Thursday, May 16, 2013
Did you know that it has been three years since the first iPad was released? The iPad 1 is now obsolete. Owning a smartphone, tablet or laptop is now the norm, and device usage is changing consumer buying behaviour. One of these changes, that magazine publishers will have to adapt to, is called "Showrooming", a practice where somebody goes to a store to see a product but then buys it online for a lower price.
According to a report
by digital media strategy company GroupM Next and search marketing firm Catalyst, 26% of Canadian shoppers, after comparing in-store and online prices, will leave a shop and complete their purchase online for as little as a 2.5% discount.
For an example of how things are changing in another way, take how my neighbour fixed his car. He is a middle aged man with a wife and two kids. First, he talked with a mechanic friend to help with the diagnostic. Then he went on Youtube to see a demonstration video on how to fix the problem, and then did a Google search for the product he needed to get it done. And then he bought it online from an American vendor for significant savings after price-shopping at a local retailer.
The retail sector is going through an interesting metamorphosis right now that will affect advertising budgets for your magazine. Bricks-and-mortar stores are selling online and online stores are opening bricks-and-mortar stores. One of the keynotes at DX3, a digital marketing trade show
, was by the CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op, David Labistour. He said 50% of MEC's sales are now online, and that the company has a person dedicated to Twitter communication as part of its customer service and marketing efforts. He also revealed some insight on the power of online product reviews: when a product had a positive review, its sales doubled; when it did not, the product went on sale.
To manage the 24/7 digital store model, marketers are looking at marketing automation technologies to manage customer data. What has emerged to solve this puzzle of interacting with your customer online, 24/7, is a concept called “Real-Time Marketing”. The vision is to create a personal one-on-one marketing solution that automates customer communications based on artificial intelligence using “Predicative Marketing”. The predicative algorithms (software logic) are based on digital content consumption habits and predicting future needs based on their demographic profile.
The expected outcome of such technology is a continuous one-on-one conversation with the customer, with a personal touch. This type of technology will certainly change the way circulators and ad sales managers work. The real-time marketing concept basically takes a page from the direct marketing handbook for personalized direct mail programs, with a digital spin. The technologies can interact with the customer via email or website.
Another marketing automation technology is social media monitoring solutions. These technologies enable you to track keywords across all social media sites to monitor brand chatter. This chatter is the equivalent of brand mentions in traditional media analysis. And these next waves of technologies is just the beginning, says Arjun Basu, content director at Spafax. According to him, the digital world is just starting puberty.
Monday, April 15, 2013
The latest salvo in the smartphone wars by Blackberry (formerly RIM) is the BB Z10, launched on January 30 in Canada. The risk is the same as with any product launch...you hope you have a hit. It looks like Blackberry did its homework and followed the textbook product launch template of a market leader with a big marketing budget.
In a previous blog post last June
on the Playbook, I said Blackberry was doing some good things with its product design. The BB Z10 user experience is built upon that same foundation. The user experiences are very similar, with the use of a swiping motion for navigation versus the button approach. You could say that this is the smartphone version of the Playbook.
The BB Z10 is a fast machine with a 1.5 GHZ dual core, 2 G of ram, a 4.2” screen, weighing 135.4 grams. Its dimensions are 130 mm x 65.6 mm x 9 mm. It has a durable rubber textured metal shell giving it a sleek, rugged feel.
After playing with the BB Z10, I felt that hardware feature sets are starting to plateau as all devices are doing the same things. Smartphones are settling into a standard hardware configuration: it is a cell phone, camera and mobile computer, with touch interface and voice controls.
Blackberry has created a product with its core customer in mind—governments, corporations, SMBs and women. But, it needs to make its user experience better than the Apple iPhone to move ahead. Let’s see if it was able to do that. Here are some of the key new features that make the BB different.
Talk, Text, Email, Social Message Hub
The BB Z10 has a communications hub feature where all your messages and calls can be logged into a single feed. In today's 24/7 society you may use voice, text, email or social to communicate, and with the BB Z10 this can all be collected in one inbox to make your life a little less complicated.
Big Fingers, Little Keys Syndrome
The touch keyboard design of the BB Z10 offers fewer typos when typing and an artificial intelligence feature called predictive typing. This feature provides contextual word suggestions based on the ones you use most. The 4.2” screen is bigger than the 3.5” models, which makes typing easier through more screen real estate, yet it is still pocket sized. A physical keyboard model (Blackberry Q10) will be coming in the next product release.
The BB Z10 enables companies to use a device partition between personal and business, which allows IT departments to have better security and control of company secrets. This is a smart play to address the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend for large corporations.
