Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Contextual ads that kill

Sometimes you see ads on pages that make no sense whatsoever to the content. Then you see ad content that is so brilliant, it makes you smile.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Take a bite out of this


NOTE - Some of this was originally going to be posted before Christmas, but some information was conflicted. Not that things are crystal clear today, but cleaned up enough that I'll stick my neck out and share some obvious and not so obvious tidbits about those darn secretive Apple folks.

My little birdies are indicating to me that Apple is moving forward with finalizing a tablet/handheld device that's fitting the bill for what I've been talking about for some time now. The acquisition of the chip maker last year, combined with more mobile functionality into the forthcoming Snow Leopard have the final hardware and software pieces dropping into place to bring the new device to market in a viable form. Hardware designs for the device have been mostly stable in terms of screen size, rough dimensions and battery since last summer/fall.

This is all coming to a head as a new version of the iPhone is in early trials and readied for launch - though specs of this device are hard to nail down. Most of the "biggies" are in the tablet and for good reason, its running the new OSX, while the iPhone isn't. (but the OSX for the iPhone is also getting bumped, but its still not REALLY OSX)

Even with an upgraded CPU and RAM, the new iPhone still is going to show some sluggishness that currently frustrate users of the 3G that's selling like hot cakes. Still no factory option keyboard in sight for either units, but the new tablet will have support for bluetooth devices and possibly sport a single USB port, so take that for what it is. Nothing yet for iPhone input support, which I think would go a long way to make the units more usable, but Steve's been adamant about this almost to a fault.

Also on the network side is the imbedded mobile network capabilities in the tablet. Several technologies have been in trials, and the thought behind the final incorporation will be similar to Amazon's Kindle in terms of being bundled with the unit. (but for basic services, additional fees could apply) No word yet as to who the carrier is, but if AT&T wants in, some think that they might give on their original iPhone deal to get more of Apple's lovin'. This would be odd since technically the tablet's data services would end up costing less than equal services for the iPhone in this model, so I'm suspect on this info. That said, I think there's a lot of opportunity here for Apple to really change the rules of the game. Lots of issues with the antenna - mostly around cosmetics/location with the aluminum chasis.

The other rumbling was about pricing. A $99 price point for the iPhone has been in market viability presentations, and with subscriber fee underwriting, this is more than doable. However, I think Apple will split the difference with any new hardware, though a revamped $99 version of the current 3G has been/is being considered for that holy grail price point since it will be old generation technology once the new phone is announced. Tablet pricing is in the $499 target range. (ho hum - nothing new there ... probably low IMHO)

Of note were meetings on functionality restrictions where heated discussions took place between the two product teams, mostly from the iPhone folks who felt their blessed device is getting the back seat to the new tablet. Ah, politics. And I particularly liked the comment about the Axiotron Modbook - "Not a bad hack considering, but I hope they're banking every dollar their making 'cause their business is headed for the Hudson."

Yum!!

Bill's Excellent Adventure!


Ok, finally! After decades of totally lame presentations, demos and WAY too many Powerpoint slides with WAY too many words per slide, Bill Gates pulled a masterful opening to his TED presentation worthy of Steve Jobs's famous "One more thing".

Bill was giving a talk on Malaria and what his foundation is doing world wide to impact its effect on nations in poverty. To make his point, he started by releasing mosquitos into the room with the statement, "Malaria is spread by mosquitos, I brought some."

Brilliant.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Step away from the SMS!


Twitter tweaked its logo today. It made it slightly smaller. Lots of Twitter users freaked out. (Ok, perhaps not "lots" but enough that its making the rounds)

People. Shut. Down. Your. Computers. And. Go. Outside. As. You. Will. Note. That. The. World. Has. Not. Ended. Because. Of. The. Logo. Change.

Six


Is six a big number, or a small one?

When you're six years old, six seems insignificant. Six is halfway to a dozen, and when you're talking doughnuts, thats pretty good. (more than I can eat!)

Six is also 5 more choices than one, and consumers (much against many sales/marketing ideologies) really don't like complicated choices. It makes making the actual decision to purchase painful and negative.

Microsoft is trying to save their sinking ship. The new (and improved?) Windows 7 is going to be available in SIX (6) versions. Each with their own pricing and licensing restrictions (of course!).

I have to ask, why? When the rest of the world is moving towards simplicity, Microsoft seems to gravitate towards complexity. Does the idea of confusing the customer somehow make sales better?

