PS3 as a Tivo + SlingBox - PlayTV (w/ video)

PlayTV is a hardware add on that allows any PS3 to record AND stream live TV (video below).  You can also perform a wireless sync to a PSP.  Now THIS is where Tivo and Xbox 360 need to go next.

Think about the power of wireless syncing of pre-recorded content to your Zune. 

Better yet, how about offering this add-on free, coupled with relevant advertising.

And how relevant would this advertising be? How about...,

  • advertising targeted to your online behavior as determined by MSN,
  • your TV viewing and recording and determined by your embedded DVR solution,
  • your purchased content as determined by your Xbox360 and Zune Store,
  • your social network as determined by MSN and Zune Social,
  • your tastes in music as determined by your most played in Windows Media Player and your Zune,
  • and let's not forget, your tastes in video games. 

Let's just say, this could be extremely well targeted advertising. 

Or you could just pay for the premium ad-free service.

PlayTV Video (after the jump)

adding carrier value to the mobile phone

So you're shopping for a phone. 

Phone A is $30 with 2 year plan. Slim, sleek, and flashy.  2 megapixel camera.  High speed internet.  Virtually no internal storage.  Flash drive slot.  This phone is available on T-Mobile.

Phone B is $80 with 2 year plan. Slim, sleep and flashy.  2 megapixel camera.  High speed internet.  Mp3 player.  Video player.  Virtually no internal storage.  Flash drive slot.  This phone is on at&t.

So I took an informal survey of friends and coworkers.  Almost everyone goes for Phone B.  And nobody uses the mp3 player or video functionality regularly.

  • Carriers are desperately trying to hold on to their ownership of the user mobile experience. 
  • Many carriers are doing so by discounting flashy and fun phones. 
  • But there is a smarter way to go. 
  • There is value that the networks can offer - unique value that device manufacturers cannot replicate.  Value that will carve out a significant value add for individual carriers.

If you had a choice between added built-in entertainment functionality like an mp3 player you will never use - or integrated services - like an emergency roadside assistance program, medical emergency assistance, cheap/affordable voice driven emergency directions etc - which would you choose? 

Would these value add services provide a better, stronger more differentiated revenue stream for carriers than integrated mp3 players?

what IS digital marketing?

Google_dictionary_2 Tangerine Toad over at Marketing Profs asked the question, "What is digital marketing?"


TT goes on to list a number of tactics, in an effort to isolate a single tactic that defines or otherwise embodies the essence of digital marketing.  However, to define digital marketing by a tactic or list of tactics is both narrow minded and shortsighted.

Wireless_baby_2 Digital Marketing is more than online marketing.  Digital marketing is more than one or two tactics.  Digital marketing is not about marketing to a platform or a technology.  Digital marketing is the act of marketing in a digital age.

As consumer's live become increasingly digital, as convergence and "always on" connectivity become increasingly mainstream, new doors are opened to marketers.  Marketers now gain the ability to enhance, empower, (interrupt?) and otherwise live within ever deeper segments of consumer's lives, well beyond the interruption and often irrelevance of the 30 second spot.

Digital marketing is more than a tactic, it's marketing reborn again in a digital era. It is about persuasive and at times pervasive engagement. It is about reinventing or more accurately the evolutionary revolution of the brand experience. Digital marketing is about returning to the core of marketing, the human experience, and enabling brand experiences and interactions in this new dynamic.

note: the Google Dictionary image above is photoshopped.  The cartoon above is the work of Avi Steinberg, close friend and raving lunatic.

fun fridays : next gen input interfaces

The video below requires some explanation.  FRONT is an interactive system motion capture system that records 3D "pen" strokes -- sending that information to a computer afterwards - apparently to be "printed".  (Video after the jump)

Uploaded by reelgood0008

I don't speak Japanese, but the story here is clearly apparent from the visuals.  Live mixed reality meets avatar like customization.  This is just too cool.  Check it out below (after the jump).


And what post about interface evolution would be complete without including the amazing Jeff Han?  Sure, the iPhone does multitouch, but it doesn't use tilt or pan technologies to navigate a 3D world!  On that note, why wouldn't Apple create a next gen mouse similar to the iPhone/iPod touch that would marry the multitouch experience with the built in accelerometers to deliver an intuitive 3D input interface?  This would change the face of both gaming and virtual world navigation!  And couple this technology with the Japanese mixed reality avatar-like technology featured above (fed by an integrated web-cam) for more human facial gestures, and you've got the world's BEST mixed reality home PC!  Dell's released a World of Warcraft unit, here's to hoping they pick this up next!  Any thoughts?

Video below (after the jump).

innovation in an ROI driven world

Innovation_connection Over the past year I've encountered dozens of solutions, technologies, sales vendors, advertisers, marketers and futurists, all claiming to embody a single phrase - innovative. Yet to be totally honest, I haven't seen all that much that really blew my mind.  Is this because innovation has been stifled by realism, near term ROI concerns, a lack of vision, or is this a symptom of something greater?

