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MP3 Players Are Dead

It's true. There will be no such thing as a single-use device dedicated to playing digital music in 3-5 years. You should save up your old iPods and Zunes (RIP) and keep them in nice working order for the folks that will want to buy them on eBay in 2035. There hasn't been any significant improvements to the MP3 player market since the introduction of the high-capacity flash drive, 3 years ago. The thing that stinks is that there is no current device that makes playing and listening to digital music 8-10 hours a day, a practical habit. Technically, you could use your phone. Technically, you could use your computer. And technically, you could use your tablet. However, none of these are good, mobile solutions with long battery life. Within two years, you (yes, YOU) will have a multi-dimension device that acts as a cloud-based computer, phone/messaging/email device, and as an entertainment hub (think tablet but smaller and multi-dimensional). There will be exponential growth in battery life over the next 18 months with the addition of energy-efficient processors and equipment architecture, giving these multi-purpose devices 7+ days of battery life, instead of a mere few hours. So if you're an MP3 player junkie, you'll have to tough it out for a while until everyone's future devices start arriving on store shelves at the end of 2012. And yes, I already miss the Zune.

Three Awesome Things You Missed at CES Because Everyone Was Too Busy Talking About Tablets

Don't get me wrong, I <3 technology. I am completely enamored by all things plasticy, shiny, button-filled and new. Throw in a blinking light of some sort, and I'll probably fetch my wallet. That aside, I feel that there are several breakthrough technologies that were showcased at CES that the general public will not see for another year until they hit the mainstream. So get your clicking-finger ready to learn about more than tablet computers and 3D everything. These technologies are truly revolutionary and inspiring. Sorry, 10.1Ë? Angry Birds. Etymotic EB1 and EB15 Earplugs; they silence loud noise and amplify soft ones. Perfect for Army snipers or your easily-startled granny. http://goo.gl/wPoew BPG Motors; they've been working on this a long time, but they are finally near completion. It's the world's raddest unicycle. http://goo.gl/4937N Samsung Flexible AMOLED Displays; these too, have been in the works a long time, but have finally become a reality. This will allow everyday items to turn into a very rugged, very awesome display. The jazzy tunes in this clip are free of charge - http://goo.gl/m9Q3 T-Pain Microphone; This. Will. Change. Your. Life. Okay, it won't, but it's amazing to see that someone still thinks autotune is funny and/or a good idea. http://goo.gl/hrh6Q

Three Awesome Things You Missed at CES Because Everyone Was Too Busy Talking About Tablets

Don't get me wrong, I <3 technology. I am completely enamored by all things plasticy, shiny, button-filled and new. Throw in a blinking light of some sort, and I'll probably fetch my wallet. That aside, I feel that there are several breakthrough technologies that were showcased at CES that the general public will not see for another year until they hit the mainstream. So get your clicking-finger ready to learn about more than tablet computers and 3D everything. These technologies are truly revolutionary and inspiring. Sorry, 10.1Ë? Angry Birds. Etymotic EB1 and EB15 Earplugs; they silence loud noise and amplify soft ones. Perfect for Army snipers or your easily-startled granny. http://goo.gl/wPoew BPG Motors; they've been working on this a long time, but they are finally near completion. It's the world's raddest unicycle. http://goo.gl/4937N Samsung Flexible AMOLED Displays; these too, have been in the works a long time, but have finally become a reality. This will allow everyday items to turn into a very rugged, very awesome display. The jazzy tunes in this clip are free of charge - http://goo.gl/m9Q3 T-Pain Microphone; This. Will. Change. Your. Life. Okay, it won't, but it's amazing to see that someone still thinks autotune is funny and/or a good idea. http://goo.gl/hrh6Q

Welcome to Th_ Clo_d

Have you heard enough about it to fill in the blanks? If you haven't, I'm referring to 'the cloud'? ' the tech industry's newest piece of marketing wonderment. In layman's terms, 'the cloud'? is all about cloud computing ' where storage of all your personal pictures, music files and other tidbits live in a storage 'cloud'? that hovers out in cyberspace and becomes accessible from any device. Those devices could be multiple computers, tablets, smart phones or any other internet-enabled device. In short, cloud computing isn't that much different than the networked nodes of yester-year, but has certainly gained a resurgence in popularity and marketing prosperity. Creating a cloud-based storage system isn't limited to a single manufacturer, but in a stroke of marketing genius, Microsoft is working to quickly own the term. Their latest campaign, which features constant references of 'to the cloud'? cleverly builds ownership of the idea and the term for Microsoft. This is likely to pay off in about 8-12 months when mainstreamers begin building, maintaining and utilizing their own cloud networks. There are many opinions out there that Microsoft is being deceptive by trying to take ownership of 'the cloud'? and showcasing technologies that don't necessarily need 'clouds' to exist. But to that logic, we should also be mad at Coke for trying to own 'happiness'? or Walmart for trying to encourage us all to 'live better.'? These companies are making claims about what their brands can do for consumers ' so who really cares if they step outside the boundaries a little? You be the judge. http://goo.gl/siI2H