Photo-Editing Software for Picture Lovers
Women use more
social media and have a higher presence
on photo-centric sites like Instagram and Pinterest than men, and to get this user more engaged with its camera, Blackberry is offering a photo-editing suite to manage photos and post them on social networking sites. The big social media trend right now is picture sharing.
One new software feature that I noticed was the ability to support mobile payments. I discovered at the recent DX3 digital trade show this March in Toronto that Pay Pal account holders will be able to purchase products via their smartphone with an online ordering and store pick-up system with participating retailers. The mobile wallet is coming next to your smartphone.
The BB Z10 allows you to multitask as you can have two or more apps open at once. In Apple and Android you can only have one open at a time and you need to hit the button to switch on most devices. In the BB Z10 it is a swiping motion between apps which makes the navigation experience easier when multitasking.
Ryan Winsborrow of Nerds4hire.com
gives the BB Z10 a 4 out 5 rating; he liked that it was fast and powerful but lowered the rating because he cannot get all the apps he wants. App selection is changing fast and as of this writing there are now 100,000 apps in the Blackberry World store to choose from, up from 70,000 when the BB Z10 was announced in January. There is still some work to do for Blackberry in its reinvention as a consumer electronics company. It has created a smartphone that is a player, but not a category killer or creator.
As the utility of the smartphone increases, publishers will have to be mindful of the increase of picture sharing as part of their social media strategy and examine how to be a key content partner in the mobile e-commerce wave as part of their future business models. Some of the buzz in the digital ad community is “ Real Time Marketing” technologies, but that is next month’s blog.
Rating - 4 out of 5
Playing off of this month’s topic, I wanted to ask what you look for in a smartphone. How are Masthead
readers using their devices?
Please rank the options below by time spent, with notch 1 (on the left) being the most. Feel free to leave a comment as always, and I’ll be back with the findings.
What do you do most on your phone?
Thursday, March 07, 2013
This post was inspired by an Adobe survey
stat that showed 16% of respondents thought that internet advertising was creepy. This is a world shared by fake people, fraudsters, thieves, con men, and of course you and me. To weed out the creepy, there are political movements in creating a standard for digital privacy, but at the same time still giving governments the ability to police the criminal element. Legislation in the U.S., Europe and Canada are going through the public debate process right now.
The advertising community wants as much online consumer behaviour data as possible, and would favour as much as they can get down to the last website viewed. This will enable them to better target a message to the reader—the marketing utopia. The way people are tracked online is through what is called a computer cookie. And no, you cannot eat this cookie.
Here is the definition of a computer cookie according to Wikipedia
“A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is usually a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user's web browser while a user is browsing a website. When the user browses the same website in the future, the data stored in the cookie can be retrieved by the website to notify the website of the user's previous activity.”
Current business practices have it that a cookie is automatically placed on your computer when you visit a site. In Europe, some websites will ask if it can put a cookie on your computer before you enter the site. The privacy issue at stake can be illustrated by this example: Say you are window shopping at a mall and somebody is following you around everywhere, seeing everything you are doing, and whenever they notice you stop at a store they come up and offer you a deal for that store. Wouldn’t you feel a little creeped out by this? This is what happens online all the time.
The importance of permission-based business practices for email marketing programs has now filtered down to cookies on computers, tablets and smartphones. There are established rules of privacy in other areas like your banking, health care and phone call histories, where some are secret and others require a court order, and I assume the internet will get there too.
But, cookies play a valuable role for magazine publishers, enabling digital mags and online portals to authenticate a subscriber through various wall models. This is how newspapers set up free trial periods for their content. Computer readers on all devices have the ability to not accept cookies as part of the device setup, but you will then not have access to social media sites that require cookies.
Historically, once magazine publishers obtained a customer’s name they had the right to do with it as they pleased for business purposes, but in today’s political environment stricter rules might prevail for online. Hopefully, common sense will win out, and privacy issues get resolved with some old-fashioned good manners reigning online.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held January in Las Vegas is the biggest technology event on the planet. One new product that caught people’s attention at the show was Tactus’ bubble screen technology
. It is pretty cool. Tactile keyboard buttons magically pop up on the tablet screen and disappear when you do not need the keyboard. This technology is expected to be adopted by the next generation of tablets and devices at the end of the year.
Tactus Bubble screen technology. The next new thing you gotta have on your device
There is always something new around the corner, and Windows 8 is the next big player that publishers must reckon with for their digital publishing strategy. Publishers should not underestimate Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. As of April 2012
, Windows still controls 92% of the desktop/laptop market with Apple hovering around 5%, which suggests Microsoft's dominance is still very much alive. The Windows 8 OS has shipped 60 million licenses as of the end of 2012 and, according to a new study by Ipsos Research
, Microsoft is ranked the second most influential brand in Canada, with Google at No. 1, Apple No. 3, Facebook No. 4 and Walmart No. 5.
