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October 2013

The art of the tease and the Nexus 5

The Nexus 4 sold so fast that it took down Google Play. How could Google raise the stakes with the Nexus 5?

By teasing us. Relentlessly teasing us.


This started wihen they "accidentally" gave us a peak at the Nexus 5 in the Kit Kat statue unveiling video. Then, week after week, like clockwork, additional leaks surfaced. On the rumored launch date, Google's marketing partner - KitKat - teased a launch on Google+. This drove the Android fanboys crazy. When October 15th came and went without a release, the rumors and speculation were wild. Google Play "accidentally" listed the Nexus 5 for just long enough to make the blogs, and then took it down. Carrier websites include WIND in Canada and Sprint in the US "accidentally" leaked images. And most recently, Google appear to have listed updates for all of their core apps. But for some reason, these updates don't seem to be available for download.

By all appearances, Google and LG were the worst secret-keepers in the history of mankind. 

And then this video came out.

They were just teasing us all along. Brilliant.

UnBundling is finally here!

Commoditization drives deflation. As data access becomes faster and more commoditized, this same data is dragging down lucrative markets such as telephony and cable subscriptions with it.


TelCos are facing a tough future; one in which their core services (TV & phone packages) can often be delivered cheaper and better by the others piggybacking on their data lines. Unless the TelCos can change the market dynamics through new forms of bundled services, they are going to become as blah as the local water company.

And this is great news for consumers.


  1. AT&T signaled that they are heading away from "minutes" based packages in mobile.
  2. Netflix is reportedly in talks with cable carriers to offer a bundled subscription packages.
  3. Comcast announced a new Broadband+HBO pacakge that will include Xfinity and does not require a cable TV subscription.
  4. TMobile launched an iPad plan that gives away the first 200 mb of use each month.

Personally, I'm most impressed with Comcast and TMobile.

Comcast is effectively unbundling their television offerings, finally giving consumers what they have long been clamoring for.

TMobile on the other hand, is differentiating themselves from a commodoty market while capturing early adopters on a high usage product. The super high res displays on the new iPads will suck down data at incredible speeds. Giving away 200 mb a month amounts to giving away free emal access in a market where few will be satisfied with email access alone. These 200 mb have become the razor and the paid data packages the blades. Brilliant.

These times, they are a changing.

Stop Killing Unicorns!!! Social promotions need to change.

E5a7_canned_unicorn_meatImagine I offered you the chance to win an iPad Air if you wore a stamp for my business on your forehead for an entire day. Or, you could enter this contest by stamping ten friend's foreheads. Oh, and you have to subscribe to my email newsletter as well. 

How are your social promotions any different?

Tweet the a hashtag, Like and Share our photo and Pin to Win are an enticed annoyances at best. Most of these contests are little more than paid spam. 

You may have engaged one participant, but you've annoyed all fo their friends. Well done!

If you want to use a promotion, make it creative. Make it speak to your product, your audience and their needs. Invite participant creativity and expression. 

Just stop enticing spam. Every time a social promotion appears on my feeds, a unicorn dies. Stop killing unicorns. Say no to spam.

It really isn't helping anyone.

Strategists ask why - the case for agencies

CreativityStrategists ask - why?

Planners ask - who?

Project managers ask - how?

Buyers ask - where?

Media asks - when?

Creatives ask - what?

Designers ask - and then?

Brand managers ask - so?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sure, you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

But you can't run AND chew gum AND hold scissors without stabbing yourself in the foot, cutting off your oxygen supply and validating your mother's many warnings.

Brands can keep many of these roles in house. But if ask three people to wear six hats, you won't get the same output as buying 50% of 6 specialists. 

Long live the agency.

The homescreen of the future is here: Aviate Review

AviateSummary: Hate organizing your apps into folders? Hate digging through folders to find the right app? Aviate is a Homescreen that shows you the apps you want, when you want them.


A few years back Nokia had a brilliant idea - reorder the icons on my mobile device based on the time of day, showing only the apps I'm likely to need. Last week, Aviate finally delivered on this vision, and more. 

The Concept

2013-10-20 08.17.00Aviate is an Android homescreen that adapts to you. When I wake up it shows me Home - Morning apps such as weather and podcasts. When I go to sleep it shows me Home - Evening apps. When I'm on the go it shows me Going Somewhere apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Aviate even shows me shortcuts such as Traffic and Home that will automatically reroute me or show me directions home when clicked. When I'm at work it shows me work-related live widgets and apps such as my work calendar and work email client. When I'm eating out, Aviate will even automatically load my location and offer shortcuts to post, check-in or take a photo.

In addition to the contextual app recommendations, Aviate provides space for up to ten always available apps. These ten apps will always display on the bottom of my homescreen.

Aviate adjusts to my needs throughout the day. No mess, no fuss, no setup, no headaches, it just works. It's that simple.

Why It Works 

2013-10-20 07.53.42I love that Aviate knows that I like to listen to audiobooks while I fall asleep. And I love that Aviate knows that I listen to podcasts while using Waze on my way to work. These apps are ready and waiting for me when I unlock my phone. It just works.

Until last week, my homescreens were loaded full of carefully organized folders. Loading up my morning commute required multiple clicks in and out of folders while I setup my desired podcast and navigation software (for traffic alerts). With Aviate, my phone already has all of my Going Somewhere apps loaded up for me, just three clicks and I'm ready.

