Tag Archives: Apple

The one gadget that won’t fit in your pocket: The Car

This was first published on M and M global  – Link hereImage

CES was dominated this year by a few core themes: the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, connected consumers, connected homes, curved screens and wearable tech were all very dominant on the show floor. Amongst all of this noise and buzz I sensed that people were left a little perplexed as to what to focus on, how it would impact them and how overwhelming the issue of data collection and management is for the average person. The slew of apps to download, data to interrogate and the wealth of choices left many bewildered and without clear direction.

The one area of real innovation that stood out for me, with a clear application to our day-to-day life was the development in the automotive area. The connected home moved to the connected car, but more than that, to the green, eco-friendly, self-driving connected and communicative car. The car stands at CES showed us that the future is really here now. It has crept up on us quietly but with great efficacy – even now as I watch a TV Ad demonstrating how a car can park itself, I feel like I am watching Blade runner many years ago, and yet this is reality.

The car is becoming connected through a number of different routes. One of which is the collaboration between car manufacturers with the likes of Apple, Android and Microsoft systems to link your out of car life with your in car life. The approaches between operating systems do differ – Android is powering an in car brain, whereas Apple is using the iPhone as the source of connectivity whereby the car is not connected until your iPhone is plugged in. The battle of the operating systems is like a classic western bar brawl where the fight started in the bar and spilled out onto the street. Apple and Android have of course gone toe-to-toe in the handset space but now the car is the next frontier, and what a huge battle it will be. Android seem to have aligned with Audi right now whilst Apple are in with Honda, Mercedes and Volvo, amongst others.

What can we expect from the connected car? Well first there are all the usual Apps you would imagine, the likes of Twitter and Facebook etc. will all be there, subject to a number of legislation tests to ensure safety, but the really interesting stuff comes from being able to control the car externally and the areas of navigation and communication. Imagine the following scenario – you’re lying in bed on a cold winter’s morning and as you get ready you start your car from the comfort and warmth of your house using an App and make sure the heating is on and the windows defrosted. As you eat breakfast you click on your calendar appointment and open directions for your meeting which you then fire through to your car. The car now has control – the route is planned, the estimated time taken care of and all information to make the journey as seamless as possible is plugged in. Once in the car your journey will be monitored, if there’s a delay the car can e-mail the meeting organiser directly updating them and letting them know when to expect you. Once you are close to your destination the car can search for parking spaces and will guide you straight in with the final twist being the car parking itself and paying for the ticket through a connected link to city parking. You get the idea.

There will be a crazy amount of new apps and software coming out over the coming months and years but my sense is most of them will be additive to our lives, rather than for the sake of it. Travelling to a new city will be transformed by advice, ideas and recommendations for where to go and how to get there. It will be intelligent though, not the user searching, rather the car making suggestions based on your previous preferences and habits. With super accurate GPS you will have micro information piped through to the driver.

This is what really stood out to me. While TV manufacturers have been creating 80 inch curved TV screens that only one person can watch whilst ideally sitting about two feet away, the automotive business has been creating useful opportunities that will enhance our lives.

We have all heard about the Google self-driving car, it has made a lot of noise over the last few years, but at CES up popped Audi with a self-driving car that was legal in Vegas, as long as it drove itself under the 40mph speed limit. It’s incredible that this has stayed under wraps. Google are themselves testing in Nevada, so soon the Vegas strip will have a number of cars with red number plates (the sign of a self-driving car) cruising up and down. The reality of a truly self-driving car world is still not here but it is accelerating rapidly (excuse the pun) and the idea is to not just create a ‘get home drunk’ vehicle. There are lots of inherent safety features built in to avoid accidents. When everything is automated, what does happen if you fall asleep at the wheel? If the driver doesn’t wake up after a loud buzzer sounds the car will stop, call the police and put the hazard warning lights on. The manufactures have even built in a system to allow the driver an option to avoid red lights as the car is plugged into the city traffic light infrastructure. The trouble is the car will adjust its speed accordingly to help you do this and I am not sure I would be comfortable crawling at 15mph just so I am timed to avoid a red light. It’s a nice idea but it’s up there with the curved TVs in my opinion.

