Category Archives: Marketing
Don’t Feel Bad, Most People Don’t Know These Facts About Websites
A couple of weeks ago I was invited in to speak to the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The topic – “What You Didn’t Know About Having a Website.” It was a quick discussion, but it was clear from the questions that we could have scheduled much more time. Between SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media, paid advertising, web hosts and more… there’s a lot to talk about. Since the discussion went so well, I thought I’d share my notes.
The Amazon Ecosystem is Ready to Win
If you’re a frequent reader of my writing or listen to me on Attack of the Androids, you know I useÂ the word ecosystem. A lot. As the major technology companies diversify their offerings, trying to get you to buy everything from them, we’re seeing some do a far better job than others. The Amazon ecosystem is far and away the best.
Kindle Fire Should Have a Different Name
I’m a fan of what Amazon does, not because of any particular reason… actually, I don’t even know why. I buy some stuff through there for work, but not terribly often. I just think they get it, ya know? The Kindle Fire is proof, aside from the name. I actually think the name is sort of dumb. Not as dumb as the name iPad… which clearly shows that a product’s name isn’t everything. I sort of wish I had a graphic of someone spontaneously combusting from using a Kindle Fire.
Last week, Blackberry users were quite put out when they lost most of their week to an international outage. Iâ€™ve long been a Blackberry supporter, even if I have moved on to Android. Iâ€™ve continued to root for the company, Research in Motion, and hope that they can find a way to turn things around. The Blackberry changed my life, and I know I am not alone. The outage last week might have been the final nail in the coffin.
Many folks that held on to their Blackberry devices, even as they saw the mobile world fly by them with nearly every other device, did so because they believed the Blackberry was a more reliable, secure and stable device. With countries the world over requesting back-door access to the Blackberry network and this multi-day outage, those advantages have largely been dismissed. Recent surveys show that people are very frustrated and ready to give up on the once-unstoppable company and their products. Some surveys even show fewer than 10% of users willing to consider a Blackberry at the time of their next phone purchase.
What can Blackberry do? Well, they could sell, but I doubt anyone would buy them. (Then again, HP bought Palmâ€¦) Short of selling, they have to do some drastic things. Their customer base is still largely corporate, and they need to focus there. Every company needs either a free or heavily discounted Blackberry Enterprise Server as well as services and products. Iâ€™d suggest they burn through about half their cash on short term marketing and promotions to, hopefully, sway public opinion. It might be drastic, but if they donâ€™t do something, that cash on hand will be used to pay bankruptcy lawyers before long.
Lately I’m having this feeling I just can’t shake – that tech, as I have known and loved it, is dead.
The rapid rise of hacking groups, the rampant malware infections and the desperate maneuvers to monetize using the personal data of users has reached a critical mass. These efforts used to be offset by substantial technological advancements and the passion of hobbyists and professionals alike. This is no longer the case.
I love tech, don’t get me wrong, but it has changed and it will never go back. As part of the BYTE relaunch team, I have been able to work closely with some amazing people who have been in the industry a very long time. They are brilliant, respected and have wonderful perspective. I see the change even in some of them and their writing. I don’t say this to be disrespectful, but the awe in tech as a whole, not just in writing, has disappeared.
I feel it myself. After all, how can you be excited about a new Android phone when there are 7 new units released per week? Laptops, desktops and operating systems don’t have much to differentiate themselves from previous models or even their competition. THIS is what Apple has figured out – they could release updates more often, but they don’t. In part, this is because they need to differentiate so people will buy the new units. They’ve found a way to get people passionate about their products, and it has little (not nothing) to do with their quality, features, or anything else. It’s the marketing. It’s the way you feel about your device. That feeling has been carefully crafted in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.
I don’t know what the solution is. I know we’ll never go back, but maybe tech has become too ingrained in our lives. Maybe we take it for granted – I know I do. When I take a step back and look at my desktop computer… with all of the parts and the software… even though I built it by hand… it still overwhelms me. The fact that it even works is amazing. I guess I need to re-open my eyes and see the world as I did as a child, when my TI-99-4/A was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
Maybe we all need to do that.
Iâ€™ve been hearing a fair amount of chatter regarding a potential Twitter IPO. These rumors are always followed by the inevitable discussion of a non-existent Twitter business model.
I’ve written before about my belief that the ecosystem will be the next big tech battle – as margins shrink and people want more streamlined services and products, companies will respond by developing products that they wouldn’t have thought about years ago. Apple’s potential development of a television incorporating their AppleTV software is a good example. Now it seems that Amazon will be releasing tablets powered by Android.
