woensdag 29 december 2004

The way we will pay?

So what are we waiting for in the rest of the world? If it can be done in Japan, why not here...?

"Japan's NTT DoCoMo said Wednesday that, since July, it has sold one million phones that can be used to make payments. 'The phones use built-in smartcards that enable users to swipe the devices near point-of-sale terminals to pay for purchases. The wireless carrier launched the service last summer and there are about 13,000 shops and 2700 vending machines in Japan that accept that sort of payment."

What's the buzz about buzz marketing?

Reading this article on 'buzz marketing' made me think about the i-mode launch campaign in The Netherlands where KPN used a number of 'in the know' ambassadors to promote the new i-mode phones and services. It didn't work and here's why. So before you start buzzing...

"Not every product can be effectively marketed by buzz agents, however. 'It has to be an interesting one,' says Kahn. 'Products do have to live up to the hype, they do have to deliver. If these products aren't delivering coolness, this will not over time be a credible method.' According to Kahn, products that fit this description are fashion items and items of cultural interest such as TV shows, books and movies -- anything that connotes a sense of being 'in the know.'"

dinsdag 28 december 2004

The alpha bloggers

Newsweek is running an article on the 'alpha bloggers' and their impact/influence. Although very much focused on technology, its a model we'll surely see in other areas as well with blogs becoming more mainstream.

"The blogosphere is a tipping-point machine," says Searls, referring to Malcolm Gladwell's treatise on how ideas and trends can suddenly tilt from obscurity to ubiquity. A good idea gets amplified by the "echo chamber" of the blogosphere. It need not be the original thought of the blogger. In fact, as scientists from the HP Information Dynamics Lab wrote in a paper titled "Implicit Structure and the Dynamics of Blogspace," ideas move on the blogosphere like viruses; the alpha bloggers spread concepts like Typhoid Marys."

(Don't) speak and surf simulaneously

Indeed amazing that this is not possible...

"For example if I'm looking up restaurant listings on my phone, I want to be able to chat with my sweetie at the same time about where we're going to go to dinner. However, unless you are going to put in two sets of circuitry and make two simultaneous connections, there's really no way to do it other than by doing it all as data and packetizing the voice and doing voice over IP at the same time."

maandag 27 december 2004

Options and integrated thinking

"CIOs don't run the supply chain in most companies, so they have trouble envisioning what will happen to sales if a critical system doesn't function as expected for a few days or weeks. Businesspeople, meanwhile, have trouble imagining an IT programming glitch getting past the walls of the data center and causing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of lost sales. The chasm between cause and effect is almost too vast to contemplate."

Although I agree with the point he makes, at the same time I think "envisioning what IT can do" will be a basic skill of business people in the near future. Especially when (young) people who don't regard IT as being someting new and mysterious will be in charge...

zondag 26 december 2004

Digital inheritance

A lot of attention has been given to the case of Marine Lance Cpl. Justin M. Ellsworth. He died in Iraq over a month ago and his parents are seeking access to his email-account which is not allowed given the email provider's privacy policy. This story has triggered me to think about what happens to my digital life after I'm dead. To have everything under my own control I too think this is the best solution:

"The easiest approach, Internet scholars say, is simply to leave behind a password. I think this (Yahoo) case will be helpful to people who are thinking about issues not only of inheritance but planning," said Jonathan I. Ezor, a professor of law and technology at Touro Law Center in Huntington, New York. "When one family member tells another where the important paperwork is, the will, safe deposit box key, etc., the list of passwords is going to be added to that."

zondag 19 december 2004

Barcodes are real world hyperlinks?

I've written about it back in May already, and it's not yet as user-friendly as it should be, but I fully agree that something like barcodes could link the physical world to a virtual world in a mobile environment. There are so many opportunities here, can't wait...

"The NetImp piece argues that bar codes could be the real-world equivalent of a hyperlink - the break through thinking that gave us the web. Clicking on a physical hyperlink (bar code) can take you anywhere relevant in the cyberworld."

What if the record labels....?

Here's a thought I've often had as well.

Andy Heath, managing director of 4AD, said at the conference: "If the record labels had embraced the original Napster, we may not be here... but they didn't and we are."

But I think it's a good thing that they didn't embrace Napster. Relevant innovation has been the result of this war between the recording industry and the technology sector. And if this war would have been less fierce, I believe there would have been less innovation.

Many people = unforeseen innovation

Sometimes it is hard to explain why 'open' operating/business models are better than 'closed' models, because the specific advantages are often unknown up front. Dan Gillmor makes a similar comment on the Wikinews initiative.

