Two days ago Terry posted a great thought stream about how his smartphone has become his ‘Batman utility belt’, replacing the nostalgic one he carefully crafted as a child… I couldn’t agree more about the fact that my smartphone has replaced a number of things I used to carry around; such as my paper daytimer, a calculator, my address book, in certain cases my laptop, etc, etc; And yes, like Jenny Barr commented – even my mirror for lipstick applications. However, when I thought about this analogy further I realized that carousels of apps (or,as in the case of AppCarousel, apps and all kinds of digital content) are gearing up to be the next wave of ‘Batman utility belts’.
If the entire world of hundreds of thousands of apps were in a big suitcase, you wouldn’t want to carry that around all the time, you would put together a utility belt of your very best and favorite apps and content, there might be 10 or 20 items on your belt. You would probably show everyone else too… Well that’s AppCarousel in a nutshell. Batman wore his belt on the outside of his costume, so millions of people on TV and in the movies could see what he wanted to showcase; Bring on App Carousel as the new kind of utility belt.
Let’s think about it some more…
I bet you’ve got a collection of websites, apps, videos, music shopping sites, plus, plus, plus that you visit/consume on a daily/every few days/weekly basis. How do you keep track of all these different content elements? Through bookmarks in your web browser? As apps on your phone? In emails that you keep in your inbox for easy access? What if you could keep all of the content that’s of relevance and importance to you in one place – say on a circular carousel of content and apps… How convenient would that be? A virtual utility belt for apps (and, like a utility belt, our carousels are round too!)
This new way to showcase the content you care about has great potential… Or you could be like my father-in-law who, although he has a smartphone, still loves his old school ‘Batman utility belt’. On a daily basis he still carries: his iPhone for personal calls, his BlackBerry for work, a highlighter (just in case he needs to highlight anything important), a mini flashlight, and a calculator watch to tell the time and make any tip calculations in a flash at a restaurant. Personally I’m all for my new ‘smart’ utility belt and for creating a carousel utility belt.
If you could have a ‘Batman utility belt’ carousel of content – what would you include? What would you want to carry around with you and what would you want to show everyone else? Which apps do you depend on? And what content do you care about?
For those of us old enough to remember, Batman had a cool thing called a “utility belt” which he carried around everywhere. The one thing it didn’t do was hold his pants up, but it did everything else. (Didn’t he have shark repellent in there, what are the chances of having to use that?!)
As a kid I remember building my own; it had string and a knife and handcuffs and a map and a flashlight and on and on. It was too heavy to wear!
Anyway, I have been a smartphone user for a few years and I have become increasingly reliant on my phone as my “utility belt”, i.e. it does so much more than phone calls. I believe all of us are the same, we rely on our smartphones for so many things.
So, for a bit of fun, I decided to put a list together, and I would love your additions!!!, so add a comment below and I will not only add yours to the list but give you full credit (just like Batman always credits Robin for helping him).
These are all the items that my smartphone has replaced in my life (in no particular order)
- store catalog (boy were those things heavy!)
- GPS SatNav
- paper notepad
- paper tasks list
- newspapers and magazines
- paper diary / calendar
- alarm clock
- shopping list
- dictation recorder
- postal mail and stamps
- paper address book (that went a long time ago!)
- MP3 player
- music library (thanks to Slacker)
- DVD player
- books (well, not really, you still can’t beat a real book)
- thermometer (I used to have a thermometer outside my house to tell me the external temperature, now my phone tells me what the temperature is in my city)
- photo album
- video camera
- boarding pass
- walkie talkie (push to talk)
- wallet (both for expenses and for some m-payment stuff)
- FM radio
- hand-held gaming device
- flashlight (yes, everyone has a flashlight app don’t they!)
- Yellow Pages book
- business card holder
- white noise generator (seriously, I have an app for that and love it when staying in hotels)
- filing system (thanks to DropBox)
- remote control for my PVR
- winter hand warmer (seriously, if your hands are cold, get your 4G phone out and make a call, it warms up nicely)
Simply amazing when you think about it!
