Monday, August 20, 2012

Motorola -> Nokia ->blackberry->iPhone->?

Motorola -> Nokia ->blackberry->iPhone->?

iPhone is dominating the mobile market. AAPL is trading $665, increased from mid 300 same time last year. While enjoy all the glory, will iPhone sustain? Smart phone boosted Apple business. It becomes one of the most popular mobile device. From the high income business man to the day workers, almost everyone has to have one.
Mobile phone market history presents rather rapid changing who the number 1 is. Many years ago, Motorola was the phone to have. Motorola Razor was the hottest product in town. Soon enough, Nokia took over. With its sleek design and early stage smart phone, Nokia also added Vertu as its crown Jewel. Before Nokia finish spelling “long term profit” on its phone, the extreme popularity smart phone left Nokia behind. Blackberry was the king in town, dominating all company and government use. Once a while, you have Palm pre, and alike becomes a flash in the pan and lost momentum rather quickly.
Then it came iPhone, and it just become THE device in town with new, sleeker and smarter devices (can’t really call it phone anymore).

What is the next? If history tells us anything, iPhone is not likely to maintain its market place forever either. Technology advances way too fast that companies with future technology are making devices cheaper, faster and better. Can Apple escape their competitors’ fate? We are waiting.

P.S. this is my 10th posting


Social Shopping

Social Shopping

As we trust our friends and our social network more than we trust the blood sucking retailers, we more likely look into products/goods that our friends “like”. It not till recently Pinterest becomes more and more popular.

“We’re in the early stages of social shopping, but 2012 will lay the infrastructure that will allow consumers to collaborate real-time while shopping online,” said Rick Gardinier, chief digital officer of marketing agency Brunner.

Taking friends’ recommendation is not something new. From time to time, we see home made videos recommending certain products. We take Yelp reviews much more serious than TV advertisement.

Social network provide a social platform that we share our opinions in our community. Manufactures can sometimes partner up with individuals by encouraging consumers to comment on the products, to contribute their own pictures. Through those procedures, it personalizes the products. It becomes a product that my friend is using and he/she likes it. Companies often identify customers who post many reviews on the products and send them free samples.

One of the major problem Facebook face is not lack of members but how to profit from it. Social shopping provides a very good opportunity to do so.


Charge Paypal for my Big Mac

Charge Paypal for my Big Mac

“McDonald’s is testing a new payments system in which customers use the fast food chain’s mobile app to order and pay for meals. PayPal, eBay’s mobile payments platform, would power the transactions.”

Once again, mobile is changing the way even the most traditional business runs. McDonald, joint Startbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts also developed its own application to utilize the convenience of mobile phones hoping to help its business.

On one hand, it shows even the industry with long history tries to follow the trend, utilize new technology and try to profit from it.
On another hand, I wonder if companies are making logic decisions or just doing things as everyone else is doing it. Do they really understand the pro and cons of decision? Certain model fits for certain business but not necessary fit everyone. As a world wide fast food chain, this decision is probably not very significant, however, for a lot of small business, I wonder if the business really think through benefit and cost of utilizing technology. We can not blindly follow everyone else is doing but have to consider whether they fit in each situation.


Mobile comes in all sizes

Mobile comes in all sizes
With mobiles in all sizes, i.e. smart phone, computer and tablet, companies develop websites accordingly. However, tablet and smart phone version typically is just a smaller version of the PC website, with flash play removed sometimes.
However, company misses the point that different mobiles devices have their own characters. Tablet has better graphic, nice presentation but it is less accurate to navigate with touch screen. Advertisements on tablet can put more graphic, bigger button, and utilize its mobility for locations.

Smart phone, compare with tablet, is even smaller. Consumer won’t do much of content searching with minimum typing. Graphic won’t be suitable for smart phone as screen is smaller, and details becomes impossible to identify. Very easy to ready with minimum content reading would be the best for smart phone shoppers.

The main point is not to identify exactly what to do with Tablet websites and smart phone websites, the important point is to notice that there are significant difference among PC website, Tablet website and smart phone website they all appear different on device. A simplified version simply does not cut


Is DC ditching its Blackberry?

I never thought I'd see the day that Washington, DC would abandon its Blackberries, but apparently that day might be close at hand. DC seemed like a city that wouldn't just prefer the Blackberry, but would actually NEED it. But, according to a piece I just came across on Mashable, both government and private agencies are beginning to test alternative smartphones. The Blackberry is know for its security, but is that enough to keep it on top in America's capital? Looks like more bad news for RIM...


Online Marketing: Make It Simple!

This article on Mashable is a nice complement to what we learned in Digital Marketing class. It is all about getting back to the basics, when things were simpler and more streamlined. With so many digital paths out there, no wondering online marketers are going a bit overboard in an attempt to reach consumers. But, sometimes simpler is better!

In short: Consumers, Content, Strategy.

Check it out here:


Mac vs. PC

Let me start by saying that I am a diehard Mac person, so this post will certainly be skewed. I just read on TechCrunch that Microsoft is running a new back to school campaign to try to lure students back to their side: "Buy a PC, get an Xbox." Tempting, but no thank you. I wonder how many people will actually go for this, as opposed to Apple's computer and iPod offer. I guess I'm not really a gamer, so an Xbox really has no appeal to me, but I feel like they could offer PCs buy-one-get-one-free and I would still opt for a Mac...