"But I think they have a lot to work out on how news applies to Wikis -- it's just not clear that it is a natural medium for news. Certainly for breaking news I don't think that Wikinews would be the place to go. But I expect that they're going to come up with some things that we can't anticipate now because they have so many people to work on it."

Last days of long distance

Incumbent telco's have options, but they are running out of time.

"If you look at the long distance companies today, they are in a world of hurt. AT&T;, MCI and Sprint and feeling the heat, and basically working hard on strategies to survive. What the Bells have snatched away from them, VoIP is going to, and it is only a matter of time before they feel like the fat kid who can’t get lucky even online"

Network central

Every now and then, the networked thin client shows up as a vision. In the end it will be (or may be it already is) a reality, but always later than sooner...

"I think that this is a very Microsoftian view of the world, making the desktop PC the centre of the network. I believe that the principle of such a model is possible, even highly probable, but in fact it'll be the network itself that will store this information. This trend is supported by initiatives like Gmail, BlogLines, Flickr and many other rising stars on the net."

Retail brands beat prices online

While it is getting more difficult to command a premium price through product branding, retailers seem to have better possibilities of increasing their revelance and therefore strengthening their brand. It even results in a premium potential...

"The lesson for retailers is to focus as much on building a brand that instills trust as on price, Brynjolfsson said. Online shoppers want to pay less, but they also want to feel confident that the products they receive are what they ordered and are delivered on time and undamaged."

Netflix goes social networking

More and more examples are popping up that proof the potential value of social networking services.

Watch a movie, rate a movie, share your views with your ‘Friends’—sounds like a natural context for social networking. Now if I could only get my Mitsubishi TV to work again I would try out Netflix and respond to Tony’s invite to join his Netflix Friends… (:=

zondag 12 december 2004

Pervasive computing

Sometimes it's hard to imagine that we're just at the beginning of a technological (r)evolution. Many things we now speak of as being 'cool' or 'unbelievable' will be normal and unnoticable not so long from now.

"Inanimate objects will start to interact with us: we will be surrounded - on streets, in homes, in appliances, on our bodies and possibly in our heads - by things that 'think'. "

Keeping love connections open

No comments on this statement..;-)

"I've found that if a man doesn't interest me online, he doesn't interest me offline either. I don't feel like I can get to know a person anymore without e-mail or IM. Even when we're not creating internet personas, we're different in our online writing -- funnier, braver, more intimate. I want to know that side of him, and I really notice its lack when it's missing."

The commercialization of chitchat

Buzz marketing is nothing new, but marketers are getting better at understanding the mechanics behind it, and at using the (new) tools available to them.

"What amazes me is how many folks are willing to work for free and not recoup any activity rewards; instead, they are delighted to simply be "in the know" as local trend setters. Now that's a cost-effective strategy from a marketer's pov.""

Six degrees of innovation

I believe this goes for marketers and other professionals as well...

"Your company's scientists and investors can be antennas that bring great ideas into your company. The key, says HBS professor Lee Fleming, is understanding small-world networks .... 'Our work and more recent work on knowledge diffusion demonstrates that knowledge flows along these collaborative relationships, even years after they were formed,' says Fleming. At the same time, the world of inventors 'is getting smaller,' he says, 'inventors are more connected to their colleagues in outside firms, and that knowledge is diffusing in both directions.'"

Death of an industry (model)

A good comparison between how people experience death and how the recording industry is experiencing another unescapable future.

"In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced the "five stages of grief" model to explain the emotions that dying people and their families often experience: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Patients diagnosed with terminal diseases often find transition between these stages quite painful, and many never reach the acceptance stage."

And here some illustrating evidence that supports the comparison made above.

"An interesting report released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that "the vast majority [of music artists] do not see online file-sharing as a big threat to creative industries. Across the board, artists and musicians are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use."

Readers blogs

I wrote about Citizen journalism a couple of days ago, claiming that traditional media companies have been very slow to act on it. But now comes Le Monde in France with a very nice implementation.

"Le Monde is one of the first newspapers in the World to offer blogs to their readers, under the Le Monde brand. They have also published a ranking of the 10 top blogs, mixing their journalists blogs and their readers blogs, showing them at the same level, based on blog readers recommendations."

Nobody's Using MMS (yet?)

