Apple has been in the news for all the right reasons this past week, leading many - including Fortune's Adam Lashinsky - to take a deeper look at the company's inner workings. Beyond Lashinsky's analysis, perhaps the next best place to recreate Apple's success would be Stanford University's vast collection of Apple-related material, which is housed inside the university's Silicon Valley Archives. Last month, the Associated Press gave us a unique look inside the archives:
The collection, the largest assembly of Apple historical materials, can help historians, entrepreneurs and policymakers understand how a startup launched in a Silicon Valley garage became a global technology giant.
“Through this one collection you can trace out the evolution of the personal computer,” said Stanford historian Leslie Berlin. “These sorts of documents are as close as you get to the unmediated story of what really happened.”
The collection is stored in hundreds of boxes taking up more than 600 feet of shelf space at the Stanford’s off-campus storage facility. The Associated Press visited the climate-controlled warehouse on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area, but agreed not to disclose its location.
Watch the video...
While it may not be on the same level as Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest is gaining traction fast with 11 million visits per week in December and 400% growth in just six months. And what’s particularly amazing about this growth is it was based primarily from word-of-mouth interest. With those kinds of numbers, it’s no surprise that many brands are in the process of figuring out how exactly they can use the social pinboard site to their advantage.
Many argue that Pinterest does not yet have a place in the tech world. However, what Pinterest is doing – and doing well – is driving traffic to sites, which makes it worth looking into no matter what your brand is. In October, Real Simple magazine even saw more traffic from Pinterest than from Facebook.
So is your brand right for Pinterest? Here are a few questions to think about when determining if your brand is a fit for the social network:
- Do you have a visual element? Being a virtual pinboard, Pinterest is based solely on visually appealing “pins.” This does not necessarily mean a product, however. If your business offers a service rather than a product, you can easily find interesting photos and ideas to share with your customers that enhance what you do.
- Do you have an infographic or interesting statistic that would appeal to people? Many pins are based on charts/graphs/infographics. Keep in mind that if you decide to go this route, the direct pin may not clearly identify your brand. However, all pins link back to the website from which they were pulled from originally. So if your pin is interesting enough, it will not only drive traffic to your site, but potentially viewers will check out more on your site than just the pinned item alone.
- Do you have a video with an interesting message or topic? While not quite as common, there are pins of YouTube videos, such as this one of a technology CEO talking about their product. If you message is interesting, there is no harm in using an additional avenue to spread the word.
While Pinterest may not be a great fit for all brands, its recent and rapid growth makes it a player in social media that shouldn’t be ignored as a potential platform for developing brand awareness. Keep in mind, the list above is not an end all for if you brand is right for Pinterest – and board categories on the site currently run the gamut from Do It Yourself Crafts to Cars and Motorcycles, and even Technology. So, is your brand right for Pinterest? I think it is at least worth looking into.
January is always a great month. With the new year, new aspirations and resolutions are always on tap. Predictions for what's to come are aplenty (even Jonathan and Kate weighed in with their own this year!).
Sadly, as January comes to a close, we're probably near the tail end of predictions for the coming year... which is probably why I appreciated this visualized roundup of trends and research on emerging technologies from London-based technologist / designer Michell Zappa:
Zappa's visualization pulls together research and thoughts from several sources, including Wired Magzine, Clay Shirky, John Battelle, Linda Stone, Engadet Alt, and trendwatching.com.
So what's hot for 2012? (Definitions below from Zappa)
- Additive trading: The use of sophisticated technological tools to trade securities like stocks or options. In high-frequency trading, programs analyze market data to capture trading opportunities that may open up for only a fraction of a second to several hours.
- Cloud computing: The delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).
- Multitouch: A touch sensing surface’s ability to recognize the presence of two or more points of contact with the surface. This plural-point awareness is often used to implement advanced functionality such as pinch to zoom or activating predefined programs.
