Consumer technology products are increasingly an essential part of brand marketing. Just as marketing teams need great storytellers, they also need great technologists. A prime example of technology driving brand growth are chatbots.
I’m an Apple Fan Boy. I don’t try to hide it with my MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad. They are great devices. But lately I’ve been… looking. It started with the HTC EVO. Based on the specs and the early reviews, this phone looks like a beast. Or as Engadget said
… its magnificent list of specs reads as though it was scribbled on a napkin after a merry band of gadget nerds got tipsy at the watering hole and started riffing about their idea of the ultimate mobile device: a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 4.3-inch WVGA display, 8 megapixel camera with 720p video recording, HDMI-out, and WiMAX compatibility.
A true powerhouse.
Google has positioned itself in a beautiful way with Android. The fact that I (and many other Apple loyalists) am considering jumping over to Android is a big deal. It’s all part of what I’m calling the Big Fight.
The Power Players of the Big Fight are:
And to a lesser extent
MySpace for starting it all
Twitter for introducing real time
FourSquare for introducing location
The Big Fight is real time, location aware and across all screens. The Big Fight is about control of you – voicemail to email to your social feed and texts; what you are watching on TV or Hulu and who you are watching it with, where you are eating lunch and what you are about to purchase. Your identity (online and off) and that of all your friends. Everything is content and it is all monetizable. That means the top contenders – Google, Apple and Facebook, need access to it all.
Google has established dominance in consumer mobile with Android. It has leverage on more platforms than Apple since Anroid isn’t device specific. Google also has a few social networks (That aren’t doing well, yet). It has massive ad capabilities. In some capacity, it has all the elements that Apple and Facebook have combined. Which is why it is no surprise that iPhone 4.0 is rumored to have tight Facebook integration. They need each other, while Google is able to do it on its own (with massive acquisitions and help from people like Sony and Intel). Apple/Facebook is all about a closed, secure, easy environment for ‘normal’ people. They are mainstream. Google is open but also geeky.
Google has their cards lined up in a way that should make Apple worried because this war has just begun.
Apple tried to get on your TV with their failed Apple TV. While they now have a true content consumption device with the iPad, it’s a personal consumption device. They are behind on taking over your living room. Google TV will (hopefully) bring the web video experience to the big (consumer) screen. No more hunkering around a 21in monitor to watch those funny YouTube videos. It will be seamless on Google TV.
I have been envisioning a dual device content experience for a while. Sit in the living room with the TV on and interact with a tablet or phone. That’s built in to Google TV. Say you are watching one of the new Fall shows on NBC with your HTC EVO in hand. During a commercial you’ll be able to push that funny YouTube video from phone to Google TV seamlessly, watch it with everyone, then get back to your show. That’s fun. That’s event / crowd driven in a new way.
And it’s only the start.
The Android tablet is coming out soon. Now we get some real interactive possibilities in the Android / Google TV ecosystem. For example, a new soap is set to air on MTV which has a choose your own adventure style ending. I don’t think choose your own adventure will have legs in any space, but picking the ending will at least feel natural when you have a device sitting on your lap (instead of having to remember your choice, then the next time you are at a computer remember to go to the Mtv site and pick it). The interaction here is probably more of a marketing hook than anything else and I doubt it will have any Android (or iPad) integration. What will be coming after that, however, is immersive interactive experiences that truly enhances the story.
Enhancing the story is vital. It’s the only way this stuff will stick around and evolve. If it’s not adding emotion, if it’s not helping the story, what’s the point?
Innovative interactive possibilities will surely come in the 2011 and 2012 fall lineup. At that point there will be a large enough group of people wanting to interact who will have the hardware to do it. Even if it’s 200,000 people it allows for HUGE advertiser play. Those 200,000 will be Hyper Engaged. They’ll interact with the show and its brands on their tablet or phone. They’ll investigate product integrations, or perhaps their device will notify them with coupons (or something less lame).
Google now has a complete TV platform, including heavy monetization capabilities.
Where does that leave Apple and Facebook? Facebook has already demonstrated its ability for social viewing with CNNs election coverage integration. It was a good small screen experience. How will Apple and Facebook get into the big screen market? Apple must find a TV strategy if it is going to be a contender in the Big Fight. The iPad is obviously their first step. I’m designing content for it. I think its game changing. But Apple needs to find a way to leverage me on the couch watching TV, because that experience isn’t going anywhere. It’s just going to get better.
I’m one day into the private beta of Google Wave. There are about one million people signed up and using it, while the rest of the world still clamors to get in (A co-worker sold an invite for $20 yesterday, and sign up URLs are going for $75).
Why is everyone stumbling over themselves to get an invite?
Google has positioned Wave as the next evolution in e-mail. That’s a vast understatement. So vast, in fact, that it may do Wave a disservice in the next few months as we get up to speed. From what I’ve seen, Wave is not going to kill ‘normal’ e-mail. It is going to kill off a lot of other services and re-invent the way we interact on the web. But, my gmail account isn’t going anywhere.
Back in the bad good-old-days; Before Facebook, AOL, Compuserve, BBS’s, DARPANET, and computers the size of that lady I see in Coffee Bean every morning, peoples lives were mostly private. You’d have to put in some time and true effort to let the world know what you thought about last nights episode of 3 Stooges or Lassie. Now we expect it via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
My brother went to Cornell which got Facebook shortly after Harvard. The second he told me about it, I was ready to sign up (Of course, the second he told what Middle School lunches were like I was ready for that too. Meatball subs?!). The day Facebook opened up to Syracuse I was there. Since then, I’ve had a handful of serious girlfriends, crazy nights, cross country adventures, scandalous apartments, and various forms of employment. All these events are marked by status updates, videos, pictures, and wall posts. Facebook (and to a lesser extent MySpace, YouTube and Twitter) contain my complete life history starting from my sophomore year in college. I’ve willingly given up so much more private information than the watcher of 3 Stooges would have ever imagined.
I wonder, what could Facebook tell me about myself?