I know for a fact that I have missed quite a few, so what has your smartphone replaced in your life? Now that your phone talks intelligently to you (as in Siri), do you even need relationships any more ;-)
I look forward to hearing from you … via my smartphone of course.
With all the talk about Occupy Wall St, Occupy Oakland, Occupy this and that, and all the protests and unrest in European countries and parts of the Middle East, I started talking to my mobile industry colleagues about whether there is unrest and uncertainty in our sector, and if so who we should Occupy … and when we go there and Occupy, what our demands should be. Of course having demands at all would be a novelty because most of the present batch of Occupy protesters in tents in major cities don’t seem to be able to string a sentence together to articulate what they are asking for.
So, if a bunch of us were to gang up and Occupy parts of the mobile app world, what would they be, and what would be our demands? (And, along the way, how could we get sneaky mentions in for our wonderful app carousels and app solutions!)
[Disclaimer: this is only a bit of fun, a tongue in cheek jab at the Occupy movement, but we would love you to join in the fun by adding your own Occupy … targets. Make sure you bring your own tent, you are not sleeping in mine.)
“We want you to stop bullying people who use the generic words App Store, we want you to reduce your 30% tax on subscription apps, and we want you to open up your app distribution a little so that solutions like ours can more easily promote and distribute your apps.”
“We want you to make Android Market easier to navigate, because right now it’s not easy to quickly find compelling apps among all those cruddy free apps. Or come talk to us, we can help – you will find us in those tents in your parking lot.”
“We want you to hurry up and get your new OS BBX to market, because our developer colleagues are telling us they are excited by having a third option to develop for and right now they are in limbo waiting for the BBX tools. RIM, run as fast as you possibly can. And when those developers build great BBX apps, we will help you showcase them.”
“We want you to be successful with your revamped relaunched VCAST store because we do see the need for quality carrier app stores and app showcases, of apps that the carrier recommends, and you have the size and critical mass to do way better.”
Occupy Windows Phone 7
“We think you have the power and cash to turn the mobile developer industry on its head, by doing something radically different when Windows Phone becomes mainstream. For example, instead of begging developers to build for your platform, come up with an amazing commercial model, where you pay them / incentivize them / reward them upfront for their loyalty. Think outside the (X) box! Solutions like our Affiliate Commerce Exchange can help.”
Occupy Sony Ericsson
“How many more horses will you have to back before you find a winner? Symbian, then Windows, then Android, now perhaps back to Windows. Every time you change direction you lose developers and customers. Stay the course this time.”
“We saw this article, http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/11/15/motricity-is-late-to-the-smartphone-party.aspx What have you done with all of our money? How can you burn so much cash and lose so much company value? Our tents will be here until you provide the answers. If Motricity customers need an alternative, come find us in our tent.”
“Zuora, you have built a really successful subscription management platform, so hats off to you for that. You are regarded as being one of the more successful “startups” that has emerged as a major player. But why do you need another $36M dollars? That sends the wrong message to the industry. We had heard that you were making good money, so why not pass the $36M to us in our tents and we will redistribute it to needy hungry mobile app startups.”
“Your ability to leverage the power of social networking and personal recommendation in the field of app discovery, app showcasing and app distribution has the potential to change the app world beyond recognition. Don’t mess it up, and don’t try to lock down the system like Apple has, be open. What you are about to do will have a profound impact one way or the other. We will be behind you all the way (well actually we will be in our tents in your parking lot if you need our help to merchandize apps).”
So, brothers, are you coming with us? We will set up camps in Cupertino, Mountain View, Waterloo, Basking Ridge, and Sweden. And we will make our demands heard. Well in fact we will send our demands via BBM. Or Google Talk. Or Facebook Messenger. Or Apple iMessage. What, you mean there’s no standard way for us to send our demands? Mmmm, I think we need another Occupy movement to protest about that.
Who would you Occupy, and why? Add your comments below.
