Archives for posts with tag: ipad

Kids growing up in today’s era of educational tech tools have no idea how rad their learning experience is going to be. Not a clue.

But from time to time, us grown-ups get something a bit more mind-stimulating than the monotone ebooks we’ve come to adopt. Like this reinterpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein built into an iPad app. Visually it’s gorgeous. But the part that hooked me is how they’ve made this interactive — a kind of a modern-day Choose Your Own Adventure (remember those!?).

While I love this fresh take on a classic, it does raise some interesting questions as noted in Fast Company Design:

“For better or worse, it’s a fascinating approach to a famous text that raises some huge philosophical questions: Should we redesign classic pieces of art to be explored differently in the digital era? At what point does Frankenstein cease to be Frankenstein? And is it worth changing elements if the core theme can be explored by a whole new generation?”

Only time and technology will tell.


The financial crisis has been with us since 2008, followed by a tepid recovery. You would expect businesses to focus on delivering excellent customer service experiences and overdeliver on every level.

Surprisingly, even though customers value excellence, and even though companies are committed to delivering it, we’re still subjecting each other to excruciating mediocrity.

Why is that?

Great service is not delivered on pure attitude or willingness to please. Great service is part of the business design. Businesses make strategic tradeoffs to deliver a reliable, superior experience:

JetBlue: Low prices, no transfer to other airlines, no business class, no lounges, no special service. In exchange, customers get low prices, one bag for free and convenient locations out of the mega-airports.

iPad: The iPad has no USB, it’s hard to create any content on it, multi-tasking is almost impossible but it’s a great device to consume media, get sucked into the app world or use it as a presentation tool.

My favorite coffeeshop: The coffee is mediocre, the seating is limited and uncomfortable, the Wifi spotty. Still, their kid’s area is superb, a lot of other parents show up on the weekend, they remember my order and have it ready within a minute and everybody is very friendly.

Successful businesses make these choices by design. They know they can’t be good at everything but need to be superb at something, while, at the same time, be bad at other things. For that to work, companies need to deeply understand their customers and design a business that delivers on the most important values of their customers.

I can live with mediocre coffee as long as my kid plays happily for an hour and I can catch up on my Instapaper during that time.

I can live without special service offerings from JetBlue as long as they get me to m destination without any frills and paying for the first bag.

We don’t want to buy from brands that can do everything fairly well. We want to buy from companies that do something exceptionally well and other things exceptionally bad.

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 10.57.05 AM

You click on a button on your iPhone and it immediately bursts into life, the blinking “slide to unlock” label hinting at the direction of the motion it wants you to make. That rich, lively screen just begs for your attention. Add to that the layer of notifications and you have no willpower left to resist. No matter what’s happening around you: a kid wanting to play with you, a book waiting to be read, a view that wants to be soaked in – once the iPhone wakes up, everything else in the room disappears; your attention’s been stolen by that burst of light. The iPhone (and the iPad, for that matter) is a needy, attention-craving siren that will enslave your attention by it’s amazing beauty at the expense of the world around you. It’s a temptress that constantly reminds you: “You could be on Twitter now” or “You could engage with your friends on Facebook now.”

The Dopamine release

When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring – you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get this little rush of adrenaline and, most of the time, you are disappointed. Sure, you get this little information nuggets, the location of your friends, the links they share, the inconsequential email but it’s doesn’t satisfy your craving for more. But when you don’t get this little alarms, you feel bored, you want that little excitement. You’re being conditioned by technology to check, check, check and check.

Information is like food. It nourishes us and we need it to survive in the 21st technology, to be a productive citizen. Yet, food has positives and negatives. As Fast Food Nation clearly showcased, a steady diet of fast food won’t lead to any good. Actually, it might lead to your quick demise. While we know to distinguish between Twinkies and Muesli, we still have trouble distinguishing between information red meat and information red grain.

The diminishing returns of noisy technology

Over time, we have created our information foundation: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Messageboards, Foursquare and other platforms that solve problems for each individual. We don’t have a lot of attention left in our life to add more information and platforms. Apps and destinations became more noisy to get our attention. Just like a gathering that started out as a small dinner party, developed into a party with loud music and now looks like this:


(Talking about Dopamine.) You can enjoy a rave for a few hours, maybe even all night and a nice sunrise. But it’s not a sustainable model. We can’t continue to add new technologies and new platforms, begging us for information constantly without hitting the wall. I would argue, we’ve already reached that wall and we’re about to hit it.

