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Monday, August 25, 2008

How much abuse should we tolerate from Brands?

Here is another story on Corporations and how brand (mis)manage their followers:
I am a geek, I have an iPhone, and I love Star Wars - a cliche probably.
And when I updated to the iPhone 2.0 software, I was very happy to find this cool PhoneSaber app (one of the best free apps they were offering then from my prospective) that could make the noise of a light saber when I moved my iPhone, as if I was fighting the dark side myself. Except I lost that battle: I had to reset the iPhone and then I discovered that the lawyers from Lucas Film had Apple remove the PhoneSaber app from the Apple Store because it was not an official Star Wars app. So no more showing off in front of my kids, big brother wants me to behave...
Now the official story is that something that looks like PhoneSaber may come back at some point, but how much of a turnoff is this? I am not sure I will be too excited about the Official Guys feeding me their approved soup after I had a taste of something really cool and creative that was free and did not seem to hurt the brand in any way. All of a sudden it feels like I am in a relationship with an abusive master, who takes away what I like only to give it back when he feels like it. How healthy is this?
With more and more user generated content being posted to the web every day, brands should learn to give some freedom to their consumers, so that the creativity that exist is not killed, but rather channeled for the benefit of all. It is ok to create a cool PhoneSaber app, and good for the brand if people like it and spread it around. If the app is free, it seems to me there is more harm done to the brand when you force the removal of the app than by letting it be, something with the enforcement of copyright has gone wrong in this case.
What is sure is that this is just another example of more to come: social media and open source are about people feeding each other stories and applications, and Media will have to evolve if they want to remain relevant. Maybe "Open Characters" and "Open Stories" should the next big things...