Tag Archives: iPhone

Is the PC Dying?

For years, people have speculated that Personal Computers will eventually die out and be replaced by simple, cheap “interface devides” that will allow you to log onto the Internet (where all your software and data resides).  That’s what Google is coming out with soon (a simple appliance to sign onto the Internet with almost no hard drive, no actual storage space and no programs to upload or update).

For some, HP’s sudden decision to stop making PCs and write-off the billions they paid to purchase Compaq and later Palm (to power their now dead tablets) signals the beginning of the end for PCs as we know them.  This article from BNET further explores that topic.

By Erik Sherman, BNET.

Does HP’s (HPQ) recent move to spin off its PC business underscore the end of the PC era? Not if you ask Microsoft (MSFT), or at least its vice president of corporate communications Frank Shaw. To Redmond, the PC is the hub of technical existence, with e-readers, tablets, set top boxes, and smartphones anything but PC-killers. Instead, Shaw argues on his corporate blog, PCs do a lot more and will remain vital and necessary in the future.

In one sense, he’s right. The PC isn’t going away completely, because there are important things it can do more easily than the other devices. But a PC-centric world? Oh, no, sorry, those days are done. Furthermore, if you look at Microsoft’s strategy, management already knows it. The company just doesn’t want to let on, because it would spook investors — and tank stock prices.

PCs will never die and cars are a fad

Shaw’s argument that we’re in a “PC plus” age came down to two basic points:

  1. There are a set of important things that PCs do uniquely well, and they aren’t going away.
  2. PCs are rapidly and dramatically getting better at doing the things those companions do.

He’s right on number 1 — for now — and irrelevant on 2. When it comes to creating material, the PC still rules because it has a bigger screen, which means more working real estate, and greater horsepower to do what you want. That said, at least one artist for the New Yorker has created a number of covers on an iPhone. No, not an iPad … an iPhone. You can also shoot images and video from small handheld devices and even do some basic editing.

A growing number of people can do what they need with mobile devices that are becoming better at what PCs do. Are PCs getting better at what the other devices do? Of course, because the basic capabilities of software improve. But are PCs getting much lighter and faster? Nowhere near enough for people to tote them around they way they might a smartphone, e-reader, or tablet.

Look at us!

Shaw took the official Microsoft corporate line that the PC is the center of the known universe. Only, that’s got things backwards. The product isn’t the center; the customer is. Microsoft has assumed that the PC and the consumer are the same, and that what’s good for the PC — which means what’s good for Windows and Office — is good for the consumer.

Utter nonsense, of course, because a business can’t win in the long run if it expects customers to play second fiddle. That’s why smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and the like are gaining success, because they are doing what people want and not expecting customers to do what the vendors want.

But then, Microsoft already knows that it’s in a post-PC-centric time. That’s why the company created the Xbox and keeps pushing the services available through it. The console is Microsoft admitting that its vision of home entertainment centered around a traditional PC wasn’t going to work. If PCs were really that important to everyone, why bother pushing so hard on the smartphone front? After all, the client business wouldn’t go away.

Investors don’t heart tech

But Microsoft is pushing on all other boundaries because it knows the PC center will not hold. From the company’s perspective mere anarchy is loosed upon the industry, and it stands a strong chance of losing its relevance.

What makes it so devilish is that for Microsoft to lose, PCs don’t have to disappear. Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs was right in saying that PCs would be like trucks: large, powerful, necessary for commerce, and not what most people need to drive the majority of the time.

That doesn’t mean extinct. But in the tech world, if you make trucks and not cars, you don’t get to help form what consumers will use, and so you also lose influence over what businesses do with their systems and how they make them work for customers.

However, many investors have undervalued technology companies and Microsoft has been high up on the list. Management knows how Wall Street could suddenly get buggy should anyone in Redmond admit that the PC has seen its heyday. Look at the 20 percent drop that HP (HPQ) stock took after the company announced last week that it looks to get out of the client PC business.

