Go to Digital Hello!

September 13, 2010

The Sensidea blog has been retired. Be sure to check out Jaafer Haidar’s blog at DigitalHello.com!

 


Google Instant Changes the Game: Forget SEO

September 8, 2010

Google launched a new salvo in the search battle today and it’s a game changer. Say hello to Google Instant.

Basically, your results will change as you type. No more multiple search queries and result pages, just change what you’re typing until you see the results that match. This has huge ramifications for search engine optimization companies; although sites should still be “optimized”, the number of actual full searches and result pages returned just got obliterated.

I’ve never been a fan of SEO practices that rely on words on a page. These type of “SEO consultants” simply destroy great design and conversion rate in order to try and fulfill the promise of getting listed on search engines. What good is it if a consumer comes to your site only to run away quickly when being confronted with ugly, confusion? Concentrate on great content, navigation, and design to keep consumers engaged.

Great job Google, you just made search a whole lot smarter and fun again.


Will Mobile Apps Win The Day? It’s Looking That Way

August 26, 2010

Image courtesy of ZDNet

Google is working hard on the Chrome Web Store where, if promises are kept, will be an app store filled with amazing web/mobile applications – that’s applications that work in the browser on your computer and mobile device.  Google is planning to launch the Web Store this Fall and looks like they’ll be taking a mere 5% of the revenue from sales of apps (plus $5 just to keep out the crap). That’s right, developers get 95% of the take. After months of deliberating as to whether or not mobile apps will spell the end of native apps long-term I’m starting to be convinced.

My reasons:

1. YouTube proved it to me; showing that their HTML5 mobile web app performed better than the native iPhone app. Wow.

2. Google will make it easy to get apps that work across any smartphone with a browser (HTML5 supported)

3. The mobile web app market is larger than the native app market (i.e. it’s any phone with a supported browser)

4. Developers can make money across all platforms

5. Developing mobile web apps means largely using skills experienced web developers already (CSS, HTML, JavaScript, maybe AS3) vs. learning a new coding set for each platform

6. Developing for the browser is more open, and innovation will continue by the development community not reliant on a company

7. Companies can develop once and hit all smartphones, cutting down the development and support costs associated with multiple native apps

8. Consumers can take their apps with them to any smartphone and tablets

Of course, today mobile web apps might run slower than native apps due to their life in the cloud, and some device capabilities are not available to be applied to the browser but this is changing. Smartphones are increasing in horsepower with dual core smartphones not far off, and new development toolkits are allowing access to device-centric capabilities. Aside from the most ambitious of applications requiring deep device integration, as mobile web apps start to rival the features and functionality of native apps it makes sense that the benefits to developers, companies, and consumers will spell the beginning of the end for mobile walled gardens that we call app stores.


Touch-Tablets Are the Future. A 3 year-old Says So.

June 2, 2010


I watched him as he focused his attention on game play, moving his eyes and fingers side to side. Level 10…level 11…level 12..new high score! He’s been on the iPhone for over an hour; something his parents aren’t thrilled about but will take the quiet time when they can get it. After all, 3 year olds can be a handful. Yes, my 3 year-old nephew is an iPhone gaming pro.

I’ve been mulling over whether the coming rush of touch tablets coming to market later this year will mark the future of computing or if they’ll continue to be a novel gadget appealing only to a niche audience of users. iPad sales are through the roof with 2 million in the first 60 days, but a hot product doesn’t spell a consumer revolution. New innovation replacing existing products wholesale is what dictate a new future (think LCD monitors replacing CRTs). In 10 years will we all be using tablets?

What happens when you give a 3 year-old an iPad and let him play with it for a few hours and then take it away and give him a netbook? He looks at it confused and then asks for the iPad back or he’ll throw a tantrum. Just like I expect to be able to do virtually anything online, he expects to be able to do anything by touching the screen. To him, the experience isn’t new and exciting, it’s just the way it is. Anything else doesn’t make sense.

Of course, the consumer behavior of my generation will dictate whether tablets cause a revolution. The more you can do and the easier you can do it on a tablet, the more likely we’ll be ready to ditch the laptops we’re used to.  The more we buy the more our kids enjoy. The more our kids enjoy, the more we’re likely to buy. There’s already helpful sites, like iPadfor Kids, advising parents on the benefits of the iPad and apps for kids.

Just like the rush of ideas, applications, and platforms that made the web a natural part of our lives, the rush of developers working to bring great ideas, experiences, and platforms to tablets have the power to make tablets the new digital ecosystem device.

To my nephew’s generation it’s natural already. This video says it all. Watch then let me know what you think in the poll below.


