seems to give way to a boiling down of the bottom line of test scores and tax dollars. Advancements in technology, brain research, and organizational efficiency have produced new, more effective structures and tools that can be harnessed to replace old ways of doing things. The new paradigm shift demands a new kind of educational system, one that not only embeds the use of these tools and structures, but also one that captures the imagination of all participants in the process, both students and teachers.
The art and science of how a learning organization moves forward and progresses towards any definition of what we may generally describe as “improvement,” requires many components. There is no silver bullet for the prescription of success. Returning to the notion of a bedside manner, a doctor cannot write a script formulated simply on data from a chart or solely based on the cost of care. Careful attention to these and other details including rapport with the patient creates the dynamic that results in the wellness of any individual.
The American experiment in a free and boundless democracy, at least in part driven by a public system of educating our citizens, has come as a result of an unquenching determination to try new things, be bold, work hard, and take risks. In this ever more complex world where students acquire the habits of mind that will allow them to prosper and carry forward the values of our society we must ask ourselves how to build a system that promotes and protects a true understanding of that which is important to the soul of education.
Too often schools are in the position of having exciting new technology available and having to find the best way to implement and utilize it. This approach is backwards, Stephen Covey penned the phrase “BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND” and these words are particularly useful when developing a plan of action for integrating technology in schools.
Instead of trying to find ways to utilize the latest technologies, schools should instead let the instructional goals define the technological tools that should be implemented. As rapid advances in technology unfold, schools are often in the position of buying into what is the latest and greatest and then trying to figure out how and where to use the new technology.
The iPad and now the iPad2 (and soon the iPad3) are perfect examples of this challenge. Everyone can agree on the wow factor of these devices. There is no doubt that mobile technology is going to be a big part of any future technology initiatives. How this devices can effectively be used in instructional environments is still developing.
Many educational technologists are faced with the challenge of integrating these devices, with out a clear directive of why. That is to say, what is the goal of rolling out these devices. Often boards of education and administrators want the new technology, feel they need to be on the bleeding edge, but do not clearly articulate the intended goals and outcomes for using these devices.
Frequently, as in the case of the iPad, there are significant challenges that must be worked through when adding new technologies into an existing networked environment. These challenges can be overcome, but without a clear understanding of the goals for use, developing a solid solution can be difficult.
Is there a more ambiguous statement than having children become “21st Century Learners”? It sounds great and looks impressive when included in a technology plan, but what does it mean? Does it mean every student should be able to use tools such as word processors and presentation software to effectively represent the ideas and information learned about a specific topic? Does it mean students will be able to utilize social networking tools? Does it mean children will know how to use Google or Bing to search for information on a topic and then go to the wikipedia link on that topic? Or does it mean that children will learn the skills necessary to develop the ability to skillfully aggregate information and quickly discern what is meaningful and useful, while ignoring that which is not? Or does it simply mean that children will learn how to find and download an app?
The point is that the instructional needs should dicate the technology and not the other way around. The instructional team needs to identify its needs and then work to find technological tools and resources which meet those needs. Sometimes the latest and greatest technological wonders are simply cool gadgets,with little or no instructional value.
There is a place for Technology in Schools
I do not believe this to be the case with iPads. In fact, I believe very strongly that the iPad does bring a lot to the table. Its portability, functionality and ease of use make it a terrific tool for schools. Before rushing to place a large oder for these devices, schools should clearly identify why they are being purchased, how they are going to be used and what the goals and outcomes are for the use of these devices.
- EBooks in the Classroom (slideshare.net)
- iPads Improve Kindergarteners’ Literacy Scores (webpronews.com)
- Beijing School Begins Using iPads in the Classroom (penn-olson.com)
Heather Wolpert-Gawron posted a piece which was featured on Edutopia today. As I read through each of the issues and corresponding responses, I found myself nodding in agreement and quietly saying “yes.” Yes, to everything she wrote.