Why else would Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claim that an iPad was just a “different form factor of PC?” Microsoft practically trips over its own corporate tongue to avoid admitting that the emperor has no clothes. And yet, it also tries, at the same time, to gain dominance in these new areas.

No wonder the company has such troubles, because it’s living in a land of cognitive dissonance. Maybe that explains part of its internal reluctance to push technologies that might challenge the dominance of the company’s historic juggernauts.

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10 Must Have Mobile Apps

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Courtesy of PRNewser

It’s been a little while since PRNewser updated our list of favorite mobile apps for PR professionals. At the rapid speed at which the mobile app industry evolves, much has changed since our last update, and yet several apps made the list this time around as well.

We’re skipping the consumer apps that many of us already use: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc. This is a focus on some apps that frequently come in handy when in a bind.

1) Pulse – Pulse is a well-designed news aggregator app commonly compared to Flipboard, the wildly popular iPad app that has not yet made it the iPhone. It lets you add all of your top news sources and displays them in a visually appealing manner.

2) Instapaper – Save articles and content that you know you’ll want to read later. The app saves these articles in a clean format perfect for mobile reading.

3) Tripit – This one didn’t make it in last time, but makes it in this time after a recommendation from Jeremy Pepper. Aggregate all of your travel information in one place, including those must have confirmation numbers. Also, plan out all of your trips. Perfect for the PR pro on the go.

4) Open Table – The best app for booking restaurant reservations on the go. Because you don’t want to get stuck with your big client at a fast food joint.

5) Recorder – This one may be more popular for reporters, but PR pros should also have a recorder app handy when you really want record an interview, a chat with a colleague or client, etc.

6) WordPress – If you do a lot of work on WordPress, this is a must have. Beat others to the punch by having info on your company or client’s blog before anyone else. Or save images and content ideas when you’re on the go.

7) Analytics Agent – Google Analytics on the go. What else do you need to know?

Group texting (GroupMe, Beluga, etc.) – Very useful for teams on the go. We won’t get into making specific recommendations on any one app, but setting up a group texting app for different teams you often work with can speed up communications.

Repeats from last time (these are too good for us to leave out):

9) Evernote — “From creating text and ink notes, to snapshots of whiteboards and wine labels, to clips of webpages, Evernote users can capture anything from their real and digital lives and find it all anytime,” reads Evernote’s description. This is incredibly useful for capturing, researching and organizing content on the go.

10) Dropbox — Never email yourself or lose a file again. Dropbox is an “impressive file sharing service which makes it easy to sync your files across multiple computers and the web,” writes TechCrunch. Great for handling those PowerPoint presentations and other docs while on the road.

Next Gen iBooks: a Glimpse of What’s to Come

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Had to pass along this video from a recent TED conference re: the next generation iBooks and what is possible with clever audio, interactive video and touchable links to tell your story. Though these books are still based around a linear plot line, they will let the reader stop along the way to wander off and follow some subplot or dig deeper into some idea, photo or topic before returning to the main narrative. In that sense, their narrative flow feels more like someone tracing a tree’s trunk to the top while periodically running up and down each branch that springs off from the main story.

Fascinating stuff. So what will your next brand story look like?

Are These Social Media Trends Part of Your Strategy?

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Courtesy of Social Media Today

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”– Erik Qualman.

So, how well do you do it? It’s important to keep tabs on emerging social media technologies to make sure you are investing in the right areas even if some areas are not relevant immediately.

Here are some trends for 2011 that will help keep your business ahead.

1. Online video. Everywhere.

Online video is not a new phenomenon; however, what’s new about this avenue is that it is increasingly everywhere. The bar has been set high for the level of consumer interaction and this must include valuable interactive video. Video engagement is continuously increasing and in October alone, 5.4 billion videos were viewed – 2 billion of which were on Facebook. Brands and consumers rely on video to provide information that is not present elsewhere in social media, making it a critical component in shaping people’s perception about companies and each other.