Never mind that currently two thirds of phones sold are camera phones. MMS is still not used. Why? Well there are a couple of reasons. Many point out that there's no killer app, prices are too high and people don't see it as the substitute for SMS as many had hoped they would. I too think that MMS pricing is a primary barrier that prevents the MMS adoption curve from speeding up. But I do believe that when that issue is solved MMS will be, partly, a substitute for SMS. Answering the question: "where are you and with whom' via MMS might be easier with MMS, sometimes even better. And I receive that very question many times a week....

"Note I said person-to-person, not phone-to-phone: I'm not convinced that sending pictures from phone to phone will ever be all that popular. I'm sure it will get used some, particularly as download speeds improve, but picture messages simply won't replace SMS as a primary means of communication. But when image quality and transmission speeds improve, using MMS to send pictures to other people will grow, they just won't be receiving them on their mobile phones."

vrijdag 10 december 2004

Limiting Internet access?

What's the value of something like the CIA if its former head says something as stupid as this?

"The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said. Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said."

zondag 5 december 2004

Citizen journalism

It's here to stay, but traditional media companies have been very hesitant so far. And I don't understand why. Is it a lack of entrepreneurship? Their world is changing, but they don't act while there are so many opportunities...

"I think the citizen journalism trend is inevitable, and traditional media companies need to get over their fear of it tainting their brand names. While mixing citizen journalism directly in with the work of professional journalists may feel like going too far, there's little reason for a news organization to avoid at least establishing an independent citizen journalism entity and linking back and forth."

Downloading 2.0

Fighting new distribution methods will only result in a faster evolution of these technologies. Exeem, by SuprNova, seems to be another case in point. The media and entertainment companies should really change course and face the facts.

"Exeem will marry the best features of a decentralized network, the easy searchability of an indexing server and the swarming powers of the BitTorrent network into one program."

No fun being an operator

A great example of things to come that should make operators worry about their prfit margins....

"Callwise allows you to download an application onto your Symbian mobile phone. Then, using your normal address book, call a number abroad from any network and save yourself up to 95% of the call charge."

Tracking the net

I've been using Technorati ever since I started blogging, and indeed the biggest difference with a search engine like Google is that it provides you with insights from the 'real-time web'. But I find it hard to believe that as more and more people are reading and publishing blogs the Google's of this world will not 'take' this niche as well. They should. Update: MSN already has a blog only search engine, MSN Blogbot.

"I know people look up themselves, and try to find out “who’s talking about me?” That’s the classic Technorati search. The other thing is research, but a different kind than you can do on Google. Let’s say you’re looking for a wine connoisseur – on Google, you’ll get a bunch of e-commerce sites. On Technorati, you’ll get the guy blogging about wine: the expert."

Your data is mine

In the U.S. NOAA decided that weather data collected by the government, and therefore funded by tax payers, will be freely available to anyone in an open-access XML format. This should be the case for a lot more content that's being produced by the government. Directly, but also indirectly looking at public broadcasters for example. Remember the BBC's Creative Archive?

donderdag 2 december 2004

WTF is Eccky!?!

After Monday's public announcement there has been a lot of press attention and I spent the better part of this week talking to journalists and bloggers alike. This weekend we will launch the Eccky weblog (in English) that will give you a more detailed look at this very special project, primarily from a development perspective. Here's a preview...

Eccky is the name of a game where two parents can make, name and raise a virtual child. An Eccky. Their Eccky will be added to their MSN Messenger contact list, just like a regular buddy. Parents can chat with their Eccky, play games, feed, wash, shop, and everything else that comes with raising a child in real life. The game will end in 18 days when Eccky will celebrate its 18th birthday. After having gone through three life stages, baby, toddler and teen, Eccky will leave its parents home... All interaction is done either through the MSN Messenger chat interface, the MSN Messenger game window or by using a mobile phone.

The looks and character of an Eccky are based on the DNA profiles of the parents, derived from a DNA quiz at the beginning of the game. There are no two Eccky's the same and our 'artificial life' technology will make sure that Eccky's behavior will be dynamic and in some ways even unpredicatble. Parents will face the challenge of raising their Eccky in the best way possible. At any time, parents can see the results of their Eccky by just looking at him or her, but also by taking a glance at some of the monitors available or by watching the rankings on www.eccky.com. Happiness, health, wealth, skills and friends are just a few examples of the hundreds of dynamic variables that make up each Eccky and which are used in order to determine how parents are doing....

This is just a short overview of what Eccky will be like. Stay tuned, the first Eccky will be born on November 4th and, after an extensive closed beta test, Eccky will available to everyone Q1 2005...