Friday, October 28, 2011

Microsoft's Vision of the Future

This is a good new video from Microsoft about how the world will look in a few years.  A lot of it is based on display technologies, like Surface, and a lot on mobile.  (& read this for background)

My only problem with it really is that it only talks about middle class or rich people, and current events suggest that in the future many will be less well off than today.  This quote from a thread on Metafilter from a couple of years ago is still very apt:

"One of my friends points out that this future is very specific to the middle-class. The people delivering all those groceries, and driving the buses 24 hours a day, and presumably maintaining the garden-like restaurant (and somewhere, preparing the food pods to be dropped into the tubes) are not working from home three days a week."

However having said that I'm guilty of the same thing with recent posts on interactive toys for kids and the falling costs of smartphones, so let's be quite clear about this:  This is what some will see, but many will not be included in this vision of a perfect world.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Almost anyone can afford a smartphone

Now on offer at T-Mobile (other operators are available) A Samsung Galaxy Ace, for free, with a £15 per month plan over 24 months.  A friend recently took up a very similar offer, that included unlimited internet, unlimited texts, and 100 minutes talk time.

Three thoughts:

1 - Smartphone penetration will keep growing very quickly to reach something like 70% within a year in the UK

2 - Apple is going to be seen as very expensive when lots of handsets are being offered for free, and will not be an option for most

3 - However there will be lots of additional (unlocked) handsets bought.  With the best will in the world the Samsung Galaxy Ace isn't designed to last for 24 months

Toys interacting with mobile apps

We're now starting to see examples of toys and games that mix real objects with mobile apps.  Here are two examples, both from clients.

First, Lego, with Life of George, on sale here (£30)

Unpack the set, then the mobile app asks you to create pictures against the clock.  Expect it to be a big seller this Christmas!

Second Pixar, with 'Cars' toys that interact with the iPad.

Also - added bonus - I love this video of a baby trying to interact with magazines:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Direction's Cyber Punk

For plans for the One Direction Paper Dolls please see at the bottom of the page.  Plans for all 5 dolls are down there!

One Direction is the band that came out of last year's X-Factor (a bit of background for anyone who's not in the UK).  They're close to releasing their first album, and to stoke up the interest their 'people' (record company, management or whatever) have been playing an online game with fans.

The character 1DCyberPunk was introduced a couple of weeks ago through the main One Direction site.  She's supposedly stolen their laptop, and will release images and more as fans complete a set of challenges.  For example solving a cryptic clue to get an exclusive pic, getting a One Direction term trending on Twitter, or making a paper model of the band members.

Here's the section of the One Direction site

Here's the Twitter

 This is a typical intro to a challenge

One challenge was to download & make paper dolls of the band members from patterns

An example

Then take fun pictures of them and upload to the Tumblr

(One Direction Paper Dolls - To download the templates, go to the 1DCP site, and then go to task 4 to see the dolls link (see pic above).  Use the arrows on the bottom to navigate to task 4.  Good luck, Tinkers!)

(OK then - Easter 2012 - in response to the comments on the blog I've now taken screenshots and here are the plans for all 5 dolls.  Be creative and enjoy yourselves!)

Harry Styles Paper Doll

Liam Payne Paper Doll

Louis Tomlinson Paper Doll

Niall Horan Paper Doll

Zayn Malik Paper Doll

(Slight update - 16-11-11 - fans have even made stop-motion films of the dolls)

(End of update)

The main action's happening through Twitter, and I think it says a lot about both how the young are using media, and how to engage through social media.

1 - Teens get Twitter.  It's easy to do, and it's free (as a marginal cost).  A friend recently got a smartphone on a contract with unlimited internet, unlimited texts & 100 minutes of talk time for £15 a month.  Blimey.  Twitter is perfect for kids to communicate, and these days so many of their heroes are on twitter.  In the case of One Direction the band is on Twitter (twitter is promoted more prominently than Facebook on their site) and the 5 individual members are on too and active users.  Furthermore, bands like One Direction are teaching their fans how to be expert Twitter users.  I read a book once where a female journalist said that she'd learnt how to organise people by planning trips to see David Cassidy when she was younger...  This is similar.