The final element of note from the show floor was the fact that electric is becoming cool. The BMW i3 was a show stopper for many, as well as a Formula One car that could reach 150mph and 0-60 in 3 sec with no accompanying sound. Of course the Tesla is the poster child of eco- friendly travel and even Range Rover are entering the hybrid marketplace. The range of battery power is increasing and combined with technology, as exemplified in the BMW, that constantly evaluates your range and distance to your nearest charging point all ensures you won’t find yourself stranded. I am not sure when it happened but electric seems to have flipped from very uncool to the leading edge of innovation in automotive, all the while being enhanced with better technology lending a supporting arm between engine and driver.

So when you consider what your favourite gadget is, you may in the future find yourself pointing out the window to the car parked outside. We all spend too much time in cars, too many people die as a result of car accidents, so this technology and innovation is really making a difference to our lives and for me that made it all stand out as incredibly valuable in a CES show dominated by connected fridges and curved TVs.

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Did Apple not get the memo from its customers?

So $50 billion wiped off the company value and multi quarter underachievement. As an Apple fan boy of many years, I have started to change my views on Apple. The Galaxy and Android combination is becoming evermore attractive. Multiply me by many as well as the younger generation not seeing them as cool and none of this should come as a surprise to Apple.

If Apple did bother to listen to the customer base they would have heard some exceptionally loud and clear sentiment about where people felt Apple was going and what they needed to change. So if they had of come down from the ivory tower and talked to me, they would have heard a few things.

First they would have heard that we were all pissed off with the 4S vs 5 debacle, all the hype and build up that was allowed to swirl before dumping a 4S on the customers. They would have heard loud and clear that the customer base wanted more innovation and not an S. They are also less and less excited every time a new product appears.

If they had spoken to us and done some market research they would have seen that people wanted bigger screens, they wanted bigger screens for sometime but Apple did not listen. The headlines screamed innovate faster, consult with us more, but Apple ploughed on regardless. The new iPads came and went and then we saw the start of the Apple fall. They responded to the ask, but because it was late and a reaction to competition, their halo dropped.

The iPhone 5 was underwhelming above all else. Where Apple have gone wrong is in thinking that a big megapixel number or screen resolution will excite the user, not true, they should be additive. Apple has won on design and reimagining design and in this area they have singularly failed. The iPhone 5 was boring and frankly looked the same as the last two and that was a mistake. They had a chance. The iPad mini is a great product, I bought one, but the shine was taken off it because it was in response to the Nexus and other tablets. I would hold iPad mini as an example of where design was first and foremost and came with less tech spec, but noone really cared.

If they had listened they would have heard the rumblings of discontent about constant need for buying new and different chargers and new and different sims, the rest of the world was standardising and it is what people wanted and yet Apple thought that we would swallow the relentless change over and over. We do of course but the cracks are showing in our patience.

Apple should have read the signs and acted faster. Noone is perfect of course, even Samsung have had to admit that perhaps the S3 screen is too big for most people and have now downsized for those who want it, they listened pretty quickly after seeing the signs.

Overall with Apple my overriding sentiment is boredom. They bore me now, they make good products and I like them, but they have not got me excited for some time and I dont think I am alone, so in my view Apple need to start listening and innvating more if they are to regain their crown.

AOL may have had it right all along!

Does anyone remember the sitcom from the US called ‘Soap’? It was about a mad bunch of individuals who were pretty dysfunctional. At the start of each episode there would be an introduction recapping the previous episodes. That summation was invariably confusing and left you having no idea what was going on. The image below may jog your memories for those of you over 37 I am guessing.

The Soap cast

Confusion reigned.

Why am I writing about that? Well recently through a combination of my own experiences and reading the press I have been thinking that in the world of tech, social and mobile we are experiencing something similar. To recap;

- Google and Apple were good friends, admirers even until Google started to like phones..and music..and books, now Apple does not like Google so much and is not keen on using their search tool on their phones.
– Twitter and Google liked playing together as Big brother Google helped the new boy get a bit of traffic, now the new boy has grown up he has decided he does not need Big brother anymore so cut the rope.
– Facebook and Google were colleagues and admired each other until Google started to like this social media thing and Facebook got the hump with that, they too have decided they want to keep their people to themselves.
– Twitter and Facebook enjoyed each others company for a while until Facebook liked the look of the Twitter approach and changed their updates accordingly, this has meant of course that they will not share anymore and never the twain shall meet
– Lets not forget some other long distant cousins! Yahoo and Facebook have not crossed swords too much in the playground until Yahoo decided Facebook had copied a lot of their IP and are now contemplating suing so that will be the end of that friendship
– Samsung and Apple have just had an all out fight all over the globe and frankly not seen eye to eye for some time!
– Even the lovely and friendly Amazon has had to get dragged into the cat fight with its entry into the tablet market which annoyed Apple who promptly stopped their Kindle App from being e-commerce enabled – surely no one falls out with cuddly Amazon?