I had my own mini-CES in my office this January as I got to play with a smartphone (Nokia 920), laptop (Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook) and two tablets (ASUS and Samsung) using Windows 8, giving me a sense how this new OS will work on different devices. My December blog
on the Nokia 900 windows phone gave me a taste of what is coming and I was impressed; after playing with all these devices, I can safely say that Windows 8 rocks. Tablets are evolving into mini-laptops and using Windows ensures that your existing Windows apps will work on them.
The Windows 8 OS is very simple to use, but is it cool enough to beat Apple’s brilliant branding campaigns? It has geek-cool features but is that enough to get people to use it? Branding is so important for a commodity like computers now. Dell used to own cool, but now Apple does. Blackberry is trying to be cool with its appointment of Alicia Keys
as its new Global Creative Director.
There are a lot of OEMs supporting Windows; Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds4hire.com
says the money in IT is in Windows and a lot of companies think so, too. The Windows 8 OS is the same user experience on any device so one size fits all, allowing you to move from one to another with a minimal learning curve. Users can seamlessly switch from a familiar desktop view to the new home page interface with the Windows 8 tile layout that was designed with touch screens in mind. Also, the number of game developers that have been pumping out PC games for generations will ensure that there will be enough content in the app store to satisfy anybody’s appetite.
Dell 14” XPS Ultrabook
This 14” laptop has 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, a 2.6 GHz Intel processor, a webcam, and weighs 4.6 lbs. For a modern laptop I found it a little heavy, but I like the fact that the heat from the battery was low and it did not bother my legs when using it on my lap. Retail starts from $1260. Dell has come out with a tablet branded XPS 10 starting from $499, with an optional dock/keyboard.
Asus Vivo Tab RT
The maker of the Google Nexus tablet is a rising star in the hardware market, and its Windows 8 tablet is slick and a pleasure to use. This tablet uses Windows RT instead of Windows 8 as it is designed for a low energy processor. It has a 10.1” display, is 8.3 mm thick and weighs 1.2 lbs. It comes with 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and an optional detachable keyboard so you can transform it into a mini-laptop. Ryan Winsborrow gives this device the thumbs-up and it retails for $599 at Future Shop. The dock/keyboard is an additional $199, but I have seen sales on Amazon that are cheaper.
Samsung ATIV Smart PC
This tablet has an 11.6” display, which is a great size because it allows for wider touch keyboards for easier typing, which I liked a lot. I had fewer accidental touches; websites did not fill the screen so I had some white space on the side where I could swipe. It comes with detachable keyboard for conversion to mini-laptop. The unit crashed on me and I found it a little buggy. The sound and WiFi did not always work. It weighs 1.7 lbs and is 1 cm thick. This is a pricey tablet, starting at $799 for the 2GB RAM, 64 GB of memory and the dock/keyboard at Future Shop.
The experience on the Windows smartphone is the basis of the new Windows 8 desktop and the user experience makes it easy to transition from gadget to gadget. Despite some minor tweaks the device was essentially the same experience as the Nokia 900 that I reviewed in December 2012, so if you want additional details you should go to my blog archives
The strength of Windows is in desktops, and hopefully this market position will funnel down to tablets and smartphones. It looks like Microsoft has brought its A-game to the table for the next generation of computing hardware. The fragmentation that is taking place with Apple, Android, Windows and now the Blackberry 10 (that is getting rave reviews, btw) will definitely be challenging for magazine publishers to keep up with for their websites, digital editions and magazine apps. Sometimes you just gotta choose between them or find a strategy that works on all devices (i.e. a web browser solution with both a desktop and mobile website).
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
As I reflect on the year gone by, it gives me a chance to decipher all the market turbulence publishers had to deal with in 2012. My latest concern is the frustration caused by all of the new technologies publishers have to sort through.
As I start another chapter in my career, I am working on media strategies from an ad agency perspective. This allows me to see the gap between advertiser needs and the emerging digital technologies publishers are using. I think some publishers lost sight of what advertisers want and got sucked up into the digital tornado.
Magazine publishers are being pulled in several directions and need to focus on key areas. Don't get distracted by the latest technology hype of the next great thing that you gotta have.
Here's a digital spin cycle priority list. Focus on these key areas in the order listed.
– The anchor of the digital strategy has to be the website. Web browsing is still the number one way people will engage with your brand online. What makes a good website? With HTML 5, sites are adopting a tile grid design framework. Cross-platform is the key as the site needs to work on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones…a tall order for a publisher with a modest budget.
2. Email Newsletters
– Compared to other forms of online advertising, email offers the best targeting. It is also opt-in, so you have proof of delivery for advertisers. Email newsletters are the No. 1 driver of high-quality traffic to your website. The challenge is to create enough content.
