Memories of Ghost Protocol, iPhone 4S, Typhoon Sendong, and the Mission Impossible between Globe & Smart
To put it in a nutshell, Ghost Protocol is all about a crazy scientist who wanted to relive the Cold War through a nuclear attack, which, in his own twisted beliefs, is necessary to make the world uber-great again. Now, take it from me when I say Ghost Protocol is a must-see movie for 2011 (too bad it’s already 2012), but if I were to rank it in descending order with respect to entertainment, pure-adrenaline, and, more importantly, my own preference, the best Tom Cruise-led IMF instalments are: Mission: Impossible 1, Mission: Impossible 3, and Mission: Impossible 4. I hear there’s supposed to be another one with that “Chimera Virus” in it but I think it was too boring that even John Woo would quickly cross-out that film as a mistake.
Anyhoo, if you’ve seen Ghost Protocol, you’d know it’s all about the Cold War. For some reason, this is another take on that chilly – pun intended – period of our global history which we were all jointly reminded about with X-Men: First Class. Now, as I munched my popcorn hastily while Ethan Hunt escapes from prison, it dawned on me that it comes as a bit of expected coincidence that this side of the planet we all refer to as the Third World witnessed the renewed war between Globe Telecom & Smart Communications on the very same day Mission: Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol premiered worldwide. This is because a few minutes into the film, one can see the Invisible Hand of the late Steve Jobs as thaaat secret agent all the way to Ethan Hunt (as portrayed by Tom Cruise himself) boasted of the iPhone 4 (not 4S, as what one tweep corrected me with #YesIkawNa) with some sort of magical app not widely found side by side with Angry Birds.
Before the movie started, I actually came from the Globe iPhone 4S event at the Ayala Museum. I tried my best to stay longer, but the excitement of seeing Ghost Protocol was too much for me to bear that I had to leave long before Kaskade came into the picture. After all, even with the ubiquitous media paper bracelet which the most-hospitable-receptionist-for-an-event-in-the-whole-wide-Globe gave to me, I came as a Buddhist of a “blogger.” I come with no expectations, and I leave with no expectations. This was totally in contrast with some fellas I knew who were pretty amped about getting a free iPhone 4S and was even bugging me if I was actually leaving the Globe event to go to the dark side – the rival Smart Communications iPhone 4S event at the entire Powerplant Mall. He even bugged me if I was leaving because Smart is really giving away free iPhone 4S there. As mentioned, I was leaving the event to watch Ghost Protocol at the nearby Greenbelt Cinemas. But yeah, Smart was giving tons of stuff and Ghost Protocol was even screened for free.
This is why, it felt like the Telecom War was once again brewing with Smart’s arrival into the picture as what was prevalent during the late 1990s. Anyone who has a Twitter or Facebook account can attest how funny things were when official social media accounts and employees of both companies started heckling the competition before the clock struck midnight. We see “viral” attempts and the desire to be the first hashtag to trend. #SmartiPhone4S was the first to trend though for whatever its worth.
Smart is making a big deal about that. If you take us back and look across the region, they are the last major telco to get the iPhone. I’ve never seen a company be proud to be last… I think it gets to the heart how serious Globe takes its commitment to Apple and vice versa.
Based on my experience, usually an exclusive distributorship in a particular territory is only disrupted (read as offered to a competing distributor partially or in full) when the current distributor fails to meet expectations. However, with the case of the iPhone, maybe it was all part of the masterplan to have our local telcos outwit, outlast, and outsmart each other all over again. In fact, after Smart released their somewhat tempting iPhone 4S plans, Globe retaliated with an almost identical offering. Apple to apple, one must say. But then again, between the technology and customer support backbone of either telecom giants, we all have an inkling which of these 2 has served their current subscriber base so much better than the competition.
Smart undoubtedly owned the broadsheets on December 16 with full-page ads which borders on the obscene as it somewhat eclipsed the “more important” headlines the likes of the Manila Bulletin has to offer to its readers. Come to think of it, the rivalry of both networks flooded the on-line consciousness of the Filipinos on that same fateful day Tropical Storm Washi or Sendong ravaged the northern part of Mindanao particularly Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. Nonetheless, I’ve read a press release on-line that Globe states they still have more iPhone 4S subscribers to date. For some reason, even Google can’t help me dig up that “article” but I’m pretty sure no third-party sources were cited.
