Stuck for an eyecatching tech headline? Make it up!
It's what PR agencies dream of; hoping against hope that whatever appallingly dull clients they have their roster, they can spin some sensational headline in the hope of catching a time-pressured editor and their underpaid hacks off-guard.
And this is what happened yesterday. Lots of credible tech and consumer outlets, and Bitterwallet, received a press release about GetJar, an online mobile app store. The company had commissioned research into the current sales of mobile applications and hypothesised on future revenues from the sector. Speculation is a great way for a company to attract press release, because it can be based on little more than guess work, but lead to sensational headlines that attract attention. But in this instance, GetJar's PR company went with:
Read that headline again. What does it mean? What's the connection between apps and CDs that leads to a direct comparison between sales? Aside from both being consumer products, there's no relationship whatsoever. A press release about music with a headline comparing tracks downloaded to physical product sold - there would be some logic to that. But apps don't deliver even a vaguely similar consumer experience to CDs, so what comparison is there to make? It makes as much sense as these headlines I've just imagined from previous years:
1995 "Mobile phones will outsell VHS tapes by 1998"
2000 "DVDs will outsell colouring books by 2002"
2001 "iPods will outsell tractors by 2003"
It's an abstract comparison between two items that you wouldn't rationally attempt to compare, unless you wanted to create a headline that sounds extraordinary but doesn't mean anything. It turns out the research conducted by AppJar is reasonably interesting, and the real story - that mobile apps will be generating $17.5 billion in two years time - is buried in the byline.
Fortunately, most of the tech press spotted this, and ignored the bullshit-baffles-brains headline. Quite right too - you wouldn't catch a respected news operation simply cutting and pasting such a ridiculous statement into their article, would you?
Oh. Never mind.