Nobody is saying noisy technologies will disappear. It’s just too intriguing and easy to blink, flash and beep to get the attention of people. But the returns are diminishing and people are starting to look for technologies that solve problems with out being a needy temptress.

In Part 3 we’ll talk about the emergency of calm technologies and their integration into the information ecosystem.


Is it going to location-based marketing? Hyper-local marketing? Google+? Facebook’s timeline? Twitter ads? Social Search? What about the convergence of mobile and social? Touchscreen computing?

Clients ask me that question all the time and my answer remains the same:

Nobody knows what the next big thing is going to be. Nobody. More importantly, you shouldn’t be concerned about it. We haven’t even figured out the basics of digital marketing yet.

Let’s be frank here: The only working tactic working in the digital space is SEM. Measurable, scalable and tied back to your basic ROI. Once you leave the SEM area, digital marketers continue to work in the Wild West. We still haven’t worked out how to engage with customer through display advertising. Instead, we try to try work the attribution and measurement game:

“The metrics are all wrong.”

“It’s not about the last click.”

All true but it doesn’t instill any confidence in our clients when we sell our arsenal of digital tools with a major asterisk attached to them.

We need to fix digital marketing from scratch.

SEM/SEO? Check

Display advertising? Clearly, we need to start from scratch. We have optimized the delivery of ad units to customers but the creative side of the equation continues to be abysmal. The declining click-through rates are proof of that.

Social Media? Most companies have still not understood the power of Social Media. 95% of marketing efforts on social platforms continue to be megaphone-style, mass marketing efforts. Cutting down the power of Social Marketing to almost nothing.

Location-based marketing? Coupons are nice but they are not the be-all and end-all of location-based marketing strategies. By focusing on pure coupon play, you’re missing out in great opportunities.

The next big thing is already there.

Actually, there are many next big things. You’re just not using them properly yet. You’re not innovating enough using all these new platforms.

The majority of brands act like little children riding a bike on training wheels. After a few minutes, they get off the bike and ask: “When can I drive a car?”

Let’s try to ride the bike properly first.


See this thing? The iPad with the shiny stuff on it?

300 carats of white diamonds. It’s also ornamented with rare black diamonds on the home button and Apple logo on the back.

It goes for $1.2 million.

Yes, that’s $1,200,000.

If I had a say, I would drag the maker, Camael, in front of the International Criminal Tribunal in Den Haag and charge them with obscene display of wealth.

Heck, let them be charged for crimes against humanity.

And all the idiots who bought this product should be deported to Somalia.

Let them eat diamonds.

And explain their purchase to starving kids.

That’s what I would like to do with these people.

Actually, what I would like to do is to work with a client (somebody focused on providing customer value) and combat with them any obscene displays of wealth.

I’m sure that brand would be called “anti-capitalist” or “Socialist” by the CNBC crowd.

Even better.

A value brand doesn’t need these guys.

As a brand, you actually want to be despised by that crowd.

Because Main Street will love you for it.

They are your customers, anyway.

Nothing against luxury.

I love high-end hotels.

Business Class flights.

A nice car.

But nobody needs a 300 carat iPad.


It feels like an expensive middle finger defying the fabric of our society.

That value brand needs to live its values, can’t just market them.

It has to be part of their identity, the reason they’re around in the first place.

It can’t be just a marketing ploy.

It requires an organization who has the courage of its convictions.

An immensely powerful platform for a brand to stand out from the value clutter.

Making a positive difference for society and its bottom line.

Who has the courage?


I have 3 iPhones. Two of them are dead, one is my working phone. I have the first generation iPad and can’t wait to get the 3rd generation iPad when it comes out. In our household alone, we have 3 monitors and 4 laptops. Include my wife’s iPhone and we have 12 screens.

The age of surplus pixels

We are entering an age of surplus pixels – more and more screens will be in our homes, doing nothing, just being dark and disconnected. Some of them will be used to show family pictures, not much more.

What are we going to do about the abundance of screens?

Most screens are designed to grab all the available attention. That would be a huge mistake. Nobody can deal with 12 screens, all screaming for attention. We can focus on 2 screens, maybe 3 but that’s about it.

The remaining screens have to be respectful of the primary screens and deliver something fast, valuable or useful when we have a spare second.

Just like the work of Dentsu/Berg shown below.

The future of secondary screens has an immense influence on the future of advertising.

In case you’re not familiar with Robert Heath’s Low Attention Processing Model (I think everybody in the advertising industry should), it’s easy to connect the dots of his model to the surplus of pixels with this summary:

“1. Because brands match each other’s performance so swiftly, and consumers exist in a time-poor environment, considered choice tends to give way to intuitive choice, in which emotions are more influential.

