Well, Max (PHD’s resident photography whizz) and I were talking yesterday about the implications of apps for the more professional, heavy duty software like Photoshop.
This is a screengrab of Photoshop Elements, which I’m trialling at the moment; since switching to a Mac, I don’t have a copy of Photoshop anymore, as I was using an ancient version (PS7) on my old Windows laptop. I do have CS3 at work though.
It costs £80, it’s very much the stripped back version of Photoshop, designed for the home amateur. To be fair, I’m not found that much I’m missing from the full version, but there’s the odd thing here and there that bugs me when it’s missing.
I’m not sure I think it’s worth £80 though, and that’s probably because my internal perception for the value of ‘mucking about with images’ is being pulled down by various things.
Firstly, of course, there’s the phone apps.
QuadCamera, Hipstamatic, CameraBag, TiltShiftGen… they all do a small element of what Photoshop can do, and in comparison they are just one-trick ponies.
There’s a Photoshop app too, which I’ve got, but only use it infrequently for the cropping tool.
But having the suite available wherever and whenever has meant that I never do what I used to with snappy phone photography, which is go back to a computer and touch up the best ones in Photoshop.
I have the instant ability to either take more interesting photos, or adjust ones I’ve taken already, right there in my hand.
Then there was Sumo Paint, which Michael drew my attention to yesterday… it’s basically a cloud-based version of Photoshop (and feels very like Photoshop too).
As long as your connected to the web, you can use it. If you’re offline a lot, you can buy the download for about £14. That seems a lot better value than Photoshop Elements…
(Suneil pointed out the irony of something that challenges Photoshop so directly running on Adobe’s other big ‘ting, Flash…)
It’s all made me think that the ‘photo manipulation’ market if fragmenting in much the same way that the print market is.
Imagine Photoshop is the original newspaper; it sells you everything in one big package, you can’t strip out just the parts you want, because originally it couldn’t be served to you that way… and it was just the model they continued with when the interweb came along.
Then something like Sumo Paint is the news website… it gives you most of the content you used to have in a paper you paid for, but for free. The catch? You’ve got to be online to use it. But that actually suits a lot of people, so they stop buying the newspaper…
Finally, the apps are… well, the apps. They take one specific element of the paper, do it REALLY WELL, and sell it to people for a small fee.
I guess Adobe are heading down The Times paywall approach with photoshop; big fee, small audience.
Personally, I’d like to see them playing more in the app end of things… let their imagination run wild, and use their excellent tech to make many small, cheap, wondrous things.
I was speaking to Chris a couple of weeks ago, who’s taking a new novel approach to unread emails… viewing it as a game to get to as many unread emails as possible. He was on 2,500 odd when I saw him. He was aiming for the big 10,000.
I’ve adopted a different strategy over the last couple of years; read as many as you can, but only do things about the ones people chase you on.
If it’s really important, someone will call you, find you, set a snare trap in the kitchen etc etc.
OK, after part I, here’s part II of ‘what I walked away with after the Guardian Changing Media Summit’…
Part II – It’s all in the game
Now, I’ve talked about different sorts of games quite a lot here on FtP before (for instance, here, there, and there too).
Mainly around the elements of gaming that can be brought into other parts of our lives (scoring, points, rankings, interaction etc).
But despite creating various projects that are bubbling away for clients at the moment, I realised this morning that I’ve not really written anything on here about Social Gaming…
…I know, shock, horror.
So, Social Gaming… here’s a quick definition from SFGate:
“Social games are built to be enjoyed and shared
with friends through existing social networks and platforms like the
The key is that they are games made specifically to take advantage of the social toolkit available across various platforms… rather than making the game first, then working out where to put it.
I think the first social game I was probably aware of on Facebook was the ill-fated Scrabulous.
The key thing that made it work was not that it was the most intriguing, taxing gameplay, or amazing graphics, or in depth storylines (which the gaming industry generally holds up to be the drivers of ‘gaming success’), but the fact you could easily play it with the friends you already had on Facebook.
No registering on special, controlled gamer networks, just quick, instant access to games you could play with your friends whenever and wherever you were connected.
Since then, in the last two years the number of games out there, and the number of people playing them, has swelled significantly… currently led of course by FarmVille.
