This is either going to be utter genius or the biggest disappointment ever…
…I’m off to find me some PHD’ers to try it out with… report to follow 🙂
(HT Lee McEwan)]]>
This is either going to be utter genius or the biggest disappointment ever…
…I’m off to find me some PHD’ers to try it out with… report to follow 🙂
(HT Lee McEwan)]]>
“The more options we have, the more information and effort we have to go into evaluating them, the more likely we are to be dissatisfied with the outcome.”
New Yorker review of ‘The Paradox of Choice’
I know it’s called Windows Phone 7, Mr Ballmer, but you weren’t meant to take it so literally… how is one ever meant to to reach a decision…?]]>
I was at Tate Modern this weekend, and was really impressed by their new Giant Baby installation in the turbine hall…
Ha, yeah, fair cop… I was just mucking about with a bit of perspective, and using the TiltShiftGen app on the iPhone.
The app replicates some of the functionality of proper tilt-shift photography, which is most often used to replicate miniature photography…
…for instance this shot below from the Wikipedia page is a great example of a real life scene that’s been made to look like a model village scene.
All very fun, but do I have a point beyond just posting fun family pics? Well, maybe.
A while back I wrote a post about how phone apps were beginning to replace hardware things.
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.
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.
But maybe that’s not how big companies work.]]>
While we’re talking about #commutebox…
…the playlists are being successful enough (eg lots of people adding lots of songs, which is ace) that I thought I’d post up some principles to shape the playlist:
So, without further ado…
The commutebox playlist principles.
i) Whatever the playlist theme, think of a connection for the song you add. You may be tested.
ii) Add a track here and there. Maybe two or three. DON’T bulk add, it just looks greedy…
iii) If you’re a-twitterin’, then tweet what you’ve added using the #commutebox hashtagiv) At a randomly designated time, the playlist will be closed, and I will curate…
Yeah, I know, harsh, when people give up time to add stuff.
But if a playlist is open to everything, it just gets WAY too long. Just a big list of songs. Take your big list elsewhere, sunny-jim. This is commutebox.
Each playlist will be timed, see, to be twice the UK average commute, which some old news item randomly found on t’internet suggests is 45 minutes. Even my maths tells me that’s an hour and a half of music, put together by your peers. Nice.
So, what’re you waiting for; see if you can make the cut at on the commutebox summer playlist…]]>
There’s a great piece on Social TV in the MIT Technology Review, which talks a lot of sense (HT @graemewood).
But there’s a barrier at the top that makes you initially want to skip over it… and it’s this stupid picture…
See, the article features an idea that makes a lot of sense; provide services and software that work through people’s existing technology (e.g. phone).
Whereas the picture is another example of people thinking ‘oh, I’ve got a great idea… and I’ll turn it into a standalone gadget…’
Yeah, because we don’t have enough gadgets lying around the place.
If you already like the notion of Social TV, you probably use your phone to do talk to other people about what you’re watching anyway… so why would you want a ‘social remote control’?
Companies are, more than ever, playing catch-up to the things people do together through whatever technology they have to hand.]]>
Now, I’m not overly proud of this picture… it’s of the keyboard of our home computer, and it would appear to be a bit… errmm, dusty…
It’s probably very fair to say that since we moved in to our new place at the beginning of February, neither Helen nor I have been near the computer that sits in the spare room.
Indeed, I only noticed it because I had to go and print out some tickets to go to the Brighton Sealife Centre (print out!?! It’s 2010, codes & mobile ticketing, please…).
But it did get me thinking, about two things that are, quite possibly, on their way out.
Firstly, the ‘home PC’.…
Or at least, the description that will be familiar in many homes; a desktop computer that sits in a home office, or squeezed in the corner of the guest room, or wherever there’s room (or is close enough to a phone socket to plug a modem into)…
Like millions of other folks we’ve now got enough mobile/laptop shenanigans going on that to have a separate machine in a different, isolated part of the house is actually now just taking up space… desktops have been outsold by laptops consistently since 2006.
