Monday, December 19, 2011
It is fitting that Asus calls their new Ultrabook line "Zenbooks." Just one look and you can see that it is a device that exudes a sense of calm and balance, purity and power. An early entrant in the Intel Ultrabook category, the Zenbook is thin and sleek, capable and fast. It is the Ying and Yang of portable computing: thin and light enough to take with you everywhere, yet powerful and feature rich enough to function as a primary computer. Actually, that is the essence of the Intel Ultrabook spec - to pack a full-featured computer in an elegantly thin package, supported by long battery life, best-in-class security, and the convenience of "instant on" (giving the boot to lengthy boot times), all at a reasonable price point.
As long-time readers know, I have been an Intel Advisor and have written here about interesting technology and insights I have gleaned from attending various events and having the opportunity to peek inside Intel. Now I am looking forward to bringing you more information about the ultra slick new category of Ultrabooks that Intel is the driving force behind. Intel has provided me with an ASUS Zenbook, as well as an opportunity for one of you to get an Ultrabook through a Twitter give-away. I am working hand in hand (or Ultrabook to Ultrabook) with one of my Intel Advisor and Cast of Dads cohorts, Michael Sheehan (also known as HighTechDad.) If you want to learn more about Ultrabooks (and have a chance to get your hands on one) please follow me (@sass) and Michael (@hightechdad) on Twitter, and keep an eye out for our tweets with the hashtag #UltrabookDads. Michael and I will also be collaborating on some fun video reviews of the Ultrabook, so please stay tuned.
The Wow Factor
As the geek dad in my family, my kids are always waiting to see what new computing gadget or gizmo I will be bringing home. It has been fascinating to watch over the years as the "wow factor" of gadgets has shifted to the point where the design, look and feel of a device is almost as important as its function and capabilities. It wasn't too long ago when all we cared about was what a computer could do. Now, as we bring our computers with us to meetings, family gatherings, parks, coffee shops and airports, we also care about how our computers look and feel. That's the world our kids are growing up in. For them, what their computers look and feel like will be just as important as the "kicks" they wear. When I look at the Ultrabook as compared to the first laptop I ever had, the advancements, inside and out, are mind boggling. I can only imagine what ultra amazing computers my kids have to look forward to. With style, design and performance in mind, Ultrabooks definitely win on the wow factor, and seem to deliver on the promise of taking portable computing into the future.
I look forward to spending some time with the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook and then sharing my thoughts with you. Meanwhile, here are a few shots from my "unboxing" of the Asus Zenbook:
Can't see the video? Click HERE.
As part of our Ultrabook promotion, Michael and I will be doing both a Hangout on Google+ and a live Twitter Chat. These are just for fun and information. You don’t have to participate in either to be eligible for the giveaway, but if you want to get our first impressions of the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook we have been playing with, the hangout and chat will be a great opportunity.
Here is the schedule for the Twitter Chat: Google+ Hangout:
Google+ Hangout: Thursday, December 22 at 10pm EST / 7pm PST
Twitter Chat: Friday December 23 at 10pm EST / 7pm PST
We’ll be talking Ultrabooks, etc. for about an hour each night and we hope you can stop by!
Disclosure: In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.
Photo Credit: © Robert Spriggs - Fotolia.com
Sunday, November 27, 2011
(Disclosure: This post is a shameless plug to ask you to consider subscribing to my new podcast, Wunderkind! and, if you are so inclined, help me to spread the word about it. Wunderkind! is the podcast of an original comic-adventure screenplay, written and performed by me.)
If you've enjoyed my posts here at over the years, I'd greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word about my new fiction podcast, Wunderkind! Since it was originally written for the screen, I am performing Wunderkind! as a screenplay and generally retain the protocols of a screenplay format, with INT. and EXT. scene settings, camera angles, dialogue directions, etc. (a choice inspired by author and podcaster Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff.) So far the feedback on the format has been very positive, with most listeners agreeing that the screen instructions quickly fade away and help shape the visualization of the story. I have published 4 episodes so far, which is close to half-way through the story. If you listen and enjoy Wunderkind! please consider leaving a review on iTunes, and feel free to leave me a comment at www.wunderkindpodcast.com. I am having a lot of fun recording Wunderkind! and I hope you'll enjoy listening. Thanks!
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY...
Wunderkind! was the first screenplay I ever wrote... I can still remember the day I had the idea for it, walking down Broadway, breathing in the energy of the street, the vibe that is so uniquely New York, alone in a crowd in the heart of Times Square, day dreaming about the industry I loved. At the time I had just left a 5-year stint at an independent film & TV distribution company, determined to branch out on my own...
