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Give me a reason August 27, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
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I find Nokia a fascinating company. Relegated to a bargain basement offering in North America, outside of that continent their phones are sought after. Perhaps not the way an iPhone is, but then Blackberry doesn’t have the cache on my island that it seems to have here in Canada either (helped in no small way by being RIM‘s backyard).

Never the less, the launch of their Netbook is an interesting move. Most curious to me is the inclusion of a SIM card slot, which reverses the trend of phones with computer-like functionality and brings us a laptop with the portability accessibility of a mobile phone. It feels gimmicky, though Nokia’s Tero Ojanpera is on the cover of this month’s Fast Company, stating:

We will quickly be the world’s biggest entertainment network.

Big words from a hardware and software company. I have no crystal ball into Nokia’s future, but I can’t imagine the plan is anything as mundane as content exclusive to Nokia proucts in some capacity. We’re moving ever faster to a ubiquitously networked world of transportable identity, one that will be less and less beholden to business models (see the music industry for reference) and more beholden to consumer habits.

The other thing I’m thinking is they’re trying to boost developer support for their Symbian platform…actually the more I think about it, the more this seems to be a play that has nothing to do with the cloud, and everything to do with the device you have in your pocket. What I can’t wrap my head around is why anyone would look at the whole sale destruction of the music industry and still exist in a world where a device and content are somehow interminably linked.

I’m all ears if someone has a different take on this.

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I just called…to say… August 26, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in social networks, technology.
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I have Skype running pretty much constantly on my computer due to being a long way from home. I like being able to talk for free to any of my friends back home, or indeed any friends in other part sof the world, and I look forward to a day when ubiquitous Internet access makes ridiculous carrier plans a thing of the past and blows the communications space wide open, with access for all.

Until that day however, we make do with what we have. And as I was doing this last night a message came in over Twitter from my dad back in Australia. We went back and forth and then I asked him why I never saw him on Skype. He responded with this:

dad-twitter

Now, you can argue Skype provides an entirely different service to the above or you can argue that it crosses over in a few really key places. It isn’t hard to imagine Facebook implementing its own video chat service, and this was heavily rumoured back in May. Add to this ongoing concerns about the future of Skype’s underlying technology, and what we have left is a legacy of arguably Europe’s biggest VC success story (in 2005 eBay ponied up ~US$3.3 billion) winding up in the hands of a company that had no idea what to do with it (and may soon go the way of Pets.com).

The ultimate take-away is, for me, about sticking to what you do.

Or put another way, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

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In our private universe August 24, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, music, Video Games.
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From the “No-that’s-not-right-here-let-me-show-you” Department, Blizzard and Future Publishing have announced a World of Warcraft magazine, hoping to leverage an additional $40 a year out of their 11.5 million person base of players. At a time when I can’t imagine too many other companies entering a paper-based publishing medium, I actually think the move is genius and hits a few really key things, primary among them all is a hark back to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.

Of course in this case the fans number in the millions.

The premise is simple: your biggest fans will go above and beyond to have every ounce of content and information about you they can get their hands on; these people are not the mainstream, but they’re a profitable niche that usually go uncatered for, making do with what everyone else gets most of the time.

The World of Warcraft example above stems nicely from selling access to a service for everyone and then breaking away additional offerings for the hardcore within your audience (as I write this BlizzCon is concluding, in-person church for the faithful but also available as a pay-per-view event online…you couldn’t write this stuff!).

Mark Earls made a similar link to the music industry, referencing this piece in the New York Times and saying:

maybe this marks the end of that really selfish buy-to-own model (“it’s mine, all mine”) as opposed to pay-for-access?

Mark was referencing some interesting visual data showing the decline of physical music sales over the past 30 years (shown below). Personally the games industry leading the way here doesn’t surprise me; it’s a relatively young industry not bound vehemently by outdated models and able to flex with the times. It was the first to take user-generated content mainstream, I imagine it will be the first to do many, many other interesting things. But take note: create something genuinely of value to an audience, treat them right, and reap the rewards. Rinse and repeat.

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And the world seems to disappear August 18, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, marketing, storytelling, strategy, technology.
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So I was watching Curious Films’ Best Ads on TV vodcast this morning, the latest installment of which has a cracking Johnny Walker ad in it featuring Robert Carlyle. It’s below, enjoy.

posted with vodpod

So as I was watching this I got thinking about the length of this “commercial”. It may get a few runs on TV in its entirety, may get a few more in cinemas, but will most likely find its life, if it is to have one, online. So, that takes us quickly to a place where it isn’t a TV spot, it isn’t anything other than video which will be consumed in various places and fashions.