Check out the article HERE


Augmented Reality

In class on Saturday, we learned about augmented reality. See the pic above for a perfect example, me interacting with virtual GE wind turbines. Pretty cool stuff, huh? It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Image below, to refresh your memory:

An early example of augmented reality? Sure! I like the idea of layering a new level of information over what we see and experience in everyday life (or on one of our many screens!). Here is a quick video I found that really does a great job of explaining the concept of augmented reality:

Augmented reality video

As the technology develops, there will be loads of possible applications. I can't wait to see where this goes!


Facebook gaining on YouTube

According to a comScore, Facebook has taken over Yahoo as the internet's second most popular video site in terms of total unique viewers, and is now only second to Google/YouTube. Looking at the numbers a little more closely, it's apparent that Google/YouTube need not be worried quite yet, as it still retains a 3x lead in total unique viewers over Facebook (157 million vs. 53 million).

This article on, gives 10 reason why Facebook videos provide a compelling advantage for marketers, which I would summarize in 3 categories

1. A captive (I bet you have a Facebook window open behind this window, don't you?), personally identifiable audience (i.e. you don't have to follow a link to another site to view the videos while getting your daily Facebook fix)

2. A built-in friend/fan base for videos - if I post of video of cats being cats on YouTube, I'll probably get at least a few  thousand views, but if I post a wedding video on YouTube, I'd have to explicitly email my friends to have them know it exists...but if I post it to my Facebook wall, promotion is done - and marketers would LOVE to know that someone had just gotten married.

3. People tagging - Facebook allows you to tag people (through keywords) in the video. Once you do,  the video is posted on THEIR walls as well...if it's a funny video, you could have an automatic viral hit on your hands.

Looking forward, as Facebook works out the privacy issue, you might see auto-tagging of friends in videos using currently available facial recognition technology along with location information (if not through built-in GPS data, then perhaps image recognition of famous landmarks) adding even more value to that giant personal home video collection sitting on Facebook's servers.

Maybe Facebook is just waiting for people to give in to the Matrix get sufficiently desensitized to having their private information used for commercial advertising (you don't see people abandoning Google en masse despite their  extensive profile of your search behaviors) to be able to activate the latent value in their video assets.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mobile Scanner – Retailers’ nightmare

Recent research revealed the new consumer behavior: comparion app usage surges over the weekend, especially on Saturday, then online purchases follows on Sunday and Monday. What caused this strange patter?

On Saturday, a consumer looking a for a new TV would drive to their local Bestbuy, carefully looking at the TV sets in their show room, writes down prices and features (most like took a picture of price tag), and pull out their smart phone, open the camera and start scanning the bar code. The application, within a few seconds, shows the same products prices from different venders. Consumers then walk out of Bestbuy with a smirk on the face, thinking “yep, I did not get ripped off by Bestbuy”. Once get home, or even just on the mobile phone, consumer can get purchase the same TV from a other website with much cheaper price.

Mobile phone changed consumer behavior significantly. Bestbuy becomes a showroom rather than retailer who sells electronics and makes profit. It is a huge challenge that Best buy faces that how to turn foot traffic to revenue.

Rather than reasonable pricing, (which does make it more difficult as it has more overhead cost than the online store), Bestbuy may also try to organize its own online store. It may use different pricing for its online store. Utilize their physical store “show room” function, to its own advantage. Offer different discount in its physical store to attract buys back. Price matching can be also a strategy that consumer can pay the same price but get the product right away. Either way, in order to survive, bestbuy need to face the chanllege.


Just talk

Voice reorganization is not something new. Search engine, like Google, focuses on voice search and recently added another 13 languages, mainly focused on European languages, to its Google search capacity. This totaled 42 languages. Between Google’s adding more languages and Apple’s high profile Siri voice-command service, it is very clear that smart phone drives this hands-free command revolution.

"Over the last 15 years, speech recognition has had a reputation for not being highly accurate especially when used on mobile devices. What Apple has done with Siri has laid the groundwork for greater acceptance and comfort of using voice as an interface between user and device," says Daniel Hong, lead analyst of customer experience and interaction at Ovum.

Despite the ground work Siri has done, accuracy is still the major problem that voice recognition faces. Especially with many new languages being added, people with different accents, different tones, and different speaking habits, added more complication and challenge. Voice reorganization system attempts to solve this problem by continuously collecting data through user’s experience and continuously improving the accuracy based on individual user’s voice patter.

Through technology advancement, there is no doubt that voice reorganization is one more big step toward power smart phone with new tools, is one more big step that make smart phone a even more important part of our life.  Can we live without smart phone one day?


Just bring your phone

Mobile Payment becomes more and more popular. The invention of smart phone changes the daily consuming activities. You can use your smart phone as price scanner, use it as mobile wallet, locate stores near us, and make payments. Mobile is a rapidly changing space. For business to succeed in today, it is not avoidable to utilize mobile phones around. All major retailers, such as starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, all developed their smart phone applications. Take Dunkin’s Donuts as an example, tith such applications, consumers can purchase card, adding money with push of a button, pay for purchase from its mobile phone. You can buy mGift card and send it to friends through Facebook or even through text msg. It also utilize the mobility of the cell phone to locate close store and provide directions.

Mobile phone becomes the new wallet, storing credit card, maybe even Identity card. Very soon, when I travel outside, we can probably all leave our wallet at home and just bring our smart phone (and charger).


Fruji, providing more deets about who’s following you

Fruji, new Twitter analytics service, is especially great at analyzing your followers – and cheaper than other services. 