- New Podcast Fiction: Wunderkind! (sassholes.blogspot.com)
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
There is something incredibly human about running. According to many articles, books and talks, we are made for running. Our erect biped being makes running as natural for homo sapiens as flying is for birds. We used to run as a tribe, chasing our prey over vast distances until it collapsed from exhaustion and the running man conquered the savage beast without a blow. Whole villages ran to follow the hunters to the fallen spoil. Perhaps that is why I found running in a race to be such a deeply satisfying experience, and a deeply emotional one...it is in our DNA...
Back To Basics
Running is so simple. Put one foot in front of the other. Again, and again and again. You don't need any special equipment... just the shoes on your feet (unless you opt for barefoot running). You don't need to belong to a gym or a club, or take lessons, or hire a trainer. You just need to be human, and be willing to move...
Alone In The Crowd
I recently ran in my first race, a half-marathon, and it was an experience I will always remember, and look forward to repeating. The camaraderie of strangers, coming together for a common, yet individual goal is the embodiment of inspiration. The human race was represented in the race by every imaginable shape, size, ethnicity and age. So many different people gathered for such a singular goal - to run 13.1 miles. Each runner fully aware that everyone of us is a winner the moment we cross the finish line, whether the first or the last to do so...
The support of strangers as you pass them and as they pass you is remarkable, matched only by the support of the volunteers at the water stations and the passing cars honking their support and the passersby who just happened along as a race crossed their path. Running is such a personal pursuit - you and your body and your thoughts - yet running in a race is such a communal feeling at the same time. You are truly one with yourself and one with the crowd - an amazing, empowering, combination. I was overwhelmed by emotion on more than one occasion as I plodded forth to run, non-stop, farther than I ever had before.
If I Can, YOU Can!
Still I bit winded, in the video below I share my initial thoughts after running in the Miami Halloween Half-Marathon. Inspired by my son, I began my running journey in February, first by running a minute, then walking a minute for 3 to 4 miles... rinse, repeat. Over weeks and months I gradually increased the time running, until I was running the entire 3-4 miles non-stop. Then it was a matter of slowly and surely increasing my distance...
A year ago I never dreamed I could run 4 miles, let alone 13.1. Any goal is possible if you take it step by step, in smaller, attainable bites. If I can become a runner, so can you!!! If I can become a runner, I can probably do anything I set my mind to... and so can you!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
For almost two years now I have officially been a podcaster as a co-host of the Cast of Dads podcast along with C.C. Chapman, Michael Sheehan, Brad Powell and Max Kalehoff. While I love being one of the Cast of Dads, I have always wanted to try my hand at podcast fiction. Finally, I have have dusted off something I've written that I think will lend itself well to the podcast medium, and I am announcing the launch of a new serialized podcast of an original comedy screenplay, "Wunderkind!"
I am very fortunate to consider many of the highly creative and innovative podcasters friends of mine, including Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins, C.C. Chapman, Seth Harwood, Tee Morris and Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff, all of whom have been great examples and an inspiration to me. I've learned a great deal from listening to them, and have enjoyed countless hours of entertainment from them (along with tens of thousands of their other loyal fans). They've set the podcast bar pretty high, and I am sure, especially at the beginning, my attempt may be a little rough around the edges, but I am excited to dive in with the story and look forward to honing my podcasting skills along the way.
"Wunderkind!" is an original screenplay I wrote a while back. It is an inside Hollywood comedy about a young film buff who unexpectedly becomes the next Hollywood wunderkind. I was inspired to turn it into a podcast after I listened to Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff's fantastic podcast reading of his screenplay "Number One with a Bullet" (affiliate link), the first podcast of a screenplay read in screenplay format. Listening to Mark, it dawned on me that I, too, had some potential podcast fodder in the form of my screenplay "Wunderkind!"
I hope you'll consider listening to "Wunderkind!", and if you do, I would love getting your feedback. You can learn more about "Wunderkind!" and listen to it at www.WunderkindPodcast.com, and you can also subscribe in iTunes.
Hooray for Hollywood!
Thursday, October 06, 2011
I've lived my professional life in the entertainment, technology and mobile industries, and I am a conspicuous consumer, so, like so many of the humans on this planet, for the past 30 years my daily life has been touched in some way by the innovations and spirit of Steve Jobs. When Steve Jobs resigned from his position as CEO of Apple, like most of you reading this, I took a moment to reflect upon how Jobs has impacted everyone who has a job in the industry I work in. How, for many years and in many ways, we have been touched by the Apple master. Now, sadly, it is time to reflect again.