While having cocktails yesterday evening after a great day at the Open Mobile Summit, we started talking about phrases such as “the elephant in the room” and “the 800 pound gorilla”. So I thought I would research those sayings, and see what they tell us about the mobile / app world today.
The elephant in the room
Here are a few good definitions;
An important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn’t discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable.
is an idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.
And there’s an example or two at idiomeanings.com;
There was an elephant in the room when I spoke with my mother, because she hates my new boyfriend.
So, here at the Open Mobile Summit, if there had been a real elephant in the conference room I think people would have had a hard time ignoring it, but there were a few elephants in the room in the idiomatic sense. Here are three that I picked up (well, I didn’t pick them up as such, because they weren’t said, but that’s what makes them elephants in the room!)
- Is the mobile and app industry truly comfortable with letting Google start to dominate via the Android OS, search, apps, content (e.g. YouTube), videos, books and movies (in Android Market), cloud, billing, Google Wallet, maps and navigation, and on and on? Everyone talks about how open the new mobile world is, but are the traditional players (operators, OEMs, software vendors, LBS mapping companies, etc.) feeling comfortable right now? One person at the conference said to me “At least when Nokia were trying to dominate via Symbian, people knew where they stood because Nokia is a proper company, whereas does anybody really know what Google might do next?”
- Are the wireless carriers already dumb pipes, but they just haven’t realized it? I actually don’t agree with that elephant; I think the carriers are halfway through reinventing their place in the value chain, and it is the carrier networks that still power the mobile digital revolution, and will continue to do so via LTE. Because the carriers are strong consumer brands (in the US who hasn’t heard of Verizon and AT&T?), they will still play a vital role in curating content that they recommend and deliver in a compelling manner, because their customers trust them and pay them every month
- Are we in another dot-com bubble where all that VC money that is sloshing into tech companies will vanish into thin air just as it did a decade ago notably in this very city, San Fran? Now this is a good example of an elephant in the room, because while the startups are being funded, and while the app economy feels rosy, nobody wants to spoil the party by saying that silly money is being poured into silly ideas that have no chance of generating a 10x return on investment. It’s a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes, another great idiom that has stood the test of time.
An Emperor who cares for nothing but his appearance and attire hires two tailors who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.
“800 lb gorilla” is an expression for a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the desires of others or the law. The phrase is rooted in a riddle:
“Where does an 800 lb. gorilla sleep?”
“Anywhere it wants to.”
This highlights the disparity of power between the “800 lb. gorilla” and everything else.
The term can describe a powerful geopolitical and military force, or, in business, a powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors. (The metaphor includes an inherent bit of hyperbole; the highest weight yet recorded for an actual gorilla is 600 lb).
The metaphor has been mixed, on occasion, with the metaphor of the elephant in the room, as in TV advertisements by the financial firm AXA Equitable broadcast in 2010. In 2011 former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee referred to the healthcare plan instituted by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as “the 800-pound elephant in the room”.
So I decided to see whether I could think of any “powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors“. Now that’s an interesting question in an industry with major carriers, Apple, Google, Samsung, Oracle, and others.
My opinion is “no”. After all these years where Symbian and Microsoft threatened to dominate the mobile industry, there is still no clear leader, in fact it’s not even a clear 2-horse race (as my previous blog article discusses).
Perhaps one gorilla is ARM, the silicon chip IP design company, which has 95% of the smartphone market tied up until Intel takes another run at it in 2012. However I don’t see them as a gorilla because they don’t leverage their dominant position or try to crush anyone.
So, in the interests of following up on our discussion over cocktails, I will now invite my colleagues here at App Carousel (who also attended the Open Mobile Summit conference sessions) to wade in and give their opinions … is there an 800 lb gorilla in wireless, or a family of gorillas, or a gorilla riding on the back of an elephant, or ……… ?
Feel free to roar your own opinions too.
Last night the AppCarousel team enjoyed some pre launch cocktails at a yummy local latino fusion restaurant in the Mission district in SF. When the drinks arrived we were chuffed to see the good omen staring back at us (see our logo above to see why) …
See you all at Open Mobile Summit tomorrow!