Yes, legal concerns can be overcome through proper modeling. Yes, teacher training is possible and who better to teach teachers than other teachers? Freeing up teachers from mundane an outdated tasks to allow them the time to impart 21st century skills on today’s students makes perfect sense.
I may be wrong about this, but whenever I poll teachers and students about technology available at home, the response is that nearly all (if not all) students have computers and broadband access to the Internet. Those that do not are directed to the local public library.
Of course implementing technology can be expensive, but as stated, “”we cannot afford to fall any more behind in our comfort and use of technology.”
It is time for parents, community members, teachers and administrators to ban together in recognizing the importance of effective use of technology to the future of our students.
We speak about the achievement gap between the different cultures in our schools. Meanwhile, however, many of the stakeholders in education have created a vast trench that lies between those who accept the inevitability of technology and those who still refute its place in our classrooms.
Policymakers demand our schools must reflect the 21st century, yet continue to deny schools the funding to do just that. Additionally, our districts block many of the online sites for collaboration from our schools.
It is fear that guides many of the decisions about educational technology: fear that we will be left globally behind by countries more committed to technology integration and also fear that our students will somehow be scarred its use.
Frankly, there are many reasons to avoid providing technology as a more common and frequent tool in education. However, as stated in “Strictly Ballroom,” one of my favorite movies, “a life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Fear cannot shut us down from our mission: to educate students for their future.
For the Naysayers
Here are some typical arguments against technology in schools — and better ones for using it:
1. The legal issues are daunting: what if a student writes inappropriate content online? Answer: Our job is to teach them how to use the tools of the real world. After all, using a circular saw is dangerous too, but only through shop class have many students learned to build a birdhouse safely. So is it with technology. Parents and teachers must be a part of monitoring and modeling. It may be scary, but without teaching students about appropriate use, they will surely encounter exactly that which we are most scared of.
2. How ever will we train all those teachers? Answer: It’s simple. Have teachers train teachers. Give teachers who know how the paid release time to be trainers during their contracted hours of those who don’t know how. There are willing teachers on every site, at every district, teachers willing to take on hybrid roles in education that allow them one foot in the classroom and one foot working to improve the pedagogy and practice of those who need to learn. For those who train, they will, as a result, avoid burnout by being permitted ways to utilize their other skills, all the while helping other teachers improve their own 21st century knowledge.
3. Where does the time come from? How can we add more to a teacher’s plate? Answer: How ’bout this? Don’t. Instead, take something off teachers’ plates rather than put more on. We have to prioritize, and including technology is too important. We can’t continue to have teachers waste their time on the curricular needs of yesteryear. We need to redefine how a teacher spends their time during the day and redefine the curriculum of tomorrow.
4. Some students don’t have access to technology at home so how can we expect them to use it for assignments? Answer: To this I say, many homes don’t have libraries either, but we still teach how to read. The fact is that it’s a school’s job to step up to provide and instruct. Even though some students may not have access to a computer at home, the school needs to see its role in equalizing the differences between those who have and those who don’t. It’s also society’s role to find a way to provide for those homes in a more equitable way or our country’s children will be left behind. Some districts are already working in conjunction with phone providers and computer companies to help bridge this gap. Those districts should not be few and far between, but should be commonplace.
5. It’s expensive. Answer: Nevertheless, “we cannot afford to fall any more behind in our comfort and use of technology.” Policymakers need to start backing up their demands with funds. Parents need to be a part of monitoring their student’s use at home. Teachers must continue to develop the skills that make them the technology guides in the classroom. For as the gap gets ever wider, the money it will take to fill the divide will increase. We are already in the red. Our reluctance to think and plan ahead has already created a debt of technological knowledge.
We can’t allow fear to dictate our progress, nor can we allow those who won’t move forward to dictate whether we do move forward. We cannot allow policymakers to insist on adoption and not provide for it, or worse yet, tentatively provide it and not find bravery and support by those within education’s walls.
Teachers need to be on the forefront of curriculum, not in its wake. We need to be leading the charge towards preparing our students for their future, not hindering our march towards tomorrow.
