Ben & Jerry's has created several ice cream flavors based on celebrities, like comedian Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia's Cherry Garcia.
But the company hasn't yet embraced on the challenge of translating the essence of technology firms into dairy desserts.
Ben and Jerry are busy people, so we did it for them. We have that much free time on our hands. We're proposing nine new tech-tinged flavors in an effort to understand the recipe for successful companies and to have some fun at their expense.
It should be said that complex global technology companies can't easily be reduced to a simple collection of ingredients. So we've chosen to focus not on the things we love about these companies -- how much fun would that be? -- but on the aspects of their businesses that leave a bitter aftertaste.
We'll start with Amazon, because it tops the alphabetical list.
Amazon has been involved in a fair number of controversies over the years, such as its deletion of Kindle content without consent, its treatment of warehouse workers, and its fight with the publishing company Hachette. Beloved by consumers and feared by competitors, Amazon's ambition seems to know no bounds. A phrase attributed to CEO Jeff Bezos, "Your margin is my opportunity," describes a company that shows no quarter.
Banana ice cream with little chocolate fists and an attached phone-shaped packet of non-union macadamia nuts. Rainforest Hardball is available to Amazon Prime members with free delivery. Some assembly required. People who liked Rainforest Hardball also liked Crazy Drone Explosion, a tasty mix of mango sorbet, Pop Rocks, and gin.
Next up is Apple. A flavor utilizing the apples would be the obvious choice, so let's avoid that. Something related to Apple's reliance on contract suppliers with dubious labor practices could work -- Overtime Indulgence? -- but really most major hardware makers contract with these same suppliers. What makes Apple unique? It's the unabashed belief that it makes the best products in the world and its unwavering commitment to its vision, even when market trends, like the popularity of large phones, force it to alter course.
Vanilla Denial, By Apple
We took heavy cream and mixed it with whole milk, sugar, artisanal vanilla, and a hint of sea salt. We made something exceptional. It's the best vanilla we've ever created. Also available in extra large and chocolate. Apple-approved cardboard insulating case available for $59.
Facebook, which began life as a social networking website, has managed the transition to mobile social network and thriving advertising company. It's the poster child for privacy issues, and that doesn't seem to bother a meaningful number of Facebook's 1.2 billion users. The biggest danger Facebook confronts is maintaining the attention of teens, who have been turning to instant messaging and photo-sharing apps rather than socializing on the web. But the company now has the revenue to acquire its way back into fashion, as it did with its purchase of Instagram.
Ice Cream Social
We take a commercially friendly vanilla base and add everything that you "Like," including fortune cookie crumbs, sponsored fortunes printed on edible paper, and the candy that you said you bought "for Halloween" but ended up eating when you were alone in the kitchen at night, when you thought no one was looking.
Google is the company that got rich by recognizing the latent value in others' labor, specifically search links. It also found a way to profit from others' copyrighted content via YouTube. Google made its products free, offered discoverability to websites, and made the price -- privacy -- seem inconsequential. Oh, and (much to the dismay of Oracle) it co-opted Java to create Android, the most popular operating system in the world.
Googly-Eyed Caffeinated Crunch
A curious combination of Java-style coffee ice cream, strands of cotton candy, chocolate bits, marshmallow clouds, cashews or hazelnuts, and sugar contact lenses -- for extra crunch. You're guaranteed to like some of it, some of the time, and we'll know it when you do.
IBM, like its peers in the enterprise market, has struggled as cloud computing has taken off. It sold its Intel server business to Lenovo and has been buying its way into cloud services with acquisitions like SoftLayer. Its recent deal with Apple could help it gain a seat at the table in the mobile, cloudy new world order, if its enterprise mobile apps and associated services turn out to meet actual business needs.
Big Blueberry Bonanza
Handcrafted premium blueberry ice cream swirled with Vanilla Denial, By Apple in a charming legacy wooden container. Ice cream installation support available upon request. Price list requires nondisclosure agreement.
Microsoft has been trying to get back in the mobile market after former CEO Steve Ballmer woke up to find the world had changed. New CEO Satya Nadella has set about trying to turn the Microsoft aircraft carrier and appears to be making unspectacular progress. His recent observation that women should trust in karma for salary increases didn't help convince anyone that Microsoft is operating in the same millenium as its competition.
Our hinged wafers and half-baked gaffes, suspended in heat-stressed Neapolitan ice cream from a few years ago, satisfy millions. That's our story, and we're sticking to it. For best results, ask for a salary freeze to improve consistency. Ice cream buyers may be entitled to receive a discount on our Office software and Windows operating system. Call for pricing.
Oracle has been criticized for failing to get the cloud -- something the company heartily denies. Known for its aggressiveness, it remains an enterprise powerhouse, despite some problematic contracts recently, like Oregon's failed heathcare exchange website. The company recalls an aging pugilist, but every so often it lands a punch, as it did with TomorrowNow and its Android appeal.
Pythian Clotted Cloud
Made of premium "unbreakable" meringue, Pythian Clotted Cloud looks white and fluffy, but it's something else entirely. We're not quite sure what's in it, but you may recognize the distinct taste of Java. It's rock-solid, expensive, and very filling. Also available with a maintenance contract to keep your fillings intact.
Samsung has spent years denying that it copied the iPhone, despite the findings in Apple's long-running litigation against the company. The two companies, weary of their mutual lawyer-enrichment programs, dropped their non-US patent cases against one another over the summer. There's a lot more to Samsung than smartphones, but that's what gets the most attention these days.
Korean Snapple Cream
Made from vanilla substitute and sweetened with Snapple and other stuff we found lying around, Samsung's delicious frozen concoction is both familiar and comforting. For a limited time, Samsung Dairy Products is offering a certificate for Tizen, whatever that is.
At least Yahoo is still here. After years of visionless leadership, the company found a competent manager in CEO Marissa Mayer. But apart from Flickr, Tumblr, and Yahoo Mail, it's not really clear what Yahoo offers beyond a tabloid-quality homepage. Yahoo hasn't generated a compelling product internally for years. Lately, the company has been coasting off the draft created by its investment in the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Yahoo! Yoo-Hoo! Delight!
We take bland chocolatey ice cream -- less than 2% cocoa, guaranteed -- and swirl it with diluted marshmallow paste, celebrity-shaped crackers, exclamation points, and air bubbles for extra lightness. Yahoo! Yoo-Hoo! Delight! has almost no calories or substantive content, but it's full of emphasis.
We could go on, but brevity is kin to courtesy. So now it's your turn. Are there any companies that you'd like to see immortalized with a Ben & Jerry's flavor? Let us know.