Technology is our friend: February 2011
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February 28, 2011

The second screen really comes to life

Yesterday was Oscar night. While the TV show was super-long and, at least in my eyes, pretty boring, I found myself googling and surfing all the time. What I did not know: I could have (potentially) bought my way into a more interesting TV show. For iOS, it would have been 9.99 USD.

Here, you would get additional information on actors, movies and a live stream from the pre- and post show. Funny enough that the "PC app" - that you could access via a browser in your tablet or, very super oldschool, with your netbook or laptop on your knees, would only cost 4.99 USD, but would feature a technology called "360 cam" - the possibility to choose between 15 camera angles.

Of course, this was (as always) only available in the US, and I did not find any source (yet) that would reveal how many apps and web accesses were sold.

Additionally, the Oscars are not really the thing I am into the most. But if I imagine I could have a soccer coverage where I could choose an additional camera angle on my smartphone, tablet or netbook while watching the telecast, where i could interact with my friends, get FB and Twitter-Streams, Check-In to the match to participate in some raffle and maybe place bets in real-time: Yes, I would probably pay a few Euros for that.

I haven't made up my mind if TV stations should not offer all this for free to increase engagement and make more people tune in, but on the long run, apps like these can become pretty interesting streams of revenue. And if they were free, maybe they could be financed through extending the advertisements on the TV screen with direct response apps on your second screen. Coming from a time where people were debating if it would be ok to have two TV sets in one household, I am now looking forward to watch TV while handling at least one additional screen. Times do change.
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February 19, 2011

This Headline might be a little bold, huh?

I usually love RWW, but this headline about Obama's Dinner with the Silicon Valley Elite might go a little bit too far.

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No comment necessary

Jimmy Fallon promotes a song on TV.

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February 18, 2011

Pretty cool 2nd screen app

Experiments with 2nd screens get serious. After ProSieben's Galileo experiment we now see a very interesting ad-app-2nd-screen approach by Honda. I dont think this will always work with special apps but rather with some that will collect a critical mass and will be then used by advertisers and content providers in future to make people engage with their content.

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February 14, 2011

Why a mini-iPhone is inevitable

A few days ago the rumor came up that Apple will offer a low-priced "mini-iPhone" (look here or here). I don't see that as a rumor but an inevitable step in Apple's further growth and cannot understand the irritations some people expressed in comments and posts.

Here's why:
Nokia and WP7 did emphasize the fact that they are building "the next mobile ecosystem" and that they see a "three horse race". The other two horses (or "ecosystems"), running downhill (as opposed to Nokia) and with a 50 miles head start, are of course Apple and Android. "Ecosystem" was one of the terms we stressed most at Deutsche Telekom in 2005/2006 when we were trying to establish a new strategy, so I think it might be interesting to share some basic thoughts on what the components of an ecosystem are and how they work together since they are the reason why an "iPhone mini" or "nano" is inevitable.

When you are posting an Instagram image from your iPhone or checking in to some location via Foursquare on your HTC Desire or for example post a status update on Facebook through Xbox Live, you are using a network access from some telecommunication provider, a piece of hardware that is running on an operating system, a service (piece of software) designed to run on this OS and some kind of personal network as the recipients of your action. There are no clear rules on what has to be controlled by who to establish such a system, but it is clear that there are two components that can be viewed as the core:
A) the operating system, setting the rules and environment for any kind of interplay, and B) a mass of participants that brings anything within an ecosystem to life.

The mass of participants cannot be overestimated as the most vital component within any system:

You could have the best credit card in the world, without participants as credit card holders you wound not be able to build a network of places that accept your card; without a network of places that will accept your card, you will not be able to build a mass of credit card holders.

You could also have the best game console in the world, without a mass of consumers as potential buyers of games you would not get game studios to design games for your console, and without games for your console, you would not get a mass of consumers to buy it.

In our case, you could have the best phone and UI in the world, but without customers on the one hand you would not attract developers and service providers on the other hand, and without services, you would not be able to sell a mass of these phones.

So the operating system is merely the basis: there are services/apps (built on and specifically for an operating system, being enabled and enhanced by an operating system) and a mass of (networked) consumers as the true core of each digital ecosystem.