Normally the color of things makes no difference. There is at least one exception.
When it comes to the stylus for the Eno board from Polyvision, color appears to matter greatly. To the gang at Polyvision, if you are reading this, I want the BLUE stylus back.
Over the past few years I have integrated almost 20 Eno boards into various classrooms throughout my district. Each of these boards shipped with the blue stylus, which performed without any issues.
Since the beginning of this school year, I have brought in over 100 more Eno boards, with plans on installing over 300 more within the next few weeks. Apparently, at some point, Polyvision switched to the new “black” stylus. Each of the new boards this year has included this new stylus.
For the most part, the new black stylus performs pretty well. I have received an extraordinary number of complaints about the new stylus though. Almost immediately after rolling out the new stylus, the teachers began to complain about battery life. Literally within hours of beginning to use the new black stylus, teachers reported they needed a new battery.
Normally, the lithium AAA battery that ships with the Eno stylus will last a teacher weeks or even months, depending on usage. The Polyvision driver includes a mechanism for alerting users to a “low battery” to allow them time to replace the battery before it completely runs out (usually right in the middle of a lesson that is being observed by an administrator.) It turns out the batteries are fine. There appears to be issues which cause the warning to pop up prematurely.
I must not be alone with this issue as Polyvision has recently provided an updated driver which turns off this “low battery warning.” While this “fix” will prevent the warning from appearing and will likely decrease the number of requests for unnecessary battery replacements, it does not really address the problem. It is sort of like placing a piece of black tape over the check engine light that appears on your car’s dashboard. The problem isn’t really fixed, but as long as you don’t see that annoying light you don’t feel compelled to do anything about it.
Now I will be receiving panic calls from teachers when their stylus’ battery really is dead, since they no longer receive a warning ahead of time. When the battery is dead, the teachers will be in a jam. They cannot use the Eno board without a stylus.
I want to be very clear here. I love the Eno boards. Even more importantly, the teachers who have received their Eno boards love them too. The boards are extremely durable and versatile. Teachers use them as interactive white boards, dry erase boards and magnetic boards.
The teachers and their students love the easy to use board tools that are included. The teachers that have taken the next step and are using the included RM Easiteach software, are very impressed. The only complaint we have is with the new black stylus.
Polyvision please bring back the “blue stylus.”
So here is how my bizarre mind works…
The hotel clerk recommended a local restaurant for breakfast. After ordering my breakfast, the waitress brought over a bottle of ketchup. Not so extraordinary except for the fact that it was not my preferred brand of ketchup. Instead of my usual Heinz, she instead placed a bottle of Red Gold Tomato Ketchup on the table. Up until that moment I never really considered how strongly I felt about brands, but I should have. As I think about it, I am very particular about all sorts of brands in my daily life, from food to clothes, etc. Oddly, it made me examine my strong brand loyalty for the technology products I favor.
For years I was a huge fan of Dell computers. I had been instrumental in placing literally thousands of these PCs in the various schools I was involved for a period of 10 years or so. I recommended them to everyone. My family members all had Dell’s as well. They were (and likely still are) terrific machines. They were the only machines I would even consider when purchasing or recommending PCs.
Then I found Apple. More accurately, Apple found me. I got hooked very quickly. I am now an Apple evangelist. Not because they are cool and sexy (though it helps), but because they work. Upon doing a lot of research, it became clear to me that the TCO (total cost of ownership) of an Apple is actually far less than that of comparable Windows-based PCs.
I have also been swayed in my printing choices. Once a huge fan of HP printers (still think they work great), I have moved on to OKI printers. Oki makes great, reliable printers too. But what I like most about OKI’s are their low cost for consumables like toner. Over the life of a printer, the TCO of an OKI is far lee than HP or other manufacturers.
The point of all of this is that if I am honest with myself I will realize that often when I break away from my tried and true brands, I find very good, if not better, alternatives.
Maybe the next time the waitress brings me an unfamiliar brand of ketchup, I should actually try it.