Monthly Archives: December 2010

What Did the iPad Do to 2010?

The iPad confused people. Because the iPad didn’t make sense. It wasn’t clear exactly what it did or exactly who it was for. And typically, with that feature/audience listing, you end up with no one wanting to buy it, to do nothing with it. But, in this case, the iPad was a wild success with an estimated 13.3 million units in sales. So, what does that mean?

Well, it means that everything is changing once again. That tablets are going to likely take over the netbook market, and that people are going to start designing for them now. As a browser. An e-book reader. A gaming device. A video watcher. And more.

So, how do you design for everything? Likely, the answer is “via app“. And that’s exactly what the iPad has done as well. Moved app popularity from the mobile to the mainstream. It’s just getting good, folks. And we can’t wait to see what’s next.

Facebook Facial Recognition Features

Philip K. Dick science-fiction novels have seemed to be coming to life for the past 30 years now – with each technological breakthrough. And today, it feels like we’re entering into “Minority Report”. Not with pre-cogs solving true crime cases quite yet.

But with Facebook‘s recent announcement of their facial recognition software advances, it’s hard not to recall the scene where Tom Cruise gets his stolen eyes scanned at the GAP and khaki pants are recommended for him. Oh yes future, we’re there. It’s just not being used quite like that, yet.

But now Facebook is using this same kind of facial recognition technology to speed up the way you tag your friends within your photo uploads. No more typing in your friend’s name 100 times to chronicle his time at your party. You can simply group the photos you want to auto-tag and click “save now”. Now, this software isn’t quite a breakthrough. It’s been around for a while. But now it’s a part of the largest social network on the planet. And how hard would it be to create a Facebook app that utilizes this database, scans walk-in customers and recommends new khaki pants for them based on “likes” and past e-commerce transactions?

Broadband Speed Growth Slowed in U.S.

What’s the next step for broadband speed increases in the U.S.? Because as our imagination continues to grow with what’s possible online, we continue to want cooler and cooler entertainment streamed to us through the cloud.

So, the idea was that the nation would need to evolve to an all-fiber network in order to meet that demand. But, it turns out that cable broadband connections can handle most HD streaming. And the country moving to fiber looks like it’s a long far way away.

In fact, half of the U.S. currently doesn’t have access to 4mpbs download rates, according to the Communications Workers of America. And since 2007, not much has changed. In fact, if we continue to grow at our current rate, it will take us 60 years to catch up with South Korea – and that’s if their technology doesn’t improve at all.

So, Web technology has enabled us to do more with less than ever before. But perhaps once we dream of something new that really requires fiber will we decide to figure out how to get it.

Photoboxi Combines Free with Advertising

How to financially support the free that customers are looking for? That’s the 21st century question. And Photoboxi is one of the companies trying to figure it out. Photoboxi is a maker of portable digital photo booths that provides people with digital snapshots absolutely free.

How? Through advertising of course. The customer enters their e-mail address, phone number and social networking info. Then the photos get automatically delivered to those portals along with an advertiser’s logo or message in an accompanying photo frame. As the photos spread throughout the network, so does the advertiser’s message. Plus, the advertiser gets to keep the user’s e-mail address as well along with analytics regarding the photo sharing.

So, is that the full transaction story? Unfortunately, no. Right now, Photoboxi simply rents out these units to venues for small periods of time. The ideal solution is for these units to be completely self-standing, serving and operational. But right now, the advertising only must not cover that. Once it does, expect similar offerings to start sprouting everywhere.

Web Branding Successes and Failures for 2010

2010 was the year of the “privacy debate“. The beginning of a conversation regarding what it is, what it means and how to protect it. From Wikileaks in the political sphere to Facebook’s all-access to personal data, people have become more and more fearful of who has access to their “private” information.

So, from a branding perspective, what does that mean? In a technological era where data access is the key to providing a unique user experience, how have user’s perceptions of the big Web brands adjusted this past year?

Well, the answer is, not well. Google. Yahoo. Bing. Facebook. MySpace. All suffered losses of positive public perception over the year. The only brand to improve? AOL. But perhaps that’s simply because at the beginning of the year, public perception was that AOL no longer existed….just kidding. Kind of.