3. Digital Editions
– Digital editions work and they save trees. In the B2B space where the magazine is controlled, the digital edition, if done properly (designed for the screen), can expand readership and save lots of money in printing and distribution costs. For B2C titles, it seems print is still favoured by readers.
4. Paid Content
– For consumer magazines, getting people to pay for digital content can be done, but expect the trickle effect. A magazine app is a new paid distribution channel, but don't go crazy. For B2B magazines it is a waste of time, but some publishers have ventured into the market research field which has high value content.
5. Magazine Apps
– There will be circulation benefits, but manage your expectations and expect the trickle effect for new magazine subscribers unless you are No. 1 or No. 2 in your space. You can’t sell an ad sponsorship until you reach a circulation milestone that will attract advertisers.
6. Social Media
– It does not generate enough ROI as there is no established model to sell advertising around it, but it is a good push strategy to drive traffic to a website. Don’t waste a lot of time on this, it is all market hype.
– Traffic from SEO has no advertising value. In most cases, it is an international skewed audience. Also, there is rigging of rankings by Google, in my opinion. My review
of the Google Nexus Tablet had 13,000 hits in the first week it was posted and was ranked No. 1 for product reviews, but in the second week it disappeared from all the rankings, so I do not trust SEO results as I feel they are manipulated.
Is all this effort in expanding into the digital realm worth it? According to Adobe's October 2012 "Click Here: The State of Online Advertising" report (PDF download link
), online advertising is not as effective as traditional advertising on TV, radio and print. Online is even seen as creepy by some; no other media can lay claim to that. As a media buyer, this will affect the media mix in an integrated campaign.
Traditional media best for marketing and advertising. Click to view large
Consumers pay more attention to speed limits than ads. Click to view large
So perhaps the technologists have it all wrong, as the latest research is telling us that traditional advertising is going to make a comeback in 2013. Hooray for the magazine industry.
Monday, December 17, 2012
The Nokia 900 series smartphones are the result of a partnership between Nokia and Microsoft. The Windows 8 version of the Nokia 920 was just released this Xmas season, along with Microsoft's Windows 8 desktop OS and Surface tablet. The 920 gave me a chance to play with the reinvented Windows interface which is the foundation for Windows 8.
Nokia, by the way, is not dead; it is still ranked the No. 2 mobile phone vendor in the world based on first quarter shipment numbers, according to a May IDC report
. Nokia was previously top-ranked—Samsung has eclipsed it at No. 1—but its smartphone market share lags behind Apple, Android and Blackberry, and this is the challenge it faces today. I asked Nokia how it was going to win the smartphone race. Here is Nokia’s response.
“We started on a journey in February 2011. With every step we take, we are broadening our portfolio and increasing the innovation that we deliver to people," said Chad Saliba, portfolio collaboration manager at Nokia. "We aim to always demonstrate we are lead partner in the Windows Phone ecosystem, the strength of the ecosystem and Nokia’s leadership in smartphone innovation against competitors on all platforms. Each new, innovative smartphone we release is another ambitious step we are taking. There are many steps ahead for Nokia.”
What I liked about the new Nokia smartphones is that the user experience took a page out of Apple's playbook, with “simple and easy to use design” principles. The first thing you notice is that it is based on Windows 8's tile design framework. “This is a big departure from the iPhone or Android interface of small buttons to navigate through the device," said Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile. "This tile design is unique to Microsoft and magazine apps will have to incorporate these tiles into their design strategy.” Is this a design trend for digital media? I am seeing this grid popping up on web sites and android tablets.
The Nokia 900's dimensions are 127.8 x 68.5 x 11.5 mm, weighing 160 grams with a 4.3" screen. It has 16 GB of memory. The Nokia 920 comes with a 4.5" screen and different look.
The big tiles on the Nokia 900 reminded me of a landline phone for seniors, with the big buttons, which made me feel old. People who I showed the phone to were a little intimidated by the tile design as it was a big change from what they have become accustomed to with other devices. This could be a reason that the 920's tile design was tweaked, as the 900's tiles were perhaps too big.
As for the screen itself, the Nokia 900's 4.3" screen and the 920's 4.5" screen are improved sizes for a smartphone, in my opinion, based on readability and ease of use. In smaller smartphones, button navigation suffers from “big fingers, little buttons syndrome”, which is a common complaint I hear. I am rarely a big fan of devices going smaller—just small enough is good for me—and I predict the 4.3+" screen will be the size of choice for all new smartphone activations, regardless of brand.
Dedicated tiles made the core functions of email, text and voice easy to find. The contacts function, called People, can connect with LinkedIn, enabling me to access my network's phone or email contact info, which I thought was quite a clever social media tie-in. It is my Rolodex in the cloud. Another standard feature in all smartphones now is travel navigation with maps and GPS and the Nokia 900 has one called called Nokia Drive. The interface also has a tile for the Microsoft app store, plus one for Xbox, for online gaming.
