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Why Apple Really Kept the iPad2

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve read several blog posts and news reports comparing the new iPad lineup and surmising why Apple kept the iPad 2. So far everyone has missed this little detail:

There is a wide range of hardware devices on the market today that were designed with an iPad dock. And I’m not just talking about consumer products.

Professional equipment made for specific industries have adopted the iPad to serve as the user interface to complex systems. For example, audio equipment maker Mackie is revolutionizing the world of mixing boards with its new line of iPad-based consoles. Gone are the mechanical faders, buttons, dials and switches. You snap an iPad into place on the board’s face and use a Mackie app for the UI. The board is useless without the iPad.

Check it out.

Professional devices like this are popping up all over the place. The medical device field is another huge example.

These professional devices have been designed around the 30-pin dock connector that we all know and used to love. Now, the iPad 2 is the lone Apple product that has one. The new Lightning connector is on everything else.

Apple had to keep a 30-pin iPad in production to give the professional device manufacturers time to revise their products for the Lightning connector. In other words, the iPad 2’s days are numbered. It’s only alive today to buy time for third-party equipment partners.

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Why Launch the iPad mini Now?

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Today was a huge product launch day for Apple, which unveiled a 7.9” screen version of its hugely popular iPad, dubbed the iPad mini.

It’s no secret that Microsoft, donning an extreme makeover from its tablet pioneering days eleven years ago, formally arrives at the party later this week. Like a debutante whose waited years to come out, Microsoft’s tablet offer is finally ready for prime time. So why did Apple choose today to launch the iPad mini, just three days ahead of Microsoft’s big ball?

The reasoning might seem obvious: Steal their thunder. Grab market share. Make a statement about just how far behind Microsoft is in the post-PC market. All true. But there’s a more significant rational lurking behind the curtain.

Independent software developers are already faced with an overwhelming challenge to keep up with demand for applications to run on existing iOS and Android devices. Now, within a matter of days, we have two brand new devices. Like blank canvases, the iPad mini and the Surface each await innovative application developers to help define the actual role these devices will play in our lives.

Plenty of people had a hard time conceptualizing why the world needed an iPad in the first place. Now it’s mind-boggling to think about everything we do with them.  Apple hit a home run with the iPad. But it was the independent software developers who imagined, innovated and delivered life-changing mobile applications.

Put yourself in the seat of the app developer watching this week’s product launches. As if your roadmap wasn’t overloaded already, now you have a few more major opportunities for your products.

The timing of today’s Apple launch makes that developer’s job of prioritizing what to make next even more important.  Do you re-code your existing iOS and Android applications on the WinRT architecture? The Microsoft Surface is certain to find a place in the market. But existing third-party apps for Surface are “me-too” versions.

iPad mini, on the other hand, represents the start of a brand new race to see who will define the coolest new applications to fit this new form factor.

Consider the developers’ dilemma against the backdrop of these stats released by Apple today:

  • 100 million iPads sold to date
  • 275,000 iPad apps, custom designed to take advantage of the large screen
  • 35 billion app downloads from the Apple App store
  • $6.5 billion paid out to developers

Take out any Apple bias, and you see why the timing of today’s launch is truly significant to the developer world. My bet is that developers will embrace iPad mini in record numbers. Microsoft’s other business units like the Dynamics line of ERP systems will begin to see rich, engaging user experiences on Surface. And corporations will be drawn to Surface because it comes with the industry-standard Office applications: Word, PowerPoint and Excel. By no means should we stick a fork in Microsoft just because they got scooped this week.

But it will be interesting to see where these two new revolutionary products take us in the coming year. I think Apple CEO Tim Cook said it best this morning: “We are just getting started.”

What if all advertising was negative like political ads?

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I live in Florida, where the upcoming presidential primary next week has our media jammed with political commercials. I got to thinking this morning: “What if all advertising was negative like political ads?”

Maybe something like this:

> Duracell was caught red-handed making batteries, and battery acid is used to make methamphetamine, and methamphetamine is very, very bad. Choose Energizer Batteries: “It keeps going and going and going.”

> FACT: American Airlines provided 50% of the jets used by terrorists on 9/11 to carry out the deadliest terror strike in U.S. history. “Fly the friendly skies of United.”

> In 2004, the film documentary Super Size Me revealed that eating at McDonalds causes you to gain 24.5 pounds in one month. Trust the Creepy King and “Have it your way.”