In Good Company
If you have ever started a company or worked for a startup, you know that going from good to great is not enough. Today's best entrepreneurs want to go beyond, good, beyond great, to become an insanely great company. The aspirations of a tech company to be "insanely great" are in part inspired by Apple's success and the term "insanely great" is most often attributed to Steve Jobs's description of his company and its products (some say he first used the term when introducing the Macintosh in 1984).
There's no question that Apple's iTunes has influenced the music industry and MP3 distribution in ways that have trickled down into every aspect of the music business. Working in the mobile industry for over ten years, my world has certainly benefited from the positive impact the iPhone has had on pushing forward mobile web usage and handset innovation across the board (as I wrote about in Forbes). The entire mobile ecosystem has been directly and beneficially changed by the mobile app marketplace that the iPhone and iTunes App Store jump started. The iPad, and all it has inspired, is leading the way to the "post PC" era, that Steve Jobs envisioned, and that our children will inherit and thrive within.
Be Insanely Great
We can certainly appreciate all that Steve Jobs accomplished, and tip our proverbial hats in honor and remembrance as we continue to enjoy the products and inspiration that are his legacy. However, perhaps the best way to remember and honor Mr. Jobs is to recognize, once again, that our time here is limited, and that every single day we have the choice, in everything we do, to be good, to be great, or to be like Steve Jobs and be insanely great.
I am going to aspire for the latter. How about you?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Every single time I start, I enter the quitting zone. The first steps are the hardest, pounding a signal from my heals to my head… "Stop. Go back. You'll never make it. You can do it tomorrow. Next time. Next week. Whenever." The urge to stop, the desire to quit, the mental trickery demanding that I give up, stop running and start walking, just turn around and go home… these are the self-taunts I must endure for the the first half mile of nearly every run I undertake. I call that half mile the quitting zone. As I train myself, slowly and surely, to be able to run farther and faster, I am also training myself to be able to plow through the quitting zone. In fact, that is the hardest part, learning to defeat the quitting zone.
See Jeff Run. Run Jeff, Run
I never thought I would think of myself as a runner. I've always struggled with my weight, complained about my knees, found excuses to quit before I even dared to enter the quitting zone. Then, inspired by my oldest son, I started to walk three or four miles regularly… and then began alternating walking and running, increasing the ratio of running until one day I found I was running the whole distance. Then, little by little, the distance I could run increased. While my confidence has grown along with the distances I run, I still find myself facing the quitting zone, nearly every day. Intellectually, I know I can make it past that half mile mark. I do it all the time, and then continue going for three, four, five, even seven miles beyond. Still, those first steps… that first half mile… the infamous quitting zone is a bitch every time.
Life's A Bitch Too...
I won't be the first nor the last to use running as a metaphor for other things in life, but it works (and, after all, what's a metaphor?) The truth is that the quitting zone is everywhere. It taunts and challenges us at the beginning of every task, goal and opportunity we face. It is physics. It is inertia. It is in our human DNA. The hardest step toward any objective is usually the first step. Standing still takes less effort than movement. Reflection and consideration takes less effort (and feels like it holds less risk) than taking action. We think, therefore we am. We think, therefore we pause. We wait. We procrastinate. (And of course, when I say "we" I really mean "ME." I pause. I wait. I procrastinate.) But maybe I do so a little less now since I have become "a runner." Maybe I've become a little bit better at pushing through the quitting zones... and not just the one when I run.
How about you? How do you bust through your quitting zones?
Photo Credit: © yobidaba - Fotolia.com
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic..." - Arthur C. ClarkeOf all the wonderful words that Clarke wrote, few have been as powerful and prescient as his frequently cited statement above. He was right. More than right, he has defined the world we live in today, and more importantly, the world our children will carry forward. It is truly a magical world.
In our lifetimes we have seen technology advance well beyond "sufficient," to provide us with tools and capabilities that are so indistinguishable from magic we already take them for granted. You wouldn't think twice about standing on a street in NY and speaking to your friend while they are on a boat off the coast of France...yet that is magic. We take for granted that we can sit on the couch with a laptop or tablet and watch a movie sent to the device without wires or discs... yet that is magic. Having near instant access to the answer to nearly any question imaginable, from a mobile device you carry in your pocket... is magic. Getting off a plane at crowded airport and getting a notification that a friend you haven't seen in person in years is also in the same terminal building, so you get to hang out together for ten awesome minutes... is magic. I could go on and on.