This is a good smartphone. It is fast, light, sturdy and easy to use. I imagine the Windows 8 version of the 900 (up from Windows 7.5) will be a little better as there are still some bugs to iron out; when I was using my Rogers/Yahoo email account, I found the back navigation quite confusing. Using the email client was also a major relearn, as the inbox's listing of emails is listed by person instead of time received. When you check a person’s email address, a list of emails from that person are date stamped. I had trouble clicking on emails as the links did not work.
Ryan Winsborow, my technical guy from www.nerds4hire.com
, likes the smartphone and wants to switch from his Motorola Razor using Android, but he is a Windows guy and he likes that it can work with his Hotmail, desktop, tablet and Xbox. Interoperability between devices is a good thing, and there are a lot of Windows guys and gals out there.
Rating - 4 out of 5
I would like to wish everyone a great Christmas and holiday season and I hope you all get what you wish for.
Monday, November 05, 2012
My fascination with infographics started 18 months ago, when I met Jennifer Windsor, an art director from Edmonton, at the Alberta Magazines Conference. She mentioned that she wanted to do some post-graduate studies on infographics. Since then, I have been keeping a watchful eye on the usage of infographics as a creative form of expression in the digital world.
What I have learned is that its foundation is “a picture is worth a 1,000 words". Infographics is not a new concept, but today in the world of info-overload it is most likely "a picture is worth 5,000 words" with infographics. The web was thought as a bite size medium where a 300 word posting was the norm. I challenge some of that thinking of the early pioneers. Now, we need to consume a mountain of data in a very short period of time. Today, infographics are the new “digital fast-food” as they appear as a static page or an animated file on the web.
Florence Nightingale in 1887 created one of the first Infographics to demonstrate mortality rates - “Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East”. Sent to Queen Victoria as a plea for more medical and sanitation supplies, the graphic told a story of preventable deaths during the Crimean War by literally drawing a comparison between the number of deaths due to infection and those due to injuries. It highlighted the effect of sanitation supply deliveries and a reduction of mortality after each delivery.
Florence Nightingale's infographic showing mortality rates
I chatted with some senior executives in the magazine industry about the use of infographics in their publications. This is what Lynn Chambers, VP, Group Publisher at TC Media had to say:
"Infographics are an appealing way to present complex information. The creativity of the graphic helps readers digest facts in an engaging, more visual, attention-getting way."
Her team created an infographic about hot dogs for Fresh Juice
magazine. According to Crys Stewart, the magazine's content director, they wanted a shopping guide on hot dogs to be as fun as the food itself. You can read this infographic from top to bottom or you can dive into the information at any point for help in choosing products, cooking methods and serving suggestions. This style of infographic allowed us to convey a lot of information with an over-arching message that hot-dogs are surprisingly varied and versatile.
Hot Dog infographic from Juice magazine
I then asked Arjun Basu, Content Director at Spafax, who publishes enRoute
magazine about infographics in their magazine. He says:
“Infographics are descended from a long line of visually-based attempts to convey complex information. Given the sheer amount of content that the average person must navigate through on a daily basis, a well-done infographic is an attempt to cut through that clutter and deliver content successfully, quickly and efficiently."
Arjun provides an example of an infographic that appeared in enRoute’s September 2012 issue. He said many complex ideas go into this; technology, history, distance, and geography are neatly summed up in a kind of route map.
Infographic from enRoute magazine
When is a good time to use an infographic? I asked Jennifer Windsor to provide some advice. She says, ideally, spotting infographic potential should take place as the story is developing rather than after it's written. Look for cues in the story to answer the following questions:
-Am I getting too bogged down with explanations?
-Am I trying to identify a pattern (or deviation from a pattern), a connection, or a comparison?
-Are the answers to the what, where, when or how’s in this story visual in nature?
-Are there a lot of dates or events happening over time?
-Are there a number of identifiable locations?
-Are there a lot of amounts or measurements?
-Are there holes in the story because the missing piece didn’t lend itself well to text or photos?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it might be worth considering a graph, diagram, map, table or a chart (or a hybrid of these) to better tell your story. Arjun states that the best design is the result of a perfect marriage between the editor and the designer. Sometimes, that’s the same person. An infographic is about getting at the essence of the information you want to convey and then illustrating that essence. It’s an aesthetic platform married to hard data.
From an ad perspective my experience are that infographics get a better response, as infographics are like eye candy for the reader through the use of great design. While infographics have started on the editorial side, I see a big role for them on the ad side too in the future. But in any scenario, it is a great fast-food meal of content in digital or print.