(I hadn’t realised until I read this that FarmVille was a clone of the less successful Farm Town… as Fariswould say, Talent Imitates…)
Someone said on the panel that there’s about 200 million people playing social games worldwide, though this report on the BBC suggests that it’s about 300 million.
Whichever stats you believe, it’s undoubtedly true that social gaming is now both big and profitable… in three years, social gaming has become a $1 billion industry.
But hey, maybe it’s too late to start posting about social gaming now…
As Kristian Segerstrale of Playfish said in the ‘Convergence, Creativity, and Commerciality in Gaming‘ panel at CMS2010…
“In five years time, talking about ‘social games’ will be like talking
about ‘electric television’. It won’t be relevant; ‘social’ will be
embedded in every game”
Meg pointed out (via twitter from a different stream at the conference… oh, this wonderful modern world), that this quote is a riff on this Douglas Adams piece, most notably the part on ‘interactivity’…
“…the reason we suddenly need such a word [interactivity] is that during
this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive
forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television.
they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport
– the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent
audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama
they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the
same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.”
The one-headed Douglas Adams
From a media point of view though, I think that games are going to become a wholly social experience a lot faster than the other broadcast media experiences…
…as Tom points out in this post here, it’s hard to imagine that the individual media experience (reading a book, watching a TV show) will completely die off in the immediate future.
But games… games are different.
Firstly, in the grand scheme of things, they’re so new.
Which is why a lot of the older people who’ve come to social games like FarmVille and Bejewelled don’t consider themselves ‘gamers‘… when they were younger there was no such thing.
And secondly, games were always something to be played together…
…this quote here eloquently identifies the root of the issue:
“The entire video game industry’s history thus far has been an
aberration. It has been a mutant monster only made possible by
People always play games together. All of you
learned to play games with each other. When you were kids, you played
tag, tea parties, cops and robbers, what have you.
game is a strange mutant monster which has only existed for 21 years
and is about to go away because it is unnatural and abnormal.”
…and now that there’s a place to come together and play games like Facebook… well, why wouldn’t you? Raph again, this time from 2010…
“All games are becoming connected experiences. And it turns out social networks are the glue.”
Why do I think this is important?
Well, marketers and media folk are great (especially in this day and age) at
jumping on the bandwagon of ‘the latest craze’. It would be all too
easy to dismiss social gaming as just that.
But when the
incumbent gaming industry is looking hard at its own games and trying
to move quickly to adapt, I think that shows just how deep this rabbit
Also on the panel was Josh Atkins, from Lionhead Studios.
They’re what you might traditionally think about when you picture games developers; a bit like a major film studio, they create big budget affairs like the Fable franchise…
Josh had this to say:
“We’re not ‘the dinosaur’, but we’re the Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier
which doesn’t necessarily change direction as quickly as the other
guys. We’re trying to make our games more connected, more casual…
taking the best of the modern age into the console game experience. We want ANYBODY to be able
In short, even the guys in the established games industry are looking at social gaming and thinking ‘whoaa… maybe that’s where everything’s going’.
I think that every game we see created nowadays will have as much sociability built in as possible. And it’s not like TV or film, where all the ‘old’ content will continue to exist and keep that ‘individual experience’ ticking over. People don’t tend to play old versions of games. They play new games. As games become more socially enabled, so will the expectations of all games.
And just think about all the solitary, individual media experiences that will give way to this new, social, game-fuelled world.
For me, it achieved what great science fiction should; no matter how far the story goes, it’s rooted in something entirely plausible & believable. I’m currently reading his novel Makers too (which Faris sent me after my social production thingy), which pulls the same trick of expertly extrapolating a future from things currently happening in technology.
I’ve talked about Sci-fi before, of course, but in the context of ‘Story’, I think there’s two interesting things that happen in technology because of science-fiction
Firstly, both writers and engineers start in the same place (what HAS happened, and IS currently possible with technology).
But the writer is then free to speculate about the future without being held back by the real world constraints the engineer faces. They’re both heading in similar directions, but it takes the engineer longer to get there…
Secondly, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy…
…the engineers of the future, just by dint of who they are (geeks) what they like (geek stuff) and so on, grow up reading the science-fiction of the present. They get ideas and inspiration of the path to travel from the writers… and so naturally follow that path.
…but just reading a few pages of the stories is teaching me more in a sticky way than endless Wikipedia or lectures would about the same subject.
Comics like this should be on the curriculum. And my mum’s a teacher, so I’ll sort that out then, yeah?