- Depth imaging: Depth (or Range) imaging is the name for a collection of techniques which are used to produce a 2D image showing the distance to points in a scene from a specific point, normally associated with some type of sensor device. The resulting image can be used to reproduce a 3D scene on screen.
- Tablets: A complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen.
- Personal gene sequencing: A branch of genomics where individual genomes are genotyped and analyzed using bioinformatics tools. The most important aspect of personal genomics is that it may eventually lead to personalized medicine, where patients can take genotype specific drugs for medical treatments.
- Additive manufacturing: “The manufacture of end-use products using additive manufacturing techniques” or more broadly, the application of layer manufacturing techniques to fabricate end use products.
Zappa's visualization also includes some quantitative forecasts. For 2012, Zappa expects a global online population of approximately 2 billion, and approximately 10 billion connected devices.
And while Jonathan's 5 year look at tech was ambitious, Zappa's visualization looks all the way to 2040. Can you say space travel by 2020 and a space elevator by 2040?! Bring it!
You can stare at your bit.ly stats all you want, but the numbers don’t lie. Your click-through rates (CTRs) aren’t as high as you want them to be. Sure, you have attracted the right followers, Tweeted the hottest topics and added some unique commentary. So what gives? Well, it could be you’re Tweeting on the wrong days. Or maybe your links are inserted too far into your Tweets. According to an infographic from a HubSpot social media guru, it could be a combination of factors, which luckily, are easy to implement into your Tweet production line.
Here is a quick rundown of what the research uncovered, but for exact numbers and comparisons, take a look at the infographic itself.
- First up is not maxing out your 140-character limit. The study shows that Tweets between 120-130 characters generate the most clicks.
- Guilty as charged – I tend to place my links near the end of my Tweets. However, CTRs seem to be at their highest when links are placed approximately 25% of the way through Tweets.
- Don’t overwhelm your followers. Consistency is great, but spread your Tweets out over the course of a day. Otherwise, the more links you Tweet in a short period of time, the lower your CTR will be.
- While Tweets are designed to be quick, off-the-cuff messages, choosing the right words does make a difference. Consider using “via”, “@”, “RT”, “please” and “check”, and avoid “@AddThis”, “marketing” and “@GetGlue”.
- Paper.li has the right stuff. Apparently, the link aggregator’s common “daily is out” phrase generated the most clicks of all the other phases analyzed. (Just what the heck is paper.li?)
- Verbs, verbs, verbs! The study found that Tweets with many adverbs and verbs saw higher CTRs than those with nouns and adjectives.
- Here’s one that I found particularly surprising – Tweets shared on Friday-Sunday had higher CTRs than those shared on Monday-Thursday. I had imagined that people would be more engaged while at work, but it seems as though you have a better chance of catching readers’ attention on the weekends. More free time perhaps?
- Not everyone is a morning person. So let your readers digest their coffee and donut and Tweet them in the afternoon instead. But if you insist, consider doing both. As long as the content you’re sharing is useful and not in any way spam, try Tweeting it a couple times during the day. Most people don’t scroll back through their timeline to see what they’ve missed, so you might do everyone a favor.
If you’re not getting the readership you think your content deserves, then it might not hurt to implement some of these tweaks. Your message isn’t going to change, but the audience it reaches might. Report back with your stats and let me know if your CTRs have shot up at all. Good luck!
- Mary Evans
I recently read an article on Time’s Techland about how President Obama will be holding a “Hangout” on Google+ on Monday, January 30th to address public questions following this week’s State of the Union Address. When I stumbled across the article, my original thought was “What is a Google+ Hangout?” After mentioning it to a few of my colleagues who also hadn’t heard about it,, I decided to look into it.
A Google+ Hangout is a free video chat feature, where up to 10 people can participate in a live session – similar to Skype conferencing but for free and with the attachment of a social network. Google also offers a webcast version of their Hangout service called “Hangouts On-Air,” which is still under development, but essentially invites celebrities, public figures or users with large followings to broadcast live via their platform. The feature records the webcast for future playback and also allows a small number of people to interact live with the celeb or public figure and engage in the conversation. According to a December post on the Official Google Blog, the Black Eyed Peas and Dalai Lama have both participated.
