Category Archives: media

HTC Incredible – The Bright Side

After getting lots of comments on the frank discussion of my new Droid, I decided it was time to give the other part of the story.  In general, I really like this new superphone.  Yes, I’m still having battery issues.  I  recently had a day in NYC, away from my home office, and I was down to 15% by noon.  But lets not dwell on that.

I have downloaded about 30 free apps for my phone.  I have kept about half of them and trashed the rest.  My advice is to stick to brand name content and carefully reviewed apps.  If you just browse and download whatever you like, you will have many apps that don’t work or worse…

While the HTC Friends widget gets lots of publicity, the individual Facebook and Twitter Apps are better for me.  For the record I use “Peep” for Twitter.  The Foursquare app works well, the LinkedIn app – not.

Many of the most useful apps are targeted at managing your Droid phone.  Among these I recommend “Lookout”.  This is a combined virus scan, backup and lost phone locater – and is presently free.   As I mentioned in my first review a Droid is more like a PC.  When you download  “Caveat Emptor”   For the lost phone feature, you can locate your phone on a Google Map on the Web and even have it emit a siren sound.  Warning- don’t give your web lookout password to anyone or you will likely have a siren in your pocket at the worst possible time!

The widgets that come prepackaged for managing Bluetooth, WIFI , GPS and mobile networking are very useful in managing battery life.  Just keep everything off that you really don’t need.  I have found the GPS is a particular battery hog.

For syncing music, I finally got SallingMedia to work.  The trick is to create playlists for anything you want to sync and then to just sync those lists.  For video you can just drag an mp4 into the video folder on your phone.

One of the pleasant battery surprises was that I was able to watch a 2-hour movie on my phone and still have over 50% battery left!  There are a couple of decent free video players in the app store.  You should try mvideoplayer or stream media player. ( A free shout out to anyone who correctly guesses which movie I debuted on my droid –  there is a hint in this article)

A key to the usability of my Droid is mastering the notification pull down.  Just slide down your finger from the top Verizon logo and you bring down a list of recent emails, messages, program alerts, etc.

For sheer fun there are many “soundboards” in the app store.  These soundboards provide famous sound clips for many movies and TV shows.  I downloaded several and keep them in a folder.

Another app that I like is “barcode”.  It is a build in barcode reader that auto generates a search and shopper price comparison.  Don’t know if I ever will really use it “in real life”- but it’s pretty slick.

I also downloaded “SkyDroid”.  This is the one paid app I have.  It cost 99 cents.  It provides a GPS function linked to golf courses.  I am playing a round on Friday, so I’ll let you know how it works.  The website has a nice interface to map out any golf course that is not yet in their database, and of course it uses Google maps.  It took me about 30 minutes to enter the local course.  I am sure it will not help my golf game, but it is a cool thing to have.

There are apps that are un-Verizon-like in the store.  These include porn, a way to download “free” mp3s and a program to turn your Droid into a broadband modem for your laptop.  The former is surprising for the normally protective Carrier, the later 2 are ways to violate your contact TOS and bypass Verizon’s own broadband connect service.  The world of openness has its consequences.  You have to exert personal responsibility – just like the real world.  Just be careful if you give one of these to a minor.

Lastly, my absolute favorite feature on my Droid is the voice recognition with speech to text.   This is really great.  I thought my biggest issue would be with the virtual keyboard – however I respond to most messages and emails by speaking into the phone.  Imagine – a phone you can speak to!  What a concept.  The voice recognition can be used for almost any text input field. I have used it for emails, SMS, Google searches and contact searches.  Its accuracy is very good – although it needs a little work on its Yiddish!

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Filed under blackberry, Droid, Droid Incredible, E-Commerce, HTC Incredible, iphone, Ipod, location based services, media, mobile, mobile advertising, Mobile Application Stores, new media, New York, Open Network, opensource, porn, reviews, sex, skype, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, social networking, Twitter

Traditional Media Goes to School on New Media

The traditional content companies (NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, etc) have used the research, development and “trial and error” investments of many new media, web and mobile oriented companies to learn what networks4works in digital content, commerce and advertising.   They have transitioned from fighting the term “new media”, to adapting it, and in many cases becoming dominate players.

I was a witness to the first stages of this schooling in the early days of the dot.com explosion.