Apple Opens the Door for Google

April 15, 2010

The tech world is a buzz with the news that Apple has effectively shut out any technology that it deems is not native to it’s platform; most notably sticking it to Adobe only 4 days before the release of Flash CS5 including the much touted ability to render Flash to the iPhone. Here’s the iPhone 4.0 SDK Terms of Service change that has caused the stir:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Wow. This basically says that if developers want to build apps for the iPhone then they need to use technology that Apple has approved and in a manner that Apple requires. The result has been a growing developer backlash against Apple for essentially becoming the tyrant it so famously accused Microsoft of being in the 1984 commercial. It’s a secret no more that this isn’t about open standards or performance concerns, it’s about money and market share. Business is business after all.

At first look the loser here is Adobe, but this also has a massive effect on companies like Unity3D, the amazing platform for creating 3D on mobile, and Appcelerator’s Titanium which was to finally helps us develop once and deploy to all devices. So where do they turn now? Google.

Apple is the undisputed king on the touch mobile world, but Google is catching up and making the right moves. Google doesn’t want to sell you a millions phones. They want Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and others to sell you millions of phones running Android, Google’s operating system with the growing number of Android apps. Just like Microsoft owning the market as a result of HP, Dell, Acer and other manufacturing Windows-based PCs, Google is going after the market the same way. Apple by contrast is following the same plan it did with Macs, the difference being this time around they currently lead the market.

Where Apple’s platform is closed and controlled (arguably for good reason), Google’s Android is all about being open….and Google is going to support Flash. Think about that. An open development environment and the ability to develop rich, applications you can download from the web and not have to go through a Store.

Here’s the perfect storm that might be coming Apple’s way, and make it plausible that soccer moms might dump their iPhone:

1. Beautiful Android-based devices hit the market rivaling the iPhone. Likelyhood = High: NexusOne is beautiful, and HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others will be flooding the market this year with phones.

2. Android phones tout features you can’t get on the iPhone. Likelyhood = Medium: You can’t multi-task on the iPhone (yet, it’s coming in iPhone 4.0) but you can on Android phones, you can also get turn-by-turn directions in GPS.

3. Android App Market has great applications you can’t get on the iPhone. Likelyhood = High: Most popular applications on the iPhone are now available in the Android App Market, which is growing at a torrid pace. With Apple shutting out Flash (and others like Unity3D) then you can bet that they’ll be developing for Android instead.

4. Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google launch commercials showing a great device with great applications…and in the same breath say ‘you can’t get this on the iPhone’. Likelyhood = High.

5. Soccer mom walks into the nearest cell phone shop and says: “I’m looking for a new phone. I love my iPhone but can you tell me about these new ones with the cool apps?” Likelyhood = Medium.

If nothing else, Apple’s decision to restrict developer freedom is a positive for Google. Whether it shifts the balance away from Apple’s dominance of the North American smartphone market rests on whether developers play Apple’s game or not.

Will Apple’s dominance ensure that developers look to stay on and reap the rewards the iPhone/iPad, or will the growth of Android and Apple’s developer restrictions lure consumers and developers to Google? We should know sooner rather than later.


Do You Really Need To Hire A Digital Media Strategist?

April 9, 2010

Seems like once a week a recruiter finds me on LinkedIn and calls me up asking if I’d be interested in a VP/Director/Whatever of Digital Media Strategy position at <insert big brand or interactive agency here>. My response:

“I’m flattered but I’m happy at Sensidea helping companies like your client get real value from digital media strategy and solutions. By the way, I don’t think your client needs to hire someone to be in charge of Digital Media strategy, they just need to pick the brain of someone who lives and breathes this stuff. By the time they find someone everything has probably changed anyway. Can you give me their name and number and I’ll call them to chat?”

They’re undoubtedly a little caught off guard, give a nervous laugh, and ask “what do you mean?” 

I’ve been through the conversation enough times that it’s time I write this post to answer the recruiter’s question and give a little help to companies wondering payroll should take a Digital Media Strategist hit.

Full disclosure: I make my living helping great companies be digital stars. Yup, I’d love the business so get in touch if you’d like, but more-so I’d love it if every company got value from their digital efforts and not simply  wasted money on double-talking gurus or half-baked efforts because it would mean more amazing web/mobile stuff for us all to enjoy.

So, here’s the list of the top 5 things to consider before putting a Digital Media Executive on your payroll…

  1. Top Dog Commitment: Are the people that call the shots ready to put money and resources towards digital innovation or are they just thinking that they should get in the game? Having dedicated willingness to get innovative is paramount and the difference between success and an endless cycle of chatter.
  2.  