5. Audience participation is all about clapping & chocolate
Russell Davies was an excellent host; genial, funny, generous, and most crucially of all, he knows the power of interaction… especially when it comes to throwing out chocolate treats into the audience (which brought back memories of being at the panto)…
I caught a Kinder Egg, which is why I’m now the proud owner of an ISG (Interplanetary Space Gallivanter)…
6. Some stories stick with us for a long time
Now, Kat Akingbade (co-star of C4’s The Science of Scams) was there talking about how a lot of people tell stories around the occult for quite selfish and nefarious purposes, because the stories resonate with a lot of people in a certain way…
…and the photos she was using to demonstrate this though were a series of the ‘classic’ ghost photos:
…which to be honest I’d forgotten all about, but on seeing them again remembered that as a kid I’d absolutely pored over books like this Usborne one filled with these photos, stories and more…
…which now, thinking about it, is probably where a lot of the inspiration for the Gamages Model Train Club stories I write comes from. I’m not weird; just conditioned…
So, some stories can stay with you and act as a formative force on your life for a long time it seems.
Which is maybe why one of the most powerful forces at play in marketing at the moment is nostalgia; reminding people of something in their past is easier than trying to get them to believe something completely new in the present.
7. I’ve utterly wasted my life (compare to Jody McIntyre)
Sam Coniff from Livity didn’t tell his story, but that of Jody McIntyre – who, after going travelling around South America on his own, scaling Machu Picchu solo, and winning acceptance to Oxford, has now decamped to Palestine to campaign and report on everything that’s happening there.
Oh, and did I say that he’s got cerebral palsy, and his parents were told when he was born that he would never walk, and probably never talk?
When the podcasts are up, I’ll post Sam’s telling of Jody’s amazing tale (so far)… in the meantime, follow Jody here and here
8. All the great storytellers need is the suit of clothes they’re standing in…
Last up, David Hepworth of Development Hell (who produce Word & Mixmag) stands up and tells us the most wondrous, evocative tale of suits, fathers, styles, eras and generations…
David was a brilliant mix of entertainer, sage, comedian, co-conspirator, humble, confident… he just stood on a stage for twenty minutes and took the audience with him on the journey.
But something he referred to himself helps the rest of us… he’s been telling and retelling the story, working out the moral, the important bits (and no doubt the bits where he gets a good laugh).
It’s only when we practice telling stories that we get better at telling them.
So there you are, The Story.
The post is rather a long one, I know… so, if there’s a shorthand version, it’s this:
1. Tell stories that inspire others to do great things
2. Build depth into your stories, so people can dive deeper
3. Use your story to push against the expectations of the audience
4. Educate through entertaining stories
5. Get the audience to participate in the telling of the story
6. Tell stories that resonate with things from the past
7. Tell the stories of others generously
8. The more you retell your story, the better it’ll be…
The what? The Apple whodjimmy? The iPad? What, you hadn’t heard? Oh, they did some launch thing over in the States on Wednesday…
OK, so you can hardly have missed it, but here’s what I think are the headline points to bear in mind…
…but firstly, a quick overview of the device itself:
It weights 1.5lb (680g or so) so it’s pretty light, it’s half an inch thick, 9.5 inches high, and 7.5 inches wide…
…it comes with either a 16gb, 32gb or 64gb solid state drive, all models connect with Wi-Fi, you can upgrade to 3G (so you can use a phone network, though you don’t need to have a contract, it’s pre-pay)…
…it runs all the existing iPhone apps, there”s a bespoke version of iWork (Apple’s ‘Office’ equivalent) you can buy as apps too…
…and it works just like a big iPod Touch or iPhone, really.
Seriously though, of all the things mentioned yesterday, this to me is the thing that makes me think it’ll take off.
At a mere $499 for an entry model iPad, it’s already positioning itself as a device between a smartphone and laptop.
It’s not aiming to replace more expensive laptops, but to do something different in between. And I think that $499 is low enough for people to go and get one ‘just to see’.
Of course, netbook manufacturers, who led the way in producing small cheap machines whose purpose of existing was the access the internet wherever and whenever, are sitting this morning wondering where to go now.
