Apple, Google, Facebook Battle for 'Judy Consumer'

Brands Vie to Be Sole Provider of All 'Her' Communications, Commerce, Content-Consumption Needs

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Judy Shapiro
Judy Shapiro
It's not hard to understand why Judy Consumer would be curious to see what all the iPad buzz is about. After all, Judy Consumer saw Dave Letterman playing with one recently on his show. In fact, her curiosity (in addition to Joe and Junior Consumer) helped move 1 million units in just a few weeks. Astonishing.

Then I was reading about Google TV and it was quite easy to see the appeal of it for Judy Consumer. TV and information anywhere, anytime on your phone. This service adds to Google's already impressive set of services from Gmail to Google Wave to Google Voice.

The telecom giants are courting Judy Consumer, too. Verizon's launch of the HTC Incredible is aimed at helping Judy Consumer upgrade to 3G technology and their offers of this sleek new phone are certainly tempting.

Lest the social networks feel left out, they are pursuing "Judy Consumer" with a vigor bordering on stalking. Facebook provides Judy Consumer with a neverending cornucopia of connectivity confections that is addictive and that increasingly takes up more of her time. These social networks want Judy Consumer to vow digital fidelity to them.

Ah, so many suitors are chasing Judy Consumer, offering glittery technology baubles as enticements for the real goal: to be the sole provider of all Judy Consumer's communications, commerce and content-consumption needs. They want an exclusive, long-term relationship with Judy Consumer and they don't really want to share her with anyone else.

So while Judy Consumer may think she is simply picking a phone or a service, she may be making a long-term commitment to a service provider that, unbeknownst to her, gates what she sees and what she has access to. Case in point: Apple's decision to exclude Flash from its iPad platform means Judy Consumer won't have access to those types of apps for now. Or, if Judy Consumer runs afoul of the Facebook police, they can obliterate her from the digital landscape (honest -- read this account by Robert Scoble). In this courting dance, the stakes may be much higher for Judy Consumer than she realizes.

My advice to Judy Consumer -- choose your new tech stuff wisely, because you are not just choosing a product -- you may be committing to a long-term digital partner. And if it does not work, be warned -- breaking up is not so easy to do.

Judy Shapiro is chief brand strategist at CloudLinux and has held senior marketing positions at Paltalk, Comodo, Computer Associates, Lucent Technologies, AT&T and Bell Labs. Her blog, Trench Wars, provides insights on how to create business value on the internet.
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