Into the spin
Can you remember the last time you bonded with a commercial? Few marketing campaigns are able to invoke an emotional connection between the audience and a product; it’s a challenge that most product marketers try to take on and often with less than desirable results. Compound that with trying to create a bond with something new and innovative, something that your audience has never used. It’s a challenge and delicate task to place nostalgia into a value proposition, particularly when a product is just coming onto the market. We wanted to share one of our favorite TV pitches for such a campaign.
“It’s not called the wheel. It’s called a Carousel.” Those are the words that Jon Hamm’s Mad Men character, Don Draper, so elegantly used as he pitches his idea to Kodak. It’s a powerful scene, taking into context the struggles that the Draper faced with his family and marriage.
As mentioned in this blog’s opening post, carousels have evolved in how we’ve perceived them over time. They’re merry-go-rounds, they’re slide projectors, and now, they’re the best way to discover curated content that matters.
I heard about this and I felt I had to share it. Kids never share anything do they, but I do!
A company called Spin Master (hey, isn’t that we call ourselves here at AppCarousel!) has built a real-life toy car that interacts with the iPad. Click on the pic below to enlarge it to see what I mean.
The product is called Disney AppMATes, and it’s all about the Disney-Pixar Cars 2 movie. Of course one of the tie-ins is that Steve Jobs was the driving force (excuse the pun) behind Pixar as well as Apple, so if he was here now he would be pleased to see this match between the real world of toys and the iPad get to market. You can also watch their promotional video here …
It reminds me of a blog article I read last year by Chris Dixon, the founder of Hunch, who said: “The next big thing will start out looking like a toy.” A really interesting read at http://cdixon.org/2010/01/03/the-next-big-thing-will-start-out-looking-like-a-toy/
Simplicity and going back to basics is often required, and those beta customers who are working with us on our app carousels will agree that simple, clean and easy to use are way more important than clutter. Kids playing with Spin Master’s AppMATes will agree, and those kids are the Steve Jobs of tomorrow.
Terry the toymaster
Hi from “into the spin” AKA Arleigh,
So this is my first post to the newly minted AppCarousel blog as I wanted to wait until I had something interesting to share… So far we’ve been talking about carousels and all kinds of great app economy and tech innovations – such as ‘HTML5: the holy grail …. or not quite?’.
Today I want to draw your attention to another aspect of innovation that I find interesting – the PR side. This recent article, Back to the future: Is media returning to the 19th century?, from GigaOm was intriguing as it highlighted the details from an in-depth series that was written by The Economist about the evolution of media in a digital age and how it has impacted the distribution of information. Or as Om Malik, the founder of GigaOM Network, likes to call it “the democratization of distribution.”
Here are a few highlights of the interesting stuff:
“Looking at the evolution of media in a digital age, The Economist comes to the conclusion that new media — and in particular the explosion of blogs and other social media tools like Twitter and Facebook — is taking society back to where it was in the 18th and 19th centuries, before the development of newspapers and other mass media platforms.”
“Up until the early 19th century there was no ‘mass media’ in the sense that we think of the term now. Newspapers had not really been invented yet, and news still travelled via word-of-mouth, or via hand-printed pamphlets written by people like political theorists Thomas Paine and John Locke. And even when newspapers as we know them started to be published and distributed, they were opinionated — and often gossip-filled — publications that catered to a tiny audience, much like blogs did when they first appeared.”
Says The Economist:
“In many ways news is going back to its pre-industrial form, but supercharged by the internet. Camera-phones and social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter may seem entirely new, but they echo the ways in which people used to collect, share and exchange information in the past. ‘Social media is nothing new, it’s just more widespread now,’ says Craig Newmark.”
And more from GigaOm
“Whether we like it or not — and whether traditional media can figure out a way to take advantage of it or not — The Economist is right when it says we have in many ways returned to the coffeehouse era of the early 19th century, when all news was social and most of it was opinionated. And while some worry that media consumers are going to get caught in an ‘echo chamber’ and filter out any opinions they disagree with (something author Eli Pariser argues in his book The Filter Bubble), the main benefit that we have over our counterparts in the 19th century is we have hundreds or even thousands of different sources and voices at our fingertips, if we want to make use of them.”