Fruji not only covers/charts the basics – how many verified accounts are following you, how often your tweets are retweeted, what your following-to-follower ratio I – but offers new insight into your followers.  To Fruji, a valuable follower is “someone who has a large number of followers (similar to a popular follower), but follows only a limited amount of people (so they’re likely not a spammer).”

Fruji’s “You Are Special Factor” highlights accounts with large followings, that follow you, but do not follow a lot of other accounts.  For marketers this is could be revolutionary. 

You can also see accounts that Fruji believes are owned by “marketing departments, mass-followers and basically people who are mainly interested in creating a large marketing channel.”

“Basic” accounts are free and provide the barebones.  “Premium” accounts cost $5 per year and allow subscribers to see up to 20 verified users that follow you and 50 of your Most Popular/Most Valuable followers.  “Pro” accounts cost $25 per year and offer unlimited access to your Most Valuable Followers,” “Most Popular Followers” and how many verified Twitter accounts are following you.

As discussed in class, analytics are valuable for analyzing the copious amount of data that can be tracked online.  The consolidated information these tools provide are essential for marketers.  I think more information about one’s followers will be especially helpful to those looking to build their brand – even more appealing: a better price.



The Long Tail of the long tail is DIY.  Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and editor for Wired, has a new book due to drop in October of 2012 called Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.

In the book Anderson outlines what he believes to be the next frontier of innovation: Do It Yourself technology.  The combination of open source design and 3-D printing leave potential for thousands of new products to me made and manufactured in homes of hobbyists.  Will all these inventions be a hit?  Absolutely not.  But we do end up with a sort of long tail of products- hundreds of thousands of new niche items designed for niche purposes.

If this craze takes off, Anderson believes we could be at the threshold of a resurgence in American manufacturing.  He even goes on to intimate that such a surge could grow the world economy.  While these are lofty claims, he none the less points out a very interesting potential source of growth.

What do you think?  Does the next large change in TFP come from someone's garage?  Does the next Tesla live in a cul ds sac?

Also- here's Alan Rickman making tea in slow motion to the Inception Soundtrack


People like to pay

Due to the patent trial between Apple and Samsung, both companies had to release their US sales number for the first time ever.

Since this release included both dollars and units, we can easily derive average price.  In 2Q12 Apple sold 5.7M ipad 2's for $2.9B.  This would render an average price of $506.  Since the ipad 2 is only offered at 2 price points, $399 and $529, this blended $506 price implies the 82% of all ipad2 sales were for the premium version.

Apples seems to have found a pricing sweet spot.  They've managed to find the customers willingness to pay to have a 3G option over just a wifi version.  It should be noted that the $129 does not commit you to a 3G plan, it just give you the ability to have one should you decided you need it.  

Also here are a couple interesting graphs from Asymco comparing the unit sales:


Calling All Consumer Product Entrepreneurs

This morning while watching The Wall Street Journal Report With Maria Bartiromo, I saw an interesting segment on a "social product development" company, Quirky.  Quirky takes the concept of an idea lab to a new level, by opening up the floor to anybody out there with an idea - all you have to do is post your idea online. 

Here's how it works: anybody with an idea can submit their idea on Quirky's website.  Then, Quirky's online community (again, anyone can be part of this - all you have to do is join) votes and comments on the ideas posted on the site.  Every week, Quirky staffers select popular products to be labeled "under consideration", and these are the products that are thoroughly evaluated on whether they are worthy of production.  Once selected, the product is then available for sale online and must hit a predetermined threshold of unit sales before moving to manufacturing.  When this happens, you're golden.  You will receive "perpetual royalties" from Quirky for every product sold.  And Quirky has partnerships with major retailers, such as Target and, so your product has potential to gain substantial distribution. 

Quirky launches 1-2 new products every week, which unheard of in the consumer goods industry.  Consumer goods is a difficult industry to be an entrepreneur, as you need an enormous amount of capital for R&D, manufacturing, and distribution.  Even the large CPG companies with deep pockets only introduce a handful (or less) of new products a year, so you can imagine the challenges to entrepreneurs without the budget or network necessary to produce and sell a consumer product. 

I think Quirky is a fantastic company that helps bring ideas to market in an innovative way.  Allowing the idea to be critiqued through a social network can help make product improvements and help formulate the marketing strategy early in the process.  It also allows entrepreneurs to gain feedback on their idea from a like-minded community, and perhaps give them confidence to move forward with their business idea.

Find out more or submit your great idea here:


Get Paid To Watch TV

Foursquare for television?  Yup, that's the strategy behind a new app called Viggle.  Users check-in when they are watching a television show and earn points for every minute they watch.  Watch 35 hours of television a week and you could earn gift cards, movie tickets, and music. 

What's funny is that I learned about this app while reading a fitness magazine, Self.  Watching 35 hours of TV per week is quite excessive, and not to mention, quite lazy.  But aside from my disagreement with Self magazine for touting this app, I do think there is something to it.  This is a concept media companies would love, as it could bring together communities around specific shows and create new opportunities for target marketing.  It would be cool if viewers could chat with each other while watching the show, for example. 

There are certainly people out there who watch an absurd amount of TV each week, so this app is for them.  Why not earn free stuff while sitting on the couch?  Imagine if there was an app like this for World of Warcraft gamers...


