limaI’m tracking ways to create a simple personal cloud – mycloud – mydata. So a post about Lima caught my attention. Lima will allow you to access all your files from anywhere. Imagine all data files on your computer being available now on your phone or tablet or device of your choice. iCloud doesn’t do this. Other services don’t necessarily offer encryption, or will cost you more to execute. Lima has had a successful launch on Kickstarter raising almost  $1m so far with delivery planned for December. There’s a number of promises, and performance will depend on your network at home. Lima addresses some key things users like me want…

  1. Access to mydata everywhere on any device.
  2. A lower cost mycloud solution than paying for a full hosted cloud solution.
  3. Hardware under your control and security and privacy controlled by you.

Even just on media files this could be useful. I’m currently using iCloud and iTunes Match on approx 140gb of music to get my music anywhere. That costs $25/year for limited utility. Dropbox costs more etc. Lima will cost nothing, after you’ve bought the hardware.

Moreover, Lima claims to provide the opportunity to backup your data to a second Lima – for eg. at work rather than the home. SA dual Lima system could substitute for TimeMachine although without the same history timeline function.  Where I’m less certain is what happens when I use FileVault and encrypt all the content off my Mac and/or use TimeMachine? Is it still accessible and what level of security?

here’s how Lima works: you plug your router into the little adapter, as well as one or multiple USB drives. After that, you launch the app on your computer and then everything will go through Lima thanks to a deep filesystem integration. All your files will be moved to those drives and available on all your devices, at home or away. The only limit of this Dropbox alternative is the amount of storage space you have on your USB drives. via Dropbox Alternative Lima (Née Plug) Works With Chromecast, Breaks Into Kickstarter Tech Top 10

I suspect many devices like Lima will emerge. One observation, hot Kickstarter projects are quickly copied. There’s an increasing interest in hosting your own cloud, and making it as simple as adding a home router and WiFi network, must be the longer term goal. I suspect the next generation of home routers from Netgear etc. begin to address this need.

 

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When considering mobile strategy, “Quality and Frequency” also require a “DayParting” strategy.  Dayparting helps you understand what part of the day makes the most sense to focus your attention and strategy. For the short-term, only a few apps are going to get both our attention and provide the quality of experience that we desire. The HBR link below plays on the old idea of “reach” n “frequency”. Today, on the mobile, if an app is installed, “quality” n “frequency” will determine how you will reach that used. Unstated in the HBR article is the importance of “Dayparting” (and the HBR matrix could be extended for time into a 3rd dimension) and how selecting a compelling point in time (context) may improve the quality/frequency performance.

 qualityexperiences2Think of brands like Nike, with which a customer might interact only two or three times a year, when they buy running shoes. Nike realized that on mobile, people were interacting with mobile brands more often, so they created a whole line of free mobile apps, like the Nike Plus Running app that runners interact with every day. Now the Nike customer thinks of Nike in a favorable light far more often.

via Quality vs Frequency: What’s Your Mobile Strategy?

 

iOS-device-usage

 

Sometimes the way a business should daypart is intuitive — a coffeeshop, for instance, would be wise to invest in mornings and afternoons, when people are looking for a caffeine kick. Restaurants should reach out right before meals. Brick-and-mortar shops should allocate their spend to business hours.

via Why Dayparting Must Be Part of Your Mobile Strategy.

Tomorrow? Will this model  hold up in the future. What could change? Location data will create additional user value. Then apps also become more context aware. An example might be when I’m home my home screen works one way, when at work another, and when shopping in a new area I may well be able to see a screen of local apps that act more like a cloud. If the phone and the apps are more aware of the environment and the context around you, eg. Dayparting, then you may believe that it’s actually thinking for you.

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Goji Smart LockThe jury is still out on smart door locks and now connected door bells. While I have a Lockitron on order I’m still skeptical about it’s overall utility. Before these initial locks (Lockitron, August, Keva) even launch the next generation is already emerging. Goji adds a Camera and I suspect others will follow.  The Goji video covers the more obvious use cases. What’s perhaps worth thinking about is where software upgrades might take a product like Goji in the future. For example:

  • Will these smart locks be able to detect motion? What are the battery life implications? Will they scan for “radios” – and thus unidentified phones?
  • How important is the smart doorbell? Shouldn’t the lock be the doorbell? Why isn’t it all in one? Doorbot makes more sense to me as it could be placed on the door and recognizes the importance of pointing the video. Where should doorbells be placed? With geo-fencing solutions perhaps they should be completely redefined using other sensors that are invisible.
  • Adding voice and communications features may be important depending on where the item is installed, or what screening process is desired. Use cases that are still to emerge are “shared” entries. For example will these “door bells” manage a shared apartment entry? How can they manage security for a group / collection of users within a community building?
  • At which point will the camera turn on? Can a user “stream” and record from the camera? How does it respond to courier package drops?
  • How will we feel about streaming all coming and goings or even picture taking to a “cloud” service? (Can’t say I’m that excited by that.) What’s the delay on pictures? What is the time lapse / lag to broadcast on these devices?
  • There are many other products that can enter this ecosystem from insurance to courier deliveries, local police or fire. We may even go so far as to “broadcast” for a service. Example plumber or electrician. Today we certainly wouldn’t be comfortable letting many of these into our house sight unseen. Tomorrow may be another story.

Gabriel Bestard-Ribas, the CEO of Goji says that the camera feature was really important to users, and believes that it will help people get comfortable with the idea of a granting access electronically to their homes instead of the traditional key. To help assuage concerns Goji also has a 24/7 call center set up to handle access issues, lost keys or other worries. That, too, might be why the lock is so much more expensive.

via Goji joins the connected lock parade, adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as a twist — Tech News and Analysis.

When someone rings the doorbell, it notifies you and you can talk to them from your phone. They can talk to you via the doorbell. And if someone knocks you can activate the doorbell camera from the app running on your handset and see who’s there.

via Ding dong ditch is dead. Say hello to 2 connected doorbells — Tech News and Analysis.

iDoorCam™ features a day and night vision camera, speaker, microphone and motion sensor. It connects with your home’s WiFI and alerts you when someone rings your doorbell.  You can chose to ignore the call or answer it to see, hear and speak with your visitor.  You can see and hear them…they can hear you.

via iDoorCam: Answer door from mobile device | Indiegogo.

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As a retailer – What’s your screen strategy? Increasingly mobile touch devices dominate and how we use them to shop is changing. The website data below also recognizes that we go across screens (laptop, PC, tablet, mobile) for many purchases.

Time spent visiting retail Web sites on tablets and smartphones has eclipsed that of time spent shopping via the desktop. A combined 51% of time on retail sites took place on devices as of February (37% on smartphones, 14% on tablets) compared to 49% on PCs, according to a new study by mobile ad network Millennial Media and comScore.

The desktop share is down from 84% in 2010. But comScore indicates that while time spent is shifting toward mobile, it’s helping extend the desktop audience by 45% as consumers that start on PCs continue their shopping experience across devices. So there’s a fair amount of overlap among platforms.

Who’s shopping on mobile devices? More than half the U.S. audience is men (52%) and 48% women, with most in the 18 to 44 age range. Nearly half (48%) have an Android smartphone, and 45% own an iPhone. Tablet owners tend to skew more affluent, with more than half with household incomes higher than $75,000, and 47% access retail content.

via MediaPost Publications Time Spent Shopping Shifts From PC To Mobile 08/09/2013.

Example, how many times have you started a purchase on your mobile or tablet and still found you have to complete it later, on your PC? Often these have disparate user experiences with differing levels of functionality, leaving us less than satisfied. Increasingly, what we want is our mobile phone to provide the simplest quickest solution. Yet, few online stores start from a mobile perspective (most have taken desktops and adapted to mobile which leads to less than optimal solutions). Further, while small stores remain challenged in building a competitive online platform, the personal relationships or locations that sustain them may also become their most important online assets.

IMG_5797While Amazon continues to lead the way and is superb at making it easy to order online, it is yet to make a complete mobile transition. I can see a day where an Amazon “store in store” will also provide real benefits to the small trader, who is currently there out of necessity for online sales. Tomorrow, Amazon may simplify and help optimize a trader’s local sales, relationships and transaction history. This step will take Amazon one step further to being both, the “register”, and a platform for becoming the relationship companion manager.  (I’d see Square competing in this space too.) Simply think about a new tab on your mobile that highlights local shopping.