2. This situation inhibits the consumer’s desire to seek out information about brands, and minimizes the need for them to pay attention to advertising. Brand information can however be ‘acquired’ at low and even zero level attention levels, using two distinct mental processes. The first process is passive learning, which is a low-attention cognitive process. Passive learning has been show to be poor at changing opinions and attitudes but is able to record and link together brand names and other elements in an ad.

3. The second process is implicit learning, which is a fully automatic non-cognitive process that has been shown to be independent of attention. Implicit learning, as is discussed below, cannot analyze or re-interpret anything, all it is able to do is to store what is perceived, along with any simple conceptual meaning that we attach to these perceptions.

4. Because of this limitation, implicit learning does not establish strong rational brand benefits in the consumer’s mind. Instead it builds and reinforces associations over time and these associations become linked to the brand by passive learning These association are extraordinarily enduring and can trigger emotional markers, which in turn influence intuitive decision-making.”

Low Attention Processing builds patterns

Since branding is about creating patterns, not creating messages, abundant screens should be used for branding and the primary screens are focused on direct response.

It’s going to be a tough task for marketers to use the surplus of pixels appropriately. We tend to be big, bombastic, look-at-me and loud. Instead, we need to be quiet and small.

  • It could be a screen displaying my commute through colors. When it’s red, I’ll stay in the office. When it turns green, I’m coming home.
  • A screen displaying the current state of the global economy, based on various financial feeds.
  • I would love to see on a screen what music all my friends are currently listening to.

It has to be slow. It has to be small. More importantly, it has to be valuable.

I suspect, it will be more artful than the current advertising. Secondary screens as an accessory, a social object.

A fascinating future awaits us.


Last week I went with a client to a fancy restaurant. For the wine list, we geeked out on an iPad.

Seems like a perfect match. You can look at regions, match it up with your dinner choices, build a tool that incorporates the preferences of the table, update the inventory on the fly and delete a wine from the list when it’s sold out.

You can double-geek out and use your iPhone to compare prices. Very cool, right?

When you appeal to rationality, you pay dearly for it

Once you get people into a data mode, they will become hyper-rational and search for the optimum solution. Suddenly you’re chasing the deal. What’s the best price/value ratio? The enjoyment of the wine is equal to the deal you get.

When you tell a story, people will pay for it.

Buying an expensive bottle of wine in a restaurant is irrational. People don’t care as long as you offer them a buying experience. And that experience can’t live on an iPad; it’s a real-life experience. The stories the sommelier tells about the individual wines, the opening ritual, the human interaction with the sommelier, the sniffing of the cork. That is the real value of the purchase for the bottle. And the profit margin that will either make or break your restaurant.

Tell your story to the right people in the right place.

An iPad wine list is cool. But it doesn’t belong in a restaurant and doesn’t speak to the right people. An iPad loaded with product information in a waiting area while your car is being serviced is also cool. And it tells the right story to the right people.


What has been the most revolutionary change in the automotive industry in the last decade? You might think Tesla, Chevy Volt or Honda’s FCX Clarity. I don’t think so. It’s been the introduction of  Zipcar. A completely new business model based on human insights and understanding where the world (and each customer) is going. BMW is latching on to that trend by developing a “DriveNow” sharing system in Munich.

While the iPhone was a major disruption, I would argue the App store is the real disruptor by introducing a new, innovative business model. Apple integrated the hardware with a crowdsourcing model for the apps in such a brilliant way, that it was something materially different from just being a phone, but from how phone manufacturers make their money.

The formula for survival: Innovate your business model

Whether threatened by classic disruption or not, companies have a tough time innovating their business models. In fact, they don’t change them significantly. Companies that do manage to adopt whole new business models do it by creating entirely new business units that have new business models. They don’t do it by taking an existing business unit and turning it on its head. So, I don’t expect Honda (and other automotive companies) to get out of the automobile business. But I expect them to start a new unit that focuses on a highly efficient car-sharing system. (And, in the decades to come, I expect all car companies to shift focus from the car-building business to the people-transporting business.)

By exploring new, disruptive business models entire companies will become more resilient to economic changes by better defining and focus the core business. Business model innovation is so important because it allows enterprises to experiment with something that might work out, then filter it back throughout the whole company. It helps brands to better understand where the world is going and what you as a brand need to do to address a specific customer demand, independent from your company’s existing systems and structure. It requires from a brand to understand and focus on where the customer is going, where the opportunity is, and then build the right business system to support that.