Google+ may actually be on to something that could potentially evolve social media. With Google+ quickly developing as the new social network for businesses, I think that “Hangouts” and “Hangouts On-Air” can offer great new ways for businesses to interact with an audience, specifically the media. It provides a new outlet for virtual press tours or simply a platform for breaking news or even conducting interviews. Although participation is currently limited to 10 users, there seems to be no limit (or at least a high number) for users who can simply listen in. The recording aspect is also appealing, specifically for the media who may be interested in revisiting the discussion.
- Kate N.
On Thursday, Facebook officially launched their small business program called “Facebook Small Business Boost.” The program encourages small businesses to try Facebook advertising as a viable business growth tactic. The program offers $50 in free Facebook advertising credits to eligible small businesses with at least 50 likes on their Facebook page. Grow your likes by another 100 fans before March 31, and your company is eligible for another $100 in Facebook ad credits.
The top 10 small business pages with the most new likes between now and March 31 will win a whopping $10K in free Facebook ads.
For the beginner, Facebook offers several resources on optimizing your Facebook page and creating your free ads.
Let us know if you sign up, we'd love to track your progress.
-- Katie Hanusik
Last week our friends at Foster.ly launched the new iteration of their website for the DC startup and entrepreneur community. The site is a one-stop shop for techies, business newbies and experienced entrepreneurs alike looking for news, resources and networking opportunities in DC/MD/VA. In addition to the new format of the site, Foster.ly now has Study Hall (formerly Study Hall DC), a fun and unique co-working environment open to anyone seeking collaboration and feedback.
To celebrate the launch, Foster.ly held a kick-off party with more than 400 attendees at Eden Lounge in DC. What stood out to me was the excitement attendees expressed at the opportunity to support the startup community. Foster.ly brings the people together and these people are hungry for local resources and connections! The local startup scene continues to grow because of this enthusiasm and Foster.ly has some exciting things planned for the rest of 2012 to support this trend.
The party was also a chance to introduce the first Foster.ly Board, which includes leaders from the startup and business community.
Foster.ly Board - Left to Right: Jonathon Perrelli, Founder and General Partner, Fortify.vc; Jennifer O’Daniel, Senior Associate, CIT GAP Funds; Minh Nguyen, Founder, Plaxo; Adam Zuckerman, Founder, Foster.ly; Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director, Amplifier Venture Partners & Founder, Founder Corps. Not pictured: Michael Mayernick, Co-Founder, Spinnakr. Photo Credit: Noe Todorovich.
Kudos to the Foster.ly team for a successful launch. I encourage everyone to sign up today to join the Foster.ly community!
LinkedIn is an anomaly in the social media world – it’s decidedly a social network, but I would argue that it’s either the Least Social Network or the Most Social Network, depending on how you view it. It’s the least social because, let’s face it, it appears to lack the real-time sharing nature of Facebook and Twitter…which could be a good thing, if you don’t want to know what your boss had for lunch. On the other hand, LinkedIn enforces authenticity and places a premium on authentic interactions, albeit from a business perspective, something that is increasingly difficult (for a variety of reasons) on Facebook and Twitter.
Sure, you could undertake an archvillain-esque campaign of lying and misinformation to convince your contacts that you’re literally Bruce Wayne, but that defeats the entire purpose of the site. And that purpose would be, at it’s most simple: business networking. Yet despite this easy-to-grasp premise, LinkedIn success, or the perception thereof, remains elusive for most businesses.
So what, pray tell, constitutes success on LinkedIn? And how does one achieve it?
For the former…that’s an individual (or corporate) decision, just like with every other social networking platform. There are no hard and fast metrics for any social media, and that includes LinkedIn. But given the site’s professional make-up, business leads are a reasonable metric to use, assuming that they are tracked appropriately with LinkedIn specific whitepapers, webinars, etc.