The desktop PC was designed not for convenience, of course, but for necessity. To get as much computing power in as possible (and make sure that you could power it, cool it down etc), you had to have a big bloody box sitting under a desk somewhere.
Nowadays, though, you can fit all the necessary power into a laptop that you can take wherever you wanted to be in the first place… which was unlikely to be the spare room.
Which means we’re seeing the rise of things like social television (which this article from the BBC will tell you all about if you’re unfamiliar with it).
Magical computery power is starting to change the dynamics of the home in lots of interesting ways, which will no doubt have more of an effect on the sectors people previously didn’t imagine t’internet would affect that much originally.
So, bye bye ‘home PCs’.
Secondly, I started thinking about keyboards.
The keyboard has been around for ages. Have a read of the fascinating history of the typewriter on wikipedia…
…the earliest is arguably the ‘Typowriter’ (patented in 1829 by William Austin Burt), but by far my favourite is Giuseppe Ravizza’s “Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti”, which translates as “scribe harpsicord, or machine for writing with keys”
So approaching 200 years old is not bad going for a technology that by and large hasn’t really changed. People talk about touchscreen computers (iPad et al), and claim that they’re not great devices for ‘creation’, just ‘consumption’.
What they really mean is that they aren’t great for ‘creation of stuff I now use a keyboard for’.
My generation (I’m 32 now) were introduced to a keyboard as a route to playing, creating or working, but in ‘isolation’; what you played or did via keyboard you did on your own.
A generation underneath probably see the keyboard as a route to communication first (email, IM, social networks etc), then playing, working and creating together.
Whoever we are, we’re all still rooted in that keyboard tradition… so many of us have been trained to use it already, it’s going to be a hard habit for society to shift.
But a generation that grows up in a world of touchscreens…
…well, surely they’ll work out a way to get from this…
Just watching the wee fella with touchscreen devices is a joy… he’s only 7 months old, yet he gets the very simple concept that if you touch it, it does something.
He’s really, really surprised that ALL screens don’t work this way, of course. And tried to see if the fish tanks at Brighton Sealife centre reacted to frantic touch-motioning.
Which, admittedly, they did. Poor turtles.
Anyway, I reckon that keyboards might just be on their way out, but not for a good 10+ years or so.
Or are we confident that like the wheel, the basic keyboard model is here to stay forever?]]>
I talked before about UK smartphone penetration, in relation to the forthcoming location bonanza that’s heading our way.
Now, thanks to Mark, here’s some projections from the US on when more people will have a Smartphone than a standard phone.
Q3 next year, apparently…
The UK were slightly behind the US in Q3 2009 (15% vs 18%). But it’s close enough to give us a good steer…]]>
(picture of Utility’s sign in Brighton… thanks to clever Matt for the clever title)
…from Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by location.
…and of course of messages… the way people and things communicate with each other.
We’re living in a world where everything knows where it is (whatever it is, human or object) in relation to lots of other things.
So I thought it was worth expanding on why, including why it’s probably very important for marketing folks to be thinking about.
How things were
Some background; when I worked in the planning and insight function at Viacom Outdoor, location was very important for us. We were the guys charged with coming up with (occasionally) clever thoughts on why and how advertisers could use Underground & Bus advertising to target the right sorts of people.
We used to refer a lot to ‘recency theory’, as developed by a chap called Erwin Ephron in the US, which basically stated that the most important message you can deliver is the last before someone chooses to do something.
You can see why it would appeal as a theory to folk selling outdoor ad space… six years ago most transactions were still happening on the high street, and as a way to influence decisions posters were a pretty good bet.
Of course, it’s classic advertising; push messaging, reach millions, affect thousands, and hang the wastage…
How things are
Nowadays, of course, we’re no longer buying stuff exclusively on the High Street. In 2009, we spent nearly £50bn online (up 21% year of year). Total retail sales were £287bn, so just under 20p of every pound we spend is online. A fifth.