Monday, October 01, 2012
It was inevitable that Google would enter the tablet race. Google launched the Google Nexus 7 tablet this year in July, and according to press releases, it has been selling very well… or has it? When it was launched, it apparently sold out very fast in stores, but sales results were not reported. Or is this a marketing trick to create scarcity and a best seller image? This is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, as it has been used by toy manufacturers for years at Xmas for toys that kids want but the parents can’t get in the store. This smoke and mirrors marketing tactic is part of the Apple playbook for a product launch that includes lineups at stores.
This proves the theory that brand equity can sell a lot of product, as this identical tablet is also available through ASUS and coincidentally they have a tablet called Nexus 7 available on its website (ASUS, a Taiwanese-based company, had a 3% market share of tablets shipments in 2011). Google contracted ASUS to build this tablet and it appears all they did was slap their name on it and said it as theirs as the ASUS logo is on the review device. Car manufactures have done this in the past as Japanese cars were disguised as domestic cars with a new logo. It has been estimated that Google did sell 2-3 million units during the launch and a sales forecast of 4-6 million units for the year according to the blogosphere.
I have to admit, you have to be impressed by Google as they are a formidable company from its origins in the search business where they have a commanding lead. Their other products include YouTube (video), Gmail (email service), Android (mobile OS), Chrome (browser), Google+ (social media), Google Play (app store), Google Maps/Navigator (travel app) and now they have entered the hardware market with their purchase of Motorola and now a Google branded tablet. Their stock reached an all time high of $750.04 on September 24, 2012. So the company is still growing.
Google Nexus 7 Scorecard
The gadgets for this blog for tablets will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these 4 criteria to arrive at the score.
The Google Nexus 7 tablet is a 7” Android tablet with version 4.1 (Jelly Bean) as the OS, it
comes with a 1.3Ghz quad core processor, its dimensions are 198.5 x 120 x 10.45 mm and
weighs 340 grams. Battery life is rated for 8-9.5 hours. It has a micro USB port. It sells for
$209 Cdn ($199 US) in the Google Play Store for the 8 GB model.
What makes this tablet stand out is the quad-core processor which makes it the fastest tablet on the market at this time. ASUS, the manufacturer of the tablet, launched quad-core tablets last year with their Transformer brand. Previous tablets reviewed in this blog were typically dual core tablets. The number of cores relates to processing speeds and the ability to multitask and more cores means faster speeds. The tablet comes with both wifi and Bluetooth.
Readability/Access to Content
The 7-inch form factor is my favourite size for mobile reading so the readability of content was no problem. Since this is a Google device you have access to the 600,000 apps in the Google Play store. My only concern was that the device did not work well in the outdoors — when I tried to use the Google Navigation app in my car I could not see the screen, and this needs to be improved. The only device that I have tested that can do this is the RIM Playbook tablet. The other bugs I discovered was the device did not go into landscape mode when it was taken out of the box, it required a software upgrade download to fix the problem and if you are not a techie this can be intimidating. Another setback was that the camera did not work (who ships a product that does not work? Oh, I know Apple does as the iPad is a product where video does not work on certain websites) as it required you to download a camera app from the app store.
Navigation was simple and it comes with speech enabled commands in the web browser so you do not have to type, which I enjoyed using as I hate typing on touch screens as I always miss-hit keys. The speech works well in a quiet room but background noise made it difficult. The Google navigation app (which I rate as superb) was also speech-enabled which makes for safer driving, but one problem is you cannot see the screen in natural sunlight, as mentioned before. (FYI: Nits is the unit of measurements for screen brightness, most tablets are shipped with 200 nits, but 500-650 nits are required for outdoor conditions.)
The price of $199 US is the sweet spot for consumers, but it will be cheaper as I have heard 7” tablets from RIM for $150 so the market is getting even more competitive. Using the RIM Playbook as a benchmark (I gave it a 5 out 5 in my review earlier this year) for what I want to see in a tablet the Google Nexus 7 was lacking as it came with only one camera that did not work out of the box, it does not have a file management system so I cannot transfer my work files, it only had a USB port (where a HDMI port should be included). However, the Google Navigation app with voice instructions is a great app (but that is included in all Android devices) that will definitely make me forget about using other GPS navigation devices such as a TomTom.
Final Review 4 out of 5
While this is a good device, it is not the best one in my opinion, no matter what the marketing hype suggests. Ryan Winsborrow from www.nerds4hire.com, my technical adviser, did not want to give it back to me when I gave it to him for review. He liked the speed and responsiveness of the quad-core processor, it is very lightweight at 340 grams and the convenience of the 7-inch form factor as you can hold it in one hand. His favourite use in the living room was using the TV guide website, so he did not have to go to the cumbersome TV guide channel from his cable company. But I expect that this device will only get better with the next version that comes out, as the first one always has bugs and this device is no different.
