Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
August 1st, 2012
Googleâ€™s $250-million acquisition of marketing start-up Wildfire is good news for the tech market and the owners. So why am I worried?
First, the company website. Just try to find out the real detail of their propositions. Itâ€™s a shout-marketing website par excellence. â€œYou want to know more? Call us.â€ Well, excuse me.
Wildfireâ€™s value lies in its customers, such as Amazon and Sony. It provides them with software that links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social networks, allowing them to manage their online brand and presence.
Because of the Wildfire website, I do not know exactly how, where and when the products it is selling will work. Actually, itâ€™s the â€˜howâ€™ that bugs me. I have a strong scent of old-school, one-way shouting in the Wildfire proposition â€“ linking social with traditional advertising, online advertising and marketing but with the old push energies reinforced.
Listening, learning, engaging, sharing, giving â€“ not sure I see these new imperatives for social marketing clearly in Googleâ€™s new child and thereâ€™s more than a hint that the â€˜channelâ€™ mentality has returned to online marketing.
Maybe Shel Israel is right â€“ maybe weâ€™re going backwards in marketing.
June 7th, 2012
Weâ€™ve been through this many time before and apologies for bringing it up again but why do I look like this when I search Google Images?
Am I being careless about the way I look online? I donâ€™t think so.Â Is there a way to embed more detail in a digital image that can be queried by Google, Bing and other search engines so that they can deliver the precise visual data requested?
I do understand that, when someone (a very close friend for example), types in a search term â€œTim Greenhalgh, forgotten genius, inventor of the Smargâ€, they would expect a first-line, first-page match.
But to simply search for â€œTim Greenhalghâ€ is to invite a world of pain and confusion.
Of course, we can look after our image on the web and label our images in the best possible way. That still leaves a big gap between precision and a punt on Google, Bing et al.
Images and their discordant cousin, video have reached a primary position on the web, piggy-back style, using text and association to raise profile.
Can we free the image and let it range by itself by opening a line of data to search engines that enables precise match and strengthens the curation of visual objects online?
May 22nd, 2012
Charles Arthur, technology editor at The Guardian, has just published Digital Wars, a definitive history of the battle for internet dominance between Microsoft, Apple and Google.
It reads as a battle plan for the next global online war, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the Big Three companies who dominate the terrain and, through example, hints at how to repeat history, with the essential twists that will propel a new company to success.
Digital Wars offers an uncomfortable narrative at times, as the great men leading these companies are revealed, warts and all. Charles Arthur is an iconoclast by preference, a healthy trait for any independent journalist. Hagiography rarely provides enduring, trusted sources for historians and commentators.
What distinguishes his book from the many volumes written about the Big Three is a passion for detail, checked and referenced facts, laced with anecdotes collected over decades of his professional writing career. There is a forensic quality in his writing that is as impressive as it is much welcomed.
The bookâ€™s scope is also a source of bemused wonderment. I do not know many writers who would move such a project beyond the initial-idea phase because the first imperative is to have detailed knowledge of and a firm historical perspective on each of the Big Three, a thorough grasp of the sectors in which they have grown, and a bullshit detector with the dial turned to 11.
Digital Wars chooses 1998 as the effective starting point for the closely-woven narrative, although it references earlier elements in the story of Microsoft and Apple, and there never is a Year Zero or An End in history. The chosen year is predicated on the arrival of the third of the Big Three, a start-up called Google.
There are so many lessons to be learnt from this book, not least that very, very clever people who team with very bright business people stand a better-than-evens chance of succeeding; and that the success or failure turn on a very few significant choices. And that if you want to build a global internet business, move to the US.
This book has a much to do with ethics and business culture as it has to do with the structural fault-lines and innovations of the internet over the past 14 years. Whether Microsoft is seen as â€œthe Evil Empireâ€ now by many, as it was in 1998, is unsure. But that cultural view clearly hindered its progress in responding to the threats posed by Apple and Google.
In contrast, Apple was a dying company at the end of the last century, but one that attracted passion and trust in equal measure from its customers, because they had internalised the Apple vision â€“ â€œfocus on the userâ€. All it took to revitalise the company was the second coming of Steve Jobs.
A second commandment in how to build a global internet company, identified by Charles Arthur, is â€œDonâ€™t moon the giant.â€ Netscape got that wrong and were crushed. Google didnâ€™t and went into â€œsubmarine modeâ€ for five years. The rest, you know â€“ or will when you read Digital Wars.
History never ends and Charles Arthur continues to map the progress of the Big Three. His recent article on the dangers of growing too big, with reference to Google is well worth a read.
April 12th, 2012
Nothing happens without a cause. So we can be assured that there are many hands at work to raise awareness of content-sharing sites. Facebook buying Instagram is surely a function of this process.
Instagram gains with its excellent immediacy but it does not, to my mind, add value to the new cultural currency of personal life curation, which goes way beyond â€˜snap and shareâ€™.
Visibly, Google+ TV advertisements are hinting at the way we should be curating and distributing our personal visual digital content. Maybe we are moving away from the instant and towards the greater value of the longer term in social media.