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Jay Chiat

In April of 2000, I had just joined the quintessential Silicon Alley content company, ScreamingMedia. Our well-funded company, had h the superstar and Ad icon Jay Chiat as Chairmen and a hard driving entrepreneur founder, Al Ellman.    Jay Chiat was famous for such ads as the 1984 Apple Superbowl commecial and the still-going  Energizer bunny.  

The company  hosted  its own new media content conference at the Chelsea Piers.   This was called the “Malcontent” conference.   The conference was organized to be a debate of new (web oriented) vs. old (TV, Radio, Newspaper) media.

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ScreamingMedia Founder, Al Ellman

We had luminaries from both sides of the assumed divide, including Dan Rather.   As a new executive at ScreamingMedia, I gave the case for mobile and its role in this new media landscape.   The one thing I was sure of, any media or content on a phone would have to be “new media”.

The value of ScreamingMedia was grounded in content syndication.   At the timeit  was technically and legally difficult to syndicate content on the Web.   ScreamingMedia (aka Pinnacor) was eventually acquired for about $150M.

Of course, this was pre-RSS days.  By today’s standards the media giant of syndication would certainly look old.

The debate (new vs. traditional) lasted well beyond this 3-hour event.  The crash of the dot.com industry in 2000-2001 took this off the techno blogs and webmags for a while, only to emerge again and again throughout the last 8 years.

Initially “new media” – which is loosely defined as anything related to the Internet started to make inroads against old media in digital ad spending.  Viewership, commerce and piracy flourished in Internet land.  My observation was the traditional media sources were slow and ineffectual in their digital  efforts.  

This had had the appearance of the classic innovators dilemma.  Traditional media profited from their “traditional” revenue sources.  Any admission that the model was changing threatened the status quo, or more likely the careers of those who made their fortunes in the pre-Internet era.

For the media giants, innovation was largely a content and storyline effort. Distribution was the means to theater tickets (movies), CD sales (music), and Ad dollars (TV and radio).  Innovation in distribution was in cable television, DVDs, and some simple web sites. The new media models were the domain of those who wished to destroy this traditional model.

Over the past couple of years I have met with many in the media industry on this topic.  I have to admit trad1that I have been perplexed that it took them so long to come around and really capitalize on the new distribution models.  My advice back then, and now, is that the big media companies still have the best, most wanted content.

The strategies and techniques that were pioneered by the new media innovators, such as ScreamingMedia have been adapted and extended by the general media industry.

With all due respect to a dancing baby on YouTube, a Tina Fey SNL skit on Sarah Palin will get more viewers, on the NBC website, then watched the actual Katie Couric interview.

All the TV networks have embraced online video of their shows, big time.  The online video versions of their lineups are ad supported and provide a much better experience than the pirated versions that float around the Web.  By embracing the model, they do it better than the previous amateur attempts by others.

So now what was “old” is “new”, and what was “new media”, is just another distribution channel for creative content, most of which comes from the media giants, with a secondary node to the entire world of user generated content.

We have now come full circle.  Good media companies observed what worked in the digital domain.  They capitalized on the considerable investment made in companies that originally were designed to compete with them.  In today’s market some of the most compelling digital content and applications are coming from the “traditional” media outlets.

Good Content is Good Content- From the days when the distribution model was cave drawings, to biblical stories, to the art and literature of the Renaissance, Shakespeare, Novels, Radio, TV, Movies, Internet and yes, mobile.

screamingmediavig

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Filed under advertising, CEO, Content, location based services, media, mobile, new media, syndication

Wireless, Politics, the Economy and Hockey

Sometimes if you just take a moment for deeper observation at an event you can get a sense of what pundits spend a lifetime interpreting. Last night I took my youngest daughter to a Ranger game. They lost in overtime, 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers, so I will not dwell too much on the fantastic comeback, the grit and determination and the ultimate let down.

Here are my other observations during those 4 hours:

Observation 1 – Wireless Gen
My daughter sent and received approximately 120 text messages. She communicated to classmates about the homework she would have to do when she got home, she chatted with her cousin about God knows what, She took three calls, and she cheered the loudest in are section. She does not have ADHD, she just multitasks at the rate of a cyborg!! This is the next generation.