How to achieve this success follows a bit more of a pattern. The first step is engagement, but internally rather than externally, in that you need to get as many of your employees onto LinkedIn as possible. Encourage them to connect with old colleagues or friends – start a wide-ranging network. Next, create a company page (LinkedIn provides step-by-step instructions) which functions much like a Facebook page, only with a guaranteed audience and the added benefit of all of your employees’ backing it.
Finally, add content – everything from whitepapers to authored articles to press releases to brochures is fair game. Get it up on LinkedIn (better yet, tailor it to LinkedIn) and use the handy analytics component to track what’s going on.
Honestly, that’s the basic premise – efforts can be refined across verticals (you can make different versions of your page, for example), but the principles remain the same.
So what the hell do you do with LinkedIn? Now you know.
Recently, I learned that some friends of mine decided to “cut the cord” and cancel their cable TV. Theirrationale was that everything they could want to watch – with the exception, perhaps, of livesporting events – was readily available online.
Right after I heard this I read a recent Reuters story about how YouTube is now streaming a mammoth 4 billion online videos per day. That’s a lot of eyeballs viewing the Web’s premier source of online videos.
Much of this may be attributed to the growing popularity of YouTube Channels. YouTube Channels feature unique content, much of which has been created by well-known providers who have dabbled in other mediums in the past, including television. More and more producers are signing up to offer YouTube channels, enticed by the lure of all of those potential viewers (not to mention the ability to reach people not only by their computers, but via smartphones and TV’s as well).
It’s not just YouTube, of course. Netflix, Hulu, network TV websites, iTunes and more – all of these services have changed the way people consume video content.
For companies – even ones that may not be considered “photogenic” – this means that having some form of video content online should no longer be considered a “nice to have.” YouTube, Vimeo or similar sites should be considered viable “channels” through which to reach customers. And it doesn’t need to be expensive; sometimes the most unprofessional, off-the-cuff videos are the ones that get the most hits and succeed virally.
I must admit, when I first heard my friends were getting rid of cable, I thought they were a bit crazy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I spend most of my time watching video on-demand. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I actually even saw a TV commercial in real-time.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. And I think the YouTube statistics bear that out. If you want to reach someone like me, using an online video site may very well be one of the best ways to do so.
Image credit: greencandy8888
- Pete Larmey
Unless you’ve been living under some kind of Internet rock, you’ve heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act, more commonly known as SOPA and PIPA. Ostensibly, these bills are to curtail online piracy and keep intellectual property in the hands of its rightful owners, which, at first blush, doesn’t sound so bad. Except when you read deeper into the bills, and it becomes obvious that these acts would give the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and other entertainment groups carte blanche to destroy the Internet, through delisting sites, heavy fines and other less-than-savory actions.
Of course, the Internet is not standing idly by – almost every Web-based business, particularly content sites, is protesting both acts, pointing out that the concept of free content could easily be ruined by SOPA and PIPA. To highlight this threat, January 18 was to be an Internet blackout, where sites would censor or remove content to show how dangerous these two bills are.
But once the potential of lost views and business came into play, some of the biggest names pulled out. As it stands, some of the most recognizable sites operating in “blackout mode” today are Google, Wikipedia and Reddit, along with a host of smaller content sites. It sends a message, but can you imagine the response if Facebook and Twitter participated as well (they aren’t)?
Which leads me to my question – is this an effective way to push the threat of SOPA/PIPA? Or is it just another stunt by the online community that won’t have any impact on public perception? Has your opinion of the participating sites improved or are you just annoyed that you can’t read your favorite Wikipedia articles?
