Why Great Content Beats Cool Gadgets.

Last week saw yet another fantastic piece of Apple PR as Steve Jobs launched the rather groovey looking iPad. It joins a long line of uber cool gadgets, gizmos, devices and hardware that inspires drooling and convulsions. But what about the content? Would do people love the cinema seats more than the movie? When did we start to love the newsprint rather than the story? Why is a plastic and a screen seen as cooler than the material it can show?

My view on the value of content over technology has always been tainted by what an american film producer (the only one I’ve ever met mind) – once told me. ‘ I don’ t care whether its theatric, video, dvd or tv – computers or satellite. Its always my content they’ve always gotta buy from me’. Channels and gadgets are nothing without good content – wheras good content can go to a multitude of channels. Just one reason why Great Content Beats Cool Gadgets.

Five Reasons Why Great Content Beats Cool Gadgets

1 – Great content can go on any channel and be incorporated into any new media as fashions and trends change. Music publishers work their back catalogue and remix classics with the hottest new producers – and Harry Potter will be reformatted, re-designed and re-issued to kids – long after the iPad is laughed at as quaint by teenagers in 2036.

2 – ‘Cool’ hardware is fleeting passion and is forgotten by consumers and becomes stale quickly – wheras great creative works form memories that live with consumers forever. That flippy-flicky-tricky-dicky-phone you showed off four years ago? Ah. In the bottom draw. Along with the WalkMan. But I bet you can still sing the first piece of music you bought as a teenager. And I bet you can still re-tell the plot from your favourite movie – but you don’ t really recall the cinema, coke and popcorn. Content = memories. Hardware = landfill.

3 – Anyone who is talented can create content wheras hardware is just the domain of the same old corporate marketers and procurement. Whislt capitalism is meant to encourage competition hardware is not exactly open to all is it? The usual suspects dictate our formats, build baffling conflicting platforms and incorporate their own awful ‘content’. Ever read any editorials on mobile phone network’s website? Great content, prepared by people who love their craft – can come from anyone. The best content is always refreshed and last years new discovery becomes this years big story. Hardware? Yawn, yawn, yawn. The same old  businesss from California, Finland and Japan. But who will write the surprise movie hit of the year? Which young jounalist will break a great story? Which comedian will be a star at Edinburgh? Content is always changing. It’s always fresh. Hardware is just product management.

4 – Content has lifetime-value. Hardware is sold once. If you buy into a creative franchise you will be loyal to it forever. Consumers follow authors. They will see every new Bond movie and buy every new book by Tom Clancy. The creator can build a loyalty that no hardware can. Think you love your phone? Then why do they struggle to retain customers? Why do you change contract so easily? Because everyone really knows that most hardware is really all the same (with different twiddly bits and knobs) and most people treat their tarifs, bandwidth and gadget as a commodity.

5 – Great Content, and the intrinsic quality and value within it, really important books, music, journalism – actually matters. Cool gadgets are just fashion accessories, that you use, to get to the content.

Having said all of the above. I love my HTC Android phone. Its cool, its sleek, it does fabulous things and keeps me connected. So yes, yes, yes. I know.  I love it. But – I think I love my apps even more. But that’s another story.


Some cool gadgets.

Author: Andrew Armour

Andrew Armour is a marketing and media professional, a specialist in business partnerships and the Founder of the consulting business - Benchstone Limited. His career spans from the UK music industry to the America's Cup, from winning agency pitches to securing key digital content deals. He is married to Viv, lives in Hampshire and works in London.

2 thoughts on “Why Great Content Beats Cool Gadgets.”

  1. Interesting stuff. To add a thought to Point 4. Good content lasts forever (whatever forever is in web terms) in contrast to the banner ad campaign you got conned into. Content is an investment that keeps on giving.

  2. Very true. And Great Content also retains its quality and relevance regardless of format and platform too. With Twitter and other social media, users are being moved around from platform to platform, from newspaper to blog – by other users, referring to other content. Most of the interesting blogs and sites I now see do not come from my Googling – they come from interesting links that I find in Twitter, newspapers and magazines. Content is more important than delivery and packaging. If tech companies ran the pizza business, all the ads would be about the boxes. AA

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