Tag Archives: texting

Twitter : Getting New Management?

twitter_logoThe rumor mill of possible suitors for Twitter blogs, buzzes and Tweets with different theories. The largest speculation, at least in terms of media attention, has Twitter pairing up with either Google or Apple. While these reports are officially unsubstantiated – they did get me to think about what Twitter would be like under new management, and what the significance would be for Internet Services.

The Internet has re-invented itself several times in its brief history. From a government funded cold war project, to an academic research vehicle, to a closed consumer oriented portal (AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve) product, to the World Wide Web (often referred to as Web 1.0), to an interactive, interrelated, multi-device user content environment of today (aka Web 2.0). Each of these transitions has left many companies in the dust; with some companies merely surviving the transitions and a small select group thriving through the changes. Web brands and services such as Amazon, Google, E-bay, Apple (iPhone, iTunes) are examples of those that have thus far thrived through transitions.

It’s the next transition that is presently underway that makes the Twitter rumors particularly interesting.

Web 2.0 was initially defined in terms of user-generated content. In a rough sense the social media giants of today would be in that category. The way I define Web 3.0 is the total social integration of the Internet. Facebook, MySpace, and a collection of second tier players, plus the media darling, Twitter, are leading this social integration. Web 3.0 is all about Social media.

While both Google and Apple have benefited from social media, they are not in themselves social media leaders. An acquisition of Twitter for either company would thrust them into a major Web 3.0 position.

Lets look at this from the viewpoint of “Fear” and “Greed”.
Fear is motivated by losing something you have. Greed is the motivation of obtaining something you want.

Which company needs Twitter more?

The answer to this question is neither.

Google could continue being Google, and benefit from the eventual ad placements and paid search on Twitter, just as it has in the general web. The strategic question for Google is can they continue to have unfettered access to ad inventory without owning the social networks? Do they have to be a social networking giant also?

The Facebook/Google dustups on ad placements and “connect” services must have sent alarm bells ringing in Mountain View.

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Google went after the mobile industry with its on mobile device platform, why not social media with its own network? Since Google is the undisputed heavyweight champion in internet advertising, it is the motivation of “fear”, of losing what they have, that would drive them to a Twitter acquisition.

Apple, like Google, can derive benefits from Twitter without an acquisition. There are various methods to Tweet your iTunes selection(s) directly on Twitter. Twitter has many iPhone applications and is likely a driver (albeit modest) for iPhone sales.

apple-logo12Apple may have the most loyal clientele of any modern tech company. They have, however, not yet significantly leveraged this large, loyal, and generally satisfied customer base into a Web 3.0 style social network. Apple has tons of trade magazines and web sites on the virtues of Apple products, the product pipeline, self-help, and troubleshooting. The natural leveraging of this existing community into a social network must be on the strategic whiteboards at Apple HQ.

I do not think that it would be fear that would motivate Apple to acquire Twitter, but “greed”. Apple has ridden the waves of portable computing, rich media, digital music, handheld devices, smart phones, web services and the need for great user experiences across everything, to ever increasing prominence and success. Extending these competencies into the next wave of social networking is natural.

Would an acquisition of Twitter thrust Apple into social networking leadership? Or would it be a distraction from their core strengths of devices, software, digital content, and UI design?

There is another company that could be motivated by both fear and greed.

Microsoft

Microsoft has been playing catch-up to Google and Yahoo in paid search for a decade. They were late to the game for Web 1.0 and have been eclipsed in all of the major Web 2.0 services. They are an example of a company that has survived transitions in Internet services, but have not thrived. They leveraged their virtual monopoly in desktop operating systems to a dominant browser position (regardless of how the courts ruled). The browser position gave MSN and Microsoft search products critical web traffic.

