When Palm and Blackberry first took off about 10 years ago I don’t think everyone fully grasped just how huge the handheld multi-device market would become. There were doubeters. Why would I want one device that played music, checked my email, and made phone calls?
I wonder if the same will be true of these new flexible “paper” devices? No one is taking them very seriously. But if they can figure out how to make them cheap, durable, and even disposable (recyclable?) than I can see them dominating the market.
Forget a toy at the bottom of your cereal box! What about a cool video game?
Augmented reality is continuing to morph the way people engage with their devices. This idea is fantastic. And it unleashes a whole new genre of travel. It’s one thing to take the tour. It’s another to take the tour and then stand in the same spot as the crew and watch the scene unfold, on location.
Is there room in the marketplace for three major social media players?
My presumption is that the answer to this question is: No.
For the last 2 years I’ve been saying that Facebook should be racing to compete with Google to become an ubiquitous utility that every 20-something could use at work, at home, and at school. With built-in collaboration tools and all your friends, co-workers, and business acquaintances already on Facebook… if they just had a more powerful word processor, presentation system, spreadsheet engine… they could have buried Google without even thinking about search.
Instead, Facebook invested in their ads engine and social graph. (Both wonderful tools for individuals and organizations alike.) This left the door wide open for Google to take all of the toys they have developed around a single sign-on and tie them all together to create Google Plus.
After the flop of both Google Wave & Google Buzz, Facebook had the chance to turn Google into the new Microsoft but simply couldn’t develop fast enough to take advantage.
I’m a heavy social media user. I check Facebook and Twitter on my way to make coffee every morning. The mere thought of maintaining a third presence for myself and the brands I manage makes me cringe and wretch. I simply don’t have the mental capacity nor will to maintain three different applications, personas, audiences.
So who is the loser here? There are two.
Your privacy. Using Google as your search engine, work application, and now social network means that one company knows darn near everything about you. Based on their algorithms, your behavior online, and your settings you might be sharing far more, far more easily than is helpful to you. One hack, accident, or change in policy could be very harmful to you.
Twitter. As we’ve already documented, Twitter is getting killed by Facebook for marketing businesses. We continue to see, across all of our clients, incoming Facebook traffic at about 10x’s the rate as Twitter. And compared to organic Google traffic? 100:1 in Google’s favor.
Facebook is already good for business.
Twitter is meh for business right now.
Ultimately, these are big companies either funded by stockholders or VC investments. And the cash will flow to where businesses are investing.
If Google Plus releases a way for businesses to connect with their users, you will see all of the media attention, all of the marketing dollars, and gradually all of the users leave Twitter and migrate their attention to either Google Plus or Facebook. There simply isn’t room in people’s lives [or companies marketing budgets] for 3 social media sites. (Two is already INSANE!)
Mark my words. Google Plus won’t take down Facebook anytime soon. But it has the possibility, if they build a platform for brands/businesses ala Google Adwords & Doubleclick for Publishers, to turn Twitter into the next Myspace.
The tech world seems to move in spurts and spasms, and right now we’re in the middle of the “cloud” wave.
But that’s not the worst mega-trend. The worst is caps on home data plans. That’s right: Time Warner, Comcast and other broadband providers are putting limits on how much data you get every month, even at home.
McLane Creative is a start-up. The entire concept flows from my kitchen table innovations and the informal spaces of a small group of freelancers who have come together to make blogging, design, and creative solutions less monstrous.
We have no offices. No payroll. No employee handbook. No phone system, data storage, exchange servers, or private network. And as I look at my business plan I wonder… do I even need to think about those things anymore?
I didn’t with the last company I started from my basement in Romeo, Michigan. We went from $100 and an idea to selling to a News Corp subsidiary in just three years. I don’t think a lack of infrastructure held me back!
Google docs, Dropbox, Highrise, Collabtive, Mailchimp, and Ballpark seem like all the infrastructure I’ll need for the foreseeable future. They are all accessible to me wherever my office happens to be today via my Macbook, iPhone, or iPad. Instead of going to the office to work wherever I want to work has become my office.
What are the limitations?
A lack of perceived security. (Reality is that internal security risk is much higher than external risks at this size. All of the apps above have way more to lose with a security breach than I do.)
I don’t own these applications, I use them. (I’ve heard this as an argument. Frankly, it’s a stupid argument. Let’s say I bought a server that held all of those applications? Wow, then I’d just have something to depreciate with an entirely seperate sense of limitations. “Hold on, let me see if I can connect to my VPN.” That’ll knock that clients socks off!)
Bandwidth restrictions by my ISP or mobile carriers. (Theoretically, ISPs and carriers are going to start throttling usage to users. First, I don’t think they are really going to drop the levels enough to effect me. Second, if they throttle there will be another carrier or ISP who will offer unlimited data and put them out of business. David Pogue’s article for the New York Times was a nice warning shot. But this is coming from the desk of an employee of an organization that thinks people will pay to read their news online, too. These caps will have the same effect as Nick Kristof’s expense account. Ultimately, we’re both going to do what is best and we don’t care who pays the bill.)
How big can you go with this strategy?I guess we’ll find out.
What are fears you have about moving your business to the cloud?