Pinterest is very visible again after a lapse of some months (around 18) and Liberate Media HQ senses the subtle hand of PR at work here. Does it have the base to shift user focus away from broadcast to more complex groups of close family, friends, relatives, acquaintances, business connections and so on?
Google+ is running with this idea. It makes the process of Group development more conscious and at the same time more difficult but clearly is saying that the service can be a living archive of a personâ€™s progress through this short life.
This should be a benefit as the social web moves from explosion to creative implosion, making the social connections more reflective of â€œreal lifeâ€ and at the same time gaining authority, trust and adding value to the â€˜social assetsâ€™ â€“ video, image, animation, visualised ideas (for example infographics) and text.
The value of these â€œassetsâ€ grows as a function of the relevance, proximity, trust and belief imbued in them by the groups accessing and sharing them.Â The closer the groups are in â€œreal lifeâ€, the greater the potential value of the â€œassetsâ€ will be.
What appears to be a cultural change online is the recognition by service providers that people wish to have an organic online narrative that differs from their â€œweb shadowâ€ because it is limited and controlled, available only to those groups who have relevance, proximity and are trusted.
What could follow is the â€˜birth to death and beyondâ€™ narrative – a personal history in multiple digital forms that describes a life and allows those close to enrich the story when that life is done.
The enrichment could come from sensitive curation and addition but this idea also poses the question about how well we are prepared to curate our own life stories online.
March 23rd, 2012
Two infographics that articulate reasons behind the growth of social sharing site Pinterest are highly visible this week and are well worth viewing.
Monetate says that Social and search continue to be essential inbound marketing channels. And while Googleâ€™s generating a lot of discussion around its new social network, Google+, another website is actually driving more inbound traffic: Pinterest.
Its infographic: Is Pinterest the Next Social Commerce Game Changer has some great stats and looks good as well.
Click on the image for full size.
Over at Mashable, Stephanie Buck explains graphically why Pinterest is so addictive. Stephanie says: â€œColumn Five created this infographic to examine the Pinterest addiction that seems to be spreading like a zombie apocalypse virus. Proof? Pinterest users spend an average 98 minutes on site per month, third only to Tumblr (2.5 hours) and Facebook (7 hours). Antidote? None.â€
Go see the infographic or click on the image:
March 16th, 2012
Apple marked the 32nd anniversary of its Initial Public Offering this week with the launch of iPad 3. Actually, the IPO was on March 16th 1980, four years after Steve Jobs and Bill Wozniak founded the company.
The iPad 3 release from captivity was definitive marketing; Apple pure. The hints, rumours, the company silence, the aficionado queues at Apple stores around the world (apart from China) and the exquisite care with which it chose the media titles to test and review pre-release devices followed the Apple tactical campaign blueprint that has helped to make the company the biggest, by market cap.
Interesting to note, then, that the Apple stock price in March 2000 was 22.07. Today (March 16th), the stock rose above 600 before settling back to 585.57.
It seems that CEO Tim Cook will hang on to his job for a little longer, despite the analyst snipers on the roof and that the company will continue to dominate the tablet market that it defined, despite the best efforts of earlier pioneers such as HP. Just think, we could have been calling them slates rather than pads.
While we wait for the cultural shift where â€˜padâ€™ becomes â€˜tabâ€™, there is time to query iPad 3â€™s locus in the mobile ecosphere. What is the iPad good for? It is a highly receptive device and custom-built for content delivery.
The virtual keyboard makes communication problematic and in an online world where text is still king, that will continue to be an obstacle. Flash remains a locked door but for a price, iPad owners can access Flash format through OnLive as Mark Pubate explains:
With OnLive and HTML 5.0, maybe the Flash question will go away, but not for some time and there are good tabs in the market that do Flash and much more, chief among them the Asus Eee Pad Slider and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Windows 8 is built for tab and mobile, and Google does mobile first before it thinks of other devices.
We should see new Android tabs this year that offer clear advantages over iPad because they are more attuned to the dominant mobile culture we are rapidly creating. Whether they have the ergonomic, design or marketing genius of Apple is yet to be tested.
Windows 8 should release tab developers and because it is likely to major on integration will appeal to gamers and enterprises alike. Anytime, anywhere, any (Windows) device moves closer.
Nokia is also planning great things in the tab market and it still holds strong share of the global mobile market. It has been a long time since the company has astounded consumers and business but I hope it does this year.
Samsung is an integral part of iPad 3 and despite the ongoing lawsuits between it and Apple, appears to see the commercial benefit of building the tab market.
Now, whether the iPad 3â€™s better screen and faster processors will stand the test of time in the tab market mid-term is moot. The price point for the low-end device is keen at Â£399, and given the disgraceful state of both 3G/4G network coverage/speed in the UK, many buyers will go for the wifi- only base option.
The snailâ€™s pace of fast, anytime, anywhere connectivity in the UK and in other mature markets like the US is obviously not the fault of Apple or any other tab maker but it is a short to medium-term obstacle to the rapid development of a true mobile culture in these territories.