We’re seeing the destruction of industries built to sell physical things in large quantities. Text, pictures and sound are things that will shortly exist almost exclusively in bits, not atoms. Fred Wilson talks about the destruction of industries that are “end-to-end digital”. We’re seeing in the music industry, in publishing, in television, in marketing, in R&D and we’re going to start seeing it in a bunch of other industries that perhaps aren’t as innately adaptable to being entirely digital, but you can bet that the parts that are will follow swiftly.

Clay Shirky said in a recent TED talk that advances “don’t become socially interesting until they come technologically boring”, and we’re almost there. When everything is delivered via what we used to differentiate as “the Internet”, the medium may infact cease to be the message.

That strikes me as, social or not, very, very interesting.

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You’re invisible now August 17, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in creativity, digital strategy, technology, work/life.
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I was going to title this “Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people” but that was too obscure, even for me. 5 bonus points to the person that picks the song without using “The Google“.

So my motivation has been a little lacking lately (alliteration = triple word score), and try as I might I hadn’t been able to rekindle it. I chatted long into the night with your friend and mine Matt Granfield who pointed me to his recent piece on sourcing the appropriate place to express a particular thought. I read it and it rang true, though it uncovered another thought of mine, that being a general wondering how long we will maintain digital identities we segment into neat boxes as if our own lives existed in a similar fashion.

And that’s when it occurred to me that something had recently clicked inside my head, and all of a sudden I realised that even using the word “digital” felt utterly redundant. When it permeates so much of what we do on a day to day basis it ceases to make sense in drawing any distinction. Having an afore-mentioned neat little box for it has worked until now, because for a long time it existed in a way we could separate and escape from. Now however we’re in a place where it no longer makes sense to segment it, and to not include some sort of digital element to a campaign, a product, a service, whatever is to commit commercial suicide (extreme viewpoint I know, prove me wrong!).

While this thought was buzzing around my head I swung by TIGS, as Faris had posted plenty while I’d been sunning myself in France. He, of course, had gotten here a little bit before me but along the same line of thinking, having said

Increasingly I’m finding the work ‘digital’ more of a hindrance than a help. It’s too broad to mean anything.

in the same post he linked a great Slideshare presentation from Helge Tennø, Strategic Director of Screenplay, an Oslo, Norway-based agency. Helge’s presentation is simply titled “Post-Digital Marketing”, and while I’m loathe to attach a new name to it, it seems to make sense. Have a look at the deck, it’s really quite lovely.

Of course Iain Tait beat us all there, telling me early in ’08 “digital is not a thing anymore”. I didn’t get it at the time, but I do now. My only concern is having canned UGC, social media, and now “digital” itself, I’m going to need to invent some new things just to shit on them.

And I’m quite OK with that. And I’m OK with not writing about “digital”, in fact I’m excited about it.

“You’re excited by a blog ostensibly about nothing?”

Yes.

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It’s never been like that August 4, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in business strategy, technology.
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Apologies for the recent period of AWOL-ness, I stepped away from real life for a couple weeks trotting around Europe, recouts of which will be posted shortly over at my non-marketing online self. Final thought: there’s an incredible untapped audience of tourists; watch this space.

Back into things though, and my Google Reader overflows with tech and marketing goodness (as well as more from Rod Stuart Loves The Hamptons of course). One post from Fred Wilson stood out for me: Streaming Kills Piracy. It’s a short take on how his son has taken to legitimate means of watching his favourite TV show rather than downloading episodes illeagally. It’s a classic case study in making the barrier to entry lower than the alternatives.

And then this morning, I came across this story in The Guardian which talks about a collapse in illegal sharing and a commensurate increase in legal streaming. The story says 26% of 14 to 18 year olds shared music illegally last month compared to 42% in December of 2007. The story also says 65% of teens stream music regularly.

‘Lo and behold, me and my generation of reprobates aren’t the thieving bastards old media had us pegged for. What you can count on however is a relentless dive to the easiest experience available. Yes, paid will always be a hurdle when positioned next to free, but instant compared to delayed is just as compelling, perhaps even more so.

Look at your own business. What are the barriers to entry that you can bring down?

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