Secrets of the Superbrands Review: Technology Wars

SECRETS OF THE SUPERBRANDS: Tuesday 17th May, BBC3, 10.30pm

Can you remember life before the mobile phone? You’d have to arrange to meet someone and be there at the time you said – madness! Before Facebook you wouldn’t be able to show photos of your mate’s birthday to people that you’ve met once– ludicrous! Everywhere you look, someone is playing Angry Birds on their iPhone, sending an email on their BlackBerry or looking at Facebook on their iPad, technology has taken over our lives.

In this new series Alex Riley takes his tongue-in-cheek documentary style to investigate just how the superbrands try to turn us consumers into disciples and have us climbing over each other to buy their product. Tonight’s first episode explores the world of technology and just how brands like Apple, Microsoft and Sony have convinced us that we need what they are selling.

Alex visits the opening of a new Apple store in Covent Garden and the celebration resembles a religious experience, but one of those cool ones with everyone singing and a preacher on stage healing people with his hands. Riley talks to some people who camp outside the store for 24 hours in anticipation of the opening and it makes you feel a bit sheepish when you realise how ensconced with the Apple ideals some of us are.

On his travels, Alex also visits Microsoft, Nokia (to see why they are failing in a market that they used to dominate) as well as visiting the juggernaut that is Google to see how it keeps going from strength to strength, and just how much information it has on everyone around the world. He also discusses the Betamax and VHS war that raged briefly in the 1980’s (which was surprisingly, won by the porn industry), comparing it to the recent Blu-Ray and DVD battle that ended with Blu-Ray on top. Sony put Blu Ray players in their PS3s (at a loss) in a bid to win that war.

Riley’s playful documentary style and playful interviewing technique make this a really interesting watch, informative yet fun, Riley gets to the core of why we spend so much of our time and hard-earned cash on these gadgets.