Is the world running out of words? Or does every tech company feel that every product it launches must, at the very least, offer a revolution?
The question vibrates like an old VW in an earthquake not merely because Fidel Castro seems himself to suddenly doubt the wisdom of his own little revolutionary fling. No, “revolution” is the word with which Microsoft seems to be greasing the launch of its much-anticipated Windows Phone 7.
In an ad that debuted last week at a cinematic costume party called Secret Cinema in London, Microsoft offered a little glimpse into how it sees its new creation.
The footage is a sweet homage to a famous scene from the film “Lawrence of Arabia,” in which Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif remind us of when men were men and camels took performance-enhancing drugs. The tagline, however, might leave some wondering whether it was written by Google Instant.
For the words Microsoft seems to have chosen to herald the coming of Windows Phone 7 are “The revolution is coming.”
Once upon a time, revolutions really did come. They changed things radically. They made people reassess the way they used their fingers and minds. But haven’t we only just begun to enjoy the implications of the last revolutionary period, the one in which the iPad declared it was not merely revolutionary, but magical too?
Are revolutions truly like buses–you wait around for a while, and then two or three come at once? Or are today’s revolutions rather more viral affairs, in which people leap onto little bandwagons that become vast juggernauts?
Is it believable that Windows 7 will somehow alter the world of cell phones, so that the majority of humanity will toss its iPhones and BlackBerrys into the nearest dumpster and genuflect in the presence of the new software?
Perhaps Microsoft believes this will happen. Perhaps the images from Friday’s funeral procession in honor of the corpses that are the iPhone and the BlackBerry suggest that not only is the revolution imminent, but it will also be swift and decisive.
Windows Phone 7 is aimed at real human beings, rather than the automatons that are chief financial officers. And one wonders just how Microsoft can make these weird ephemeral humans desire what it has to offer.
It’s less important to these people that Windows Phone 7 enjoys neither copy and paste nor multitasking. It’s far more important whether there is something emotionally compelling about having a phone with this new OS. And being able to compel people emotionally is something with which Microsoft has struggled since well before the emotional revolution that was the Facebook poke.
It’s one thing to announce a revolution. It’s quite another to make people feel they want to join it.