Everyone claims to be pushing ahead, innovating, bringing forth new solutions that are "groundbreaking".

But most of what I've seen looks like everything I've been seeing for the past 5 years, just ported into a new channel.

As I see it, there are two types of innovation:
A) Incremental Innovation
B) Disruptive Innovation

Incremental Innovation is where much of the business world feels most comfortable.  This type of innovation is often referred to as, "the lowest hanging fruit".  This is innovation that takes a process or a concept that is already established and familiar, and builds on it.  It's not about reinventing the wheel, but adding a new feature to the wheel, making them somehow incrementally better.  Think of mobile OLA: it's nearly identical to regular OLA, just on a phone.  It's innovative,  but not yet a game changer.  Nearly all of the innovation I have seen over the past year falls into this bucket.

Disruptive Innovation is far more difficult that incremental innovation, yet the payout is far greater.  Disruptive Innovators are game changers.  They reinvent the wheel.  They are visionaries and big thinkers.  Disruptive Innovation is both risky and difficult, yet the end game payout is tremendous.  Think Facebook and social connections, the iPhone and user experience design and pervasive digital connectivity, Gigya and the widget, YouTube and UGC, Twitter and instant messaging, or BitTorrent and content distribution.  Without these innovators, 2008 would be a markedly different.

Key Takeaway: Most of us are putting the finishing touches on our '07 business and beginning to plan for '08.  If you don't have an innovation strategy or an innovation roadmap already in the books, it's time to do  so.   You won't be successful tomorrow if you don't have a plan for preparing for tomorrow, today. 

Dedicating all of your efforts to incremental innovation may satisfy the bottom line, but won't make you into a category leader.  This is true no matter regardless of the business you're in.  The time to begin planning for the future is now. 

If you've got any questions around innovation planning, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me via email or by commenting on this blog.  Karl Long just posted a great piece around the challenges and costs of getting innovation in-market.  If you'd like to learn more about innovation in business, check out any of the many fantastic blogs in reading list to the left of this post. 

Thanks for reading and as always, looking forward to your comments!

first impressions & next steps : kindle and mobile RSS

Kindle_2 Update: This entire post was written before looking at the pay-as-you-read RSS pricing structure.  Click down to the end to see how Amazon's pricing has changed my point of view.

The Story: So Amazon launched Kindle, the first major US release of an ebook reader.  Sony has had e-readers for some time now with little US success.  However, given Amazon's US and global market positioning, they will probably gain far more traction than Sony from day one.  Amazon is our digital portal to reading.  Kindle is the digital solution to digital reading on-the-go.

The e-Reader Innovation: For those who may be unfamiliar with the technology, e-readers are digital displays with a basic amount of memory (equivalent to what you would find on an SD card) and a fairly low-end processor slapped on.  The real innovation in e-readers typically lies in their screens, which utilize a technology called e-ink.  E-ink is not a traditional "on or off" pixelated display, rather it is a set display where elements or "ink" can be reconstituted to display other content utilizing of a small shot of electricity.  Once the image is displayed, the screen is essentially "off" until new content needs to be displayed.  So rather than being a display that is always on when in use (such as the screen you are mostly likely reading this on), e-ink displays are always off - even while displaying information!  They only turn "on" to flip a page.

The Amazon Innovation: While seamless integration with the Amazon store is certainly welcome, the innovation here lies in the distribution platform.  Amazon has baked in connectivity with Sprint's EVDO network to provide "live" push updates of content - certainly a welcome and unexpected addition.  This device essentially removes the need for a computer and dedicated internet connection from the equation.  Bravo!

But I won't be buying one of these toys anytime soon, and here's why: there is no responsive RSS reader functionality.  Sure I read the NY Times daily - and am a paperback novel-phile -  and a serial magazine reader (I read over 2 dozen a month) - and an addicted RSS feed reader, all of which Kindle has.  But in order to serve as a true digital text-on-the-go solution, I need a true RSS interaction solution on the go, one that downloads my content so that it can be read and interacted with/socialized when not connected - such as on the NYC subway system.  I need a reader that can save my tags, marked as read reads, emailed articles and more - and then complete these tasks when synced with a data connection.  I need to be able to interact with my content much as I would online, on the go, from wherever I am.  This should be nothing more than a firmware upgrade, and once it hits, I'm in.

Once this hits, I'll be all over this bad boy.  And most of the world won't be... and here's why: there is a wonderful tactile interaction with books and magazines that most users value.  Magazines aren't going away anytime soon. 

I don't want to read a Kindle on the couch after a long day,

    I want my beautifully printed analog issue of Sports Illustrated. 

I don't want a Kindle in my bathroom for family or guests -

    I want a Readers Digest. 

I don't want a Kindle at my Sunday Morning breakfast table,

    I want the Sunday paper, complete with comics, circulars and sales. 