Five years ago the market share of IE was 93%, it is now 65%. Both of these numbers are staggering high for any tech product. Despite, the dominance of their browser, Microsoft is a third rung player in search and ad revenue. This browser advantage, completely leveraged from their operating system position, is eroding at an accelerating rate. This market loss has to create a fear motivation within Microsoft.
While I believe that Microsoft managers are breed for greed, they suffer from Innovators Dilemma. They are so large and so dominate, that truly new ventures, new innovation is difficult when compared to protecting the core. But the greed is still present. It is for this reason that I expect a Microsoft play for Twitter. An acquisition that would thrust Microsoft ahead of Google and Apple in Web 3.0 social media Internet.

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Filed under Acquisitions, advertising, android, Apple, Google, iphone, microsoft, mobile, MySpace, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, Twitter, Web2.0, wirless

Open Letter to Madison Avenue

iphonev5800This past week the New York Times had an article about the convergence of contextual advertising and Smart phones. The potential for highly targeted advertising including the use of GPS is a trend I have been discussing in this blog for over a year.

 

The interesting angle in the NY Times piece , “Is this an invasion of privacy?”

Regardless of ones wishes, all consumers will continue to be bombarded with advertising, much of which is the Madison Avenue equivalent of carpet bombing. As with the military version, this is a technique whose time has come and gone.

For the purposes of this article I will focus on video advertising because like many consumers, I can not tell you the last Internet banner ad I paid any attention to or clicked on.

I watch most of my video entertainment on the Internet. I frequent the websites of the major networks, as well as Hulu and YouTube. All of these sites have various forms of advertisements.

Most of these (I would say 99.999%) have zero interest for me.

These are a wasted investment with no opportunity to drive a sale of anything.

Would I prefer to see ads that were actually targeted to my interests? Of course I would. I would prefer no advertisements at all, but that is not realistic.

For me this equation becomes very simple. If I want advertisements that I would care about, the advertisers must have knowledge specific to my interests through some mechanism. The advertisers can either try to derive my interests through various contextual techniques (location, click analysis, websites frequented, purchases made, etc) or they can simply ask me.

Both of these techniques run into privacy concerns. There are fear mongers claiming that “big brother” is watching us and will do some unmentioned evils with all of this data. The questions are: What is private? What should remain private? and What forms of personal information can be revealed for mutual benefit?

I believe that information that is your medical history , your financial status, your sexual orientation, your marital status, your status as a veteran and your religion should remain private unless you explicitly release it. Basic consumer desires are fair game in my opinion.

Any person in 2009, however, who has any expectation that their Internet use, whether on a PC or a Smartphone, cannot be monitored for commercial gain is living in a fantasy world. Perhaps it is for this reason that 10’s of millions of Facebook subscribers readily reveal the most intimate details about their lives. They are just not concerned about their privacy.

If you have an expectation of privacy then never use a credit card, or make a phone call, or shop in a store, or use the Internet, or send a text message, or stay at a hotel, or use an airline, or subscribe to anything. You cannot live in modern society without leaving a digital trail of breadcrumbs that can be used for commercial purposes.

Now back to my video entertainment.

sgt_starWhen I watch any of my favorite shows I am subjected to commercials on trucks, beer, video games, grape juice (as a cure for everything!), tax services, an assortment of female oriented products, German cars, U.S. Army recruitment, fast food, etc. All of this investment is wasted on me.

To make my video watching more enjoyable and to help save advertisers millions of dollars, I offer the following open letter to those who want to advertise to me in the future:

Dear Advertisers

I will never buy a truck,a German car or an SUV. I am not interested in woman’s deodorant, and the last Budweiser Beer I drank was in High School. (Yes Mom, I did drink beer in high school) I don’t smoke, so telling me to stop is a waste of your breathe. I already have a subscription to the New York Times, so ads that try to get me to subscribe are also a waste, I only need one copy of your newspaper per day.

I am past the age of recruitment for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. My kids are not interested in the military. We do support you and suggest you save the money that you use to advertise to me and use it to pay your soldiers more.

To Taco Bell, McDonalds, Wendys, and Dominos, we get it. You are fast, unhealthy and fattening. Please save the advertisements on me and work on your quality instead.