  3. Bang For Your Buck: If you want great teeth you go to the dentist. If you want an amazing garden you get a gardener. You trust their knowledge because that’s what they do best. You don’t invite a dentist and gardener to live with you and give them new things to do. Digital Media Strategy executives usually have another part of their portfolio like Development or Marketing because you can’t just have someone thinking of strategies all day! If you really expect your strategist to have all the digital answers you better be ready to pay him/her to read a lot, test technology, think about what it all means, and let you know what’s valuable vs. hype…and that’s it. If not you end up with bad teeth and crappy flowers.
  4.  

  5. Product Development Guru: Have a VP/Director of Product Development? Didn’t you hire him/her to come up with great ideas and products? Care to bet how long it takes before VP Products and VP Digital Media get in a fight? Product development people understand your business and what the competition is up to. They don’t need someone forcing the latest and greatest trend down their throat, they need a digital media confidant to weigh in and contribute on ideas, trends, and opportunities.
  6.  

  7. Tech Guy Overlord: Is the company ready to embrace new technology or stuck in a legacy mindset? Sometimes the technology you use doesn’t really matter but sometimes it does. If your company is all Microsoft all the time and that reality isn’t about to change (because the tech guy calls the shots and only knows .NET) then why are you even talking about getting on the iPad? Online and mobile innovation moves insanely fast so recognize your company’s tech culture and decide if it needs to change, and if it can.
  8.  

  9. Can You Date?  Is your company tied to vendors like Romeo to Juliet or free to date? Some companies look to existing vendors because it simply takes a lot of effort to constantly know what’s out there. Winning in today’s digital world means constantly understanding what’s happening; from the big players to the little team in the garage. Armed with knowledge you can make sure your existing vendors are the best bet or if someone else is leaving them in the dust.

By definition a Digital Media Strategist is someone that should be able to tell you what’s going on in digital media and what it could mean to your business close to anytime you ask. They read tech and media blogs at night because they love it. If something major happens and they’re not one of the first to know they get really pissed off. They take being on top of the digital world personal.

You don’t need to hire a VP Digital Media Strategy. You need a Digital Media Guru On-Demand:

  • Someone who knows what’s happening across the digital world and keeps you up on matters important to your business; challenges, opportunities you should be all over, and what’s coming, because they take the time to understand your business (not feed you fluff they tell everyone).

 

  • A wealth of knowledge, connections, and practical understanding because they’re digitally obsessed. They have connections to the big guys and the start-up community.

 

  • Work with your Product Development, Strategy, and Development groups; providing insight, ideas, and learning from their insight to make sure any digital effort delivers value.

 

  • Thinks value first and ‘cool’ second; delivers value not hype and double-talk. They’re worth the money because if they’re not you won’t call them again!

So there you have it. There are lots of fast talkers out there because it’s cool to be a digital media dude these days, but test them out and challenge their knowledge (if all they talk about is Twitter and Facebook they’re not who you’re looking for!). Follow these guidelines to be on the right track to digital success with the right digital media strategist helping your team get there.


If I Can Dream: A Beautiful Blend of Technology & Thinking

March 12, 2010

Have you seen If I Can Dream? If not, check it out. Now (ok, after you read this post :)). It’s a feat to be admired, showing what can be done when we think big and work hard to execute. Thanks to Tim Nolan at FITC for blogging about his experiences being involved in the project and turning my attention to such a great experience.

Ok, so what is it? Well, it’s basically an online reality show on steriods. The kind of steroids that would make you Mr./Mrs. Olympia in one dose. It’s not your typical 3 girls in a house broadcasting their intimate moments via webcam. It’s simultaneous video and audio capture, multi-streaming, HD, with a beautiful 3D-like interface, and strategically placed, non-intrusive advertising laced in. It’s an all-digital reality show that runs 24/7, is showcased on MySpace, and let’s anyone with a Hollywood dream submit their own audition tape to get into the house. And the cast definitely don’t have faces made for radio. Oh, and it’s the first show available for viewing on Hulu outside the U.S..

From a technology perspective, Tim put the challenge this way…

The idea was to transfer the Reality TV concept successfully to the Internet. The challenge was… How the f*ck are we going to do this? I mean how do you stream HD quailty video from every angle in the house that TV producer would want to see, how do you rig up all the mics to capture every conversation… In short, how do you make a physical house in Hollywood an all digital, always on 24/7 model for the tech house of the future?

Congrats to the guys at POKE and Entertainment 19. Check out these screen shots, then if you want to marvel at the technology or the cast head on over to the site and have fun.




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