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February 2010

January 2010

Apple iPad; Is it a Bagel Store or a Deli?

Apple iPadImage by Daniel Semper via Flickr

There's a bagel store and deli near where I live.  I never go there.  It doesn't seem to have any bagel credibility because they are also a deli, and it is not really a deli, because what right minded deli in New York pushes bagels over rye bread.  So even though it is the most convenient store to my house, I don't go.  I haven't even tried it.

The Apple iPad seems to suffer from the same syndrome.  Don't get me wrong, from a feature, functionality stand point it's pretty slick.  But if I want a reader, the Kindle is #1 in that category followed by the SONY Reader.  If I want a portable video viewing, web surfing device, I may opt for a mini computer like object.

So the iPad is left being vague.  It's why Fred Wilson in his leading VC blog called the iPad an interesting device to mount on his elliptical, so that he can watch video and surf the web while exercising.  The iPad is a device without a purpose.  Something that is "cool" without being clear.

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Agents of Organizational Change

fast company mujeres web20Image by jagelado via Flickr

As an entrepreneurial organization, my company,, is frequently thinking through new ways to align employees with the demands of the market.  We are all being challenged to be our own agents of change and to find ways to contribute to growth.

As we head into the new year, I was engaged in a discussion with my boss, that quickly reminded me of Bob Knowling and his Change Manual.  For those unfamiliar with Bob, he was one of the first executives to carry the title "Agent of Change" on his business card, first at Ameritech and then at US West and Covad.

This article from Fast Company titled "Bob Knowling's Change Manual" should be on the must read list of every executive.  In this interview conducted by Noel Tichy, Professor and Director of the Global Leadership Program at the University of Michigan Business School, Bob describes his 8 guidelines for initiating organizational change.  These include:

1. We all have some authority to implement change

2. Don't ask for permission

3. Never underestimate how the system is stacked against you, prioritize and pick your battles

4. Be a model of change

5. Don't be a kamikaze pilot

6. Focus on the issues that we don't want to talk about, focus on financial performance and creating shareholder value

7. Walk the talk

8. Make "change" the way you do business

I met Bob back at N.W. Ayer when I was trying to bring change to a client.  His words are as inspirational now as they were back when I heard them over 10 years ago.

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Brilliant Viral Marketing from Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola logo was first published in the ...Image via Wikipedia

A coca cola vending machine that dispenses happiness.....brilliant.  Best viral marketing campaign of 2010.

Kudos to the Coca Cola marketing team.

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The World is Going Mobile

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Gartner released a study today that indicates consumers will spend $6.2 billion on mobile apps in 2010 ($4.2 billion in 2009) with $.6 billion spent worldwide on advertising.  Downloads of mobile apps will total 4.5 billion downloads in 2010.

The most popular mobile apps are games followed by shopping, social networking, utilities and productivity tools.

As a new owner of the Verizon Motorola Google Android, I continue to be amazed by what you can do on the phone.  Email from multiple accounts set up in minutes.  The exercise app keeps track of my routine and has short videos demonstrating how to use the equipment.  A new shopping App from CNET scans bar codes and lets you know what you should be paying.   An iPhone app let's you scan a color and gives you ordering instructions for Benjamin Moore.  Games occupy my mind in those spare moments.

These phones are already transforming the shopping experience.  When shopping I immediately compare the store price to other prices found online (save $100 last week).

Mobile is here....and it's amazing and transformative.

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Ode to the Tivo Lady

Image representing TiVo as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Every time Tivo, the home DVR company, has a new feature or announcement, its delivered with energy and enthusiasm by the Tivo lady.  Now I don't know her name, but I do know that if the Tivo lady likes it, I should at minimum listen to what she has to say....after all, who am I to doubt her.

The Tivo lady puts a face on a faceless company.  She makes them human and approachable.  Since she appears on the TV in my den, she is almost a part of the family. 

The Tivo lady is clearly not a paid actor (I think), but comes across as an ordinary person.  Someone that really represents the heart and soul of the company.  She's not a spokesperson in the classic sense of a paid actor or celebrity, but a real person who, that if I called Tivo, would pick up the phone and talk to me.

Every company needs a Tivo lady.  As the trend in email marketing this year moves from text to video, you'll see more and more Tivo ladies emerging. 

I'm glad I brushed up on my acting skills when studying marketing in college.  Is this the next qualification of a marketer?

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Google Nexus One is a Marketing Blunder

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

The Google Nexus One phone is a marketing blunder.  The launch is confusing, the benefits are obtuse, and the positioning is not particularly differentiating. 

To be clear, this is not sour grapes.  I'm a huge Google fan.  I love my Droid phone.  It is amazing.  Great phone, great Apps, fast speed.  It's just about perfect.  It's the marriage of the #1 wireless carrier, Verizon, with the #1 cloud computing company.  This I understand.

Now let's look at the Google Nexus #1. 

It's being positioned as a super phone (OK, I can live with that), that is being sold directly by Google.  Huh.  The #1 cloud company is not the #1 wireless carrier.  They are now #4 behind Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T (not to mention Boost, Virgin etc.).

But wait you say, what about hardware manufacturers.  OK, so that are number whatever behind Motorola, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Apple etc.

The confusion continues.  You can buy the Nexus 1 at a reduced price through T-Mobile.  So now I can combine the #3 wireless network with the #1 cloud computing company on a device that seeks to duplicate the #1 iPhone.

Marketing has laws of physics.  There are #1, 2, 3 brands.  Consumers want #1, will live with #2 and accept #3 if it is a reasonable value. Money and features cannot reorder the market.  Only a mistake by #1 which is taken advantage of by #2 or #3 has a shot.  Google should know better.

By now all the left brain thinkers in the world are saying, but wait, Google Nexus One has killer features.  To that I say, who cares.  As any right brain thinker will tell you, it's not the features, it's the concept.  And in this case, the concept is confusing.  If features always won, everyone would be buying Chevys instead of Camrys.

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