There is a place in our culture for the tactile, for the real, for the analog.  And it's not going away any time soon.

The Kindle features amazing capabilities.  It can bring the digital market to places we have never been before. The server side DRM solution is brilliant.  Users actually own a re-downloadable license, not a single download license!  The distribution deal with Sprint is brilliant, and this is a direction I would like to see other mobile device companies mirror (Zune 3?).  

As for me?  I'm going to wait for a digital text device that works seamlessly with my digital text media lifestyle.  Until then, I hope you all enjoy!

Update: I just did a bit more reading and realized there is a service/subscription fee for reading blogs.  AND you can ONLY read blogs that are registered with Amazon's system.  

This changes everything!  Why would I pay for free content?  (I know, I know, you're paying for access - but the whole principle of payment for RSS KILLS this device as an RSS reader and therefor as a viable e-text device - at least for me.)  So Amazon, come up with a better RSS solution, (like free WiFi syncing ala Zune2 AND integration with Google Reader via Google Gadgets) and I then I would go all out for this unit.

Until then, the pricing structure doesn't deliver sufficient value to make this a worthwhile purchase.

first impressions : Android (Google Mobile)

So how does Android stack up against the only other "innovative" mobile system - the iPhone?

It looks like the iPhone still has a leg up in overall, design, but there are some nice teaser shots in this video that I would like to see Apple build into their next firmware update, namely:

  • SMS alert previews
  • Google street view
  • 3G
  • True 3D capabilities
  • A 10 Million Dollar Developer Reward/Bounty

But I'm not an iPhone owner, yet.  Did I miss anything noteworthy here?

New Dynamics: BlinkBox Vs. Hulu - sharing & commenting

Piracy_2 So you just saw a fantastic DVD or a fall-off-the-couch hillarious episode of The Office.  Now you want to share your favorite clip - and comment on it.  But how?

How would YOU share or comment on premium video content?

Until recently, I would have searched for the clip either on the content owner's site or more likely on YouTube - and then posted the clip to my social network site (ex. this blog) with a comment written above or below the content.

There are now new ways to share and comment on premium video content.  And while both of these solutions are still works in progress (still in beta), this is a trend traditional media properties NEED to continue to embrace.


If I want to insert a comment, I have to insert it below the video itself - as I am doing here.  Alternatively, I could email this clip with my own comments and a link to the video (link).


BlinkBox's format allows me to comment within the video stream itself.  This format is ideal for posting in a social network environment where I am most likely posting the video as a standalone piece of content and not as part of a text post. 

You can also share your video with other BlinkBox users internally, via email or direct to a mobile phone (UK and select European regions only).

There is some great content, and the video quality is quite good.

That being said, there are a few experiential elements I would like to see corrected in future builds:

  • There is an 80 character limit to embedded comments.  This just isn't enough space for meaningful commenting.
  • Finding clips is a pain.  You need to go into the BlinkBox site, find the right show and THEN find the right clip.  If the clip you're looking for isn't there, you're stuck.  It's too rigid.
  • Share to mobile is a nice feature, but not one that I would pay for - though the free sampleing offer is a nice touch.
  • BlinkBox automatically inserts their URL below the clip - see above. They already brand the player, inserting a text URL is taking it a bit too far for me.

Solutions RoundUp

Winner: BlinkBox - cutting your clip is far easier on the BlinkBox system.  Hulu's editing tool leaves much to be desired.

Winner: Hulu - Hulu's got GREAT content.  BlinkBox's content offering is spotty.

Overall Experience
Winner: Hulu - Hulu integrates the clipping/sharing solution within  the content viewing experience.  Clipping outside of the content viewing platform is not the most natural behavior.

Key Takeaways

  • Clipping and sharing are integral parts of the social media user experience.  Empowering users to interact with and promote your content in these manners is fundamental to New Media/Social Media Activation.
  • Both BlinkBox and Hulu will have their place.  BlinkBox's tight relationship with studios could generate a strong promotions channel for trailers and new releases.  Hulu's clipping tool is just the first step in sharing and socially interacting with video from within the viewing experience.
  • While ALMOST EVERYONE is busy suing YouTube, it's imperative that content owners provide easily accessible and user friendly channels for embedding premium video clips. 
  • These channels won't replace the YouTubes and OVGuide's of the world, but they do represent a significant shift in old school marketer strategy.
  • NBC Direct, Hulu, Joost, Veoh TV, BlinkBox and others are not the end game solutions,  but they do represent a significant trend. Traditional Media houses recognize that new models and solutions are needed to monetize their offerings in a new media environment.  While these may look like baby steps to digirati, they are significant strategic first steps from a mainstream media perspective.  Solutions will be found, the market will find a happy medium between user control and content owner rights. 

My Take: As for me, I'm going to be staying positive, focusing on the positive steps and suggesting next steps.  Mud slinging may be fun, but it isn't productive.  So let's try to stay positive everybody, alright?