Unlike the magic of wizards and sorcerers, the magic of technology cannot simply be invoked with incantations and chants of "abracadabra." The magic of technology is created by a different type of magician - the engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs who can not only envision the magic but who can also figure out ways to build it. Today's magic comes from people and companies who have leveraged brainpower, innovation and imagination to make the impossible possible. Chief among these modern day magicians is Intel. As an Intel Advisor I've had the privilege of taking a peek inside Intel and meeting many of the brains behind the magic and the wizards behind the curtains of innovations that have changed our lives and will change the lives of our children.
It's The Process, Not Just The Processor
What makes technology become magic is what it empowers us to do. As amazing as it is to acknowledge the advancements and engineering prowess it has taken to facilitate the evolution of the microprocessor (following Moore's Law and decreasing in size while increasing in power and efficiency by silicon leaps and bounds), the true amazement is not in the chips, but rather in what the chips enable us to do. Intel employs scientists, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, even futurists, to study human behavior to better understand where the true power of the microprocessor can be put to work. In one day on the Intel campus for the Upgrade Your Life event we saw firsthand how technology is changing healthcare, education and the care of our environment. We saw how technology is facilitating independent living for a rapidly growing population of seniors. Magical things like placing sensors in chairs to wirelessly alert the wife of an Alzheimer's patient when her husband, known to wander off, gets up from his favorite chair, so she can come home from next door and make sure he is ok. By using technology to place shift and skill shift aspects of healthcare, many of the services provided today by institutions can potentially be moved to the home, which for many could diminish the need for a nursing home. The possibilities are endless, and the advancements are desperately needed as cost effective, and more importantly - effective healthcare is critical for an aging population. We live longer, and the magic of technology may enable us to live better too.
Unleashing Human Potential
The talented artist Hugh MacLeod was hired by Intel to create some of his inspiring cartoons at the CES Show in January and he leveraged the phrase "The processor is an expression of human potential," which succinctly and sincerely captures the essence of the magic of technology. While I don't mean for this to come off as just a puff piece for Intel, I do mean to use Intel as an example of one of the many companies that really are creating magic that will likely benefit our children in ways we can only begin to imagine. Think of the world you lived in when you were the age your children are today. How many of the things your children now take for granted would have seemed like magic to you back then? I grew up in a world before there was a computer on every desk (and now in every pocket.) My kids know no other world. What is magic to me, is ordinary to them.
I can't wait to see the advancements that my kids won't be able to distinguish from magic! Can you?
Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf. Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event.
Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Before the geeks among you start attacking me, let me clarify. I mean long term relationships with gadgets, not necessarily humans. Take me, for example. Generally speaking, I'm a committed kinda guy. Most places I have worked I was there for at least four or five years. I was married for sixteen years. I'm currently in an eight year relationship. Not too shabby, right? But when it comes to gadgets I am the complete opposite. The proverbial seven year itch is more like a seven month itch. This is especially true for phones. For the past ten years or more, I have changed my primary phone at least once a year. As I work in the mobile industry, perhaps that's not so surprising, but what surprises me is the emotion I attach to each of my phones, and how quickly that emotion fades as soon as there's a new model in town.
Love the One You're With
I find I am always in love with my phone of the moment. From Palm Treo, to HTC Touch Pro, to Palm Pre, to HTC Evo 4G, to my latest love, the Motorola Photon 4G... I was smitten with each and every one of them, from the OS to the bright pixels and silky touch of the glass screen as I swipe my finger across and tap the icon of a favorite app... For all my lust and devotion, however, it always reveals itself to be a fleeting emotion, for I will inevitably soon have my wandering geek eyes on another. A sneak peek at CES or CTIA, an early product announcement on TechCrunch or Engadget, and suddenly, I know in my heart of hearts that it is over, and a breakup is imminent. As soon as I realize that my handheld mobile soul-mate may still be out there I begin to notice little flaws in my current mobile partner. Screen swiping speeds that once wowed me suddenly seem sluggish. The internal storage that seemed endless when our relationship began soon becomes far too little to fulfill my (app consumption) desires. It's over.
Breaking Up Is (Not So) Hard To Do
I thought my HTC Evo 4G was my ideal mobile mate. I adored the buxom 4.3 inch screen and flashy HTC Sense version of the Android OS. The allure of 4G was nice too, but alas, the dearth of coverage and demands on the battery life made 4G a minor attraction in our daily lives together. Regardless, the Evo was a wonderful phone, and we were happier together than I had ever thought I would be, based on my prior phone relationships. Though I began to notice other devices, I remained faithful to my Evo, and even resisted the temptations of the younger, slimmer, Evo 3D. But then, the Motorola Photon arrived... and the reviews were good. Dual core processor. Gorgeous screen. Lighter, more appealing version of Motorola's MotoBlur software. And to top it off, the very latest version of Gingerbread. She was sweet. I had to have her. I went to Radio Shack to see if she was there, and she was. I put my Evo on the counter face down, and picked up the Photon. It had me from "Hello Moto..."