Apple, being the control freaks that they are, took influence on every layer of such an ecosystem and not only on the core: The network access that adds nothing to these types of systems (and could be completely exchangeable) was restricted to only one operator (in most markets) for years. Key services (entertainment, mail, browsing) are provided by Apple, other apps and services are controlled and being influenced by Apple. And while some ecosystems work on a variety of devices from many different manufacturers, Apple not only controlled or influenced but completely built every hardware that connects with their ecosystem. Understandable given the heritage as a hardware company and given the fact that a hardware decision is a consumers "ecosystem-decision".
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2 cents on Egypt and Facebook

The media has been full of how Facebook and Twitter were the backbone of the Egyptian Revolution (#Jan25), but at least in German media, no one went deeper than just saying that social media was used to coordinate protests. You were led to believe that some magical social peer-to-peer-superpowers must have been at work to make all this possible and people grateful for the existence of Facebook. But what did social media and the internet in general really contribute?

Personally, I would not say at all that it was a "Facebook revolution". It was a revolution by real people on real streets facing the threat of real violence. With my limited knowledge of what really happened on the streets, I also cannot evaluate how important Facebook and Twitter were once the protests were up and running. What I do know is that the simple attributes of Facebook
a) being a traffic hub where simply everybody meets and therefore providing a form of gravity and
b) offering an event tool and a backchannel as such
must have been vital to get the protests going. By accident, I was in Egypt right between the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution. Most people I spoke to were getting ready to attend protests on Jan25 (the day I left) but did certainly not expect to really bring down the president. But they said it was time for a change and the world needed to know. Some also said they would not go - not because they did not want change, but they lived 30 years under emergency law and had no trust in being protected by anyone at all.

Imagine this: You are afraid of the police and secret service and someone hands you a leaflet saying "let's go protest on Jan 25", the national police day (and a bank holiday) no less. What if you were 200 people following this announcement?
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February 11, 2011

Say hello to my little friend...

It finally happened: Nokia goes WP7. I was really impressed with Stephen Elop's memo that leaked a few days ago where he compares Nokia's situation to a man who is standing on a burning oil platform and, instead of accepting sure death, decides to jump 30 meters down into the dark, where supposedly there will be ice-cold water but no guarantee of survival - just a higher probability than zero. The fire on the platform made him change his behaviour. Now, Nokia changes its behaviour and finally dumps pain-in-the-a..-Symbian.
Elop, of course, couldn't have chosen Tony Montana as an analogy; Scarface, who faces doom, carries a Bazooka-size gun under each arm, shouting "Say hello to my little friend". Because in the end, Tony Montana dies.

This may also happen here (initial reaction of the stock market to the announcement: Nokia minus 9%) - they pulled out Microsoft as their Bazooka-sized guns. I don't dare to give a prognosis here. Microsoft has been slow with a mobile OS and is slow with a tablet version, but they also bring in some advantages. Not only do they offer an OS that is far more advanced than anything we have seen on any Nokia device (except for the Android hacks), they also might bring in the "ecosystem"-advantage with Xbox in living rooms and Win7 computers on desks. But no matter how sweet the terms for Nokia are, Microsoft is a lot more likely to be the big winner here  - services like Bing, the ad Center, Xbox live etc. could become serious players in the mobile world, all of a sudden.

Did he make an offer they couldn't refuse?

Because if (199.99% probability) WP7 is not exclusively bound to Nokia in future, the device manufacturer has all major risk of this deal on their side.  If Nokia keeps on losing market share, WP7 can run on other devices, too. If WP7 does not succeed, Nokia is doomed. Plus I am afraid that Nokia as a company, especially when paired with Microsoft, might be a little bit too slow in a business where an ecosystem of hardware, software and services comes to life only through a critical mass of participating consumers. This and the OS are the critical factors, everything else is (or should be, in Apple's case) exchangeable.

It could very well be that Nokia will help WP7 to a major breakthrough through their (still existing) great distribution but will not benefit enough itself. As a device manufacturer, it is on the "exchangeable"-side of the table when it comes to ecosystems. For someone in this situation - and still without even being close to a product that could remotely remind someone of an iOS or Android phone experience - you have to love Stephen Elops boldness, in the official Microsoft press release no less: "It's now a three horse race". This reminds me of Tony Montana again.

Update: Check how one guy is close to break out in laughter all the time and the other one is dead serious.

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