Congrats to Twitter. It truly is the microblogging site that has changed everything. It took social media out of the hell of MySpace and put it on CNN. Twitter helped make all things mobile more legit. And for that we are all thankful. As we saw in January & February 2011, Twitter made it possible to topple a government 140 characters at a time.
At the same time, we are starting to see the explosive effectiveness of Twitter dwindle. It was once the hot place to share links, draw traffic, and create buzz. Not anymore. Across all of our client sites we are seeing Facebook widen growth versus Twitter.
Funny how these things work. The harsh reality is that as that gap continues to widen you will start to see interest in Twitter wane and brands, organizations, and individuals shift their focus to Facebook. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as 200%+ growth is fantastic. Just not as fantastic as Facebook.
The flip side
Interestingly, while Twitter seems to be fading as a place to link bait customers, it is rapidly growing as a place for adolescents and adults alike to connect with their friends. And while that bodes well with engagement… it is just another area where marketers will scratch their heads as they continue to look for high ROI ways to engage without really needing to make the time to engage. (Especially, agency dependent brands.)
Let’s just be blunt. No one feels bad for Myspace. It made its money, it had its run, its owners cashed out.
So when Myspace unveiled its new look, no one really noticed or cared.
Why? Because Myspace became a place for advertisers and not a place for adolescents to connect and share. It was the underground, the secret power that elevated no named bands into the consciousness of throbbing crowds. But then it became about the underground. And then the underground became mainstream. And no one cares now because Myspace is top-down mainstream trying to market to teenagers.
Teenagers are savvy. They know when they are being marketed to. They know the difference between a start-up with no money and News Corp pumping millions into a dead brand for the sake of squeezing a few more million dollars out of it.
It would have been better to just put it out to pasture.
This is why corporations are horrible social media engines and start-ups are fantastic.
To a start-up, it’s about the dream of maybe making it big. To a major company, it’s about making enough money to keep your shareholders happy so you can do it one more business cycle.
I really love this move by Apple. Rather than dig in and try to figure out how to create a new niche` of a social media platform. They kind of punted and integrated with Twitter.
They didn’t completely punk out and just add an integration. In fact, they made it so that it interacts both ways. And I’m sure Twitter gets a little slice of the pie when someone buys a song through their browser.
This is an excellent example of third option thinking. Instead of getting locked into the paradigm of “we need a social media platform or we need to get out of social media” by Apple. They found a creative third option that is good for everyone.
This is why its so hard to build marketing strategies for companies. As Seth Godin taught long ago– all marketing is lying. Everyone knows it. So the best marketing strategy isn’t to come up with a great lie, it’s to valiantly allow your your message to truthfully report your actions.
Too many organizations spend too much money and too much time worrying about marketing their message when they should be investing in improving their actions.
Example #1: Bing
It was well-documented that Microsoft intended to spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising their new search engine, Bing. That told me it was a crappy product before it even launched. All I wanted to know was why they weren’t spending hundreds of millions of dollars on making Bing better? Google never advertised early… they let you discover how awesome it was on your own.
Example #2: Zappos
Zappos describes themselves as a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. Buying shoes online is a dangerous proposition. But by investing lots of resources in customer service and relatively little on marketing they have built a reputation that it’s safe to take the risk and buy shoes online.
Example #3: AT&T
The cell phone carrier is trying to rebuild its reputation among picky iPhone consumers by simply becoming a better service. When their competitor, Verizon, came out with a group of ads (which were completely fabricated, by the way) saying that Verizon’s network was bigger than AT&T’s the giant originally responded with some ads of their own. But they’ve since given up on that stye of campaign and diligently tried to offer better customer service and invested heavily in infrastructure to improve the quality of their services.
All of these companies are learning what you and I experience at the local coffee shop. Your reputation is built one interaction at a time.
This announcement went out to iOS developers today from Apple:
iOS 4.2 is coming this November. With iOS SDK 4.2 beta, you can add exciting, new features to your apps including the capability to print directly from iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. iPad apps can now take advantage of multitasking, Game Center, iAd, and more. link
My first thought is a humorous one. As a traveler I am very familiar with the look travelers have when they get off a plane with a white USB cord, looking for an outlet to plugin their iPhone with. It’s amazing how people with the look can spot an open electrical outlet from 50 yards away. Now we’ll get to add another look… the “can I login to your printer” look. People at libraries, coffee shops, and other wifi hotspots will now have a new service to provide.
My second thought is more strategic. As iOS gets increasingly more like a handheld computer than purely a communication device, app developers and content providers really have to think through how they want their audiences utilizing their content. Even web developers have got to think seriously about how their properties content will look when printed from an app. Will it display an ad? Will it be formatted well? On and on.
This is just another reason I push my clients to fully developed CMS platforms like WordPress. Rather than thinking purely about developing a website, people now need to think about an app experience and an overall mobile experience. Both apps and mobile devices are going to play nicely with a CMS like WordPress since it is CSS/XML/SQL based rather than some obscure, proprietary CMS.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, I typically suggest customizing and existing wheel to meet your needs. If you are interested in building a site that is app-ready or you want to build an iPhone app, let me know.