All of this squabbling leads me to see a future where we have one of the most siloed ecosystems we have ever known. Years after we criticised AOL for its wall garden approach to media we find ourselves with more walled gardens than we know what to do with and as consumers that is the honest truth.

We are edging towards a world where Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, Twitter and beyond will all be managing their own ecosystems and not allowing us as advertisers or consumers to mix and match and join up all of the platforms. It is a frustrating development as a consumer as it would be nice if Facebook and Twitter could find a way of working together. It would also be a better Google search experience if we could find results from not just G+ but also the other social media players.

As I have written about before it gets worse when you move to looking at the tech marketplace with our homes being divided into either an Android home, Apple home, Microsoft home or Samsung home, we have to make a decision and stick too it as we can’t get all our toys to play nicely together.

I am not sure how this will play out, but it is messy and not particular user / consumer friendly in my view and probably going to get worse as these Big 5 getter bigger and stronger.

Inspired by the Big 5 in Palo Alto

Inspired by the big 5 – A week in San Francisco.

There is something genuinely special about San Francisco and Palo Alto. A place that if you are into digital you can’t help but feel excited about when you go there. First time you go it’s about going to the offices – Google HQ, Facebook, Apple etc and the famous locations attached like Mountain View or Cupertino. I have talked in previous blogs about the offices, they are a little disappointing, they are often deathly quiet and in the case of a Google a little battered and worn out, no it’s not what they are like inside.

The thing that strikes you is the scale, huge complexes, small towns in the case of Google, the meccas of those now famous names that come with such financial status and dominance and yet still have their young founders somewhere in those buildings. You can’t help marvel at that scale after so few years of history. In that mix though you feel a sense of tension between hanging onto that founder spirit and the relentless burden of financial success and expectation, something Facebook will start feeling acutely post IPO.

Palo Alto itself comes with this air of amazing entrepreneurship. Much was mentioned of Sandhill Road, where all the VCs are based, I had not considered that even VCs like to cluster, I guess I thought they would be isolated, each one trying to find the golden nugget but I suppose they are like everyone else and like to chew the fat on whether x company or y company is of interest. Fascinating I thought that at every one of the meetings we had this week, Pinterest was mentioned, it is crazy how that company has come from nowhere to being on the end of every sentence and judging by my Twitter feed, tweet, I would imagine that those investors are all eyeing that company up with much interest.

Dreams are made in this place and you can’t help admire it and be mesmerised at the immense foot print of these companies. As we walked into Apple you remind yourself you are walking into the most valuable company in the world, staggering what has happened there, or Facebook with its 100b price tag on its head and yet Facebook is still very lean, 3000 employees in US vs a Microsoft of 70,000, that paints a picture and it’s one of Facebook needing to recruit fast to cop with the demand for its products and insights.

The reason for the trip was to bring the VivaKi Nerve Center to the wider Publicis group and let them come together and meet with these amazing digital beacons. A fascinating few days as the Saatchi’s and Leo Burnetts came together to discuss and learn how we can all work together more effectively with these leading digital companies of the world. This new world of social by design has revolutionised the media and creative approach from a ‘bowling ball’ approach where a carefully aimed ball was fired at the consumers and hope to hit a few of them to the ‘pinball effect’ where you send the content into the mix and watch it get fired around.

There were some revealing debates about social and where it fits creatively and who is driving those conversations, we have as clients some very sophisticated marketeers and those who are more tentative but all of them are becoming more global, more scaled and more digital and it is the role of The Nerve Center to help our group capitalise on our amazing partnerships to be able to respond to those trends in a material way.

So as a marketeer who do you care about? Google, Facebook, what about Amazon? Apple and Microsoft will all lay claim to be the companies you need to work with, there are others of course but after a week here you start to consider exactly who are you missing if you work with these companies? The issue comes with knitting these companies together, in the last few years the rivalry has been intense with various fissures opening up between the companies and that’s where organisations like Publicis and The Nerve Center come in. When you sit opposite a Google or an Apple, they often hold many of the cards and yet all of them want to see the whole picture and the agencies hold those cards and they want to learn from us, so it’s a hugely valuable position to be in and one we must exploit on behalf of our clients if we are to get the most from an Apple or Facebook.

