Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cracking the iCode

UPDATE: My theory (see below) was discussed on CNet's Buzz Out Loud Podcast on Friday, September 29th. You can download the entire podcast here or you can use Podzinger to jump to the section that discusses the iTV/iPhone combo. Click the link and then click on the section that says "0:25:34" to start playing at that point.

I think I cracked the code:

So Apple will release the iTV in January 2007 with this mysterious 802.11, which will most likely be N, but they'll include a clause buried in the Terms of Service (because nobody pays attention to those) that says they have the right to transmit wireless data to the internet connection and back out. The clause won't seem that interesting at the time and they'll sell millions of these things (especially since the $299 price includes a hard drive). This will be a big incentive for people to upgrade to N and will create a network of Apple brand, high speed wireless nodes throughout residential areas.

THEN, in Q3 or Q4 they will release the long awaited iPhone, except they'll bypass the whole question of having to partner with a cellular carrier and create the iChat phone that uses wireless nodes. Urban and commercial districts tend to already have a decent amount of WiFi, and now they will have access to your internet connection through the millions of iTVs in residential areas, which could actually make the service broad enough (especially in densely populated areas, always the beachheads for this type of service) for early adopters to make calls.

Granted this is all speculation and I have no evidence except the presentation of iTV including 802.11 and the perpetual rumors of an iPhone combined with the fact that Apple likes to move into emerging markets, rather than established ones (think of the MP3 player market when they introduced the first iPod). However, the real question to ask yourself when evaluating this theory is: Would you buy one? I would.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Elmo Goes eXtreme

Engadget is reporting here that the new Tickle Me Elmo will be "eXtreme"! I remember buying the original Tickle Me Elmo before it became the must have Christmas item. Apparently that was ten years ago!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

BYO Overkill

What is it about humans that makes us want to reinvent the wheel? I have noticed this trend many times before (even displayed it), but it still has the power to surprise me.

The current case entered my email as "Introducing BuyTV". It caught my attention enough for me to open the email. It was obvious from the email that they are trying to move in the direction that advertising is being pushed (though the old school is dragging it's heels), which is product placement as overt message. The commercial break is a dinosaur that shows off very sharp teeth, but is relegated to that obscure Jurassic Park island called network TV.

What some advertisers have come to embrace is that consumers don't have to swallow commercials like taking their medicine. In fact on Superbowl Sunday some people tune in to see the half-time commercials alone. But this example highlights the challenge of the next phase of advertising: quality is king! The reason that people tune in to those Superbowl commercials is because that time slot is known as a time when
advertisers put their best foot forward to get your attention. With the audience (and price) so large, the cost of demanding a clever script and higher production values, is acceptable to get the audiences attention.

It's pure economics, and the parameters are changing. As costs fall, the investment to get those higher production values becomes smaller, increasing competition. The bar has been raised to the point that you've got to target your audience to even get a foot in the door, because consumers will not accept less.

The great irony of the banner ads that accelerated the dot com bubble burst, is that we learned to filter out all that noise while searching the web for the products we actually wanted to buy, and advertisers kept throwing money into that pit... until they didn't.

So now has joined the ranks of those that realize that consumers want commercials, they just want it on their terms. Light on boastful proclamations, heavy on real information.

I watched the first segment in the BuyTV episode and I think they got that portion right, but then they had to get another part so egregiously wrong, that it basically evaporated all the good will they had earned. At the bottom of the page there is a link: download the content in HD. Sounds good, I don't necessarily need it in high definition, but I will take it. And because this is a recurring "show", I expect to see a RSS feed so I can automatically download every episode, right?

I'll never know. The link brought me to a website where I had to register with their service to download the video. Why? I closed the browser tab right there. I'll never know what's on the other side of that registration page, and I feel 100% OK with that fact. I know that there are thousands of other advertisements with clever production that want my attention and some of them will give it to me without trying to lock me in to some registration based scheme.

I am curious how many people are like me. I would say that people break down into three groups: Group 1 spends minimal time online and won't understand what the registration page is all about, so they will leave without registering because of desire for simplicity. Group 2 spends moderate time online and will register because they want to download the movie. Group 3 spends the most time online and will refuse to register either because they are tired of everyone wanting their information or
because they have an objection to supporting this model of capturing your information. I'm placing myself in that third group... for both reasons!

What I see in this breakdown is that we will see a ripple shift. Group 1 is going to shrink, most likely causing an increase in Group 2, but as time marches on, Group 2 should shrink and convert over to Group 3. So what am I saying? It's going to get worse before it gets better, but those companies that look way ahead need to pay attention to what Group 3 is saying. If you want our attention, don't get greedy!