For magazine publishers, you will need to get in the Android market with a magazine app, optimized browser digital edition and/or mobile website solution for the-7 inch screen soon if you have not already done so. The competition will only get more fierce in the future for consumer eyeballs as the growing popularity of the 7-inch form factor at this price point will only accelerate its adoption.
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
How do we protect ourselves from the underground element of the internet? It seems that they have free rein to do as they please without punishment; due to legal jurisdiction, legal costs and the sheer number of them, that will have you chasing them all over the world, which is a waste of time.
My blog on Masthead has been lifted and placed on other sites as content without my authorization or payment to me, for that matter. Here is the latest example of my blog being used on a Smartphone site in Canada. I have tried to have it taken down and my inquiry went ignored. The only way to get results is perhaps to expose them on my blog and advertisers will know that they are unethical and they will get blacklisted.
Cyber crime comes in many forms. When I was in Ottawa in August, my friend received a message, “You just won an Apple iPad.” He did not remember entering into a contest. This is a good way to steal your identity or scam you to pay a shipping fee for the product that will not be shipped.
I told my friend to ignore this, as it is a phishing scam. The latest trick that fooled me was a LinkedIn email that said I had one email message, but when I clicked on the link it went to a Canadian pharmacy site. Another popular phishing scam is from a bank asking you to verify your account information, now you know why banks don’t use email to talk with customers, which is kinda sad for real customers.
Always double-check the link before you click on it to see if it is legit. You might end up downloading a virus that will infect your machine with what is called malware, and it will force you to take it to a technician at $80+ hour or scam you to buy fake anti-virus software that will not work — and now they have your credit card number and ID.
Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds 4 Hire recommends that you use SiteAdvisor that will identify malicious links and to use an anti-virus such as AVG or Microsoft Security Essentials, which are free to use. Ryan says there is no software that provides 100% protection, believe me, I have tried with the help of Nerds 4 Hire. Malicious links are everywhere and my kids using our Windows desktops were hit several times, and each time it was different as the approach is always one step ahead of the anti-virus makers.
The magazine industry has not been impervious to scammers; I was told about a site that has pirated digital versions of magazines. The site, www.magazinesdownload.com, offers "free" PDF downloads of magazines. They are using the bait-and-switch tactic that has been around forever, but now it is online. This site has lots of traffic as Alexa.com ranks it globally at 13,754, which I estimate it has traffic of over 500,000 visitors per month.
According to GoDaddy, Volodymry Kotylo is the contact and is based in Lviv, UA (Ukraine). I attempted to contact them via email, but I have yet to receive a reply. Below are some screen shots on how their scam is executed.
The best prevention is to visit sites you trust and be suspicious of any email from people you do not know. As for online scammers stealing content, hopefully their exposure will force them to desist from doing this. We know if the big publishers get involved, the site will be shut down, as this was done before with another pirate site that offered free digital magazines a few years back.
“Today’s cyber criminals are more savvy and persistent than ever before,” says Paul Grossinger, group publisher at Annex Business Media, who oversees Canada’s leading security magazines, including Security Matters, Canadian Security and SP&T News. “They have one goal and one goal only: to make money."
“Phishing attacks,” he adds, “are still around because they work, as there are still people out there who will click on unknown links in their e-mails, despite all the warnings you give them.”
In the grey area, in my opinion, are content aggregators who take your content you give away for free online and repackage it with their own ads such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Flipboard and Zite. In March of 2011, Zite received a cease and desist order asking it to stop “misappropriating” the intellectual property from the Washington Post, Time Warner, AP and Getty Images. Subsequently, Zite was bought out by CNN (owned by Time Warner) in August 2011 for $20-$25 million.
Perhaps the answer is to buy them out like CNN did to stop this, but CNN paid a heavy price. All I can do to help the media industry to combat cyber crime is to expose scammers so nobody will go to their site as we know the pen (now keyboard) is mightier than the sword. But a denial of service attack on these websites would be a good idea, as a good offense is the best defense, or in hockey terms a good face wash into the glass will make us feel better. If you know of any scams (being mindful of libel laws, of course) please post them in the comments section to expose them is a good start.
PS: I am thinking of writing a book on digital publishing at the urging of some of my readers, if you are interested can you let me know via email through my gmail account email@example.com or the old fashioned way via phone (416-907-6562) and tell me what you would like to see in the book and what would you pay for it. (I don’t want to publish my main email account as the spammers will grab it.)
UPDATE FROM RYAN OF NERDS 4 HIRE: A note to all readers, looks like Martin was a victim of not following his own blog. On Friday evening I received a panic call from good 'ole Martin, and looks like he got click jacked while trying to locate sites that were using his blog illegally. Way to go Martin. Lucky for him I was still in my office, and able to get his PC cleaned up.