Based on this trip and my time at CES I can’t help feel this sense of a more and more closed world vs Open. Facebook’s mission statement is all about connectivity and openness which felt strangely at odds with their restrictions on how we as companies can track anything or the fact that their content can’t be found on Google search. Apple seemed very happy to sit and not want any sort of cross fertilisation, they felt that their billion devices is a big enough footprint for anyone. Everywhere you turn we are organising into silos, TV platforms with Samsung, Apple etc, social platforms controlling their data tightly, not an issue for consumers, harder for advertisers.

That said, when you see the power of YouTube, Facebook’s scale and social by design capabilities, Google from search to display to G+ combined with Microsoft and Xbox/Kinect or Apple’s incredible footprint through hardware it’s hard sometimes to imagine that a global client needs to go much further a field to reach and engage with their audiences. These companies are uniquely global, consistent and so as a global brand you can work on the same platform across multiple markets which will be an important offering of the future.

The days of media schedules with 40 sites on them have to be dwindling or dead, the specialism of tech press or context led site lists can not be totally recreated but you can go a long way towards that same effect through audience buying, targeted Facebook work, Search and so on. These companies and platforms could be the media plan, if only the advertisers themselves could organise in the same global fashion. They don’t right now, but they will and they will want agencies who understand and have very grown up deep relations with these companies and that is the aim of our Partnerships team at VivaKi and VivaKi Ventures which aims to keep us wired to the new start ups as well.

This week was about that, it was about saying lets work out how we can work together and not on the premise of spend and price but intellectually and strategically work to create the media and technical solutions of the future. My last meeting was at Mountain View with Google and what they are working on is mind boggling and makes you realise that although there are many companies out there with great marketing decks and some very bright people, they are dwarfed by what’s going on in this company.

And above all as I sat delayed by 4 hours I thought what an incredible part of the world this is and how inspirational these companies are both person ally and professionally. I also thought that I am working for the most forward thinking organisation in the advertising and media industry and one which is full of very smart people all looking at this business through different eyes and that is fantastic. VivaKi Nerve Center.

2012 Watching change and the future

A couple of thoughts for 2012 and beyond.

There will be many predictions for 2012, these are less predictions as thoughts on what I see around me right now and discussions being had. That is why I have referred to this as ‘watching change’ rather than predicting it. As usual with me its tech heavy but not exclusively an inspired by some recent people I have met lately, more of that for another post.

What do I think we will see changing in 2012?
1. The rise of campaigns targeted against connected TVs, there is so much movement in this space and it is happening so quickly, I believe more advertisers will be looking to agencies to deliver more targeted advertising on the TV through connected TVs and set top boxes. Video advertising shown on streamed content on TVs will also increase significantly in 2012. What I find most interesting in this space is that as with mobile there is a lot of talk but I can see things moving faster than anyone predicts. If you look at the Xbox alone, they have more ‘set top boxes’ than Sky, that makes them the most connected organisation in the UK in regards the TV.

2. From an agency perspective the silos of search, exchange trading and buying on APIs will be broken down as we start to use Data Management, targeting and buying across all three of them to drive campaign results. We will all get smarter about talking data as a planning mechanism rather than a list of sites to represent targeting. Where we can combine audience targeting with context and highly dynamic creatives we will hit the bullseye. This process is already well underway but see this accelerate in the next 12 months.

Where do I see the greatest opportunity for improvement?
A. The greatest room for improvement will be in video as we move from a disparate, highly admin intensive channel that is still managing to scale rapidly to a more platform, third party adserved, data driven opportunity for clients. Video has the opportunity to explode in terms of volumes, the use of buying platforms and third party adserving will make that possible and produce better results for advertisers and a more efficient delivery from an agency perspective. I hope AODv achieves this on behalf of the agencies.

Video revenues could increase significantly with this last impetus, it is a shame that it is being held back by some major broadcasters hell bent on protecting the old models and the ‘it has always been like this approach.’ We know how successful these people have been in the past, so I think they should move to a bigger and better learning model.