Intel doesn’t yet have a proven track record in mobile chips currently (though have just contributed to their first Smartphone, the LG GW990), so Apple needed another option for the launch of the iPad…
However, it’s interesting news that the chip was made in-house, rather than sourcing another supplier. Yet perhaps it’s a move as you’d expect would have been the eventual step for a company who likes to do it all in-house.
Maybe at some point in the long term, they expect to make all of their own chips… which might cause a wee headache to some chip manufacturers…
3. Bye bye e-books
…though not as much of a headache as the e-book boys have right now.
But to save you the trouble, the reasons ‘not’ are pretty lame. So the future’s not looking great for the Kindle, but what about the much vaunted thought that…
4. “…it’ll save the newspaper industry!”
Let’s be honest; Apple haven’t exactly made it their mission to save the existing media industries.
Just look at music… it’s not like the iPod & iTunes did anything to preserve the existing model for the music industry; if anything, it hurried the mass population into a new way of behaving that could only hasten the industry’s model decline…
“I can pay much less for music, and only pick the songs I really wanted”.
In that light, can you really see the iPad preserving the income levels that the newspaper industry like to imagine a daily read of their paper is worth?
No, neither can I.
Sure, there will be a subscription model that’ll make a little money. Micropayments too, maybe, through iTunes.
But it won’t be anything near the level that newspaper owners think it should be; people will think…
“I can pay much less for news, and only pick the bits I really wanted”
5. It’ll have a big impact on TV
We like having lots of TVs in our home. Living room, then bedroom, then kitchen… the family could quickly disperse to the different rooms around the house to watch whatever they wanted.
The iPad is reportedly an excellent TV & movie device (it’s HD quality, of course). You can sit with it on your knee wherever you are (at home, on a train, in an airport, in the back seat of a car)…
…so watching content will be great; using a service like the iPhone TV Catchup anywhere you’ve got wi-fi would be a joy, much more so than it is on the iPhone.
But despite the ability to watch live TV like this, I think it’s still bad news for traditional linear TV viewing, and advertising by implication.
People will have another option to watch whatever they want wherever and whenever. It’ll encourage more use of downloading programming, which may have all the pre-rolls and whatever you like, but will not replace the money brought in by the traditional ad-break on TV.
And if content creators think they’ll switch to a revenue stream funded by ‘pay-per-show’, then they better be prepared to sell it cheap; already Apple clearly want to half the price of TV content on iTunes.
Finally, of course, we know that ‘two screen’ viewing is really coming into it’s own of late; sitting on the couch with your smartphone or laptop, with the TV on at the same time.
But if the device you hold is bigger. brighter, better, easier to surf… then less of your attention is going to be pointed at the screen in the corner of the room. The TV may be on, but the advertising will be increasingly ignored.
6. A new era of gaming
The iPhone was a huge success when it came to games. So much so, that it kinda caught Apple by surprise (they’ve never been that good on gaming, let’s be honest).
What was apparent that people really did want to play more intricate, complex games on a touchscreen platform…
…but in such a cramped space such as the iPhone, that made it hard; at times it seemed half the screen was taken up by virtual buttons.
But with a bigger device, you get more ‘game’ screen, and less pressure to squeeze in fiddly virtual buttons. Control gestures can be bigger, more natural.
And of course you’ve still got the accelerometer to control things by tipping and turning the device.
When the first iPhone launched, sure, there where a few things you could do with it.
But it was only when the thousands of developers populated the iPhone with the 100,000+ apps that everyone’s really been able to make it their own personal, perfect device. And now you can get all the iPhone apps on the iPad.
(BTW – Letting those developers in, whilst maintaining a level of control to keep quality at a decent threshold, was the smartest thing Apple may have done with the iPhone, IMHO)
But now there’s a whole new device to play with.
The gestures are based on hands, not thumbs. The viewing can be for many eyes, not just yours. The holding position is more book & magazine, less phone and iPod.
As Bryce says here, the iPad is about “packaging a new user experience which really comes down to the
software’s gesture interface, the SDK and the underlying hardware that
powers it all.” (HT David Cushman)
It’s not just a ‘big iPhone’; I think that’s just a lazy (if not snarky) observation to make.
When the developers are let loose on it in anger and start releasing proper iPad apps will we understand exactly what it’s capable of…
…and where it’s going to be of most use, like in…
I think there’s terrific opportunities to adopt the iPad (and the new generation of devices it will no doubt spawn from competitors) more in a work scenario.