2 - Brands can use Twitter for engagement, but only when they are engaging in the first place.  Twitter wasn't used to launch the band, TV was.  But Twitter is used to keep the excitement and interest high.  In this case it's 5 teenagers, so there's no shortage of news to spread about them - what they're up to, where they've been, what they want for their birthdays, what they're watching on TV.  The challenge with brands on twitter is to be endlessly interesting - not how they can spend money to promote things that people probably aren't that interested in (Columbus are using the promoted trend today to promote a video that's 5 months old)

Hats off to whoever's running the One Direction marketing.  I'd love to see some case studies when they've shown that if you get it right kids do still buy music!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Museum of Obsolete Objects

The Museum of Obsolete Objects is a treasury of information about - well - obsolete objects.  These range from quill pens to typewriters to cassette tapes to cameras.  Some are debatable - have hand-whisks really become obsolete? - but that aside it's a great resource.

The site is a YouTube channel.  You navigate through a time-line, and the objects themselves are profiled in short videos.

This is the video for cassette tapes:

Opel Movano Filesharing Banner

This is a very clever idea:  To convey the idea that the Movano is good for transporting stuff, the banner let you upload a file and send it to a friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Next Generation Media - October 2011

It's that time again - please have a look at my new summary of the best from my monitoring of what's happening in digital media from the past 3 months.

Several of the stories should be familiar to regular readers of this blog, and my stats blog

The Next Bigger Better Society Conference

My ex-colleague Matt Bamford-Bowes has created a new conference, Get Together, as part of an initiative called The Next Bigger Better Society.
It sounds very interesting and inspiring, and he agreed to answer some questions about the motivation for the conference, and his new project.
The conference takes place in mid-November, and if you go I’ll see you there.

Ben Hammersley - one of the confirmed speakers

Dan - What was the initial inspiration for project?
Matt - Easyjet. It might be a bit odd to think that Easyjet inspired a project about creating a collaborative conference, but here is why. I went to a conference with one of the partners at The Brooklyn Brothers. It was a pretty dire experience, poor speakers pitching about their "amazing" technology,  and what really captured the essence of this was the guy sat in the row in front of us spending an hour booking flights on Easyjet. It made me believe there was a better way of doing conferences, one that involved the audience as well as the speaker.

D - Why a new conference?  When does a conference work and when do books / blogs / whatever work?
M - Why a new conference is a question I have asked myself and am constantly asked. There were two reasons for it. The first was that I believed there was a gap in the market, a gap which could be filled by a conference that was more collaborative in nature than your typical conference. I have this genuine belief that this conference will been seen as intellectually important on the global stage, not just here in the UK. The second was value. I, like many people around me, would love to experience TED but the £4000 cost of a ticket is incredibly out of reach. It is a conference for the elite, the top 1%. I wanted the Get Together Conference to be about stimulating debate and curiosity about meaningful topic and themes, but at a price most people could afford. I guess you could say we are trying to be about the 99%. At £97 for our tickets, I think we are managing to achieve that.

D - What's the best conference you've been to, and what worked in particular?
M - Conferences fail for me when speakers are allowed to use it as a veiled pitch about their company. Why this doesn't work for me is that people go to hear from the speaker not from the brand. I don't want to hear about Coca-Cola for example, but i'd love to know how their CEO runs the business efficiently and effectively. I'd go to see him speak otherwise it just becomes another advert. By pioneering the idea of getting two speakers on stage at the same time talking about a challenge or an idea we have set them, I think this gives much more interesting conversation and hopefully post talk debate.

D - Any planned offshoots / follow ups?
M - We are already thinking about how we follow up next year with two events. One will be in support of our Get Together Fund, which is aimed at getting teens and their ideas off the ground through mentoring, microfunding and any other means. All the profits from this event will be put back into the fund and it will be driven by sponsorship. The idea of the event will be influential, modern idea curators talking to teens from around the UK, aiming to inspire them about themselves and their futures. The second will be a follow-up to Get Together and we are already in discussions with some really interesting speakers from around the world. We are also in discussions about a conference in Madrid, but we want to get the UK right first.

D - What is missing in conference landscape?
M - Dialogue. Genuinely I don't feel that there is much dialogue between speakers and audience at any conferences. I want our speakers to be able to interact with the audience and the audience to feel absolutely connected to what the speakers are talking about. If we fail in both those levels then no matter how many tickets we sell I don't think we will have been successful.