Observation 2- Politics

obama buttonThroughout the game the roving camera guys put crazed fans on the big jumbotron. Twice last night, the fan was wearing a big Obama button on their Ranger jersey. When they saw themselves on the arena scoreboard instead of pointing to their Ranger emblem, they pointed to the Obama button! If seems the hockey Mom and Dad demographic in New York went for Obama.
Observation 3- More Wireless
The Rangers have several interactive mobile promotions during the game. The simplest is a text to screen application where your message is displayed on the scoreboard. What is “interesting” is that you text to one shortcode, get a thank you message from another shortcode and then are instructed to text a third shortcode for a free wallpaper. Also, the thank you shortcode responds with “Thank you for voting!” Opps? Did I vote? Time to check that campaign provisioning!

NOTE TO NEW YORK RANGERS MOBILE DEPARTMENT:

I herby offer – pro-bono (maybe you can pay me with an autographed stick) to fix your mobile applications to make them coherent and effective; to have them run on one shortcode, with proper messaging before, during and after the user interaction.

Observation 4- The Economy

rangersuites

I made a quick count on the number of empty luxury suites last night. I stopped counting after 23. Madison Square Garden has about 60 suites for the well-heeled New York corporate crowd. While I have seen empty suites in the past, the number of dark boxes is very large. As a proxy for the recession/depression on Wall Street, just counting the number of flipped light switched on luxury boxes is a leading indicator of the economy.

Observation 5- The Economy – Oh Canada! (Or is it just the Oil(ers))

Since the Rangers were playing a Canadian based team, the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S. are sung before the game. I like the Canadian Anthem, and can sing it with the best of them. I have to admit I was never quite sure who Canadians are “on Guard” from?

Anyway, I observed a very large number of Edmonton Oiler fans, from Canada. This is unusual. Usually the out of town fans come from New Jersey, Long Island and Philly. This got me thinking. Is there some other geopolitical trend that has caused these fans to be in New York?

I came to three possibilities – either they paid for a tour before the dollar increased in value, or they all work for oil companies in Edmonton and have more money than they know what to do with, or they are Canadian “snow birds” who escape the harsh Canadian winter to bask in the less harsh New York winter. You decide.

Amazing what you can observe if you just take a minute to look!

iamaranger800

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Filed under economy, hockey, media, mobile, New York, obama, politics, Rangers, wireless

The Mobile World is Flat

I spent the last week at our corporate headquarters in Italy. It is always interesting to compare and contrast the mobile market environment in markets outside of the U.S.   For many years, the U.S. suffered a deserved mobile service inferiority complex. It had been stated that all the really cool stuff was happening in Europe or Japan. That has changed.
To quote one of my favorite writers, Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, “The world is flat!” Here are a couple of examples:
The vast majority of my colleagues have BlackBerrys. The BlackBerry device itself and the service were created in Canada but were first introduced in a serious manner in the U.S.
While flipping through the multi-national channels on the TV in my hotel room, it was hard the miss the influx of German iPhone commercials for T-Mobile (as well as some other German commercials that I will discuss later!). Many other advertisements for mobile phones are iPhone-esque. They feature large touchscreens and virtual keyboards, they play Mp3s and have Wi-Fi.
With the U.S. market providing innovative, global-leading devices, and with premium VAS skyrocketing, I hereby declare the official end of the U.S. inferiority complex. I am not raising the stars and stripes in a jingoistic manner, but rather to point out some rough parity in creating leading service models.
As Friedman proclaims in his bestseller, the global economy for goods and services is permeating all aspects of our economy, and this includes mobile value-added services. Mobile devices and value-added services can be sourced from any land with data center and Internet connectivity.
There are still obvious differentiations and cultural norms that create service differences across markets and continents. The service and device differences are now dominated by local norms and market conditions, not technology or market maturity.
One very obvious difference is the use of late-night (after midnight), continuous commercials on German stations. As best I could, either there is a severe clothing shortage for well-endowed women, or there is a market for mobile VAS in text sex chat, mobile adult videos and adult wallpapers. Have you picked out the common theme to these services? I cannot imagine a similar all-night commercial on American television.
All in all, the mobile world may be flat, but local market differences certainly make it very diverse!

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Filed under advertising, Apple, blackberry, economy, media, mobile, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, wireless