Saturday, August 18, 2012


Discovered a great new app that will help in w/ your digital Rolodex:  CardMunch 
The app is simple. You take a picture of a business card and upload it to CardMunch. CardMunch has people type in the person's information and store it as a clean, mobile contact. It also keeps a photo of the original business card as a backup.
Since CardMunch is owned by LinkedIn, the app automatically finds the person's profile, pulls in shared connections, and pulls in highlights from their bio.
Cards are transcribed quickly and are listed in alphabetical order.

Read more:


Are Smartphones addictive?

If Smartphones are addictive, certainly we don’t notice. I started thinking about this as I came across the below article.
“In 2010, students at the University of Maryland were asked to give up all media for 24 hours. This included access to social networks and ‘i’ devices. Among the conclusions of the study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) was that many of the 200 students studied showed signs associated with drug and alcohol addiction. These included withdrawal, craving and anxiety. One student reported:
“Although I started the day feeling good, I noticed my mood started to change around noon. I started to feel isolated and lonely. I received several phone calls that I could not answer. By 2pm I began to feel the urgent need to check my email, and even thought of million ideas of why I had to. I felt like a person on a deserted island…. I noticed physically, that I began to fidget, as if I was addicted to my iPod and other media devices, and maybe I am.””
Research by Retrevo Gadgetology  has studied people’s behavior on Social Networking sites. Younger people , under 25 years, said  32% check in first thing in a morning, 27% said they sometimes check when they wake up during the night and 19% saying they log on any time they wake up during the night. Overall 45% of all the people that have been surveyed  said they check Facebook or Twitter after getting into bed. Another study from the UK OFCOM shows that  51% of adults and 65% of teenagers admitted using their phones when with friends or family with 23% of adults and 34% of teenagers using them at meal times.
What is addiction? addiction may refer to a substance dependence (e.g. drug, alcohol  addiction) or behavioral addiction (e.g. gambling addiction). People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful.
The real problem I see is….The more we use smartphones, the more we want to use them…..The mystery is, do Smartphones hook us into a dependency and we just don’t know it?
David Greenfield- PhD, a West Hartford, Conn., psychologist and author of Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks- say “while we're not seeing actual smartphone addictions now, the potential is certainly there."


Daily Deals – Over it?

When I first heard about Groupon and Living social deals, I must admit, I was pretty excited. I think my first Groupon deal was a dinner for 2, 50% off.  Since then, I have definitely participated in more (some of which have definitely been left by the waste side, as I have either forgotten about them or never got around to using them before the expiration date). 

Fortunately (or unfortunately), my inbox is never lacking an opportunity to prove that I really do know how to waste money but trying out another Groupon or Living Social Deal.  At any time, I can look at my email and see a plethora of emails from Groupon, Living Social, etc. 

Interestingly enough, after reading the below article, (, I realize that I’m not alone in this feeling – and it’s not just shoppers. Merchants, as well, have not only not seen beneficial impacts of these deals, but they actually have been hurt in some cases. For instance, some merchants have lost money on their deals – and it’s not necessarily a price of building a relationship with a new customer – these deals attract customers (generally) who will not pay regular price for whatever it is they have bought the deal for.

Overall, if both merchants and shoppers are over these deal offers, Groupon and other offer websites may need to revise their business ideas in order to continue to grow, add value, and be profitable.  


Exploring the location based services tech space

This blog is intended to extend the LBS topic discussed in class.

The technologies behind LBS are progressing steadily. There are a few variants with one goal, that being to be able to locate a user with pin point accuracy.

The technologies can reside in the telecommunication networks or the mobile handsets or in some cases both. For instance, lets discuss A-GPS, also referred to as Assisted GPS.In this case the handset exchanges messages with the cellular towers to compute the location of a user. This technology is fairly inexpensive in comparison to a network only technology. A network only technology, such as U-TDOA piggy backs on existing cellular networks to listen to the user call signals to compute the location.

The latest in this world of LB technology is to utilize ignals from TV towers to location users. TV towers are very prevalent and if used in tandem with cellular towers can compute very accurate locations. Calculating the latitude and longitude has been mastered. The next frontier is to be able to compute the Z-axis, which is altitude.


Will the smartphone business save or kill Facebook?

Rumors circulate that the next big exclusive OS will be on Facebook. How viable is that?
This move seems extremely risky. Barriers to entry in the smart phone business seem pretty high. Nokia, still number 1 handset provider in 2008, is seeing its market share shrinking with 9% less revenue this year in its device and services business.
As of today, Google is not making money on its open source Android. It’s handset business with MiM ( Motorola) operated with 3% loss - MMI revenue came in at $1.25B (3.1% of total revenue) for the stub period. Google‘s primary revenue driver (97%) is it’s search engine as opposed to its low margin Handset products.
Apple’s competitive advantage lies within its App store, which it dominates with 650000 apps available. Apple App Store revenues for 2010 hit $1.78 Billion. Iphone represents 46.4% of Apple’s revenue and is the highest Apple revenue generating product.  Despite its small  OS market share(  Apple iOS accounts only for 20.5% of global market share in 2012 as opposed to 61% Android), Apple captures 70% of mobile device profits and assumes a huge profit margin through its mobile advertising benefits ( both mobile ad display and  apps ad).
Samsung improved its position from 4% in 2009  to about 30% in the first half of 2012 mainly because of the success of its flagship "Galaxy series" (combined with Google’s Android OS).
Does this leave any place for Facebook to enter that Market?
The smart phone market is already saturated. Unless Facebook can create an OS that is technologically innovative enough to gain market share over Android’s 60% Market share and  20.5 % Apple iOS’s market share worldwide, it seems very difficult for Facebook to succeed. Blackberry , Motorola and Nokia’s handset failures as well as Microsoft’s OS falling behind, are good examples of how difficult it is to compete in this market.  If Facebook was to create its own handset, it will also suffer from the same type of issues as Google is today with its low margin hand set business.
Can Facebook survive without a share in the smart phone business?
Future belongs to tech companies that can combine the worlds of mobile, cloud and software applications, that can bridge the gap of Social Network and Social OS. Tech companies that will develop the capability of collecting and correlating user data across these platforms will be better positioned to create the “next big thing” that can more efficiently drive monetization and attract marketers.  
It seems that without a hand on the smart phone business, Facebook’s future will be in danger. If Facebook was to enter the smart phone business, it will not be without pain.