Which Apple do too, given that they’ve launched special bespoke versions of the ‘iWork’ tools (Keynote, Numbers and Pages) as $9.99 apps for the device.
Now, as John Griffiths points out here it’s really at odds with the Microsoft Office charging model (who every time charge hundreds of dollars to upgrade to the next version of Office).
Though Apple of course want you to buy the new sausage, so give you the sizzle for virtually nothing.
But I was talking to Mike at Made by Many about this, and we agreed there’s huge potential for a device like the iPad to move into healthcare, education as well as traditional business.
It could represent a new way of accessing, creating and sharing information. Of course, you wouldn’t expect to walk into an NHS hospital and see all the Doctors accessing patient information on iPads, but there will be alternatives that are cheap enough to make widespread rollout possible.
The iPad will change the perception of what is possible & desirable from a device in the workplace, creating opportunities for many other manufacturers too.
9. Some folk are pretty disappointed
It’s well known that techy, bloggy types want the moon on a stick. For over six months, speculation has been rife about what the iPad ‘may’ be able to do.
Of course, when it doesn’t arrive, people get all disappointed… and start making (inevitable) Downfall versions of Hitler being told about it…
Sure, there’s no camera, no Flash support (Apple are clearly trying to kill Adobe’s Flash too, just for kicks), no multitasking (so you couldn’t run Spotify at the same time as a Keynote app, for instance)…
…but the overall disgruntlement is, I think, misplaced. Take this for instance…
“I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so
ridiculous! … I want something new! I want them to think differently!
Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!”
It’s not a reaction to the iPad this week. But to the original iPod, back in 2001 (via ReadWriteWeb). The first generation iPhone, when announced, faced similar disappointment and derision from within the techworld.
And look how they turned out…
10. The Market and Stephen Fry are impressed
Have a look at the Apple Share price over the last 6 months or so, ever since the rumour machine really started cranking up…
Not bad, huh? The market clearly thinks Apple are onto a winner…
“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking,
still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute
you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment
until you’ve spent five minutes with it.”
No YouTube film, no
promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even
hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and
interacting with one of these magical objects.”
I can’t wait to try it.
So there you have it, the Apple iPad. Personally, I think it’s going to cause big ripples across many markets, and you know what, that’s how I like things. Change is good. The iPad is great.
“…you go around collecting useful information for them (the location of
restaurants, houses, and so on) and they “reward” you by letting you
claim to be the mayor of Nonsuch. Except that if someone else comes
along and checks in more frequently, they can become the mayor of Nonsuch. Oh noes! Oh, who cares.”
“…web and mobile stuff lowers so many barriers. It’s lowered the cost,
effort and skills required to build tools, express yourself, connect to
people etc etc. All that.”
“It’s also lowered the amount of point
something needs to have to be worth playing with. It’s lowered the
point point. Using Foursquare or Gowalla represents such a minimal
amount of effort and energy – normally in a moment of your day when
you’re not doing anything else – that you only need a tiny amount of
reward for it to be worthwhile. And, actually, for quite a lot of
people, quite a lot of the point is in seeing how much point there is.”
I think that sometimes you’ve got to look past the ‘why would people do that..?’
It doesn’t matter why they would do it. If they are, and there’s something interesting there, then ask a better question…
“…what can we do that would interest people who do that..?”
Now, I’m a big FourSquare fan…
…not necessarily just because I like finding out about stuff, but because I (think) I can see a world ripe with potential.
(Which is what we agency folk do: we go hunting for potential, in lots of interesting places, because ‘potential’ no longer just lands on a media agencies doorstep in nicely defined lumps of TV advertising)
And it occurs that there is a terrific amount of space in FourSquare at the moment to “do things that interest people who FourSquare”.
But even wandering around Central London, where you’d expect to find the greatest density of useful and interesting activity, the offers and tips you can find are pretty few and far between.
Yet unlike a lot of other creations in the social space, FourSquare has lots of convenient brand & company shaped holes in it.
Free Friday coffee for the Mayor.
10% your trainers here if you’re Mayor of your local gym.
Visit five of our stores, check in, and get a ‘superfan’ reward.
Whatever you come up with.
Because then, I think it hits the point Charles sums up his article with…
“Location-based services are really important, and they’re potentially
the source of substantial revenue-making opportunities. But only the
ones that are grounded in the real world, and things you can do with
that real world.”