Thursday, August 09, 2012
While all the talk this past year has been about tablets, we forgot all about how important smartphones are as part of the digital mix for a magazine brand. You know the device that used to be a phone but now has a web browser, email, touch interface, camera, app store etc.? I dug up some Canadian market research versus using USA market research so we can gaze into the crystal ball for a moment on what is happening in Canada.
According to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) 2012 study (sample size 2,011) smartphone adoption is now 48% of the 25.9 million cellphone users in Canada as of March 2012 with 31% of smartphone users also owning a tablet (Wow! this suggests that there are 3.8 million tablets in circulation in Canada). These figures indexed to the Canadian population show that there are 1.9 cellphones per household, based on a population of 34.5 million with 13.8 million households (2011 figures, source Canadian Media Digest). That’s a lot a cellphones or 75% of the population (FYI: 15% of the pop is < 15 of age), then you add all Apple iTouchs (aka- The mini-iPad, that kids are buying) in the ecosystem, you safely can say Canada is well-connected to the digital world.
So what content is popular on the smartphone? The same CWTA survey showed app download habits with weather apps as #1 followed by social networks, travel/mapping, YouTube, games, news, sports news, healthy lifestyle, night life, media apps (magazine & TV), shopping, and cooking & gardening. There is a lot of content categories that fit the needs of some magazine brands here don’t you think? 70% of canadian smartphone users have downloaded an app with a 12 app average. Compared to global average of 32, Canadians are not that app happy as the rest of the world as the global numbers suggest.
Click charts to enlarge
Industry estimates of USA smartphone users show that the content access points are split between 85% app and 15% web browser. This differs from tablets users where the split is 60% app and 40% web browser. This discrepancy I feel is due to the lack of mobile-optimized content on a smartphone as traditional website designs are easier to read on a tablet than a smartphone, thus the higher use of the web on the tablet versus the smartphone. The website solution should be a priority for any publisher as it is the anchor to build the digital ad revenue ecosystem that includes email, banner ads, digital magazines and magazine apps. Advertisers have money to spend on email and banner ads so you better have some product ready for them to buy.
Samsung Galaxy Q smartphone - What you can get today for $0 with a 3-year contract.
This is the phone the normal person will get including myself. (Editor's note: We are still wondering if Martin is normal.) It has all the core functions you need - touch screen, texting, phone, email, browser and app store. It comes with a 3.2 inch screen, weighs 135 grams and runs on Android 2.2. Plus it has a pullout keyboard for easier typing.
How is the magazine industry going to feed content into this ecosystem of 25.9 million people? What are the reader touch points — text message, email, website and/or magazine app, which do you choose or all four? And, can you do it profitably in two years? We know the replica version of your magazine is not the answer, as a 7” x 10” magazine does note scale well on a 3” screen. I have been preaching for the need to design for the medium as a golden rule for success.
Publishers need to make it easier to read and navigate to increase reader engagement. The benchmark is that it must be more convenient than print. The promise of HTML5 might be the answer as it enables publishers to design a website for each device with a specific look and feel, but you can’t look like an amateur. You need some spit and polish to attract advertisers to differentiate yourself from the herd (so don’t go out and hire your neighbour’s son to build your website).
(Note: “HTML5 is a markup language for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web” This is the 5th version of the programing code to build websites called Hyper Text Markup Language. This latest version will enable web designers to adapt to smartphone and tablets for their websites and digital magazines. This code is being used by digital publishing firms (including Godengo + Texterity) as the latest wave of digital magazine solutions providing cross platform support on all hardware devices.)
I mentioned in an earlier blog posting there is an infinite supply of content on the web so your graphic branding and technical execution will need to stand out. Remember, if they can’t read your magazine you will not attract a reader and the ads will not work, so you will not get on a media plan when you are in competition with 10 other titles. Resist the temptation from the IT department to use free tools as that is what everybody else is using, invest in your brand and be different.
What’s coming next? Mobile E-Commerce. The telco industry is working on the next generation of smartphone applications that will have M-Wallet attributes. The CWTA research demonstrates that consumers are willing to have stored on their smartphone loyalty points cards, gift cards, coupons, membership cards and cash cards. These promotional devices perhaps can be used to a magazine publisher’s advantage with advertisers. The chart below provides additional details on what info may be on your smartphone in the future.
Where’s the Money? According to IAB Canada in a 2010 ad revenue study, there are four sources of revenue for mobile users: SMS messaging (24%), banner ads (30%), key word search (33%) and branded content (10%) via website or app. Publishers can play in 3 of these established categories and supply free content to the search engines to drive traffic, but you better have a mobile-optimized website to take advantage of this opportunity.