The combination of screens and devices are serving to expand the sheer number of shopping occasions and change where  and when they take place. A few years ago online shopping was limited to a room in the home. Now it takes place anywhere. Similarly, shopping happens while we have discussions, example in a Starbucks, while taking a break from other shopping, at work, or simply while we are out and about, and have a good idea. Which often means looking up that product. Right now that makes life simple for Amazon and it is typically the first check for an online item or point of reference.

However, in a future world it might be local stores with geo-location notices in my pocket, a different type of search engine that goes both global and local at the same time. For Amazon to be effective in this world a “store in store” approach will be more appealing to both shoppers and the businesses trying to build the relationship.

Where are the challenges emerging today?

1. Immediately shop the local store or dealer – identify items in that store, or complete a transaction without even approaching a register. (Apple Stores are a good example of putting the register in the customers’ hands). How do you personalize my visit, how do you say “welcome back” here’s what we have for you today.

2. Effectively share the customer record and relationship building that should accompany each transaction. Data gathering for most retail organizations have been one-way. Example a rewards program in a supermarket. This may allow better offers for next time (if one remembers) or to capture sales data and thus some form of customer status ranking. It doesn’t help with product feedback or reviews, registering who just arrived in my store, or real-time offers.

3. Take the online experience in-store. The real breakthrough will come when small stores can be more attentive, more flexible and more accommodating to a relationship. That relationship must parse both online and offline and potentially can be connected right back to my network. This is not a Facebook page in my view. My metaphor for explaining it – is the cash register in my pocket. The way that can work will also change depending on my geo-location. We see some of this already with local pickup systems although I see this going much further.

 

 

 

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I find this a slightly scary thought.

“Honestly, I think this will be the mode for the future, where physicians can track physical activity on a scalable level. A physician can say I want you to have half an hour of exercise three times a week, and it will give the physician and patient a record of accountability at their fingertips, My behavior started changing the minute I strapped the fitness bands onto my arm – the Fitbit Flex, the Nike+ Fuelband, the Jawbone UP, the Shine by Misfit Wearables, and the Fitbit One in my pocket. Read Original Post.

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The most surprising fact to come out of this report is that age doesn’t matter. 88% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 open email on a mobile device, and over half say their smartphone has become the primary device on which they open emails. 85% of consumers ages 30 to 39 open emails on their mobile device; with almost half (48%) saying it’s their primary device to do so. 74% of consumers ages 40 to 49 read emails on mobile devices, with 35% claiming it as their primary reading device. 71% of consumers ages 50 and 59 read emails on mobile devices and 26% say it’s their primary reading device. In other words, it doesn’t matter who your customer is, your email marketing messages have to be optimized for mobile phones.” Read Original Post.

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Sony

Our interactions with physical products are increasingly being partnered with the device in our pocket. This Sony lens is another signal that our mobile screens and computing power don’t need duplicating with every device we use. I like this example more for the experimentation and innovation implied, than seeing it as a sure bet for success. Sony’s new lenses will use the screen of your smartphone and turn it into a more sophisticated point n shoot. In time I expect even more processing may be done by the smartphone. While this clash is happening in photography we see others – “remotes” in the living room, infotainment in the car, fitness and medical devices emerging, and more.

Category by category our interactions with physical products are increasingly being partnered with the device in our pocket. In some cases this brings down the cost – (the Sony lens must work better than both the smartphone and a point and shoot and potentially be cheaper) and in others it increases the utility (infotainment, TV screens etc). It’s also going to be a pain when the phone is out of juice. Also worth considering how voice commands may work. “Ok Google Now – Sony…..” Hat-tip to Gigaom for pointing me to explore this development.

Lens-camera: What you see on these images are the DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lenses. Actually these are not normal lenses! They have built-in sensor, Bionz processor, Wifi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot. These lenses have no LCD screen and no usual camera controls. You will be able to control them through your smart phone or tablet (via WiFi or NFC). The lenses can be magnetically attached on your smartphone and it works on both, Android and iOS devices. That is nothing like we have seen before. For the first time you can shoot top quality images with your smartphone. Forget these iPhone or Android lens kits!  via (SR5) Hot! First images of the new DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lens-cameras!

tourists

Some thoughts I’m curious about.