Get Together takes place on Friday 18th November from 9am – 1pm at The Wellcome Auditorium, NW1.
You can get tickets here.
You can find out more about the Get Together fund here, and The Next Bigger Better Society here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Air New Zealand's Sheep

Air New Zealand have a bit of a reputation for online videos.  They've previously used All Blacks, body painters, and Richard Simmons to do their safety announcements, and generated lots of views.

To promote their new Cuddle Class Sky Couch bench seats they've taken the surreal route.  For example:


& even

There's also a Facebook game to play here

Friday, October 07, 2011

Tweet Voting for Paranormal Activity 3

The Paranormal Activity films have a bit of a reputation for innovative promotion.

The first film used the concert booking site Eventful to get people to ask for the film to be shown in their town, making it a low budget smash back in 2009.

Last year they promoted the second film by giving people a free download of the first film if they bought 4 tickets to see the second.

Now they're promoting the third with a tweet vote, supported by a promoted trend, using the same 'TweetYourScream' account as before, to pick the 20 cities in the US that will get the film first.

Only in America, sadly.  Update - now you can vote wherever you are in the world!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Vaccines Instagram Video

Made using Instagram pictures submitted by fans

See the original call for pictures here

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The X Factor Finalists on Twitter & Facebook

This year's X Factor finalists have been announced - the 16 singers and acts that will compete in the live TV shows from now until Christmas.

Following on from my post on the websites for Apprentice contestants, I thought it would be interesting to look at the social media presence for each of the finalists.  Just as it was pretty clear that someone who was self-employed would win The Apprentice (because Sugar wanted someone he could go into business with, not someone he could employ) I think that the level of understanding and competence in social media will be one of the 'factors' determining success in the competition (which has a public vote each week, and is effectively a popularity contest for a lot of the time).  As well as doing the 'please phone for me' mime, contestants can now fire out messages live through their networks.  The success of many of today's biggest stars who made it without a talent contest, from Lady Gaga to Lily Allen to Justin Bieber to the Arctic Monkeys has been partly attributed to their use of social media.

It's also a good way of illustrating the importance of social media today.  5 years ago contestants were pretty much at the mercy of their managers and the media; now they have their own voice.  If any brands doubt the point of having a social media presence, watch how this series develops.

(All I have done is search Twitter & Facebook.  I may have the wrong accounts in some cases - please level any corrections or updates in the comments)

So here we go:

The Girls:

Misha Bryan - Twitter - Facebook

Janet Devlin - Twitter - Facebook
It's also worth noting that Janet Devlin has a very popular YouTube channel, and was a minor YouTube star before she appeared on The X Factor

Sophie Habibis - Twitter (not found) - Facebook

Amelia Lily - Twitter - Facebook

The Boys:

Frankie Cocozza - Twitter - Facebook (not official)
(Frankie has by far the highest number of Twitter followers, at over 120,000.  He clearly 'gets it', and whether he succeeds in the competition or not, he's building a very useful base of contacts.  Whatever happens, he owes Ev and Biz a very large drink.  He doesn't seem to bother with Facebook as far as I can tell - the account is run by his fans)

Marcus Collins - Twitter - Facebook

Craig Colton - Twitter - Facebook

James Michael - Twitter (not found) - Facebook (not official)

The Over 25s:

Sami Brookes - Twitter - Facebook

Kitty Brucknell - Twitter - Facebook (not official)

Jonjo Kerr - Twitter - Facebook

Johnny Robinson - Twitter - Facebook

The Groups:
The groups have a bit of a quandary - some have a 'group account', esp. on Facebook, some have individual Twitters, some have group Twitters.

2 Shoes - Twitter (not found) - Facebook (not official)

Rhythmix - Twitter (Jade) - Twitter (group) - Facebook

Nu Vibe - Twitter (Jordan) - Facebook

The Risk - Twitter (Charlie) - Twitter (Andi) - Twitter (Derry) - Twitter - (group) - Facebook

Let battle commence!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 on Google+ Hangouts

A couple of weeks ago held a Hangout with fans on Google+ prior to a gig, and then put some of the gig on a hangout.

You can see a clip of the gig here (he even raps about Google+)

& the full 30 minute hangout here.

I can see this being used more an more by performers.  It shows how flexible Hangouts can be (& how safe it is as a way for artists to interact with fans.

Full story here
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