Pay Attention 007: The iPhone Is Cooler Than You


How the world has changed. When my father was my age, there was nothing more cool or impressive than driving an Aston Martin, toting a Walther PPK and ordering your dry martinis shaken, not stirred. That’s what James Bond did. And Bond was seriously cool.

Bond was the debonair British secret agent who was usually pimped out with all manner of extraordinary (often miniaturized) gadgets. Remember that wristwatch with a tiny, built-in camera? In the ’60s, that sort of gadgetry was wishful thinking — very cool, though.

So it’s kinda poetic, really, that the iPhone — arguably the ultimate multi-purpose high-tech gadget — has secured first place in the annual British CoolBrands Survey, knocking quintessentially cool Aston Martin, Bond’s favored tricked-out car of choice, off the top spot.

The CoolBrands Survey is managed by the Centre for Brand Analysis. Here’s how the CBA describes the survey:

A comprehensive database of the UK’s coolest brands is compiled using a wide range of sources, from sector reports to blogs. From the thousands of brands initially identified, approximately 1,100 brands are short-listed. An independent and voluntary Expert Council scores this list, with members individually awarding each brand a rating from 1-10. Council members are not allowed to score brands with which they have a direct association or are in direct competition to.

So how do you determine the “cool”-ness of a brand? Fear not, the CBA has a set of guidelines to help;

Cool is subjective and personal. Accordingly, voters are not given a definition but are asked to bear in mind the following factors, which research has shown are inherent in a CoolBrand: 1. style 2. innovation 3. originality 4. authenticity 5. desirability 6. uniqueness.

It’s all supremely silly, and I’m skeptical about the “research” they mention so breezily, but still, it’s nice to see the iPhone win. Also in the top 10 are “Apple” and “iPod,” further cementing Apple’s “coolness” — for 2009, at least. It’s interesting to note that, of the top 10 coolest brands, a solid eight of them are rooted firmly in consumer electronics, or the Internet. The remaining two (Bang & Olufsen and PlayStation) are still firmly rooted in the Land of Tech.

Here are the top 10 in full:

  1. iPhone
  2. Aston Martin
  3. Apple
  4. iPod
  5. Nintendo
  6. YouTube
  7. BlackBerry
  8. Google
  9. Bang & Olufsen
  10. PlayStation

How would Q have put it?

“Now pay attention, Bond. This is your iPhone. Thirty-two gigabytes maximum storage, capacitive touchscreen interface, full virtual keyboard and 64,000 apps in the online App Store. Of course, it also includes the usual rocket launcher with heat-seeking missiles, and underwater breathing apparatus good for two hours. Try not to break it.”