Bing went down by the least amount of the major search engines, which makes sense based on all the positive PR they’ve received from their unique search engine enhancements. But it still has to be a bit of a buzzkill that overall, their public perception is a net loss. And despite the brief uptick in perception due to MySpace’s relaunch, they’ve currently fallen even further than where they originally were before it.

As we become more and more aware of the power these companies have over us, is it even possible to keep a positive impression of them over the long term?

Bing Evolves with Social Features and More

Bing has officially gone social. If you make a search in Bing, and one of your Facebook friends has “liked” one of the pages that returns in your search results, you will see their “like” highlighted on the results page.

Instant social authority feedback. And they’ve beaten Google to the punch with the greatest authority in social media, Facebook. Other incorporations include seeing which movies your friend’s have liked on IMDB. FanSnap sports ticket information directly within the search experience. And more.

Plus, Bing is also playing detective and trying to guess what you’re looking for with their “instant answer” information, similar to what Google already offers. So, the big question is, will this help Bing increase its market share? We’ll see. But this search engine social integration en masse is a very good sign of things to come.

The Mac App Store Launches January 6

The App store for iPhone and iPad has become an enormous moneymaker for Apple. So, of course, Apple thought to themselves, how can we extend this idea?

On January 6, the Mac App Store will officially open for business. Just like the mobile App store, both free and paid apps will be available in different categories, such as Games, Productivity, Graphics, Education, Utilities and more.

One reason apps became so popular on mobile devices is because they’re self-containing. It’s harder to install software on a mobile device apart from app form. So, will this package transfer over to a standard desktop computer that doesn’t require it. My guess is, “yes”. That software as we knew it will now come in app form. Plus, an app store brings in a built-in democratization of software with developers able to set their own prices and not be charged for free apps. The cream of the crop will rise to the top. Win. Win. Win.

Hyperlocal Mobile Advertising

For years, companies have been taking advantage of Google’s Adwords’ search radius. After all, why waste ad spend on visitors unlikely to solicit your offering? So, should mobile advertisers do the same thing?

Roy’s Restaurant from Hawaii is taking local search to the extreme with hyper-local mobile advertising. Their theory? That someone who types in “Hawaii Restaurant” on their mobile phone is looking for a place to eat in the very near future.

So by aggressively bidding for key phrases within a very small radius from their restaurants, they show up at the top of search results, along with Google’s map feature that shows them how close Roy’s is to their location.

Sounds great. But, does it work? Roy’s reports that their mobile-only ROI has improved by 800% using this hyperlocal strategy.

Call-Only Call-to-Actions

Most companies have a hard time deciding where to direct their call-to-actions. It can be a struggle trying to avoid the trap of being all things to all people. Because by going that route, you often become nothing to no one.

So now, Google is offering mobile advertisers the opportunity for individuals to make only the most intuitive call-to-action when browsing via mobile. A phone call.

With Google’s Call-Only-Creative, online advertisers can now create campaigns with one goal in mind. Driving voice traffic. Sure, many advertisers may want browsers to see their offering. Be taken to a mobile site. But often, a mobile user is looking for specific information. Wants to order a pizza. So, that pizza company can make the call-to-action response to an ad click be to use the mobile phone to call the pizza chain.

Because that’s often what the individual is looking for anyway.

Where Can’t Google Win? China.

It’s not apples to apples. But, Baidu is the “Google” of China. And Google hates that. Despite their intentional efforts to grab the lead in this fast-developing market, Google has fallen to third in the online ad market, to competitor Alibaba.

Google actually lost 2 percentage points of their market share in the past quarter, down to 8.9%, and well behind Baidu’s market lead of 30.1%. Now these numbers only apply to the online advertising world. But in the search market, Google took a hit as well, falling 3 points to 21.6% while Baidu increased their huge market lead to 73%.

Google knows how big of a market China not only is, but will continue to be. And they can’t give up. But after trying so hard to play by China’s authoritarian rules, perhaps at the expense of their integrity, this news at the very least, has to be frustrating.