How about you? Are you fickle with your phones too? What kind of relationship do you have with your smartphone?
Photo Credit: NinaMalyna - Fotolia.com
Monday, July 25, 2011
"Jeffrey started talking in sentences when he was 10 months old... and he hasn't shut up since!"I suppose, if I am honest with myself, she is not entirely wrong, and I might be guilty of liking the sound of my own voice. Fortunately, throughout my life and career I've had the opportunity to speak publicly, whether on stage in a role (from the Cowardly Lion in a children's theater group production of "The Wizard of Oz" at age 10 to playing the role of Marcellus in a semi-pro production of "Hamlet" at Cornell at age 20) or in more recent years, speaking regularly at industry events and conferences. I truly enjoy public speaking, especially about topics I am passionate and excited about, and I try to bring a new challenge and experience to every presentation I give or panel I sit on.
Recently I had the opportunity to moderate a panel at the IAB Mobile Marketplace. This was actually my first time acting as the moderator. It was fun and rewarding, but very different from actually being the speaker or panelist. It was a new challenge and, determined to be successful, I spent a lot of time preparing, both with regard to the specific topic and questions for my panel, as well as researching the "art" of being a good moderator. As always, there were some great insights available online. I was particularly inspired by two blog posts on how to moderate a great panel, one by Jeremiah Owyang and the other by Guy Kawasaki. Both offered great practical advice that I took to heart and I think went a long way to helping make my first foray as "moderator" a successful one, and more importantly, making the panel successful at delivering valuable content in an engaging way, satisfying the paying audience. Here are some of the key things I learned from my experience moderating a panel, including some of the tips I utilized from Jeremiah and Guy:
1) Talk as little as possible. It is not about you (the moderator). It is about guiding the panelists and getting them to engage and reveal insights of value to the audience. You should never answer your own questions. Get the panelists to give the answers (by poking and probing them, if need be.)
2) Meet with the panelists for 15 minutes or so just before going onstage. Remind them to speak to the audience and not to you. Review the gist of the questions you will be asking, but not all of them, as you will want some spontaneity. Remind them that is ok for them to disagree with each other (if that's what they believe) and they should feel free to jump in with differing opinions. In your "backstage" discussion, plant some seeds for good responses they can use, so the information will be fresh in their minds when you ask.
3) If at all possible, sit on stage with the panelists rather than stand apart from them at a podium. It makes for more natural conversation and keeps the audience focused on where the action is.
4) Use notes, and keep them on "old school" index cards. Keep notes and each of your potential questions on a separate index card. It is much easier to be subtle about having notes when they are on cards, rather than an iPad or other device (it is not about looking cool and current, it is about generating a great conversation). Index cards make it easy to casually flip through and decide on the next question based on the flow of the conversation.
5) LISTEN, and therefore be prepared to disregard your notes and prepared questions. As moderator, you cannot afford to zone out thinking about your next question. You have to be actively listening to guide the conversation. If there is a lull, you need to be ready to step in and prod, or ask a new question to keep the momentum of the conversation flowing. If someone gives a general answer, don't be afraid to dive in and challenge them to be more specific. Ask them to "give examples" of what they mean. When one person is done answering, ask another panelist if they agree (especially if you know they are competitors or are likely to have different approaches.)
6) Keep track of the time and don't be shy about cutting people off. At most conferences these days there is a clock or timer somewhere visible indicating the time remaining in the session. Audiences expect and deserve to have time to ask questions, and some of the best content gems often come as the result of audience questions. Agree beforehand with the organizers and panelists how much time you want to set aside for audience questions, and then it is your job to make sure to end the conversation and open the floor to questions at the appropriate time. If a panel ends with no time for audience questions, then the moderator has failed to be in control, and the audience will not have had the chance to fully benefit from the knowledge of the panelists.
Granted, I am a moderating newbie, but these are some of the things I gleaned and did my best to adhere to in the hopes of making my panel a successful one. In all, it was a great experience, and one I hope to repeat soon (as well as continue as a speaker and panelist.)
Do you agree with these suggestions? Do you have any other moderating tips you would add? Please contribute them in the comments.
Below is an excerpt from the Agency Buyers Panel I moderated at the 2011 IAB Mobile Marketplace.
Photo Credit: razihusin - Fotolia.com
Sunday, July 10, 2011
At the CES show back in January, Sony gave me one of their NEX-5 cameras, which has made me think differently about my own approach to digital photography... Some of the pictures I took with the NEX-5 are above and here is an excerpt from a post about it that I wrote for Sony's blog... Please visit http://blog.discover.sonystyle.com/taking-photography-to-the-nex-level to read the whole thing...