Let’s admit it – we have way too many Facebook friends. “Friends” that we’ve
met once, “friends” we haven’t met but know through other connections, “friends” whom we haven’t seen or spoken to since high school, etc. You know who I’m talking about. But yet, when you look at your friend count, you think it’s impressive to say that you’re connected to hundreds, maybe even thousands. But they aren’t all friends whom you would meet for coffee, schedule a business meeting with or even wish a happy birthday on Facebook. Instead, they are random connections without substance. The same can be had for brands and their Facebook pages. Often times, brands rate their Facebook effectiveness by the number of their fans, constantly promoting giveaways, photo sharing and coupon offerings, all by “Liking” their page.
I do it all the time, and I’m sure I haven’t visited many of them since cashing in on the instant gratification that first drew my attention.
So then what’s the point of measuring effectiveness based on a number
if it really isn’t truthful? It just goes to show that fan count (like friend count) shouldn’t solely determine the social media success of a company or brand. As detailed by Fathom Analytics’ Relationship Quality Index, engagement and emotion are just as important and are amongst the four factors Fathom looked at when ranking brands on Facebook: number of fans, momentum of fan acquisition, fan engagement and emotional quality of fan posts.
These factors really draw together the best brands that not only have high fan counts, but also have fans that actually invest in the brands and the ideas that they represent. Whether it’s by writing product reviews, sharing a customer service story or asking for technical help, the brands lis
ted in Fathom Analytics’ Facebook Relationship Quality Index graph (below) have a loyal fan base and should be examined for anyone looking to pump up their brand’s Facebook presence. While some of the brands listed aren’t surprising to see (Starbucks and iTunes), some of the random food snacks were. (Who knew Pringles has such loyal following?) Regardless, I think the most interesting thing to note is the order of the brands themselves, and understanding why the list shook out the way it did. So take a read through AdAge's article and see where brands achieved credit in Fathom’s criteria and the areas in which they lacked recognition.
And while you’re at it, think about the brands you’re a fan of on Facebook and which ones you pay the most attention to. What are they, and what makes them so attractive? Take a minute to jot them down in the comments section – I might be in need of brand exploration…
- Mary Evans
Earlier today, I wanted to include an 1105 journalist’s handle in a Tweet and couldn’t remember off the top of my head if he was on Twitter or not. It dawned on me that a nice list of those government reporters and their Twitter handles could prove to be very useful and I thought I’d share. A few of them include their handles on 1105’s contact us page but some of the others took some digging…
Lab Director, Government Computer News
No Twitter handle
Staff Writer, Federal Computer Week
Staff Writer, Government Computer News
No Twitter handle
Assistant Managing Editor, Defense Systems
No Twitter handle
News Editor, Federal Computer Week
Senior Editor, Washington Technology
Last Tweet 2009
Managing Editor, Federal Computer Week
No Twitter handle
William (Bill) Jackson
Senior Writer, Government Computer News
No Twitter handle
Staff Writer, Government Computer News
Online Content Producer, Federal Computer Week
Staff Writer, Federal Computer Week
Managing Editor, Government Computer News
Last Tweet 2009
Editor-in-Chief, Government Computer News
No Twitter handle
John Stein Monroe
Editor-in-Chief, Federal Computer Week
Editor-in-Chief, Federal Employees News Digest, Federal Daily
No Twitter handle
Web Content Director, Online 1105
No Twitter handle
Editor-in-Chief, Defense Systems
@rosenbergbd (*Cannot confirm that this is him)
Online Content Producer, Washington Technology
Digital Development Editor
No Twitter handle
Staff Writer, Federal Computer Week
Editor-in-Chief, Washington Technology
Senior Writer, Federal Computer Week
@weigelt (*Personal handle)
Managing Editor, Defense Systems
No Twitter handle
Assistant Managing Editor, Government Computer News
Online Content Producer, Government Computer News
No Twitter handle
Digital Media Product Manager
Senior Editor, Government Computer News
Senior Editor, Federal Computer Week
@JohnZyskowski (*Cannot confirm that this is him)
* If you see an error or know of a handle that I’m missing, please either leave a comment or email me at asmith [at] speakerboxpr [dot] com and I’ll update the list. Thanks!