And it makes sense with what we’ve seen from them lately. Both their Android App store and their music service seem appropriate preparatory moves. Each has been warmly received, even if the users of these services seem confused by Amazon’s plans.
We know Amazon can make hardware – the Kindle is a wonderful gadget that many people love. It’s not hard to imagine that they will do a good job with an Android tablet. If the rumored pricing is correct – $349 and $449 for the 7″ and 10″ respectively – they’re going to give Apple some serious competition. Some will argue that Android isn’t as refined as iOS, and whether that’s true or not, money talks and people like cheap. $349 sounds a lot cheaper than $499, even if the price difference isn’t extensive.
The big question, then, will be what Amazon builds next. Google I/O had talk of various household automation devices with Android on them. With all of Amazon’s experience selling products, I could see them stepping into this realm. An Amazon / Kindle branded Car appliance with music, apps and text-to-speech for books might be well received. Think of it as some advanced GPS unit.
An Amazon Kindle tablet might not make Amazon the strongest player in the tablet market overnight, but it will likely be a test for them. A test to determine if they should try other devices. I suspect the tablets will be successful and I do think they’ll try other things. A phone will happen, at some point. Whether or not they make it themselves or have someone make it for them without the manufacturer name on it… who knows. Just as Facebook and Google want to engage your life as much as possible, so do Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. We’ll see them spreading their fingers into as many avenues as possible. Get ready!
The backstory is well known – Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked resulting in the loss of personal data for 77 million people. During the near-month that the network was offline, Sony did everything wrong from a PR perspective – from denying the facts to delaying communication. Now they’re trying to win back their fans, but they’re doing it all wrong.
They’re offering affected users a package worth, from my analysis, around $100-$125. You get to choose a couple games from a short list, credit monitoring, free service, and, at some point, some free online movie rentals. It’s a good idea, until you actually think about it.
Sony has but one appropriate course from my perspective – make the PSN (and all premium services, except the purchase of games or rental of movies) free for a year. For everyone. This will eliminate the need to enter a credit card for the majority of users. It will give people time to actually forget about the massive failing of their security team. Maybe, just maybe, if Sony gives people something they wanted in the first place, rather than a couple games and credit protection (which shouldn’t count because they wouldn’t have needed it without Sony’s failure), they’ll come back around.
Sony – it’s not too late.
Since the announcement of the Google Chromebook at Google I/O last week, the impending product release has been met with mixed reviews. Nevermind the fact that it’s not out yet, or that, even at release, it will basically be a public beta. There are some in my sphere that have already condemned it. One asked my thoughts, so I thought I’d post them here.
The Chromebook, for those unaware, is a shift from a traditional computer. On most computers, you have the hardware which runs an operating system that allows you to interact with programs. In this model, the internet is viewed through a browser – which is a program. The Chromebrook skips the operating system, making all of your interaction with the computer through the browser. You turn it on, you’re in the browser. Without internet access, it’s useless.
This is huge. Or, more accurately, it will be. When we look at the way Google works, they release things before many would feel they’re ready – and those people would be right. What they’ve created with this approach is a culture of public testing, seeking the opinions of the technology-centric so that they may make small, fast improvements. If you’re a user of Android, you see how quickly the apps Google maintains are improved. Gmail gets new features all of the time. These improvements are rarely substantial, but it’s a slow march of progress. This was how Android was developed, and whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny that it’s been successful.
How will this approach be relevant to the Chromebook? Google’s going to learn a LOT in the first few months of release. All sorts of people will turn to them and try them. We’ll see lots of minor changes, but I doubt any of those will change the game. No, the game changers will be in the business model.
Chromebooks will be useless without internet – so we’re going to see the bundling of internet service with them. This isn’t new – you can already buy a netbook with a cell modem installed. What will be different here will be the cost. Since everything is done on the web, very little has to be downloaded to your laptop. Rather than having the constant struggle between users and carriers around data caps and download speeds, we’ll see carriers embrace this model, since the heavy lifting of web apps, and viewing web pages, is done on the servers hosting them. Carriers will, if they have an ounce of intelligence, encourage people to use this model. We’ll see lower priced internet access for these devices – maybe as low as $10 a month.
If we can get internet access that low, than the $20 a month that Google has published for what looks to be a long term rental of these devices may even include the service. Imagine – if your information resides in the cloud, and you can get to it whenever, wherever, for $20 a month on a computer that, should it break, you don’t have to pay to fix… it’s beautiful.