Advanced enterprises will be able to compare how different the new business model is from their current one (particularly in terms of margins, overhead, and success metrics), they can get a clear picture of what they will need to do to grasp the new opportunity. Would it be easy because it dovetails well with their current model, or would it require to marshal different resources and processes? Knowing that, if the world really is going that way, then they can be flexible and respond effectively because they’ve already experimented with and built a business model that will take advantage of that shift.

There are many industries ripe for business model innovation

Let’s start with the obvious one: Media. Newspapers need to redefine their business model, not just putting a silly “The Daily” on an iPad. That’s not a disruption, it’s applying the old business model to the new world of content sharing.

Healthcare – how can we take out real cost and create greater value? Healthcare reform didn’t pay any attention to changing the business model. We need to make better sense of all the health data available to us and increase efficiencies.

Defense – we try to fight WWII over and over again. Enemies have changed. Our response needs to change.

Energy – we need better systems that reward people to save energy, give them options in using energy (Should my house be powered by coal, gas or solar energy – with a different price for each energy form) and energy companies need to explore new revenue drivers to get out of the pure consumption model.

It used to be enough to innovate by increments. Product 2.0.

The time is ripe to innovate through bigger dreams. Business Model 3.0


Image: Courtesy of David Pearson Design

I just finished reading “1 million workers. 90 million iPhone. 17 suicides. Who’s to blame?”, a piece about the avalanche of suicides in 2010 at Foxconn’s Shenzen plant.

An excerpt:

“I’ve written thousands of posts, millions of words, about things. Usually things with electricity in them. Doing this for a living, on and off, for the better part of a decade, has greatly—perhaps fundamentally—changed how I perceive the world around me. I can no longer look at the material world as a collection of objects but instead see interfaces, histories, and materials.

To be soaked in materialism, to directly and indirectly champion it, has also brought guilt. I don’t know if I have a right to the vast quantities of materials and energy I consume in my daily life. Even if I thought I did, I know the planet cannot bear my lifestyle multiplied by 7 billion individuals. I believe this understanding is shared, if only subconsciously, by almost everyone in the Western world.

Every last trifle we touch and consume, right down to the paper on which this magazine is printed or the screen on which it’s displayed, is not only ephemeral but in a real sense irreplaceable. Every consumer good has a cost not borne out by its price but instead falsely bolstered by a vanishing resource economy. We squander millions of years’ worth of stored energy, stored life, from our planet to make not only things that are critical to our survival and comfort but also things that simply satisfy our innate primate desire to possess. It’s this guilt that we attempt to assuage with the hope that our consumerist culture is making life better—for ourselves, of course, but also in some lesser way for those who cannot afford to buy everything we purchase, consume, or own.

When that small appeasement is challenged even slightly, when that thin, taut cord that connects our consumption to the nameless millions who make our lifestyle possible snaps even for a moment, the gulf we find ourselves peering into—a yawning, endless future of emptiness on a squandered planet—becomes too much to bear.

When 17 people take their lives, I ask myself, did I in my desire hurt them? Even just a little?

And of course the answer, inevitable and immeasurable as the fluttering silence of our sun, is yes.”

It’s a good piece of writing, clarifies the working conditions (it’s not what you think) and poses a good question: Have we made a subconscious collective bargain at the dawn of the industrial age to trade the resources of our planet for the chance to escape it? And, are we living through transitional times between that decision and its conclusion?

The more we connect with each other, the better we understand how all of our actions impact the rest of the world. We share the earth, its resources, and each of our decision has more influence than we ever realized before. While we’re busy cheering on the Apple iPad2 and another-keep-myself-busy-so-I-don’t-have-to-think-about-important-stuff, we don’t want to comprehend or even tackle the consequences each of our purchase decisions have.

We got enraged about Nike sweatshops but are we are so numb/quiet about the Foxconn issue? Why aren’t we concerned how Rare Earth materials are being mined (Slave labor) and the environmental impact it has (Oh boy.) Why do we drive a Prius (guilty) telling the world a story of green consciousness while the car is filled with rare earth materials, a moving environmental disaster? Would you be willing to pay $100 more for an iPhone if it was manufactured in the United States under more human conditions? Would you pay an additional $100 if the rare earth mine used for your iPhone adheres to environmental standards?

Are these complexities our human brain can’t process? Or are we too busy being entertained not to bother with it? I’m as guilty as anyone, I’m not on any moral high horse. These are just questions we have to work through in the next decades and centuries. The complexity of problems will increase due to our interconnectedness. The earth was able to deal with a billion wasteful Westerners. Here come the emerging countries. Doubtful the earth can take more of it.