Stuck for an eyecatching tech headline? Make it up!

18 March 2010

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:

Bitterwallet - GetJar nonsensical headline

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?

Bitterwallet - Guardian headlineOh. Never mind.

TOPICS:   Mobile


  • Joff
    "It’s an abstract comparison between two items that you wouldn’t rationally attempt to compare..." Blimey, someone's making the most out of their word-a-day toilet paper aren't they! On a similar vein, I found people comparing sales of the Wii to Xbox 360 and PS3 just as pointless. Yes they're both consoles but different generations, different markets, yadda yadda.
  • Richard
    Are wii's not the same generation as ps3's and xbox 360's??
  • Andy
    Yeah they are the same generation, but its like comparing 2 sports car sales to a family hatchback; they all appeal to different demographics, well, until the PS3 Move and Project Natal come into play
  • appsbod
    It could be they were relating one form of entertainment media to another. And in the realm of disposable income and recession, linking similar forms of entertainment is surely fair game - If I don't go out, I might spend my hard earned cash on dvds, console games, cd's and downloading music OR mobile apps. It won't be the same pool of money that I use to go clubbing, save for a holiday or buy new clothes. There is a relationship, just not an immediate comparison which tbh, the press release should have explained (if that's the angle they were looking for). @ Joff: But all of those are games consoles, and if you're buying a console and you have £250, those will be the 3 you look to purchase. If I have £50k to spend on a car, I might look at buying a BMW or a Range Rover or a Caterham. All very different, but comparing the relative sales of each does have some value.
  • Anthony
    Unintentionally funniest line in this write up "Lots of credible tech and consumer outlets, and Bitterwallet, received a press release about GetJar" That's like saying, all credible newspapers and the sun were given this news story.
  • Junkyard
    Unintentionally funniest comment on this article: Anthony.
  • Paul S.
    [holds head in despair]
  • cheapskate
    The beeb fell for it too:
  • appsbod
    Although the beeb don't reference anything to do with cd's or make any comparisons - they just quote the £17.5 billion figure

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