  • Will devices like these be able to piggyback on the smartphone’s power supply? If you can charge a phone by touching a pad, can that same tech work in reverse? I presume the Sony lens above requires its own power and recharging which will reduce convenience.
  • Can’t tell from the picture if there is a “flash” solution with this lens. Flash obviously has power requirements. No flash – means a huge usage occasion will be missed. (night and party shots).
  • This is a real example of a product that requires an adaptor. Thus it may be limited in the number of devices it can be used with. I also see that as a problem with upgrade cycles. If phones stay at 2 years or less even three years it may be hard to move your lens upgrades at that rate or justify them.  Will the adapter have a flash hotshoe?
  • The price may be in the $500-600+ range. Which means they have to be a very good lens and that shrinks the market dramatically.
  • Where’s the neckstrap? There seems to be no thinking about the pose of the photographer. While point n shoots typically had a hand strap, upgrading your smartphone to a touristy hang from the neck could be cool and might also help explain that cameras ringing while the headset is in my ear.
  • Will the lens use the phone’s stabilization features for better shots?

Overall, I doubt this will be really successful as a product approach. There are just too many interruptions and other aspects that happen on our phones. If the lens software provides real innovation in photography that can only be done on a smartphone then it’s going to be a compromise when installed and even with small lens systems like Olloclip (which I had for a iPhone4 and gave away when I got my 5) there’s an on off thing that goes on. Unless putting a lens on really puts you in vacation mood!

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Yes in many cases should be banned! It’s also used inappropriately. The real issue is too many meetings are ineffective.
If you’ve suffered through meetings where colleagues use PowerPoint decks as their autocues for droning ‘presentations,’ you’ll love this development at two leading companies that could be a model … Read Original Post.

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Silent Text Activation Screen

The far flung colonies of Facebook, Twitter, Google et al and the communications giants are faced with an uprising. Will they follow King NSA or will they patriotically stand for the individual and their freedoms? Can they step aside from the emerging world or must they lock-in the emerging market users (as they adopt smartphones) for both business and political reasons? While it seems recent events leave email as a communications mechanism hemorrhaging, and heading for death for anything other than the most banal of correspondence.

How long till email dies? Are we anywhere near an inflection point where we re-consider how we interact with organizations, governments and even our friends and families? The answer for individuals is probably not yet. Companies may well be different.  Since the Snowden case effectively closed down the encrypted Email service Lavabit discussion has increased. In particular, Phil Zimmerman the inventor of PGP encryption and co-founder of Silent Circle  is also back in the news (Quotes and links below related to email, privacy, big data, and liberty). Consider:

  • As a business how could you reframe your relationships with your customers / collaborators to be secure? Consider how this may also relate to payments and security around financial transactions. Does the bank, phone company etc have to be privy to the transaction?
  • As an individual. How can we manage our identity relationships for both security and simplicity. No Facebook isn’t it. Consider how apps are evolving and increasingly we sign in before we  can do anything. Do app represent a set of walled gardens that should also be secure? Can they even be if they have API’s too?
  • If Silent Circle is so secure why don’t they provide their “code” so the Open Source Community can confirm its integrity? The can you be sure test? By nature shouldn’t a “secure” service be transparent about how it is achieved? Download the app and it’s not clear to me even what the activation / provisioning code is and how that relates to the account that is set up. (Note that with the Silent Text app it actually asked for access to my contacts before stopping at an Activation code request. Maybe they already have all my contacts!) You can’t test it without paying. The apps need a “front-end” telling first time users what they are about.
  • What price would you be willing to pay for more privacy? – Silent Circle is too expensive to go mainstream. If a security solution is scalable then a number of models could be created. The base service should be free if you really believe in liberty and privacy. In the beginning (although no longer)  Skype provided a “secure” chat service.

I suspect the NSA and government have usurped too much power and it is impossible to turn back the clock. The metaphor I’d use for the current state is creating the colonies or the colonization of the internet (A little like the spice trades did). The masters were really disconnected. What really matters as mobile brings the next few billion online. If you cannot live without the net and you are suppressed by it then you have little choice about the “rulers” until there is an uprising. It bugs me no-one in power seems to believe that it is “my data” first and foremost. Rather than help me use it and protect individual rights – it appears more likely it will be used against me, and it’s hard if not impossible to effectively opt out. Why email security has been questioned for years the majority didn’t think it possible that it all could be collected.

Zimmermann: The body of email can be encrypted and PGP does just that. In our case, we offer our services on mobile — iPhone, tablets and Androids — for that reason we cannot run PGP for email since it doesn’t exist. So we had to run PGP on a server and it is called PGP Universal. Now for IT departments (inside organizations), it made sense to have this run on their servers and offer it to their employees and control the (encryption) keys. A box sat next to the mail server and did its job. That was the kind of solution we were using until yesterday….