2. Mobile Marketing.

In 2010 infrastructure, technology and design finally intersected in the mobile world and for the first time smartphone sales overpowered the sales of desktops and laptops. Companies need an iphone application to keep up with their consumers and to be available when consumers need them. In 2010, iPhone and iPad applications were downloaded more than 7 billion times and that serves as a great indicator that consumers are willing to engage. In 2011, mobile users will interact with content, companies and the Web more on their phones and iPads than on their computers. From shopping on the go, to paperless transactions, to watching (and creating) videos – mobile media is instant, portable and personalized.

3. Location.

Although location falls into the mobile marketing avenue, it deserves its own mention. Advertisers are able to take advantage of mobile platforms that let them reach consumers at critical points (eg. moments just before they make an in-store purchase). Being able to reach a customer on the go or near the point of sale can be a very powerful mechanism for brands looking to connect with potential audience. Location will increase in popularity as people get more comfortable checking in to a business and when brands offer more enticing offers. Again, you must offer value to your consumers so that they feel comfortable enough to associate themselves with your brand through their social media profiles. This includes in depth analysis of market trends, monitoring behavior and coming up with creative ways in establishing that connection. This “mobile meets loyalty” approach enhances the social experiences, and inspires new audiences.

4. Deal Hunting

As consumer expectations rise, you must be able to offer them something different while still making a profit. Services like Groupon provide an instant ability to share deals. Expect this to continue over the next couple of years with copy cat services and the big players rolling in to more territories and rolling out better and more extensive deals. This yet again serves as an opportunity to both reward your most loyal customers as well as attract new clientele who may discover you through a daily deal. Expect to see special sales, tickets, and discounts as well as combinations of promotions with similar services (dinner and a movie anyone?). However, if you do decide to go down the deal hunting avenue, make sure you don’t over exhaust the consumer.

5. Monitoring conversations

The internet breaks barriers between brands and people, as well as people and people. It is a fact that 78% of consumers trust peer reviews and only 14% trust advertisements this is why it’s crucial to be involved in your community and have a good reputation. What are people saying about your brand? About 25% of search results for the top 20 brands linked to user generated content – the control you have over what people say saying is limited so it is up to you to nourish these relationships. The number one way to get people saying positive things is through over delivering on your product or service. However, you must also encourage the conversation through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, industry publications and media. Monitor the conversation, join in on the conversation, help and show your customers that you care. In return, this will only increase loyalty.

The social media trends that arise are unlimited and we as people influence their success and failures. So while everyone is waiting for Twitter to monetize, Google to fail with another platform, or for an explanation of what augmented reality really does – we need to ask ourselves what enables our success, jeopardizes our performance and how we want to shape the years to come.

About Marina Arnaout

Marina Arnaout comes from a marketing communications background with expertise in variety of mediums ranging from TV to out-of-home advertising. Finding her niche in the digital realm, she is a frequent contributor to industry publications often covering social marketing and media trends. For more, follow Marina on Twitter @marinarn.

HTML5, the iPad, and the iPhone: What You Need to Know

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Have questions about HTML5 video? You’re not alone. StreamingMedia.com recently hosted a webinar on the topic led by Jeff Whatcott, senior vice president of global marketing at Brightcove (the event was sponsored by Brightcove), and nearly 1,000 people attended. The entire event is archived here (registration is free), but if you want something you can skim, here are the highlights.

The webinar was titled HTML5 Readiness, and sought to fill in the gaps for professionals who had heard the buzz on HTML5 video, but still had a lot of questions. Whatcott explained what HTML5 video is, showed how some companies are using it, and gave recommendations for creating an HTML5 strategy.

HTML5, Whatcott explained, is the successor to the current HTML standard, one that started as a renegade project by a group that included Apple, Mozilla, Google, Opera, and others. The central idea was to allow video and audio to play on websites without plug-ins.

We’re currently at the beginning of the HTML5 cycle, and only 38 percent of browsers support it. That means no content creator can afford to serve only HTML5 video, but needs to create a mixed format delivery system where users get the video in Flash or Silverlight if their browser isn’t HTML5-compatible.

While HTML5’s video tag is enjoying all the attention, the standard also includes audio and canvas tags, for delivering audio and dynamic images without plug-ins.