To my opinion, in long run, given the current competitive landscape and high barriers to entry, unless Facebook makes a significant innovation, chances are slim for Facebook to survive- with or without the smart phone business.


Mobile Wallets will grow Mobile eCommerce to $1.3T

Mobile-payment transactions are expected to rise nearly fourfold over the next five years, exceeding $1.3 trillion, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Google is a leader in the mobile wallet space. However, security identity is a big concern and an impediment for customer acquisition. Google announced the addition of new security features to Wallet, technical changes to the way it stores card information, and support for all credit and debit cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. American Express, however, took exception to the announcement, clarifying that while it is interested in Wallet, it has yet to reach a formal agreement with Google.

Despite such hiccups, the market marches onward.

Discover, American Express and Google, along with industry peers such as PayPal, VeriFone, Intuit, Capital One, Isis, Visa and MasterCard, earlier this month joined a Mobile Payments Committee formed by the Electronic Transactions Association. The lot plan to work together to educate everyone from merchants and consumers to lawmakers about the possibilities, challenges and future of mobile payments.


Competition Intensifies - Google Files New Patent Lawsuit Against Apple

Its no secret that there is a strong rivalry between Google and Apple  and now the tension is getting even more heated. According to Bloomberg, Google’s Motorola unit just filed a new patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington. According to this report, Motorola’s complaint seeks to block Apple from importing the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and “various Apple computers.” The lawsuit is only the latest in a long series of recent disputes between Apple and Motorola/Google, but it marks the first time that Motorola is filing one of these lawsuits since its acquisition by Google became final in February.

Here is Motorola’s official statement regarding this complaint:
“We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations.
 At this stage its hard to tell the outcome of the lawsuit and how will it impact Apple i do know that the the smart phone market share competition is going to further intensify.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Would you check (like coat check) your cell phone at a restaurant in order to get a 5% off your meal?

Eva Restaurant, an family eatery in Los Angeles is offering 5% off to those guests who check their phone at the door so that they spend time (1) focusing on their dining experience with their friends and family and (2) not disturb other patrons.  Not all customers participate in the offer, but in a recent evening 70% did. 

The bigger picture here is what's interesting.  We've all gone to dinner and seen a pile of our collective cell phones on the table.  Maybe this was less prevalent when we could only give and receive calls and texts, but now "work email" is my biggest reason to leave the cell on the table (so I can see the specifically colored LED go on indicating a work email).  The offer at this restaurant is minorly compelling, but the fact that the offer was made in the first place sends a bigger message, IMO...

-Eric S.


To pin or not to pin?

Pinterest has taken the digital marketing world by storm and brands are committed to using this platform to collect, share and inspire customer involvement on a whole new level. However, many companies have been wary in integrating Pinterest as a part of their marketing strategy since it is thought to only help target a certain strata of women. This assumption, while true in the beginning has recently been challenged on the grounds that while Pinterest gained momentum through female crafting enthusiasts who wanted to share their interests, it has rapidly evolved into a sharing platform that hosts major brands like the Major League Baseball, GE and the Wall Street Journal (all of whom are very actively engaging their social media audience through Pinterest). Moreover, some still question the profitability of this site for brands based on the grounds that social engagement does not necessarily translate into a purchase. However, none of these critics can ignore the fact that according to ‘Pinterest officially surpassed Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube as a source of referral traffic back in January, and Twitter this February’. What this means is that Pinterest is on its way to become the best recommendation engine online and is rapidly becoming a substantial source of revenue potential and leads for customers and B2B sites alike. This trend is further expected to boom, with Pinterest membership now open to all. So grab a board and start pinning, after the entire digital world awaits.


Forgot your wallet? Use my Phone

The competition for supremacy in mobile payments services heats up with Discover announcing its official partnership with Google in support of Google Wallet, a Near Field Communication (NFC) pay-by-phone application. Google is also partnered with Citigroup to enable Citi's Mastercard-holders to use this service.

In 2011, mobile-payment transactions were valued at $105.9 billion world-wide, and this figure is expected to reach $617 billion by 2016. No wonder then that startups, technology, financial, and telecom companies are all in the race to popularize their mobile payment solutions:
  • Best Buy, Target, and Walmart announced the formation of a company called Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, that will make an app for mobile payments  
  • Square, struck a deal with Starbucks with regard to mobile payments 
  • American Express is promoting its own digital wallet called Serve which is similar to eBay's PayPal, and
  • Apple is expected to come out with a Passbook app in its forthcoming iPhone 5 
Google’s Wallet is a cloud-based service that supports all credit and debit cards, is compatible with six smartphones and can be used at more than 200,000 U.S. locations. Since the service is available beyond a specific mobile device, due to cloud-based storage, the security risk of losing one's phone is diminished.  Losing your phone won’t mean losing your card details since they are now stored on Google servers rather than on the phone. Also Google provides an additional protection by nature of the facility to remotely disable payments from a specific mobile device. 