> According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, alcohol – just like the kind found in Heineken – depresses the nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing, heartbeat and your gag reflex, which keeps you from choking. Drinking too much alcohol can slow and, in some cases, shut down these functions. “Guinness is good for you.”

> MasterCard spends millions to make Americans grin with its “Priceless” ads, but they’re only telling you half of the story. Consumer debt in the U.S. topped $11.4 trillion in 2011, and 98% of revolving debt is on credit cards. Just like the ones in the Priceless ads. We don’t think that’s something to grin about. “VISA – It’s everywhere you want to be.”

The Death of Traditional Leads and the Rise of Relationship Scoring

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago I started sketching out a framework for something I tagged: “Relationship Scoring.” I think traditional lead scoring is dead in the water, and over the next month I’ll be developing the nuts-and-bolts details of how – looking forward — marketing and sales will rate the value of prospects in the connected age of relationship marketing.

In light of this project, I got fired up watching Mark Benioff kick off Cloudforce in New York a couple of days ago. He delivered a bet-the-farm keynote repositioning Salesforce.com as a social media company. For two and a half hours, one of the founding fathers of SaaS  — backed up by his lieutenants, customers, and industry luminaries — caroled from the same sheet of music: “Social CRM is Coming is to Town.”

 

It wasn’t much of a surprise that Salesforce lit up the Javits Center like a container-load of fireworks with its Social CRM proclamation. Their acquisition of Radian6 (one of my “Best of Web Marketing” Picks two years ago) gave Saleforce solid-footing in the social media monitoring space. Chatter, their walled-garden social network solution for corporate and customer communications, has healthy roots. And don’t forget their 2007 acquisition of Kenlet that resulted in the launch of Salesforce Ideas, the model for community voice in product development.

If anyone can shepherd in a mass Social CRM movement, it’s Benioff and company.

But how does your sales organization feel about all this? Are they clamoring for marketing to tweet more? Do their eyes light up when you talk about nurturing relationships? Do they get fired up in pipeline meetings when they hear that some really important influencer appears to like your product?

Most sales people that I work with are still interested in one thing from marketing: Leads. Specifically, Hot Leads. Warm Leads? They’ll take ‘em (and do what with them is anybody’s guess.) But at the end of the day, they just want leads.

So here is where Relationship Scoring comes in. How will we measure sentiment, connectivity to our customers, activity, willingness to endorse, and ultimately recommend or buy Product X?

I’m at the point in this project where the initial scope is on paper. Now I’m looking around to make sure I’m not embarking on something that has already been done. I was kind of surprised when earlier today I found Eloqua — one of the major marketing automation software vendors — pitching a three and a half-year-old Aberdeen Group white paper on Lead Scoring.  Eloqua is buying a top spot on Adwords and baiting with this paper published in May 2008. 

I’m a big believer in evergreen content. But I don’t think this is evergreen material. The fact that the word “relationship” does not appear in the white paper once in the context of lead nurturing tells me that there’s work to do. 

Lessons in Customer Testimonial Videos

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment


I recently worked on a team producing four individual Microsoft business software user conferences. One of the areas I oversaw was the acquisition and production of short play video testimonials for use in content-based marketing campaigns. I personally conducted 60 on-camera interviews over the course of several days. On the plane ride home, as I sorted and reviewed my new content, a couple of things jumped out at me. Since at least one point defied conventional wisdom, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

1. Don’t expect people to have more to talk about toward the end of the event.

Fortunately, I started my subject-on-the-street interviews ahead of the conferences official kick-off. Now, I can see significant shifts in the energy of the respondents over the course of four days. Since I was looking for customer articulation on specific knowledge gained (key takeaways), it was generally expected that I’d get the best content later into the event. People will have learned more toward the end of the conference, right?

Hopefully. But guess what? Their newfound knowledge does not make for better on-camera interviews. People on Day One were bursting with energy. Everyone I asked for an interview said “yes” on the spot. By catching people on their way out of conference sessions, I was able to tap fresh ideas that had their brains churning.

By contrast, the interviews on the last two days were less, on all counts. Fewer people agreed to be interviewed. (Most people – and all women – declined when asked before 10 am later into the conference.) Those who did go along frequently cited that they were overwhelmed with information, and were less likely to name specific things they would take away and implement back at the office. Lesson learned: shoot video interviews early in your event to capture specifics with excitement and enthusiasm.