I have no interest in household cleaning products. I don’t know which one is for what mess.

I do like action movies, ice hockey (particularly the New York Rangers),baseball (Yankees), football (Jets), politics, and technology. I like the latest electronic gadgets, high definition television, anything made by Apple, and Japanese cars that last 15 years.

For Verizon, I would gladly consider switching my cable and Internet provider to your Fios service, if and when you get the one HD channel that I really care about. If you paid attention to this open letter you would know that it is MSG. Any advertising to me that does not have the words “We now have MSG in HD” is a waste of money.

I also find that a mob of guys in glasses and Verizon uniforms following me around to be creepy.

I like good wine and hand crafted microbrews. I prefer the anti-oxidants of grapes in my Chianti, not Welchs grape juice.

If you want to sell me diamonds and gold jewerly, then only send these ads to me a month before my wife’s birthday. You’ll have to get that information from her. But then, it is in her interest to tell you, isn’t it?

Now you have it. It would have taken millions in investment dollars to build the algorithm to derive this same information about me. This is a win-win. I get ads that I would at least find entertaining and focused on my interests, and you get a chance that is greater than zero of influencing a purchase decision.

I expect that the next time I watch something on Hulu, or “The Office” on NBC.com that the ads will be focused on my interests.

Regards,

Steve Spencer

A good ad targeted to my interests

A good ad targeted to my interests

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Filed under advertising, Apple, Content, mobile, mobile advertising, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, subscription servcies, You Tube

Miracle at the Meadowlands, Seen with my Eyes – Confirmed via Mobile

ny-jets-logo-2For me, Sunday at the Meadowlands usually means a Jets game. This past Sunday “Gang Green”, as they are affectionately known, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
With just two minutes left in the game, Buffalo was leading by 3 points.  At this point they inexplicitly called a pass play that resulted in a sack, and fumble, with an eventual lucky bounce into the cement-like hands of Jets Lineman Shaun Ellis.  To copy a quote from “Analyze This”, Sean Ellis is so large he creates his own gravitational field, which is the only explanation for the ball finding his hands and him rumbling 9 yards into the end zone. The Jets held on to win 31-27.

The fans started a cheer of “Holy Sh**, Holy Sh**”    We just could not believe that a miracle would happen for our team.   By now you might be asking yourself, “so, what’s the wireless angle on aimg00202ll this?”

My wireless football experience began with the tailgate ritual.  I cooked steak and shrimp and had to send an MMS of this delicacy to a friend of mine who is a Buffalo Bills fan.  In complete disclosure, this friend is also a Boston Red Sox fan, so being a Bills fan is the least of his offenses.  I exchanged several SMS messages with him while engaged in the macho tradition of cooking in a frozen, dusty parking lot with 75,000 other men and about 20 women.

Inside the stadium my wireless game experience continued with two shortcode invitations from the Jets.  The first is a shortcode to send a message if I feel there is a problem with my seat of my section.  Just text your section and seat to “NJSEA” and what the problem is and, in theory, something will happen other than getting sent an offer to subscribe to ringtones.  This service is provided by a company called Guestassist.  I did send a text during the game.  I mentioned that from my seat I had determined that the Jets defense was not pass rushing enough and should start to blitz more.  Maybe this text message got through to the Jets coaching staff and resulted in the sack and fumble that won the game?

Another texting offer was to subscribe to “Jets News“.  I send the keyword “Go Green” to the shortcode and got a response that included an advertisement for AllState insurance.  Besides the advertisement, I got no other alerts or news during the most exciting game in recent Jet memory.  This service gets flagged for “Why bother?”

I had previously subscribed to the ESPN sports alert service for the Jets (and the Rangers, btw).  This service sends me an alert every time there is a change of score in a game.   The alerts are timely, usually arriving a minute after the score.  I needed this service, because after Shaun Ellis scored I was still in disbelief until my ESPN SMS confirmed the event.