 So now the old excuse of forgetting your wallet at home will not be as effective, because you can now use the phone...


Back From The Dead-BIGWORDS went form $80M to $0 and back to ?

BigWord was made in 1998 by Jeff Sherwood and three others. They went into the very niche market of textbooks. They ballooned to over $80million in outside funding and had a team of over 250 people working for them. Then all of a sudden in less than a year the bubble burst and they were forced to go into bankruptcy.

Mr. Sherwood still thought the sight could be worth something and barrowed money from his dad. He then went out to buy the site, trademarks and domain at the company’s bankruptcy hearing. 10 years later is growing at a constant rate of 15 percent and is doing $20 million in referred sales. 

It has been a steady clime but at least this time he is doing it right. With all the competition out there it’s going to be tough but with the right altitude and strategy it shows how a strong work ethic can overcome most obstacles. They are less of a seller but more of a Kayak for digital and traditional textbooks and help inform customers about prices. This does help because they are not in direct competition with amazon etc. and still uses all of these sits as affiliates by aggregating their prices for textbooks.

On average, students spend $1,137 each year on textbooks and have an annual savings of $1K on BIGWORDS but don’t worry EMBA students they also purchase textbooks too!


WWE Body Slams the Mobile App Market and Offers On-Demand Videos for Mobile

Obviously, WWE is popular in a select audience but the end fact is they are beloved by millions and their brand prints money. Like myself I am sure you haven’t watched it for a few decades but wrestling is still going strong and leveraged the social media and online video market. 

They currently have many different apps and now have even live streaming content for their Monday matches and other live events. With over 100 million followers on their social network they have keep their fans engaged and showed exactly how powerful social media can be. 

Not the biggest fan of their content but they definitely have proven themselves as one of the world champions in social media arena.


Don’t Jump Off the Titanic/Facebook Yet

One important fact to remember is that Facebook was not built to be a cash register but really a tool to make the world more open and connected.  That being said Facebook looks to be changing these values by giving business unprecedented access to the new feed. This might be good for short term profits but how will it affect their mission.

Mr. Constine said this is the second most dangerous moment in his eight years at Facebook, right under the opening of the platform, quizzes and games to other companies. I think this goes beyond the actually impact on the user but more that Facebook is turning to the dark side/MySpace.
These sponsored stories are needed for the mobile device because of their limited space to advertise but on their desktop website version it might be over kill.

There are limits to keep these ads form overrunning the feed but as I stated before it’s a slippery slop. With the share price under $20 I feel Facebook is getting desperate and for good reason because they have saturated the market and have to focus on revenue.

Mark Zuckerberg
There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice…
We’ve always cared primarily about our social mission…
By focusing on our mission and building great services, we believe we will create the most value for our shareholders and partners over the long term.
Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.
I think Wall street should have known what they were getting into before they decided to hype Facebook up.


Talent Acquisition : Facebook's aggressive approach to solving its mobile problem

Facebook is agressively acquiring mobile talent with the war chest it built post IPO.  It's is blazing through the mobile landscape and acquiring companies that either have products that are a good fit for its ecosystem and/or has talent that are making strides on the mobile platform.If you can't beat them, buy them seems to be FB's current mantra. Will these acquisitions be as accretive as YouTube acquisition by Google, etc.. We will know in the upcoming 10Ks.. Here are some of the recent acquisitions Facebook closed:

Facebook acquired Karma, a beautiful mobile app for giving gifts. Founders Lee Linden and Ben Lewis proved that they understand mobile with their previous company TapJoy, which was acquired by Offerpal in 2010. It's the type of talent Facebook needs right now.Karma is the fifth mobile startup Facebook has acquired this year alone. So far, it's bought Karma, TagTile (a mobile loyalty platform), Lightbox (an Android photo app), Glancee (a social discovery app), and of course, Instagram. And don't forget that Facebook nearly acquired Kevin Rose's mobile dev lab Milk, but lost a bidding war with Google.
I predict there will be many more mobile acquisitions in Facebook's future. It wasn't built as a mobile-first company, and it's becoming increasingly clear that it needs top-notch mobile talent if it's to fend off upstarts like Path and Instagram. Facebook seems to have decided that if it can't recruit mobile talent, it will simply have to acquire it. It's an expensive and aggressive way for Facebook to address its mobile problem.


Digital Marketing for the digitally challenged?

In a world filled with billions of products and services to choose from, digital marketing is the upcoming tool that allows companies to not only exploit their consumer base more effectively, but has become the oxygen mask helping many of these companies survive in the 21st century. While maintaining good management, productive financials and a healthy workforce, firms are now expected to sustain a high digital IQ too. Digital IQ is used to gauge how effectively a business comprehends the value of the Internet and technology, and consequently integrates these effectually in the fabric of their organization. A company with a high digital IQ for example in the magazine industry like the Times, is not considered a digital genius because it employs a high IT budget but because the brand is effectively able to leverage social media and the latest technology tools to reach out and build connections with its customers. Companies with a high digital IQ strategize by offering mobile tools for customers, measuring data through social media, mobilizing applications to the public cloud and are hence rewarded by high profits and greater company growth. So its time to jump on board and start mastering your digital marketing skills to raise the Digital IQ of your company.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Microsoft, Apple and Intel most recognized logos, says survey

As a guy who owns a book dedicated to the artful hood ornaments of antique and classic cars, I've always been a fan of logs.  Nowadays, the studies conducted show that Microsoft, Apple and Intel are the most recognized logos, according to a recent survey.  Comparitively, Linked-In and Pinterest were scarecly recognized (do you recall them offhand)?  This is a fun article, but it makes an excellent point. I wonder if the old rainbow Macintosh logo would be as recognizable as the new illuminated counterpart.