Welcome to Th_ Clo_d

Have you heard enough about it to fill in the blanks? If you haven't, I'm referring to 'the cloud'? ' the tech industry's newest piece of marketing wonderment. In layman's terms, 'the cloud'? is all about cloud computing ' where storage of all your personal pictures, music files and other tidbits live in a storage 'cloud'? that hovers out in cyberspace and becomes accessible from any device. Those devices could be multiple computers, tablets, smart phones or any other internet-enabled device. In short, cloud computing isn't that much different than the networked nodes of yester-year, but has certainly gained a resurgence in popularity and marketing prosperity. Creating a cloud-based storage system isn't limited to a single manufacturer, but in a stroke of marketing genius, Microsoft is working to quickly own the term. Their latest campaign, which features constant references of 'to the cloud'? cleverly builds ownership of the idea and the term for Microsoft. This is likely to pay off in about 8-12 months when mainstreamers begin building, maintaining and utilizing their own cloud networks. There are many opinions out there that Microsoft is being deceptive by trying to take ownership of 'the cloud'? and showcasing technologies that don't necessarily need 'clouds' to exist. But to that logic, we should also be mad at Coke for trying to own 'happiness'? or Walmart for trying to encourage us all to 'live better.'? These companies are making claims about what their brands can do for consumers ' so who really cares if they step outside the boundaries a little? You be the judge. http://goo.gl/siI2H

Oh IKEA Mug, You Inspire Me.

There I was, just washing my office coffee mug, minding my own business, when I glanced over at the drying rack and spied someone's upturned IKEA coffee mug. It was so innocent, so green; and then I noticed a little adornment ' a slight depression in the base of the mug. This little depression was something I had seen in the past, but had not remembered until I saw it again this morning. The little depression was a brilliant design enhancement. Anyone who has ever washed a coffee mug knows that when they are wet, there is always a trough of water that rests atop the mug, regardless of how long it sits on the drying rack or in the dishwasher. This little recess in the bottom of the IKEA mug allows the trapped water to drain out ' leaving your mug nice and dry. Crisis averted. All is well in the world. So why am I wasting my time writing about coffee mugs, you ask? Well, this seemingly innocuous enhancement that IKEA (and likely others) made in their mug design was a nice little addition to their otherwise standard mug. It is one of those niceties that goes above and beyond what you expect a company to do and what you expect a coffee mug to do. It is one of those things that makes you feel more proud of your mug and could potentially be a conversation starter with other folks. Now in this day and age of economic apprehension, it would be wonderful for more brands to adopt the 'coffee mug'? attitude and try to determine the small, low-cost niceties that they can perform for their customers to help build loyalty and put excitement back in their products. If IKEA can make coffee mugs exciting for little or no cost ' just imagine what you can do with your brand.

You Have Creative Control. Really.

If you haven't read the article from Newsweek on 'The Creativity Crisis,'? you should get on it. Go check it out. According to the article and the studies it references, the experts claim that creativity can be learned. So, if humans have the ability to learn to think abstractly, uniquely and creatively, why would they ever choose not to? If you're reading this piece, you're likely a marketer or have something to do with the marketing field. If you had the ability to better at your job, be known as an 'idea person'? and not regurgitate the same old ideas over and over again, doesn't that seem like an enviable proposition? Personally, I consider myself a fairly creative person and have always felt bad for those that dismiss themselves as 'I'm just not creative.'? Like the article states ' I think we all have the foundation to be creative, it's just a question of what you do to build that side of your brain and change your thinking to be more dynamic. To me, thinking is fun. Coming up with ideas is fun. Doing 'creative'? things is fun too. I strongly feel that those that dismiss themselves as 'not creative'? are really missing out on the energy and excitement that comes with having a fertile mind. So if you're one of those dismissers (<-- look, I just made up that word!), you should really give creative thinking a shot. It might take a little work, and it might not come overnight, but what does? Many of the tools and skills we need to be good at our jobs take years to develop ' and creativity is no different. You now have no excuse for a lack of ideas or new thinking. Seriously, have a go at it. I think you and your coworkers will all like the results.

Does This Make Sense?