And best of all, my homescreen is now simple and clean.

How Aviate Works

Aviate accomplishes all of the above by (a) sorting my apps into predefined categories, (b) tracking my location at various times of the day and (c) comparing my behavior to others using Aviate. By comparing my behavior and favorite apps, Aviate also makes suggestions as to which apps I want want to add to a particular homescreen.

I'm not particularly worried about Aviate knowing which apps I use when, where I am and when I'm there. I'm happy to trade my location and app data for the convenience of Aviate.

Room for Improvement

Aviate is in beta, so you will need to know someone with Aviate to get an invite. As beta products go, this looks to be an early-mid beta. Aviate crashed on me three times last week, generally when I was trying to customize my suggested apps. I'm sure this is a simple bug that will be fixed shortly.

I would love to see Aviate allow me to create my own modes. For example, as an observant Jew I say a brief prayer after meals and will generally pray at the same times of the day, everyday. I would love to see Aviate offer me the ability to always show my prayerbook app when I'm eating out, or when it's right around prayer times. I'm pretty confident this feature is in the works.

My one other criticism is that Aviate doesn't feel like a Homescreen. The heavily card-based layout is functional, but not beautiful. The persistent app drawer on the bottom does not need it's own bevel because it is not (yet) swappable for another component. A little more work on design could go a long way.


They say a great innovation is one you come to expect. This innovation that raises the bar such that you find an experience lacking when this innovation isn't there.

Aviate is my new Android Homescreen, and I can't imagine life without it.

Taking advantage of the white noise

PartyLast February the marketing world was in a tussy over the brilliance of Oreo's superbowl blackout tweet. Yesterday was the Android techie's version of a superbowl, the presumed launch of the much leaked and highly anticipated Nexus 5. But when the Nexus 5 failed to show up, so did the rest of the industry. 

What a wasted opportunity.

For a few hours, tens of thousands of early adopters, a highly sought after tech demographic were hitting refresh on Google Play incessantly. Last year's Nexus 4 sold out in minutes, so being the first to checkout meant being the first to get the latest and greatest. When these influencers realized that the Nexus 5 wasn't on the way, they hit Twitter to understand why.

But unlike the Superbowl blackout, there were no tech brands or marketers ready to capitalize on a highly prized audience. 

The only people to take advantage of this non-event were desperate bloggers and lazy journalists. In the face of non-information, the less scrupulous among us published fantastical headlines with no real meat behind their claims. Was the Nexus 5 delayed by the FCC furlough? Unlikely, given that the presumed Nexus 5 was "given away" by their approval documents a week or two ago. Was the Nexus 5 delayed because of the introduction of a Nexus 4 with LTE? Probably not, because the Nexus 4 was discontinued a month ago.

What happened to all of the marketers? Why did all of them drop the ball?

I have worked with brands that spend millions of dollars, year after year, to attract the attention of early adopters. Why hadn't any of them purchased the search term Nexus 5 on Twitter? What hadn't anyone created the "blackout tweet" for the Nexus 5? The meme or gag that would have been sure to go viral?

There's nothing so sad as a wasted opportunity.

The #1 Problem Facing Tech Start-Ups

In case of zombiesForget monetization. Forget VCs, Angels and term sheets. The biggest challenge facing tech start-ups today is that a lack of understanding of their target users. 

Founders of tech start-ups are generally very tech savvy. They know how to make things work. But knowing how to do something is not the same as making something that will be useful for your target user. Something that users will see and love, something they will get, something they will use with regularity. For all of these functions and more, you need good old fashioned product marketing.

It's time we brought back the product marketer. 

Somewhere over the past twenty to thirty years, marketing became synonymous with corporate branding, communications or snake oil salesmanship. Product marketing is the translation of market insight into a successful product and everything in between.

Product marketers are the "front end" of the product-user engagement. The engagement spans pre, during and post product engagement. Product marketing is the voice of the users to the product team, and the voice of the product team to the users. Product marketing is fueled about insights and user needs, riving the fulfillment of these needs through product communications, pricing, distribution and more. 

When I worked in the "social media" industry I met with dozens of start-ups who claimed to be building solutions for social media managers. These social media managers were my staff and clients. Yet remarkably few start-ups understood my challenges or provided solutions that solved the challenges we were facing. They offered novel solutions, but to all the wrong problems.

The same can be said for almost all of the upcoming social, mobile, contextual, photo, or video based networks and platforms. Few of them will get off the ground, because few of them have the skills to combine techinical know-how with a strong go-to-market strategy that solves a real need for their target audience.

There are thousands of "mommy innovations" floating around the web. Almost universally, they deliver novelties rather than solutions, adding to the clutter of an audience desperately trying to solve their clutter challenges. A product marketer would easily raise these challenges and offer solutions by working with your designer.

Designers are not product marketers, though they should certainly bring many complimentary skills to the table. VCs are not product marketers, and you may be in for  ride of if you are using them as such. Corporate leadership should certainly have a voice in product marketing, but they lack the day to day insights your product marketer thrives on.

By our nature, we all gravitate towards what we know. Coders will focus on the code and designers on design. But if you don't include the voice of your users in your core product development, don't be suprised when they dont show up six months down the line.

Most start-ups aren't building solutions for TechCrunch. So don't limit your marketing efforts to people who can get you on TechCrunch. The deadpool is full of ideas that were great on paper.

Now go interview some great product marketers. You'll be surprised how much you still have to learn.