VW's online marketing idea from 2001

Just a reminder that for 2001 Volkswagen introduced two colors - Vapor Blue and Reflex Yellow - for the New Beetle.  Why is this relevant?  They were only offered on cars ordered online.  2000 cars were made for this campaign and it was a unique way to promote online car shopping.  Was it a success?  Well, the cars sold, but 2000 VWs is not much.  That said, I recall being excited to see one on the road (the blue was easier to distinguish from the blue available on store-bought cars versus the yellow).  A lot of time has past since then, but it was definitely considered pioneering at the time.  Here's a commercial from back then:


Lockout period over for Facebook shares… where is the bottom?

Today, Facebook's stock fell to a price that is all time low since its IPO, clsoing today at a price of $19.87. Today, 271.1 million shares that were locked up with insiders and institutional investors were freed up for sale and many of those induviduals decided to go ahead and sell those shares. There are even more concerns since a lock up on 243 million shares will be removed on mid October and 1.2 billion shares will be freed up on November. Many analysts are expecting a huge sell off in the next couple of months of facebook shares and some say that the stock can fall to a single digit figure by the end of the year. The company has received some major criticism for its lack of ability to generate significant amount of revenues via its mobile app. The company also said earlier this week that it’s testing a service that lets companies put more ads on mobile phones and it would be very interesting to see whether facebook would be able to monetize its large mobile user base as that is the big question in facebook's growth prospects.


Outlook vs. Gmail - more news

Growing up, I remember as one of the first popularized email services available to us. It was the go-to place for email, chat messenger and much more. Hot on its tail were Yahoo (with their gaming/chat messenger/email integration and AOL whose famous “You’ve Got Mail” announcement welcomed you to their portal.

The mid 2000’s marked the entry of Gmail, this no-limits, clean interface, all in one email service took the Internet by storm by marking its exclusivity in its early days by only allowing users to sign up for it via invites from friends who already possessed a Gmail account.

All of these email giants have tried to out-do each other over the years by changing their look, offering customized layouts to cater to your personality and interest, adding in more news options, games, storage sizes, improving their chat services etc. However, Gmail appeared to be unbeatable and offered everything its competitors had in a tightly integrated package.

Peter Pachal, author of the article “Email Smackdown: vs. Gmail” talks about the re-launch of Hotmail as the new “” and how it tries to compete with Gmail. As discussed in one of my previous posts, Microsoft has relaunched Hotmail at in hopes to revamp its image and make it appear more marketable since Hotmail was losing its popularity over the years. He expresses his concerns over how many resumes may possibly have been thrown out due to having a email address instead of Gmail while applying to certain tech companies. Using Hotmail over Gmail may be deemed as old fashioned in a world where new technology (and particularly Google technology) is valued. Pachal talks about how Gmail is more user-friendly and offers security unlike, but he does say that it’s a good leap forward for Microsoft at attempting to rebrand their image.He also mentions that people can feel less embarrassed as Outlook sounds much better than Hotmail in today’s fast paced tech world. Most of the people in the professional world now use Gmail as their default personal email provider. Although Outlook is used in the majority of office settings and it has great features (especially the ability to recall an email), Gmail offers a comfortable look and feel, a different type of email experience.

So here are the verdicts from his analysis:

Messages - Gmail wins with its cleaner more intuitive set of capabilities (e.g. auto save, formatting, etc.) and therefore wins this bout.

Social networking integration- Draw - Both services plug in well Gmail has excellent tie-ins to Google Plus, whereas Outlook plays well to FB and Twitter 

Ads - Outlook wins by serving up more relevant content in the side pane and removing ads for when you open up a message (and offering a paid service that removes ads all together.
Email has become a part of daily life, so it is important to maintain an email address with the company that has it all. When it comes to space, interface, security, games, chat, news and so much more, it’s truly Gmail for the win.

Security - Gmail wins because of its multi-factor authentication settings - however, Outlook is still in testing and might beef up these measures

Organization - Outlook - the service uses the familiar folder structure to help users categorize (with labels) and store their mail (where as Gmail's label only structure is still awkward to use)

Overall Pachal calls it a tie, and says that Outlook is still a WIP product with great potential and that there needs to be a rematch in a couple of months.



Don't follow me home

While Facebook is getting closer to realizing its acquisition of Instagram, its heartening to see that the two companies aren’t already merging privacy policies. Instagram today rolled out an update to its popular photo sharing app which includes a new Geo-tagging feature called ‘Photomaps’ which allows you to pin your photos on a map. Understandably, a few users are upset and concerned that photographs geo-tagged at their residence can make their address public. However, Instragram has been more discerning as its CEO Kevin Systrom points out, “We take privacy very seriously and have gone to extra lengths to make it clear how the feature works and give control of data directly to users.” Unlike Facebook that requires you to opt-out of its actions, Instragram requires at the outset that you opt-in for sharing your photos on a map. And even after having opt-in, users have three ways to deselect photos from being shared on a map:

1. You can choose ‘deselect all’ to not share any photograph on a map
2. You can individually deselect photos with a tap
3. You can deselect photos grouped into a geo-tagged section - use this to un-tag photos that give out your address.