There’s a saying that the best camera is the camera you have with you… For many people today that means the camera in your phone. While the digital photography revolution began long before the camera phone became pervasive, for many, myself included, the advent of the camera phone was the thing that sparked a renewed interest in taking pictures. Somehow, just knowing I have that capability in my pocket, all the time, makes me look at the world through a different filter. It made me start looking for the pictures in everyday moments. But the more you start imagining the world as an image waiting to be captured, the more you realize that the camera in your phone is merely the gateway drug. It gets you hooked on digital photography, and, if the addiction sets in, invariably you’ll find yourself looking for something stronger.
Read the full post here.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
You've probably heard of "Moore's Law" named after Intel's co-founder Gordon Moore. Moore predicted the exponential growth of processing speed, memory capacity and other aspects of computing devices and digital electronics that we have come to take for granted. Intel itself has been abiding by Moore's Law, continually introducing new, faster, more efficient, and more capable microprocessors that power much of our digital lives. At the same time, as technology becomes more and more of a commodity, it is important for companies like Intel to bring out the human side of their tech, and show consumers how smaller, faster, better, can actually be applied to the things we do with our digital tools and toys.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
How Mobile Users Love Free: Let Us Count the Ways | DigitalNext: A Blog on Emerging Media and Technology - Advertising Age
"Free" is a four letter word. However, unlike the expletives often deleted, free is an "f" word that is embraced and enjoyed by millions of mobile content consumers who regularly download free music, videos, images, apps and games on their phones. Free content, supported or sponsored by advertising, is hardly a new concept. We have all grown up in a world where the "commercial break" is commonplace on TV and radio, and the American media consumer inherently understands that those commercials, like them or not, are facilitating the availability of quality entertainment, free of charge.
With the rapid rise of the rich-media-capable smartphone -- on course to soon comprise 50% of the U.S. mobile phone market -- we are consuming more and more of our entertainment directly on our mobile devices. Faster processors, larger, sharper screens, better networks, more data storage and the convenience of having it as a constant companion have made the modern smartphone wildly popular as a wireless entertainment hub. The smartphone is a true extension of the content-rich (read "free" content rich) internet we have come to rely on for entertainment as well as information. Thus, it is only natural that ad-supported mobile content is a viable and growing market.
Relevance vs. interruption
While mobile phone users are inclined to download free content rather than paid, they still don't necessarily want to be inundated with ads. Therein lies the rub for brands and mobile marketers. How can you subsidize mobile content in ways that consumers will accept, embrace and still value and act upon the advertisements associated with mobile content delivery?
One approach that has met with success for the ad-supported delivery of mobile music downloads, including MP3 full-tracks and ringtones, as well as images and videos, is to place relevant mobile ads within the SMS messages containing an item's download link, and put mobile banner ads on the mobile web download pages. These ads can be highly targeted and contextual, but they do not interfere with the actual content the user is downloading, and they do not add any steps to the download process. Such ads can reinforce a brand through association with the content and allow for click through, click-to-call, and other calls to action that don't prevent the user from obtaining the free content they desire.
Branded mobile content can also be ad-supported in a similar fashion, benefiting by targeting those consumers who already have an affinity for the brand, as expressed by their desire to download the brand's mobile content. Brands including Geico, Hefty, Skittles, Orbit and many more have effectively used branded mobile content to engage with consumers in ways that are lasting, impactful and easily shareable. In addition to the ad-supported delivery of branded content, the downloaded content itself remains on the user's phone as a reminder of the brand, and even as a conversation starter. A survey of Myxer users indicated that 81% keep downloaded content on their phones active for at least one week, and 52% for at least two weeks.
Knowing your target audience and their mobile behavior can also be useful to best leverage free mobile content for marketing and advertising purposes. For example, in an April 2010 study conducted by Myxer and issued in the BoomBox Report women accounted for twice as many mobile content downloads as men, and each female visitor to Myxer downloaded 17% more content than the average male. In general, campaigns around free mobile content have successfully increased brand awareness, brand favorability and purchase intent, while leaving consumers with downloaded content they could enjoy on their phone long after the "campaign" was over.
Share and share alike
Not only do consumers enjoy "free" themselves, but they also enjoy sharing "free" stuff with their friends. With that in mind, campaigns around free mobile content lend themselves well to a wide range of social sharing. Content items can be easily "liked" and shared on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter directly from mobile download pages.