Which is enough, in combination with the recession, to make sad sights like this an everyday occurance… this is what you see if you visit the site of the former legendary shopping mecca that was the flagship Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street…
But still, there’s remains a fair chunk of money in people’s pockets to be had when they’re out and about, so the need for location targeting is still there, to guide people towards your front door…
…people aren’t alone when they’re out shopping any more. They’ve got their phone with them… and it’s not an ordinary phone anymore…
Smartphone penetration in the UK was at 15% in Q3 2009 (Nielsen).
Which is of course before we had the iPhone appearing on Orange & Vodafone, a fair few other smartphones appearing on the market, and the Christmas boost.
So it’s got to be around 20% now. Again, a fifth.
And when you look at what they do with these phones, it’s clear that this may well be the ‘year of the mobile’… 10.4m people in Q3 2009 used their phone to access the internet. Up from 8.8m in Q2.
That’s 21% of all mobile users… yep, a fifth, again.
Let’s be honest; the awful browsing experience, combined with stupidly high data charges from the mobile operators, meant the ‘mobile web’ was largely unloved and unused for years.
That’s now significantly changed.
A fifth of people have the technology to access the web on the move, and a fifth of them are.
Yet I don’t think that’s the most important thing about the rise of the smartphone. The interesting thing for me is that smartphones invariably come loaded with GPS… they know exactly where you are.
How things might be
Now, amongst those who have the potential to use location based services on their phone, take-up isn’t huge yet; 3.3m people used location based services in Q3 2009.
But it’s growing fast; there was a 7% increase between Q2 & Q3.
Why would companies engage in services like this?
Well, because people will want them to, and reward the ones who do it well with their custom.
On a very simple retail level, there’s huge advantages for people in being able to hold a device in your hand that tells you about the shopping environment around you…
– find out about the discounts being offered, and even make yourself ‘known’ as a discount hunter and see if anyone wants to attract you with a short-term immediate discount in return for your custom
– check the stock lists of a store, so if you’re after something in particular, you know which shops have it, and at what price
– make personal shopper appointments – if there’s a personal shopped in a clothes store you really trust, you can find out if they’re working
– the map for the ‘fastest route around’ based on the shops you want to visit, where they are, and how big the queues there are currently (or have been in the past)
– find out where there’s a free table in coffee shops or restaurants, and reserve it for a small fee (payable instantly through the phone)
– set up impromptu ‘meeting points’ that you can send to other friends and family members
– remember where your car is in the huge, sprawling car park
…and of course, the possibilities go on and on.
I believe that there will be a location based service around the shopping experience that will cater for just about everyone eventually; young, old, techy or not.
Because at the heart of it, there’s something hugely useful in improving the shopping experience.
Of course, location based services in the shopping environment could simply drive down prices, much as an insurance aggregation site does in that market (I talked about the notion of Perfect Competition earlier this year in this context).
The challenge for us in marketing is to create these things that continue to add value to the retail experience for people; it will be as much a part of the ‘brand experience’ as the store signage or the TV ad.
One day, there will be no excuse for anyone not knowing where their towel is. Or how much it costs, or which shop it’s in, or how long it will take to get there…..
I’ve just been mucking about with twitter stats, just for something we’re doing for a client.
I thought I’d share some things I like… just because, well, I’m in a shary mood.
Tweetstats is nice: input a user name, and it’ll break down stats into day, time, frequent replies etc…
…and it even allows you to take all the tweets, and turn ’em into a Wordle…
I also like Trendistic (which used to be called Twist, I think… that’s what it’s still called in my bookmarks)…
…which tracks keywords and hashtags by day…
…and finally, the very useful Tweetreach, which not only tells you the number of tweets in the last seven days, but also counts the followers of the individual (and those of any lists) to create a ‘total impressions’ figure…
…though it’s only the total POSSIBLE impressions, not ACTUAL people who have seen it.