As a marketer, I had my favorite not only in terms of their commendable efforts to have the best launching event but also in their efforts to address all inquiries through social media, telemarketing, and the actual frontliners in their actual service centers. Now, as I write my uberdelayed post about that occasion, I can see clearly who won if we only gauge the contest in terms of who had the better launching event. But the thing is, will I ditch #TeamBlackberry and go iPhone 4S anytime soon?
Maybe yes, maybe not. It’s all part of the “plan.” You see, aside from my usual excuse I have for myself that Apple has the knack of planning the obsolescence of their latest gadgets a bit tad too fast for my humble budget, I’m still tied up with my current postpaid line, which I have just recently re-contracted. For some reason, the only option I have with my current telco is to get a new postpaid line or to buy it out of a prepaid kit. That doesn’t make any logical, mature, and financially responsible sense for me. Maybe this is the reason I hear this telco had allowed its employees to get an iPhone 4S even when it’s already out of their allowed merchandise loan allocation or net cap?
Around December last year, the National Telecommunications Commission order Smart, Globe, and Sun to lower the SMS rates from P1 to 80 centavos. When that news broke out, I considered that as a victory for consumers. However, when the brewing Cold War over the iPhone 4S came into the picture, I initially thought another victory was in store for all of us. But after seeing the post-event pictures of the launching events of both Smart and Globe and my only comment is both networks really have to expand their “network” of invitees. Otherwise, if you’ve noticed the day after the superhyped events, the rest of the Philippines didn’t really care that the iPhone 4S has arrived. I’m not talking about the masses here even, but businessmen, top execs, to retail chain owners who are still very satisfied with their very outdated mobile units (Yes, we got to talk about iPhone 4S as some sort of chitchat.)
This is why I think although as a marketer, I am amazed by the efforts of both telcos to wow the Philippines with a bat of an i, the Philippines is still a Third World Country and the recent iPhone 4S madness has just best reflected our country’s social divide. Try as they might to make queues of actual people who really wanna purchase the latest gadgets out of their own pockets reminiscent of those iconic Apple stores from New York to Tokyo, the Mission Impossible of it all is to fully understand the differences between our cultures and purchasing preferences. Yes, we are a rich country trying to be poor, but it’s just sad that after all has been said and done, telcos are still charge P1 per text, defying the government order that was released a mere days (December 12, that is) before their respective iPhone 4S grand launching events on December 15. The poor gets poorer, and the rich gets a bazillion-peso shindig that they won’t even remember a few weeks afterwards.
This is the Ghost Protocol: pleasing a few elite to the chagrin of a million Filipinos who are still using Talk N Text and Touch Mobile and Sun simply because that is what they can afford. It’s actually an effective marketing strategy, mind you, given in the world of business, proper segmentation and focus reigns supreme. Nevertheless, multiply the number of subscribers to P0.20 times the number of SMS daily our country generates from the day of that NTC order until the the day of this blog post, and you can just imagine how much money would have been saved by the “average Filipino” if only the lowered SMS fee mandate was readily and easily followed.
Last April 2011, Apple was named ‘least green’ tech company by Greenpeace. This comes as a bit of expected coincidence that this side of the planet we all refer to as the Third World witnessed the launch of the iPhone 4S while most of our nation mourns the death of more than a thousand down south. Yes, I watched a movie, a lot partied with Globe and/or Smart, and then we have the case of Valerie Concepcion’s tweets and the fact that our dear President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III is the first to get the iPhone 4S from Globe.
At this time and age wherein Steve Jobs almost became the first posthumous TIME Magazine Person of the Year and those uber expensive Apple gadgets are eating their way into Nokia’s market share, I still believe that the Filipino consumer will continue to be aspirational but in a more responsible manner. The 2011 TIME Magazine of the Year is The Protester. People have tried and tried to do the same thing locally with calls for #OccupyMakati and #OccupyTektite or whatnot, but in my honest opinion, it will never happen at the intensity we see in Wall Street and in other countries. However, during the time Smart and Globe launched the iPhone 4S and while the 1% stood in defiance, we see our Philippine social network community help each other for the benefit of our countrymen in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. No amount of social media marketing budget could top our collective efforts which we all did for FREE.
Of course, a lot of corporations have helped including Globe’s parent company, Singtel, and Research in Motion Philippines (RIM) which is the manufacturer of the ailing Blackberry, coincidentally one of most formidable competition for the iPhone. I hope this kind of sympathy and interconnectedness like a tapestry as one nation puts the “we” in iPhone.
To quote Steve Jobs:
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.
Let’s all talk the walk and, perhaps, we can all make a dent in the universe.