– Ali Robinson
My colleague Jonathan recently posted three “Extra Bold 2012 Tech Predictions” (see his post immediately following this one), and I would like to respectfully disagree with all of them. In case you would like a quick recap, Jonathan predicts that Facebook will die, voice recognition will fail, and print media will become cool. He also noted he is taking a five year stance on these predictions, which I am going to disregard because he didn’t title his post “Extra Bold 2012-2017 Predictions” and I find that misleading. Hopefully with no hard feelings, here are my rebuttals to each of these predictions:
1. Facebook will not die, it will continue to be the most popular social networking site in the world. With something like 800 million active users, I feel like the only way Facebook could disappear in 2012 would be if the world were to end. Facebook could possibly see more competition from similar networking sites such as Google+ (their layout now looks exactly like the old version of Facebook), but I’m not even sure the two networks are on the same playing field. In regard to the Facebook/Google+ rivalry, I agree with an article published on CNN yesterday by contributor Dan Mitchell who states:
“Perhaps Google Plus will end up being the network of professionals, techies and creative types, while Facebook continues on as the network of the mainstream. Maybe Google Plus will end up with fewer members and less traffic, but higher CPMs.”
Do I think Facebook will have to start picking up their game to compete with other social networks this year? Definitely. But I think my colleague has missed the mark in his prediction of it becoming obsolete.
2. Voice recognition will thrive.
I’m a huge fan of the voice commands feature on my Xbox Kinect and the Uconnect Voice Command in my car. There is something ultra convenient about the way these features allow me to multi-task. I can drive safely and make the most of rush hour traffic by jumping on a conference call or adjust what’s on my TV while making dinner without skipping a beat. And, you can’t talk about voice commands without mentioning Siri on the iPhone 4S, which allows you to easily set reminders, shoot off texts and add appointments to your calendar.
I’m not sure why Jonathan is such a hater, but others agree with me that voice recognition will be big in 2012. In fact, in Mashable’s Digital Predictions for 2012 article, Amy-Mae Elliott writes “I think voice recognition is going to be a big trend in 2012. The iPhone 4S’ Siri has brought the technology to a mainstream audience, and other manufacturers will be keen to capitalize on the buzz. It won’t just be phones that will offer the tech, we’ll see a variety of consumer electronics incorporating voice control elements — probably with mixed success!”
3. Print media was cool. Don’t get me wrong, I still love picking up a newspaper and a book in print every once in a while, but eReaders and tablets are just so much easier. So unless you’re the kind of person who only reads in public to attract attention from the ladies (Jonathan?) I think the anticipation surrounding potential announcements of the iPad 3 and Kindle Fire 2 will outshine anything to do with print media this year. Check out this interesting infographic and VentureBeat article for some interesting stats about the economics of books vs. eReaders.
All right, folks. Here they are: my three new-year predictions, each one more predictive than the last. Like IBM, I'm taking a five-year view on these (mostly because that way, you won't be able to prove me wrong until 2017, and by then, you'll have forgotten all about it).
Extra Bold Prediction #1: Facebook will die.
I know, I know. My anti-Facebook posture has been well documented on this blog. But recently, I returned to Facebook (for work purposes) and was astounded (all over again) by the overall crumminess of the user interface.
I'm not saying Google+ will be the successor (although I did say that last year). But in Facebook, we're dealing with a poorly designed product that's living off of user familiarly and product ubiquity. And that sounds an awful lot like… (dare I say it?) Microsoft.
Extra Bold Prediction #2: Voice recognition will fail.
Santa SIRI makes for a great commercial, but not such a great commercial product. From what I've heard (and witnessed first-hand), SIRI is still “finding itself.” Sure, you can say that it's a young technology. But voice recognition software and voice-enabled devices aren't young. They've just been poorly executed for many, many years.