In addition, rich mobile ad units can easily and directly interact with a brand's mobile social pages, making "free" mobile content both interactive and potentially viral. Conversely, free mobile content can also be offered within a widget directly from a brand's Facebook page, extending mobile beyond mobile and broadening the reach of free branded or sponsored content as well as the advertising around the delivery path.
For brands looking at ways to engage with mobile consumers, "free" can be a small price to pay for a successful mobile campaign.
Happy to see my article on "FREE" mobile content appear in AdAge DigitalNext...
Saturday, April 23, 2011
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!"
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Today I ran 5 miles, which is further than I have ever run before. If you asked me if I could run 5 miles a few months ago I would have likely said "no, definitely not."
We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. That's why it is important to set lofty goals, and accomplish them in stages, step by step... mile by mile...
Do you agree?
Video recorded with a Sony Bloggie Touch, courtesy of Sony.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
In our fast paced world of micro messages and real time communication we are always looking for ways to save keystrokes and characters and express ourselves as efficiently and effectively as possible. Hence the popularity of the simple Facebook "Like," the ease of a RT (retweet) on Twitter, and of course the almost ubiquitous smiley emoticon. :-) Thanks to Google I have a new favorite emoticon: +1
A Two Stroke Engine of Encouragement
This morning, as I am often wont to do, I sent out a "Good Morning" tweet to the world, but I added a simple, "Hope your day is a +1" paying homage to Google's newly announced "social" tag. After all, it is a way to imply something positive in only two keystrokes - less than the word LIKE, or LOL and even shorter than the average emoticon. ;-) Almost immediately I received a +1 on my tweet from the iconic Twittizen, @Iconic88.
Soon the +1 meme began to spread and @carissaO chimed in as well and @Iconic88 cleverly suggested that Google should add a +1 button to the Android keyboard. I say +1 to that suggestion, and I think I will continue to use +1 in my tweets to show positive encouragement. Perhaps Google is listening and we will see a +1 coming soon to an Android device near you...
What do you think? Do you give this blog post a +1? Will +1 pivot its way into your daily vernacular?
Sunday, February 27, 2011
While running this morning I realized that it is during the first few steps that invariably I want to quit. It is during the first minute or two of a run when I question my actions, when I doubt my ability, when I struggle between stopping and continuing. Then, after I push through those (mentally and physically) painful first moments, I hit my stride and know that I am okay and will meet my goal and go the distance.
What's A Meta For?
My experience with running is a metaphor for any goal we may have. The first few steps... diving in and actually STARTING... is often the hardest part. The greatest distance is between 0 and 1. Every run I have to coach and coax myself through those first steps, reminding myself that if I stay committed to the steps, I'll make it all the way to the end. This is true for any goal or objective, personal or professional. You have to take those first steps, and not let them foil you. Once you get past them, there is nothing stopping you from completing the journey.
Still huffing, puffing and schvitzing from my run, I shared some of these thoughts in a short video...
What do you think? Are the first steps the hardest?
Monday, February 21, 2011
One of my favorite events of the year is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is a literal smorgasbord for gadget geeks. Taking place in January, CES is in many respects a chance to peek into the future and get a taste of the cool new technologies, trends and tech toys that will start to be available during the rest of the year. Over at Dadomatic.com I wrote about some of the amazing technology I saw at CES 2011.
Late one evening, I had a chance to be interviewed by Colin Browning, IDG's Strategic Marketing Services' Program Developer, who asked a few questions about the CES experience. One of the things I mention, which struck me more at this CES than in the past, is that today's consumer is more tech savvy than ever, and as a result, we generally take the "technology" for granted. We expect technology to work, and to be fast and powerful. As a result, rather than highlighting the technology behind their products, manufactures may be better served by focusing on telling consumers more about the benefits of the technology and how their products will improve our lives. In the end, we care more about that than how many processors it has or how it works. I think we want to know how it benefits us.
What do you think? Do you care more about the specs or what your gadgets do for you?
DISCLOSURE: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show.
Monday, February 14, 2011
February 12, 2011 Posted By:
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, surely love is in the air and we are all getting in touch with our inner cupid. While we may not be wandering around equipped with a sling full of heart tipped arrows, we do have another tool in hand that can be used to spread the love – our mobile phones! You may already think your smartphone is smart, but did you know it can work wonders on your relationship with that significant other?
Here are 5 Ways Your Mobile Phone Can Make You A Better Lover:
5. Text Sweet Nothings in His/Her Ear – Text messages are a great way to let your love know you are thinking of them, anytime, and by definition, an SMS message has to be short and sweet. There are few easier ways to bring a smile to that someone special’s face than to send them an unexpected “I <3 U!” or “U R Beautiful” or a simple “Thinking of you… right now…”
4. Send A Wallpaper or Ringtone – We love to personalize our phones with images and sounds that mean something special to us, so why not share the love by sending your sweetheart a Romantic Ringtone or Whimsical Wallpaper that will make them think of you every time they look at their phone or get a call or message. Myxer makes it easy to find just the right mobile content and use “Send to Friend” to share it with the one(s) you love.
