Billboard for WWDC is torn down; startup smells rotten Apple

Billboard for WWDC is torn down; startup smells rotten Apple

Summary: updated: The co-founders of a small startup suspect something more than a dark subway stairwell prompted a billboard to be pulled from a downtown San Francisco wall before the crowd attending Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference could see it Monday morning.That billboard, which was leased by a company called doubleTwist and contained an ad with the message "Your cure for iPhone envy," - is not on just any wall.

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TOPICS: Apple
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updated: The co-founders of a small startup suspect something more than a dark subway stairwell prompted a billboard to be pulled from a downtown San Francisco wall before the crowd attending Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference could see it Monday morning.

That billboard, which was leased by a company called doubleTwist and contained an ad with the message "Your cure for iPhone envy," - is not on just any wall. It's on the wall of the downtown San Francisco Apple store and sits below the store's big Apple logo.

This portion of the wall actually belongs to BART - the Bay Area Rapid Transit District - and hugs a stairwell that leads from the underground Powell Street station to the street above. It's the BART station closest to Moscone Center, where the conference is being held.

The official word from BART is that the black background of the billboard darkened the stairwell leading down the station and that created a safety issue. DoubleTwist re-submitted twice new billboards for approval - first with a white background and another with a transparent background that makes it hard to read the message. The transit agency has approved the transparent one but it's still unclear how soon that billboard can go back up.

But now, co-founder Jon Lech Johansen thinks there's a higher power - namely, Apple - at work here. His software allows users to have an iPhone-like experience, specifically copying music, movies and photos to other devices, including cell phones, other mp3 players and handheld gaming devices. He suspects that Apple doesn't want that advertised so close to its store and has the power to do something about it. From Johansen's blog post:

Apple is a major BART advertiser (in the past they’ve plastered entire BART stations with iPod ads). Apple’s WWDC conference ends on Friday. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here… I’m sure our ad will conveniently be back up after WWDC ends.

Regardless, the startup already missed its big splash. The whole purpose of putting that ad up when they did was so that it would be seen Monday morning as people came off the train and headed to the big keynote presentation at the conference. They can't have that moment back. So here's the ad again, in case any of those WWDC attendees missed it. (Images courtesy of doubleTwists's Flickr album.)

updated: We're told that the billboard - the transparent one - was installed Wednesday afternoon, roughly around 3 p.m.

Topic: Apple

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6 comments
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  • No Pun Intented?

    [i]The transit agency has approved the [u]transparent[/u] one but it?s still [u]unclear[/u] how soon that billboard can go back up.[/i]

    It amused me. :)

    As to the subject at hand, have to admit, the timing of it all, along with the lameness of the excuse, sure does make it sound like Apple has BART right by the purse strings. Coincidence? Possibly, but it sure doesn't look good, and perception is reality in marketing. At the very least, they might just want to consider giving the folks their money back. And, if BART did take a payoff to pull the billboard down right before the show, and drag their feet until the show is over, asking Apple if they can borrow a few of their lawyers, just in case.
    Whyaylooh
  • The actual Cure for iPhone Envy....

    Is to pick something up and .... hit yourself on the head with it.
    Dealing
  • So which customer will BART take care of?

    The one that pays the most money in all probability.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple all of a sudden owns
    that wall, or has a long term lease on it.
    Ken_z
  • Not a space Apple wouldn't want to control

    Actual ad inappropriate for the space.

    I'd now milk the story for all it's worth though:-)

    Google shows it clear:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?
    f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=apple+store+san+f
    rancisco&sll=37.784817,-
    122.407635&sspn=0,359.995263&ie=UTF8&ll=37.78569,
    -
    122.406471&spn=0,359.981053&z=16&layer=c&cbll=37.
    785698,-
    122.406351&panoid=sN77bvd2mU1QQydhN7JJxg&cbp=12
    ,0.82,,0,-7.27
    Richard Flude
  • RE: Billboard for WWDC is torn down; startup smells rotten Apple

    The ad would have been far more useful at a Palm Pre or
    BB convention, where you might find people who would use
    your product. Why tell Apple *developers* they can have
    their iTunes library on other devices? They all have Apple
    devices! There's no envy required. And frankly not many
    are going to jump ship anytime soon (and definitely not
    because of iTunes library issues...much more likely AT&T).

    You're solving a problem that doesn't exist for this
    audience. Oh wait, and doesn't the Palm Pre also sync with
    iTunes?

    Okay okay, I get that you were trying to bait Apple, but
    why? And why would they care enough to call BART and
    complain? If I'm the advertising person at Apple, I'd shrug
    and wonder at people wasting money on untargeted ads.
    I'm confused.
    Anon555
  • Hey, business is warfare and they got trumped

    This ad is getting far more publicity now than it would
    have had if BART wasn't pressured by the Illustrious &
    Benevolent Leader of the Apple Faithful, Hizzoner Steve
    Jobs and his minions to remove it.

    DoubleTwist needs to milk this for everything it can get.
    File a lawsuit against BART and Apple, not that you would
    win, but to get more publicity. GET IT? Geeze.

    ronphlf@...