Technology:
What tech/device will completely transform the way you do business?
Connected TVs, already have become more and more prevalent in shops, the connected TV will bring the social TV experience to the living room that is currently produced by the highly reported two device usage people employ now ie PC on Twitter whilst watching TV. The connected TV and to set top boxes such as Xbox will allow users to genuinely multi task and enjoy a more social experience. On top of that they will of course also be able to access new content that will pull more influence from the linear TV schedule

What technology has transformed us in the last two years?
Life changing is pretty strong but the ability to work in the cloud would be up there, whether its docs in Dropbox or my iPad, iPhone, Apple TV and Airport Express all linked up wireless at home with no need for synching etc. The principle that the devices no longer need to be mega storage devices is a huge shift and the always on, access anywhere approach to tech is an amazing shift.

What do I think we can’t live without now that will be obsolete next year?
The death of the desktop, its all tablets and laptops and as working conditions become more and more mobile the desktop becomes more and more out of date. Of course that wont be next year but as a trend I believe we are starting to see the PC desk top being eroded, as companies no longer want to invest in more and more office space, instead opting for work from home or hot desking lap tops and tablets become the primary device.

General:
What will change specifically in media?

Our organisations are becoming more and more global by nature, the pitches, the advertisers the media properties we spend with and so the nature of new business requires a more joined up and well round global group to answer these challenges. If you don’t do it well you will lose those big international advertisers, more and more focus will go on how we weave our different agency properties together in a meaniful way that gives clients the maximum amount of insights and services with the minimum amount of disruption.

What do we need most to see greater success in 2012?
We are in a transition period where media owners, Ad Nets and Portals are all trying to plan for the future but manage their old business at the same time. As an industry we need to give companies 12 months to allow that change to happen even if it upsets shareholders and the bean counters. Many organisations will take a hit in terms of ad revenues they receive for direct response campaigns direct from agencies and have not seen it returned through the new approaches such as AOD. It does not mean its wrong, it’s just difficult to manage but they have to so they can reshape for the future.

Mobile needs tracking and ad serving badly! Mobile usage is huge, it brings online to offline and offline to online. The world of the web is social, personal, local and mobile and the smart phone ticks all those boxes and yet we can’t seem to bring the advertisers to spend the revenues. This remains what seems an eternal challenge to master.

Apple iAds need to deliver with a punch

I can’t remember the last time a new launch created so much discussion, and not all positive! It’s like Apple have used the same marketing people for their hardware on their advertising solutions. I can hear them now..it’s Apple, people pay for that name they always pay a premium for our glossy products..those conversations are likely to be happening in the US as well.

Well hello Apple, meet the UK trading Director, he is less interested in the gloss, or meet the average client, they want results as well as gloss. There are some lucky advertiser who may pay the huge rates but on the whole they want some results, some proof before they hand over £1m or no £500K or no £325K and on and on…I have read a lot of headlines in this area and none of them discuss how well they work, what they deliver, how they can help a client on its objectives. The headlines are all about the price which is not a great start for Apple.

I have met some of the team and I can say from personal experience the approach was one full of ‘self confidence’ shall we say, this needs to be mixed with some real world understanding and some great metrics to deliver against the price tag. I shall watch the debate with interest as I find it amusing to see the reality hit the marketing / sales people at Apple.

Good luck

Oh come on publishers..build a decent app

So disappointing. All the major newspaper groups sat down in locked rooms and worked for days and nights to establish what to do with this new tablet world. After many hours they decided that it would be amazing if they scanned in their papers and you could click on the pictures to be taken to another page with a picture and some text. Genius!

There are so many options, independants like Flipboard have created a beautifully slick proposition, very visual, intuitive, interactive etc the newspaper apps are depressing in their lack of creativity, lets see what Murdoch comes up with. There was a moment there when my view that paid for content could actually win out but I have a set of apps now from the publishers that have been a massive let down and if they dont improve then they will get some one hit wonder payments and then thats it.

It annoys me that they have not done more in this exciting area, next we will be encouraging advertisers to create full page iPad ads that dont move, arent clickable and seem to be as dull as the content they are in..doh. Sorry Audi and the like.

Innovation is no longer having an ad in these environments, innovation is creating for the environment, there is a big difference, and too many award entries will be based on the very fact that they stuck an ad on the iPad..#fail. The only innovation on the iPad is the iPad, most of the other stuff is failing.