3. Use “Vibrate” For A Neck Massage – We all enjoy a good neck massage from our partner. Next time you are offering up a bit of manual stress relief, surprise them with some added good vibrations from your phone.
2. Send A Video Or Image Of Yourself – Sometimes we forget that we are almost always walking around with a camera and camcorder in our pockets. It takes just a moment to snap a picture or record a video message and send it to the object of your affection. Be creative. Hold up a piece of paper with a handwritten sign saying “I Love You.” Sing a few bars of his/her favorite song in a video. Send a picture of flowers, or a place you pass that means something special to you both. (FRIENDLY WARNING: Don’t abuse the ease of sending images and video by sharing something inappropriate or that you will likely one day regret…)
1. And, of course, the number one way your mobile phone can make you a better lover…. TURN IT OFF when you are with your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse and make them, not your phone, the object of both your attention and your affection!
Do you have more tips on how you use your phone for romance? Please share them in the comments! And with or without your phone, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
And you can start using your phone to be a better lover by sending this to someone special:
I wrote this for The Official Myxer Blog, but given today is Valentine's Day, I thought I would re-post it here... Has your phone made you a better lover?
Sunday, January 02, 2011
The idea behind "three words" is perhaps simpler than the traditional "New Year's Resolution" routine, and thus, perhaps, we'll be more likely to retain our commitment to "three words" well into the remainder of the year and long after we have resolutely given up on our resolutions. Your three words are intended to be guideposts... to serve as directional inspirations you can refer to at all times to ensure that the intent and spirit of your current goals and objectives are leading you down your chosen path. You set your goals. You are in the driver's seat to execute them. Your three words are there to remind you why you may have set such a course for yourself and how you intend to make it so. With that in mind, my first goal of 2011 is to give "three words" a shot. Therefore, herewith, I present...
My Three Words for 2011:
ASK. This little three letter word is very powerful. Used properly, ask can help you gain - gain knowledge, gain responsibility, even gain more business and money. Whether you are asking for the sale, or asking because you don't know, an important lesson to learn is that "if you don't ask, you don't get!" A short time into my first job out of college I had the chance to go on a business trip assisting the Founder/CEO of the company, who was also my boss. We were at dinner in a foreign land and I was thrilled to be on my first business trip. Perhaps feeling a bit full of myself (or perhaps feeling the effects of one of my first experiences with a "good" bottle of wine) I blurted out to my boss, "I think I should get a raise!" He looked at me, surprised. Then smiled, and said ok, and told me what my new salary would be. He also said it was really too soon for me to get a bump in pay, but since I asked... After all, he continued, "If you don't ask, you don't get, and that's a good lesson for you to learn." He was right, but over the years I have often forgotten the importance of asking. Therefore, one of my words for 2011 is to ASK!
FOCUS. When I was graduating High School, my English Teacher, Mr. Pospisil, who was greatly admired and respected, wrote some very nice things to me in my year book, but in the middle of all his encouraging compliments, he also said, "Don't spread yourself too thin..." At the time, I thought it was odd, but over the years I've come to recognize how prescient his words were. I like to think that I am good at many things, but as a result, I do often do too many things at once, and as Mr. P perhaps predicted, many times I have indeed found myself in the predicament of having been spread too thin. It is something I am aware of and know I need to work on, so my second word for 2011 is intended to help me heed the words of my High School teacher and FOCUS. Focus on what's important. Focus on what I am doing at the moment. Focus on what will actually "move the needle. Just FOCUS.
PRIORITIZE. My last of the three words is partially related to number two, FOCUS, but I think it is strong enough to stand on its own as word of guidance for 2011. We live in a busy world, constantly connected, constantly fed data, information, images, news, entertainment, advertisements, buzzes, beeps, tweets. We juggle jobs, family, friends, hobbies, finances, fitness... a LOT of stuff. To plow through it all sanely and successfully it is essential to effectively PRIORITIZE. To make order out of life's potential chaos, we need to put things in their proper order. I want to work much harder and better at prioritizing in all aspects of my life, and thus I have prioritized my three words for 2011 to be sure to include PRIORITIZE.
So, there you have it, my three words... What do you think? Do you have three words that will guide you in 2011? I had to ASK! :-)
Photo Credit: © .shock - Fotolia.com