A Case Study in Bad Marketing
OK. Before I explain why Asus deserves to be mentioned in
marketing textbooks for its horrible management of the Eee brand, let me first
say that I love my Eee PC
901. I've had this little device for a couple weeks now, and it's just a
really great product.
- The battery life is outstanding.
- It takes a few days of use to get accustomed to the
keyboard, but after that, it's quite usable.
- I wish the Mac were available in this form factor. (Yes,
I know about the MacBook Air. That's not even close to what the Eee is.)
- I'd prefer Linux, but I've got the XP version. At some
point, when Ubuntu Netbook Remix is ready to work smoothly on this thing,
I'll probably repave. But for now, everything Just Works, and I don't
want to lose that.
- I got this device to replace my day timer, not my laptop.
I don't really do any serious work on my Eee. It's a portable web browser
and email client. Visual Studio is not installed.
- OTOH, I'm thinking that for my next trip, the MacBook Pro
will stay home and the Eee will go.
- I know the 10-inch netbooks are gaining in popularity, but
for me the 8.9-inch form factor is much better. The MSI Wind is a lot
bigger. The Eee is so small I can (and do) take it everywhere. The
10-inch models remind me of a laptop.
- For me, the Eee is the second coming of my HP 200LX.
- I think of my Eee as a large and extremely capable
BlackBerry, not as a small and a lame laptop.
So, like I said, it's a great product. But Asus is doing
everything they can to destroy this brand.
The brand name "Eee" is great. It's short and memorable.
Its sound matches its sense. It just fits.
But Asus is now introducing so many products under the Eee name
that soon the brand will be meaningless.
I believe the first popular Eee was the 701. People raved
about it. I never owned one, but apparently the two most popular attributes
were the low price and the small size. Either of these attributes could have
become the positioning for the Eee brand. Maybe both.
But now Asus has all kinds of Eee products. Some are
small. Some are large. Some are cheap. Some are expensive. They're even
working on a desktop machine with the Eee brand. After that I can only assume
that we'll see Eee cola, Eee furniture and Eee shaving products.
Maybe Asus doesn't care. After all, they're basically a
manufacturing company, not a marketing company, right? The fact that they
created a great brand was probably an accident anyway.
But as a marketer, that's what makes this even more
infuriating. Creating a great brand usually requires hard work, lots of
creativity, and tremendous discipline. When someone pursues the goal in that
manner and succeeds, I admire them. But when someone accidentally succeeds, and
then destroys their own work, I just want to bang my head against the desk.
Yes, I know that luck is a factor. I just hate the situations where luck is
the only factor. We're making products here, not Top 40 pop
radio songs. Talent and hard work should count for something.
Oh well. The Eee brand will die and Asus will return to its
former life of making products that normal people have never heard about.
But I think this product category will survive. These
things might even become popular enough to go mainstream. I can only assume
that Dell will end up being the leader in this market segment.
But whatever brand they use for these products, it will never
be as cool as "Eee".