One of the standard’s shortcomings is that it doesn’t specify one format to use with it. That means there are a variety of choices, two of which enjoy major support. Providers can serve H.264 video created with the MPEG4 codec, WebM video made with the VP8 codec, or Ogg Theora video. H.264 and WebM offer better video quality, Whatcott said, and WebM is open source.

The area has gotten complicated, since Apple backs the H.264 format and Google backs WebM in its Chrome browser (which soon won’t support H.264 video). Whatcott sees the formats being used as weapons in a format battle, and doesn’t want customers to become casualties.

That fragmentation means that content providers can’t choose just one format when delivering HTML5 video, but need to stream two formats. The real beneficiary of this Adobe’s Flash video format, Whatcott says. If HTML5 seems too complicated, people will throw up their hands and just go with a system that works.

While that’s true of serving desktop viewers, HTML5 is most relevant now for reaching mobile devices. Providers who want to reach the influential iOS demographic need to stream H.264 video. Android devices support H.264 video, but not in all builds.

For those looking for more help with HTML5 video, Whatcott recommended this collection of links, which he put together and continues to maintain.

When it came time for questions, webinar attendees showed that they were concerned about the limits of HTML5 video. They asked about adaptive bitrate streaming (HTML5 video doesn’t offer it; the most it can do is one bandwidth check just before playback), analytics (tools aren’t as rich as with Flash video), and live streaming (it’s not supported in HTML5 video). They also asked about DRM and closed captioning, neither of which are available in HTML5 video.

For a more in-depth look at HTML5 video, check out the entire hour-long webinar for yourself. It’s a great introduction if you’re starting to think about an HTML5 delivery strategy.

Courtesy of SteamingMedia.com

5 Email Marketing Trends

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Courtesy of IMediaConnection

I hear you — it’s tough to think about next year’s marketing campaigns when you’re wading hip-deep through the flurry of emails you’re sending (and receiving!) for the holiday season. But the end of the year is also the beginning of a new one. It’s a time to take stock of your email program and take a fresh look at the trends that have been building in email marketing. Here are five I’ve seen building in momentum, and how savvy marketers are going beyond baseline lip service to what everyone is talking about to making real improvements to their email marketing programs.

1. More social media
For those who dove into social media from the get-go, it’s hard to believe there could be more to be done. After all the hoopla, who isn’t using social media in conjunction with email to build stronger relationships with customers?

A lot of marketers in a wide range of organizations, that’s who.

Many heard about Twitter or Facebook, and maybe even opened an account for their business, but they just didn’t get it right away. So they delayed adding social to their marketing mix in the hopes it would just go away. But the pressure from others who do get it is rising, so we’ll be seeing more of those little Twitter and Facebook icons littering the bottoms of email messages.

As for those email marketers who have more social media experience, they will need to start analyzing how social and email are feeding into one another, and how they can prompt social action in their email messages. Instead of merely including icons, they will have specific social media calls-to-action in their email messages explaining what exactly will happen when recipients click on those icons, and what the benefit will be when they do so. They’ll also work harder to ensure that their social and email strategies are complementary, not the same old stuff from different sources.

Conversely, they’ll be working to add apps or tabs to their social sites so they can capture the email addresses of their fans who may not want Facebook to mediate their relationships with their favorite brands.

2. More consideration of mobile
It used to be that email on a cellphone was about business. Give them enough info in the subject line so they don’t delete it immediately, and you’re good. Increasingly, though, the phone isn’t just the place where people sort through email to be read later, but the place where they actually read and react to it.

Some email marketers would like to ignore mobile rendering altogether, thinking that the “read web version” link they put at the top of their emails takes care of that problem. Others are beginning to recognize the issue but do only limited testing. By “limited testing,” I mean they look at the message on their own iPhone, see that it actually renders with itty bitty images, and decide it’s even better on the iPhone, while ignoring the fact that the call-to-action is so tiny it’s unreadable.