Many brands strive to achieve customer loyalty, but few achieve it. So you would think companies would do anything they could to attract and retain as many customers as possible. Well, at times, brands do things that defy logic. This is one of those tales. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a big fan of Microsoft and open-source platforms. As a result, I have been an avid fan of Microsoft's Zune music player platform for as long as it has existed. I have never owned an iPod, and have lived my entire digital music existence on Windows Mobile OS and as of 2006, Zune OS. My latest MP3 player is the 3rd generation Zune 120GB. I've owned three Zunes and this one has been my favorite so far. It's jam packed with features and has been a very solid device up until this past week. To make a long story short, my Zune died and there is no fixing it. To make matters worse, I could find a myriad of instances on forum sites where other consumers have experienced the same issue with their Zune ' yet there were no posted solutions for fixing it. I didn't believe what I was reading. I thought to myself, 'How could a company as big and profitable as Microsoft possibly turn its back on consumers? The fatal disease my Zune acquired is not a user error, it's a hardware error. Surely they will make things right'?. Well, I am sad to report that Microsoft has seemingly done the impossible ' turned its back on owners of these failed products by offering no apologies, no recognition of their being an issue and no ability to fix the problem at a free or discounted rate. In talking with customer service, I was offered the same two options that all the others had posted about ' pay $160 for a refurbished device or pay $130 for a refurbished and lesser 80GB model. I felt insulted that they actually expected me to pay $160 for a new device and then felt doubly shunned when they actually asked that I consider downgrading my product. What kind of support is that? This is how they are going to reward customers for their loyalty? This is how they are going to make up for known product issues? This doesn't sit well with me. As Director in the Consumer Insights and Planning group, it is my job to make sense of things ' sort out all the details and figure out what brands or consumers are thinking. But this dilemma proves difficult to rationalize. This entry is by no means a jab at Microsoft ' I still love them as much as ever, but what I struggle with is when I see brands create difficulty for themselves when they don't have to. As a result, I encourage all that read this to question their brand's or agency's protocols ' do they make sense for what you are trying to accomplish? Are your practices helping you make inroads with customers and maintain relationships? Does your strategy make sense? If not, it might be time to make some changes before you start heading down the wrong path.

Twitter to the Rescue

We're not sure if you're aware, but on Tuesday of last week, T-Mobile had another major snafu. This time, it was a 6-hour service outage that was nationwide. Some users had no voice or data service for all 6 hours, some had loss of either data or voice, some lost one or both services for less than 6 hours and some were not affected at all. T-Mobile says it only affected 5% of their customers, but was certainly noticed by every one of their customers (and potential customers) on Twitter. The outage dominated 4 of the 10 trending topics that day and therefore a large percentage of the conversations on Twitter. During all the hullabaloo, customers were trying to figure out what was going on and some major things happened: Both of T-Mobile's telephone support lines were jammed with callers, making the lines stop functioning (customers would try to call, only to have the number become inoperable) Their online customer service crashed due to the amount of people trying to talk to a customer service rep Their entire website crashed intermittently with the amount of traffic received So with no classical means of customer communications, how did they alert these folks, you ask? Twitter. Yes, Twitter. They posted a tweet about the issue and it quickly disseminated through the masses, spreading like wildfire. This is huge deal for social media, particularly in the wireless space. Relying on Twitter to spread the message illustrates several things: T-Mobile has a social media strategy T-Mobile has a strong following on Twitter T-Mobile believes in Twitter enough that it was the medium they used to outreach to consumers Like many other brands on Twitter and other social media channels like Facebook, having a presence in these popular social media channels allows them to leverage these spaces to deliver customer service ' whether it's part of their daily strategy or a 'when all else fails'? tactic. Having a voice on Twitter allowed T-Mobile to inform their customers and helped them put out the firestorm. It will be interesting to see how brands like T-Mobile continue to intermix social media into their repertoires to interact with consumers in times of need. This is surely a sign of things to come.

My Cell Phone has a First Name

I read the interwebs. Not just like a few interwebs. I mean, like, a LOT of interwebs. I'm also a huge tech nerd. You would think these unassuming traits would keep me abreast of the lingo-of-the-moment used to describe things like cell phones. Well, no such luck. The term 'smartphone'? has been around for the better part of six years, but there was never a suitable opposing descriptor for wireless devices of lesser ilk. 'Dumbphone'? and 'not a smartphone'? have always been the conversational defaults, and 'featurephone'? has always been the nerdy, industry term. But with marketers and socialites alike, the doggedly unsexy 'featurephone'? just never really caught on. Well, now you get no choice. The industry. The interwebs. They're all conspiring against us. 'Featurephone'? is winning out. With all the hot smartphone gossip out there, comparisons have been made, and they point the finger squarely at featurephones. The verbiage is catching on, and it's time we all started to embrace it. Now - one word or two? That is still up to your fanciful discretion. Have at it.

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