Uploaded to my Facebook

Uploaded to my Facebook

Arriving concurrently with my ESPN confirmation,, I got an email that my wife sent to me via her I-Touch.  She was at my son’s Lacrosse game and the facility has free Wi-Fi, and televisions that were tuned to the game.  This was my second confirmation that this play that I had witnessed with my eyes, had indeed occurred and that the Jets had taken the lead.  I now, thanks to mobile technology, could stop pinching myself.

Once the event was independently confirmed by mobile sources, I sent the Buffalo Bills fans another MMS picture with the fans going crazy, along with some gloating comment.  I would only have done this after dual independent confirmation, via mobile of the play.  After all, I am a Jets fan, and seeing the miracle happen in person is a necessary, but not sufficient criteria for actually believing that it happened!

Lastly, I have become a big fan of the Facebook application for my Blackberry.  I took several pictures during the game and with one click, posted them directly to my Facebook page via my Blackberry.  This capability opens up the realm of “Face-casting” a sporting event.

Seeing a miracle happen at a Jets Game is good, getting it really confirmed by wireless- Priceless!

Miracle at the Meadowlands

Miracle at the Meadowlands

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Filed under advertising, Apple, blackberry, Christmas, facebook, iphone, mobile, mobile advertising, Rangers, Santa Claus, social networking, wifi, wireless

Twilight, Tweens and Tech

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Being the father of two “Tween” daughters, I am being consumed by my daughters’ interest in the movie “Twilight”. If you do not have daughters in this age range, then you should  skip the next couple of paragraphs.

I went with my wife and a mini-van full of eager 6th grade girls to see this soon to be available via DVD movie.

The movie is a love story between a loner teen girl and her super hero vampire boyfriend. The sub-plot of their physical contact being lustful, forbidden and potentially lethal, is about as obvious as a sledge hammer. My daughter and her friends were of course, thrilled by this cinematic “masterpiece”.

And, just In case you didn’t get your fill from this first Twilight movie, there are three more books in the series by Stephanie Meyer.

The actor that gets the “tween” blood boiling is Robert Pattinson.  He was Harry Potter’s rival, then friend, Cedric Diggory- right before he got killed in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

Now for the tech and wireless angle:

One of the cultural tipping points in mobile and social networking that I like to observe is its use in movies and television. I am not referring to the over obvious product placement or the dedicated plot lines (i.e. “You’ve Got Mail”). What is really interesting to observe is its full integration into the life style of the actors.

For this latest movie outing:

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This movie outing was negotiated, arranged, planned, and then re-arranged, all on facebook® between my daughter and her friends. They chatted for at least 3 hours to figure out what to do for this two hour movie. Once we picked them up, the cellphones were whipped out and the texting began.

Who, may you ask were they texting to?

The answer – each other.

Why?

Because they wanted to talk about things that Mom and Dad should not hear.

The largest facebook group (with over 110K members) on the Twilight book series is named:

“Because I read Twilight I have unrealistic expectations in Men”

It’s tough enough being a middle school or Jr High boy – now they are being compared to blood sucking killing machines from medieval times, and coming up second best!

In a movie like this, I try to amuse myself, and stay awake, by observing the technology that is being portrayed as “just everyday stuff” used by the actors , and then the technology that is an obvious product placement.

The only really obvious movie product placement was the Hollywood ubiquitous Apple Laptop.

Another necessary tech item in this movie was Google –

Where else would a teen girl go to figure out that her boyfriend was a Vampire?

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The female lead only uses a mobile phone to communicate with her Mom. Her Dad has an emotional breakthrough with his daughter when she utters the memorable line “Dad, you mean you actually use text messaging?”

This scene was preceded by the Dad cleaning and loading his shotgun as he met his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time.

Now that’s Tech!

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Filed under Apple, facebook, Google, Harry Potter, mobile, movies, reviews, Robert Pattinson, social networking, Twilight, Vampire, 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