But the tab is an important component in the engine that will deliver the precise, fluid and effective mobile culture we crave. For a tab to have an effect in that culture, it will need to be open, always connected (at speed), shiny-shiny (designed to perfection), and allow the owner to dominate every form of data communication.
Thatâ€™s why the apps makers are central to mobile culture because they will provide the means to control and manage data, and their intelligent designs will transform the tab and other mobile devices.
Brian Solis has led the discussion on content creation and Robert Marcus is defining the next phase in mobile culture. They come to the challenge of mobile from different points but their twin perspectives are very useful as we move forward with cultural mobility.
February 27th, 2012
Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway appear to know their shtick. They have just published an account of where we are going online and what this means.
The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment and Return was released today at Mobile World Congress 2012.
It blows part of the mind, i.e, itâ€™s really quite interesting, while it makes an informative case for us as we move through 2012-13, with the old economic order dissolving and the new struggling to take first breath.
Iâ€™d argue with Marcus and Hemingway on the creation of new value, which they position as deriving from opportunity. This is a superficial view to my mind and they need to look much deeper into value creation to make their case work.
Opportunity is just a secondary reflection of the market condition. The value is created in the primary area.
This is a strong account of where we are going in mobile and through our network. It needs a second read and report back.
Robert Marcus led a keynote and panel during the opening session today (February 27th) of the Mobile World Congress conference session on Mobile Cloud. You can get more info on MWC here.
February 6th, 2012
The recent move to force TripAdvisor to change its marketing messages was interesting and a friend’s experience with user reviews has added to that in the past week.
My friend has an on-line passport photo business, Paspic, and he found a review that was damaging. It appeared second in the search results. The review made accusations that were, to his mind, wrong and untruthful but he was unsure of what to do.
The review site was not immediately responsive to his appeals for discussion and removal of the offending text and he had justifiable concerns that his business could be badly damaged by the continued presence of the remarks.
It was a classic case of the “little guy” against the bigger power.
In this case, the little guy won and I hope it shows some rebalancing of social media relations. The big fish can easily bully and ignore the little ones.
My friend emailed and called Google, explained his problem and his view of the legal situation. Within 24 hours the offending post had gone from the search rankings – and the offending text had been deleted from the reviews site.
December 30th, 2011
Two US designer-engineers are about to launch a very cool device called Twine.
Twine is 2 Â½ inches square and will enable anyone to connect with their physical objects through texts, tweets or email wherever they are.
MIT Media Lab graduates David Carr (above, right) and John Kestner (above, left) developed the wireless device to integrate with a cloud-based service.
Twine has a thermometer to measure its internal temperature and an accelerometer to track any movement it experiences and a connector to add external sensors through the tightly integrated Spool web app.
Spool is very easy to use â€“ it is rules based with extensive filters and so needs no coding experience at all.
The device has two built-in probes provide for several functions controlled by Spool and is powered by a mini USB or two AAA batteries and the device tells you by email when the batteries are running low.
The ways in which Twine could be used to interact with our household and other objects is limited only by our imaginations. It can monitor kitchen cool storage, water and heat and prompt us if there are variations for example, water flows in unexpected areas, problems with cool storage and so on.
Other folks seem to like the idea â€“ Carr and Kestner, who now run Supermechanical, wanted to raise $35,000 seed cash by online donations. Theyâ€™ve raised $440,000 to date.
We can expect Twine to arrive on the market in first quarter of 2012 and it should retail at $99. Let the imagination games begin!
Watch the Twine video
October 13th, 2011
Is global network security in a state of crisis? I think so.
I was at the RSA Conference Europe this week, with client Wave Systems (www.wave.com) where the best minds and leading commentators networked, shared ideas and worked the business.
There were enough stories of defence breach there to back the case for crisis.
But having a crisis doesnâ€™t mean that itâ€™s not manageable and the directions offered by the conference were confident, sanguine and believable.
Weâ€™re seeing a growing understanding that software in the device and at the network layer cannot provide the level of protection we need in this â€˜anytime, everywhereâ€™ connectable universal space.
Warwick Ashford wrote a fine article around this in Computer Weekly today. He quotes Eddie Schwartz, chief information security officer at RSA and it is a telling statement:
â€œOne of the goals of any organisation’s security strategy should be to create new intelligence about attackers and attack methods rather than rely only on what is already known.â€
How this will pan out over the next year is moot but we have to move from reaction to awareness in network security strategies.
At the same time, we should be making sure that our defences are the best. Layered software, in the device and at the network level just does not cut it. We should begin with an understanding that network security starts in the device. Secure that, and everything follows, right up to the management layers.
Weâ€™re in a war zone and it is endless. We will never find the silver bullet to solve all our network security problems because the hackers on the dark side will always be probing and testing our defences. Right now, we are making them look good because we donot implement the best solutions.
But we are better than them. We just need to wake up, move faster and keep running ahead.