I remember being supremely skeptical of touch screen technology when the iPhone came out, because all I could think of were those horrible museum kiosks that you touch to learn more about Australopithecus, and the machine freezes every two seconds until you punch someone.
But here's the thing: Apple made touch screen fun and easy, and I'm sure they’ll do the same, eventually, with voice. Yet at the end of the day, a fully functional voice solution will still be (in my estimation) more novelty than necessity. Thus, it won't last.
Extra Bold Prediction #3: Print media will become cool.
I'm tempted to predict something relatively non-controversial here like all-out cyberwarfare with Mexico. But instead I'll just go with the insane notion of a print media resurgence. Look, we all know that electronic media will continue to dominate. But there’s one beneficial element to print media vehicles that we’ve all overlooked: Vanity.
What’s the point of reading the Wall Street Journal if people can’t see how smart and business-savvy you are for reading the Wall Street Journal? Sure you can use social media to post your favorite articles, but that won’t help you pick up women at the airport. I’m kidding (sort of).
A world where everyone holds a nondescript tablet is a world where appearances lose their impact. And I don’t think that will happen. Right now, the tablet itself is the status symbol. But once tablets become ubiquitous, I predict we’ll see a countercultural resurgence of print. “Look at me,” you’ll say as you hold your paper copy of the Economist, “I’m an iconoclast. Now ask me about my vinyl record collection.”
Well then: It’s a brand new calendar year. The frost is on the Beltway. The Redskins are out of the playoff picture. And technology folks are combing through their year-end analyses, their collective intelligence, and their top-secret sources in a frantic attempt to make predictions for the coming twelve months.
We call it insider trading, and it's the heart and soul of our industry. Just kidding. We call it prognostication, as in "What’s the prognosis, Doctor?" Because, well, we talk to our iPhones now, so we might as well treat them as terminal patients.
One of my favorite prognosticators is IBM, mainly because their 5-year predictions are typically just round ups of their product roadmap (e.g., “giant chess-playing robots will be huge in 2002”).
Looking at their tech predictions this year (which includes electronic devices you control with your mind) makes me think I should buy some IBM stock. But what really struck me was a prediction about the most hated of all communications - junk mail.
IBM’s contention is that junk mail (imbued with the power of micro-targeted marketing intelligence) will become too personalized to be considered junk, and too relevant to be ignored.
Interesting. Like most people, I’d simply assumed that the arc of any rational society would bend toward the elimination of unsolicited spam. But instead of killing it, why not fix it?
These past few years have been a golden age of “opt-in” data collection. Through social networks and interactive advertising, marketers have learned more about customer preferences and buying habits than they’d ever imagined. Enough, perhaps, to turn the tables and resume the onslaught of “push” communications?
It’s a risky play. And it might re-aggravate old wounds. But at least we’d see the end of letters addressed to “Current Resident" and job offers from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, the whole thing inspired me to write my own 2012 tech predictions... in tomorrow's post.
According to recent reports, fledgling social network Google+ enjoyed its best month ever in December, with 49 million visits. While that still pales in comparison to Facebook, which is quickly becoming the most visited website in the U.S., it’s pretty impressive for a network that many had written off for dead.
Why the resurgence after several months of declining traffic? It would appear much of it has to do with the fact that Google has made sure you can’t get away from Google+, promoting it through various other Google-branded channels, including Gmail, Google Reader and Google itself. Still more may have to do with the fact that many people who have built up an online following over the years – tech journalists, celebrities, etc. – have continued to plug their own Google+ pages, inviting more users to subscribe to their posts. There’s also the recently launched, business-focused Google+ Page program, which is designed to connect companies with customers, similar to what Twitter and Facebook offer.
This goes to show that not everything is a smash right out of the gate. Some products take longer to percolate. And while I think it’s still a bit too early to call Google+ a smashing success, I do think it’s starting to look like a slow burning one.
While Mark Zuckerberg’s probably not quaking in his boots just yet, Google+ is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
- Pete Larmey