Smart marketers will not only test how their emails look on smartphones, but how usable they are. Can a mobile user actually see the “wow images” or smart copy? If they do decide to take action, what then? And is it better to send everyone the computer version, the mobile version, or to ask recipients if they want a mobile-optimized version? There are no canonical best practices for email in the mobile space just yet; I’ll be looking for the results from marketers in multiple verticals.

3. More welcome and triggered campaigns
Most senders know recent subscribers are more active and engaged with their email marketing lists than those who have been around a while. Yet despite this knowledge, they still tend to treat them equally, sending the same content and offers to brand-new subscribers or recent purchasers as they do to recipients who haven’t acted on an email in two years.

I’m already seeing more marketers take steps, sometimes small, toward understanding and serving that new cohort of addresses differently. As email triggering capabilities become easier to use and available in lower-cost platforms, more marketers will try at least one message that targets new subscribers or recent customers differently.

The more advanced email marketers will take what they know about those new customers and dazzle them with their very best, employing a series of messages that will vary based on how engaged each subscriber has been and encouraging them to even stronger interaction. These welcome programs will wring every cent of ROI from these newbies while everything still looks fresh and new, and minimize the pain of a spam complaint.

4. More reactivation campaigns
Marketers won’t only be treating new subscribers differently, they’ll be looking at the old timers with a more critical eye.

Sending email is undeniably cheaper than sending snail mail, and that low cost has made some marketers lazier about pruning their email marketing lists. What’s a few cents to send an email? But those cents add up to big bucks if you’re emailing to thousands or even millions of people who have tuned you out.

As marketers look to trim costs, they’ll be examining their lists more carefully and trimming out what might be deadwood. The typical marketer will send the same message to all the non-responders and will leave creativity behind — free shipping, free white paper, more of the same information that puts customers to sleep.

The savvier marketer will work a little harder and look a lot more closely at what those recipients did respond to in the past. Then they’ll use those tactics to remind “sleepers” of the value of their offering.

Those smart marketers will also sort through the data to discern those who are truly dead versus those who are alive and kicking and just interacting with their brand in a different way that isn’t immediately apparent through email stats. Maybe they are really engaged but just not via direct email clicks — maybe they are picking up the phone, clicking through your Facebook feed, or, prompted by your email, visiting your website directly without bothering with a click-through.

5. More experimentation
Due to restructuring at many organizations, the people who are now doing email aren’t necessarily the same people who did it two years ago. They may not know why their program was designed the way it is, or they may know but don’t care.

Video and music and email? Nobody’s doing that! Let’s try it out and see how it goes! Dark backgrounds and amazing HTML styling? Bring it on! Email is a great place to try fresh approaches and offers because the audience is already interested in what you have to say and more inclined to let you know their opinions one way or another.
It’s a given that the results of this experimentation will be mixed. Some marketers will discover great new ways of connecting with their customers, while others will be excoriating their customers for not fully appreciating their creative genius. As with everything on the internet, your mileage may vary. A tactic that works great for one audience will flop for another.

The smart marketer will be open to seeing how customers respond to new messaging and modalities, but they won’t bet the bank on them. They’ll use extensive split testing to measure how receptive their customers are, and they’ll look beyond the email to other metrics to measure success.

A bonus trend
Here’s a trend that won’t die (although it should) — industry analysts prematurely hailing the death of email. Twitter, Gmail Priority Inbox, Facebook Messages…they all presage email marketing’s passing. There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more of these predictions in the coming year, and there’s little doubt they’ll be wrong. Like everything else on the internet, email marketing is changing and evolving. Marketers who keep doing the same old thing year after year might kill off their own email marketing channel, but email itself will continue to bring prosperity to marketers who nurture it.

Written by Wendy Roth, senior manager of training services for Lyris Technologies.

Short Film Produced Entirely On The IPhone.

Check this out. It’s a link to Vimeo where you can watch a short film shot and edited by two enterprising film students at USC ENTIRELY ON THE IPHONE! Think of that when your marketing team says you don’t have the resources to produce quality videos for the Internet.

As the great Stan Lee from Marvel Comics always answered, “Nuff said”.