2. Impromptu video interviews yield better responses than planned, staged interviews.

I had the benefit of working with a trade publication reporter on some of her planned interviews. The methodology was typical of what’s been done at trade shows and conferences forever. Find a willing subject. Get a commitment. Set a time. Meet. Conduct the interview. (Expect to dedicate at least 30 minutes to conducting one interview.) Write a story.

But when you insert a video camera into that traditional interview, the subject’s demeanor totally changes. Generally speaking, people have a harder time putting words together, most likely due to the presence of the camera. And the fact that they had time to think about the interview in advance made responses seem more practiced and less spontaneous. The resulting content will contribute quotes to a printed story, but forget using the video as compelling content.

Fortunately, most of my interviews were impromptu. I used a handheld HD camcorder with a shotgun microphone, which I kept turned on as I scouted subjects in busy hallways. My take rate for on-camera interviews was exceptionally high mid-day when I simply approached someone (calling them by name), introduced myself, and said: “Can I ask you a few questions?” Many said yes before they saw the camera. So I had to clarify my request: “Do you mind if I get this on video?” Almost everyone went along. I then played the role of camera operator and interviewer and my content was golden. The tone was conversational; the interviews ran 2 – 3 minutes. I knocked off 4 or 5 interviews during scheduled 30-minute coffee breaks. And rarely did people stumble on words.

I found it incredibly important to maintain eye contact in order to minimize the presence of the camcorder. That meant I had to be really sure and steady with the camera. I held it off to one side and decided I would accept imperfection on the framing in return for honest opinion and good audio quality.

Summary

There are numerous technical and legal issues that you need to figure out before you try this at your next live event. That said, the lessons discussed here are fundamental in acquiring believable video testimonials for use in content-based marketing campaigns.

Does Google Determine Where You Physically Are?

There’s no shortage of fuel for the Google / privacy fire. But then again, why not toss on another log?

Does Google tell you how to get from point A to point B? Does any device provide you with directions for your driving, biking walking or public transit routes? I’m personally a Google Maps fan.

In the wake of the latest location-based privacy expose’, I started thinking beyond the fact that gadget-makers like Apple and Google are recording our current coordinates. Carrying GPS-enabled devices around as our personal Atlas / destination calculator, we expose much more interesting data than that. Here’s a situation where your mobile map provider could actually know physical scenarios that you’ll be presented with before you do.

What Magellan blazed the trail for has explosive potential as networked portable computing goes mainstream.

Think about it. With our portable device in hand, we’re usually within 3 or 4 taps of a freshly published map from our current location to virtually anywhere. Should we choose to follow the device’s path, we could potentially be “checking in” with the map continuously, confirming we are on course. What lies ahead of us are 1s and 0s.

Which begs the question, would your mapping service provider consider routing you by a commercial business or two that was willing to pay for some cool location-based marketing? Would they be willing to pay a premium if it was 6 p.m. and they sold delicious bass? It sure wouldn’t be the first time some really smart web marketing geeks got off on “driving traffic.”

Next time your route brings you some extended windshield time, ponder this: Is it an invasion of your privacy if you don’t even know it yet?

Gotta go. I’m a mile from my destination.

Video Intersecting with Live Blogging

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

(A really bright guy that I’ve worked with in the past recently emailed me with some questions about the direction I had in mind when deciding to include video with the presentation of an event-based live blog. (Check it out here: http://www.axug.com/summit-2010/onsite/liveblog) He specifically wanted to know how the video was being received. Here’s part of my response to him. You can read the full interview here.

I attended a performance of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” last month and couldn’t help but laugh out loud when Roger Waters delivered that desolate line about having “thirteen channels of [expletive deleted] on the TV to choose from.”

We’re just now seeing the beginning of the IP video explosion. Video will become pervasive and cross platform, and yes, it will certainly impact blogs and other established web publishing models.

The barriers to entry to produce and deliver digital video are now so low that it’s a natural move to incorporate it into live blogging. The analytics we get from video servers are incredibly insightful. We keep a very close eye on how people are interacting with video and continuously apply our findings to the next project. People are accepting it, and yes, we can see that we’re beginning to make a difference in how our messages are being consumed.

Stay tuned for more on this. As we capture enough user data, I’ll be happy to share our results.