“That is an incredibly powerful force both for journalism and for society as a whole — as the events of the Arab Spring have shown, despite the skepticism of some pundits like Malcolm Gladwell — and it is one we are still only beginning to understand.”
What I like about the GigaOm summary is how they highlight the importance of opinions and how being opinionated is okay… In theory having an opinion and not being afraid to broadcast it can help with the distribution and consumption of your ‘news’. This concept can definitely be applied to all the content that is generated for, on, and about the app industry and the mobile sector, but also to the current app discovery challenges everyone in the space seems to be coming up against.
There is also the flip side, such as with one of the news tidbits that came out on CNN yesterday, to consider where being too opinionated and voicing these opinions isn’t always OK. I guess the moral is be opinionated, but in a ‘smart’ fashion.
This, of course, is just my opinion that I thought I’d share with you all via the AppCarousel media source we set-up… food for thought.
Into the Spin (aka Arleigh)
Machines, devices, throttling …
Sounds like some medieval torture chamber, doesn’t it.
Well, they are just three of the bizarre old words that we use every day in the wireless industry. Read on, there are more! And we want your suggestions too.
This all came about because of my recent article on “curators”, see it here. Curators is an old word being widely used in the new app economy. A few people wrote to me with other words, and it started me thinking …
So here are 10 such words.
“Alan was installing software on his new machine.” What that refers to generally is a PC – really? Do we still call PCs machines? Exactly what moving parts do they have apart from a spinning disk? I get “washing machine” and even that’s quite funny when you think about it, but it makes me smile when people are riding the BART into San Francisco and they get their machines out onto their laps ;-)
“Sally carries several devices around”. However to me, this picture is summarizes a device …
Sounds like an exciting book. I wonder if I can get it as an e-book on my device ;-)
This poster says it all
Last time I looked, tablets were being used to display the 10 Commandments which Moses got his hands on. Maybe things have moved on slightly though.
History has a very different view of what a virus is and what it can do to the population …
These days, thanks to Microsoft, we have a different colour of death – the blue screen of death which is almost as scary as the black death when it happens.
Ring and hang-up
People still say “give me a ring” and “I’ll hang up the call now”, a flashback to when phones looked like this …
Yep, you literally used to hang up the “receiver”. Look at those lovely bells, phones really did used to ring.
So why are they still called ringtones? “Hang up” is now something you talk to your therapist about. Of course in medieval times, they used to hang people upside down. Sounds like they should bring that torture back for bankers and VCs.
In the old days, a log was a book that you wrote in, so it has always fascinated me where the expression “log on” came from. It seems I am not alone, because there’s a huge page discussing it, here. I particularly like the redneck definition;
Log on: Makin the woodstove hotter.
Log off: Don’t add no more wood.
Platform is a very over-used word these days, for everything from mobile operating systems to server-based solutions. Platforms were in vogue with VCs a few years ago, every start-up had to have a “platform play”. It was only a few years ago that the word would conjure up a different image …
Now there’s a word we take for granted these days. And yet wireless was being used as the word to describe those earliest transmissions via radio waves. Interestingly David E Hughes was the unsung pioneer of wireless, and as I am a Hughes I will take all the credit and I will claim he was related to me. Hughes was doing “wireless” several years before Hertz and Marconi, as you can read about on Wikipedia. Not exactly 4G LTE, but it was a start.
How many of you know what WiFi stands for (it’s an abbreviation of 2 words). OK, the first is pretty obvious, but what’s the second? Hey, don’t cheat by looking it up, do you actually know? And if you know the second word, do you know the origin of it? Get involved, add a comment to the blog, and add some more medieval words too!
I need to go now. I am trying to download a virus onto my machine but the wireless network is throttling me, so I am having to log on to the WordPress platform and type this on my tablet instead. Oh, wait … my device is ringing, I must hang up.