The downside currently is that once a photo has been deselected, there is no option to add it back to the map later.


Photo Map - new to Instagram

Today Instagram released a new update for iOS and Android devices that includes an interactive “photo map” feature that allows users to indicate on a map where a photo was taken.  Worry not, you can include previously uploaded pics on your photo map!

A couple of other improvements include a faster and more responsive app, and users can now report an individual comment as spam or abuse. 

It seems like every day I read about a new improvement or release to something in the social media space.  I find it absolutely exhausting to try to keep up with the latest and greatest.  Anyone else finding it hard to stay on top of things? 


Social Media User Growth Rates Slowing ; eMarketer report

With leading social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc gaining majority of the market penetration in markets like US, Europe etc, the rate of total users is slowing. More importatntly, the level of engagement measured by Daily/Monthly-Active-Users has plateaued. Has social media peaked? What are the next growth  opportunities (please allowing 13 year olds to have a Facebook page was not really a game changer)?

The U.S. and Canada, where more than 60% of Internet users already are using Facebook, is the most saturated market, and is expected to show jut 6.6% growth this year vs. 9.5% last year and 18.3% in 2010. EMarketer defines a user as anyone who visits a social media site at least once a month.
As expected, the biggest user growth rates will come from the least-penetrated markets, led by the Middle East and Africa. But these non US/Canada/Europe markets are not generating huge revenue/ margins , since the CPM is very low in these regions.,yahoo


A nod to the hard-working Guerilla Marketer

When digital marketing strategy fails...

This isn't directly related to digital marketing strategy, I know, but the guerilla marketer who photobombed WTNH's Gil Simmons' weather report this morning made me snarf my coffee, and I just had to share:

If this poor and apparently shameless marketer had taken Digital Marketing Strategy, he'd be spending his morning pondering search engine optimization to drive traffic to his website in the cozy confines of his cubicle at the radio station, rather than stalking weathermen in a bright green lycra bodysuit.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Twitter Gearing Up for the New Move 

Twitter has been on acquisition spree. The company added to its portfolio after buying social news startup Summify, blogging platform Posterous, email marketerRestEngine and Twitter client TweetDeck. These are all strategical steps to improve the user experience and support expansion. As a company that still lacks revenue, Twitter needs to prove it can grow faster than weed on your backyard.

Although the recent acquisition was interpreted as an acqui-hire by Techcrunch, the major questions is whether Twitter will use to start a new developer initiative or will the company use as IP enhancement. 

Tech industry is wondering what Twitter’s next move will be. These strategical acquisitions are already hurting the limited resources but they might play a key role for establishing the long-term company business model and strategy. 

Twitter claims its business is advertising. In this case, its rivals include Google, Facebook, and other large advertising firms. Twitter needs to continue with its disruptive innovation methodology to grow so that it can survive in this Darwinian world. There is always the option of another high multiple IPO as well.

 About builds tools for mobile application developers. Clutch tools helps developers overcome some common problems with mobile app development including A/B testing for mobile apps. Their two main products are A/B Testing, and the Clutch Framework. A/B testing is an effective ways of improving mobile app metrics. 


To scan or not to scan...

The article “Court to hear Google’s challenge to Class-Action lawsuit on book scanning” it makes one wonder about the future of the publishing industry and the way the technology world is taking over print media.

The high prices of textbooks come as no surprise to a college or grad school student (well, maybe to an EMBA student). Companies such as Google have played a hand in seeking better ways at gaining access towards books on the cheap, even free sometimes. It appears that with the high uptake of eReaders such as the Nook, Kindle, Kindle Fire and other tablets, where reading material is readily available without the bulk of paperbacks, hard covers and textbooks--that books may be doomed in the future.

Perhaps textbook publishing companies keep their prices high since they realize textbooks are in demand, especially for students who need them for classes. But students tend to find ways to curtail the publishing industries’ sneaky ways. Students know that they can easily find cheaper copies online through popular retailers like Amazon or eBay.

Many students now buy international versions of textbooks (normally $200 in America can be as cheap as $50 in Thailand). Some may ask the legality of the purchase, but most say it is perfectly legal, the only difference between the international edition is that they possess different cover illustrations and a different ISBN number. 

The truth is, people will always try to find a way to escape new textbook prices. Students understand that the publishing industry needs to make their money too, but when you are a broke college or grad student, you will do what it takes to save the extra money.

Books are easily available through torrents as well, although downloading illegally is frowned upon, it is a just another popular method of getting your textbooks for classes for free. Although textbooks are not entirely free on eReaders and Google, there are places online where they allow you to sample parts of the book or sometimes the entire book for a limited amount of time.  Given student's cramming habits, this might hold them over in a bind.

So while Google is facing this law suit because of supposed copyright violations, everyone else is also violating the rules by downloading torrents, taking mobile photos of textbook pages online, etc. It was said in the article that the Authors Guild and other parties had come to an agreement to sue for $125 million against Google for copyright violations, however this notion was rejected by a judge in 2011, perhaps the judge too, agrees that something about the publishing industries practices need to change. Until then, we can only expect people to keep getting more and more creative when it comes to the ways they obtain their books for classes.

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