When Steve Jobs back back to Apple. (Many of you know that I refer to this as when NeXT bought Apple) he did something remarkable. He slaughtered the Apple Mac model lineup down to four basic macs. Two in two segments. The segments were consumer and professional. The models were desktop and laptop. Sales soared and in the switch to OSX and Intel based hardware to lesson hardline costs, Apple made a move from niche computer company into mainstream consumer products. No matter how things rolled forward, there's never been more than one version of OSX available for sale (go ahead, argue OSX Server - negate your argument by asking any Apple consumer what that is.. they have no idea so just park it for now).

Anyway, as I was saying, my example is a quick illustration as to how simplification makes life easier for not only the consumer, but the sales channel, marketing, accounting, etc.

So, why on God's green Earth is Microsoft going to have SIX versions of Windows 7?

Microsoft aside, what are things in your company that can be streamlined to make purchasing easier? From the number of products, to service choices, to even the number of clicks (steps) it takes in order to be a customer.

If anything is greater than six, try to reduce it by half. In the end, three could lead to bigger numbers on your bottom line.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Obama's Blackberry


Ok, this one has been stewing in my head for a while, and since I've got some downtime as I recover from last night's puke-o-ramma, here's the brain dump.

Everyone was making a big fuss over Obama having a Blackberry. There's issues of record keeping, etc. but I think everyone was missing the point.

The security risk isn't the device, its the SERVICE.

Wireless carriers are notorious for employees snooping into high profile customer's information, and now we have the President with a standard Backberry (albeit running some killer encryption .... we hope) ... a Blackberry that has to use some sort of common carrier for its use.

While the data might be encrypted, even access to what numbers it calls/txt's would be sensitive information and this is where things get touchy.

I don't think its a good idea for the President, or any of his staff to be using handhelds that use common carriers for that reason. National security is pretty damn tight around the POTUS, but this situation has created an open door literally right to the man himself. Sure they can make all sorts of software changes to his account with the carrier, but at the end of the day, it comes down to people, and that's the weakest link in the chain.

I sure hope someone is really on this issue. I mean ON this issue.

The downside is something I'd rather not contemplate.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do people actually click on ads like this?


Really. Do they??

Go Apple!


In an world dominated by bad economics woes, I was looking forward to the Apple earnings call earlier this week and wasn't disappointed by the news that I knew was forthcoming.

Today, Microsoft is dumping 5,000 employees, mostly in entertainment, and this is a great thing for Microsoft. They need to get back to basics in business that is their core focus and rebuild their products else face continued decline.

Apple on the other hand has really only had one thing that I've been harping about since last fall, and thats the lack of transparency on Job's health issues. I don't care if the SEC investigates their activities here, what I think is at stake is shareholder trust. Damage to this will make any SEC finding insignificant.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Expensive adwords


I was researching some new trade show booth designs tonight, and while cruising booth design websites, I clicked on an adword only to be prompted with an htaccess authorization window.

Whooops!

I'd hate to be the business paying for those clicks, especially in this economy. Yikes!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let it go


Geeks don't just wear t-shirts for the looks, they wear them to tell the world something about them. At least he wasn't wearing his Newton in a holster at the party, but he did look funny trying to upload photos with his external modem tethered to his flip phone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keynotes



Ok, here's my take.

Apple sent a "nobody" to talk about nothing.

If the organizers of MacWorld thought Apple bowing out of any more MacWorld Expo's was bad, Apple's final keynote was a slap in the face to them and all the fanatics in attendance. It was "Hey folks, thanks for coming - but no, we're not gonna show you guys crap." I'll be interested to see what Apple announces in the next 60 days since anything brought to light that close out could have been talked about at the Keynote.

Still, I do appreciate the iLife changes - especially iMovie. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of version '09 and am kinda bummed I just got Final Cut Express. (sigh)

The lamest announcement was the iPhone Keynote presenter. Seriously, if you plunk down for Keynote, forcing you to pay $.99 to get the iPhone remote app is just plain stupid. I can't wait for someone to snoop the 802.11 IP traffic and make their own free version of that app just to screw with Apple.


The other lame "note" was how Apple spread these nerds around the keynote hall to whistle/shout/applaud when Phil was making "big" announcements. These Apple t-shirt clad clones were a fitting touch to the "bleh" that Apple had at the keynote.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Catbird off the starboard wing!


As we were headed out of Tampa on December 29th, we taxied past the Lockheed Martin "CATBird" which was parked on the apron. The CATBird is the avionics test platform for the F-35 Joint Strike fighter program. (my crappy photo above)

Not something I expected to see on the ramp at TPA!