Category Archives: technology

What’s not going to happen in 2013

So by this stage, already one  week into this gloomy, gloomy year, you’ll have read the millionth ‘what’s going  to happen in  2013’ list, so I thought I’d approach the topic a little differently. This is my ‘what’s not going  to happen in 2013′ list.

1) Tablets will not be the magic bullet for publishers. Only ever wishful thinking and hype on  the part of publishers, 2013 will be the year that the industry collectively slumps in its chairs and reluctantly admits that it’s still  harder than ever to make money from the  printed word. This has been driven in part by the poor  quality of ‘tablet editions’ – many are little more than a linked-up PDF. Another ominous sign was Murdoch’s decision to close his tablet paper, in The Daily, in December, after losing  $30m a year.

The same goes for print books; while tablets are a great  innovation for consumers, for publishers it only means tighter margins as Amazon executives rub their hands together with glee. But that’s not to say there’s not some success from the more esoteric operators. Legal publishers like Thomson Reuters are investing heavily in professional-grade e-readers, able to cope with  the very specific demands of the professional services, such as dynamic searching and note making. We’ll see more innovation in this area I think, but not for a mainstream consumer audience.

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2) Specialist social media PR agencies will no longer (generally) have competitive edge. Let’s face it, any account executive in any PR agency can set up a Facebook page or talk about  twitter content plans. What was once the  domain of the few is now firmly in the  mainstream, at least when it comes to the agencyland bubble. However, what this means is that those specialist agencies are (or should be) looking beyond the obvious, and are moving into exciting and dynamic new areas; branded content, experiential, app development, SEO, all founded by great ideas that get  people talking, whatever the medium. Success will become defined by  those willing to pioneer, and a huge agency grey area will  start to swirl.

3) SEO will not take over the PR/social media mix. For all the talk of  SEO usurping content-led social media and PR, the latter  discipline will continue to prove its worth on all fronts; from a creative, strategic and ROI basis. What we’ll see is a merge; traditional SEO agencies will continue to embrace great content and golden links from high traffic news sites, recruiting or acquiring PR talent and  agencies in the process. Meanwhile, forward-thinking PR agencies will continue to hire SEO talent, to bolster the credibility  and  knowledge–base of their own offering. 

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4) Consumers will not tire of Facebook. Pah! As if anyone seriously thought that would happen. While Google+ continues to update its proposition and talk in hushed  tones about how it will help search results, how many of us really use it? Or even enjoy the experience? While Facebook adoption might plateau in Europe, America and  the Asia Pacific, there will be  always be new growth areas. A bit like the tobacco industry. And it’s still the best, most dynamic and  exciting way to reach and engage with a mainstream consumer audience. Facebook will increasingly become the lead-channel in  integrated marketing  campaigns. Maybe we’ll even see traditional websites and (gasp) the 30 second  TV spot  disappear. Probably not for a while, but one thing’s sure – no matter how many times Mark Zuckerberg sells our data or betrays us, we’ll keep coming back for more, me included.

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How much do Aussies love Apple?

I’ve been involved in the launch of a fantastic new recommerce brand, iXchange, which specialises in trading in pre-loved Apple devices. As part of the launch, we conducted a piece of consumer research to find out exactly how obsessed Australians are when it comes to the ‘brand with a bite’. While anecdotal evidence suggests Australians are among the highest adopters of Apple products in the world, there’s not been any significant studies into it to date. Until now that is…check out the infographic we put together below.

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Return to the real world – the rise in social gaming

Keeping up with what’s going on at the SXSW conference in Texas can be tough, with a myriad of new apps, technologies and god knows what else being talked up across every blog and tech news site imaginable. But, a bit like London Fashion Week, it’s not the catwalk fashions themselves that are going to necessarily appear on the High Street, it’s the overarching themes that are most likely to translate into the mainstream.

So, clumsy fashion analogy aside, what I’m finding most interesting about the reports from SXSW is that a lot of talk seems to be focused on apps and services with a social gaming element, where users score points or are rewarded for a particular action in the ‘real world’.

While social networks like Facebook and Twitter impact on our real world behaviour to some extent, for example how we organise our social lives, seek information and view issues around privacy, in the next few years social gaming apps are set to fundamentally change the way behave and interact with the ‘real world’. And this is next generation social gaming; more than simply checking in at a venue on Foursquare.

Take Scvngr, which is the tip of a potentially enormous digital iceberg. Part social network, part game, Scvngr allows users to check in to a location, just like on Facebook Places or Foursquare, but then goes a step further as users are encouraged to take part in a series of fun, real world ‘challenges’ to earn points, such as turning a fast food joint foil wrapper into an origami bird or performing a dance routine outside a shop and filming it. These acts then earn points which translate into freebies and discounts.

The chief executive (or Chief Ninja, as he calls himself) of Scvngr reckons that over the next 10 years, developers are increasingly going to create a ‘game layer’ on top of real life society, which I guess, could blur the boundaries between computer games, and actual life (for the more confused members of society, anyway).

And, just as Facebook’s Razon Detra is “connect and share”, this new wave of apps are all about “going places”, “having fun” “exploring”, you name it. This is all incredibly positive, as it’s all about encouraging people to have fun and experience life fuller. Maybe we can call it ‘real life 2.0’. It’s certainly an interesting challenge for marketeers in finding new ways for brands to be ‘fun’, and at a push even a challenge for video game producers, who could see gamers flock away from screens to ‘real world’ activities, as everyday life becomes more like a video game.

So, whether real life will become like the film Scott Pilgrim or not, either way it will be fun finding out, and it’s nice to see the return of ‘real life’.

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Will Kindle do for books what iPod did for music?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best gadget I had during my travels was the Amazon Kindle.  I was hugely sceptical about an e-book at first. Buying and reading a book is a great multi-sensory experience, from perusing the book shop to actually owning a physical copy, and finally putting it, dog-eared on your book shelf.

The Kindle robs you of this whole experience, and instead you’re left with a cold, electronic version of a book. But very quickly I realised that’s missing the point completely. The Kindle is so amazingly convenient and it’s simply another way to enjoy reading, just like an iPod is another way to enjoy CDs or LPs.

Equipped with free 3G, Kindle allows you to synch with your Amazon account anywhere in the world, and buy books, newspapers or magazines with one click. A great example of this convenience factor is when I was lost in the extremely hectic and confusing Bolivian capital of La Paz. In minutes I was able to download the Lonely Planet guidebook and find out where I was (while hiding the Kindle to avoid being robbed).

It’s also meant I’ve read far more books than usual. The first chapter of each book can be downloaded for free, meaning my exposure to new books was far higher than normal. There’s even social media compatibility, meaning you can share recommendations and reading lists with your communities.

Amazon reckon that in 2010 e-book sales have nearly doubled sales of their printed counterparts, which is staggering. This poses challenges for ‘traditional’ book stores, as well as printers, who, like the music industry has done to varying degrees of success, will need to adapt.

And for those who still dismiss the Kindle, listen to this: for the last two years, Kindle is Amazon’s best selling item. And with a retail price of around 100GBP, it’s no surprise.

Image used under Creative Commons on behalf of the.approximate.photographer

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