…”I agree it is not just a matter of surveillance. Big data intentionally creates a concentration of data and has a corrupting influence. It really concentrates the power in the hands of whoever holds that data — governments, companies.The PC revolution of the late 1970s and 1980s and the later early Internet (of the 1990s) seemed to hold so much promise and empowered the individual. Now with big data there is a shift of power in the other direction as it concentrates power in fewer hands.

Of course, one can get cynical about all this but one has to fight that urge. A lot of people are getting more cynical because we are living in a surveillance state. Cynicism is the fertile soil where corruption can grow. Cynicism has a paralyzing effect and I think we need to resist that temptation of cynicism and hold on to our ideals in order to bring about change and push back. via Zimmermann’s Law: PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder Phil Zimmermann on the surveillance society — Tech News and Analysis. 

“All email messages “leak metadata” they say. That information includes data about who you are talking to and where you are. That info is visible even if the message itself is encrypted. E-mail as we know it today is fundamentally broken from a privacy perspective,” Callas says. That’s a pretty strong statement coming from this particular guy”  Guys That Invented Encrypted Email Say Email Can Never Be Safe From NSA Snooping via Silent Circle Shutters Private Email Service – Business Insider.

Email service used by Snowden shuts itself down, warns against using US-based companies | Glenn Greenwald | theguardian.com.

ISPs and email hosting providers need to be willing to and plan for the need to work with government officials.   Are small-fry encrypted email ISPs using feds as excuse for closure? | ZDNet.

BBC News – Snowden link to encrypted email service closes.

Note: Apps like Silent Circle still rely on humans to use the App. That’s the problem and the challenge in getting groups to start using a secure system. It’s only going to be as good as the weakest link and that might just be when an employee or CEO loses a data connection or decides to dictate the text rather than type it. It would make a great deal of difference if Android or Apple decided that secure communication was what was required and the keys decentralized to the individuals. When security is built into the core of the device rather than bundled onto it is more likely to get used. Unless business demands this it is highly unlikely to happen.

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Safeway Chevron Rewards Program

Why Safeway and Chevron together suck at the pump! It seems like a nice idea. Pull into a Chevron station and get a “bonus reward” as a Safeway shopper with a discount on your gasoline. What’s not to like? It certainly works for both businesses. Chevron’s typically higher prices may seem much more competitive the next time you fill up. It make me feel better about both Chevron and Safeway. No doubt it adds to their data pool on me too.

So what’s not to like. Simple. It’s a balls-up in usability at the pump. You arrive at the gas station jump out of your car, swipe your card. Instant pain. Please key in your zip code. That used to be it – then start pumping. Not anymore. Key in zip code. Answer the Rewards question Yes or No. Then swipe your Safeway reward card (does anyone actually carry one?) or key in your number. Because this requires communication with Safeway or some system it is much slower than keying in your zip code. Buzz, buzzzzzz, buzzzzz. The whole thing communicates I’m slowing you down. Then, even worse, your rewards may only be 10cent a gallon this time or nothing and you suffer disappointment.

I’m sure someone timed the additional process steps before implementing. They probably assumed you get the right number right each time. My guess is keying your phone number in takes approximately 10 to 15 seconds. It could be longer or shorter. Still try to go faster and you will be starting over. By the time acceptance arrives you have added 30 seconds to 1 minute to your overall fill-up time. I’ve not yet done the maths on how long it adds to a typically 15 gallon fill up. The percentages in terms of total time may well suggest that it is less than 10% to the total stop time. I presume also that the studies are done and it isn’t locking up space on the forecourt so cars are lining up for their turn – which is the biggest turnoff as it signifies a real wait.

What I want: I want a Chevron App that actually lets me pump gas without so much as pulling my phone out of the car or my wallet and card out of my pocket. Yes there are some issues I understand that. Really it’s obvious – integrate the experience with my smartphone. Kept the legacy system but let me get on with life. My big priority is saving time at the pump not adding to it. With an app you could probably really add to the forecourt experience. I could be ordering the coffee to go, having the snacks waiting etc. That’s only a small tip of the iceberg. I still want my Safeway rewards although if I’m certain the gas is cheaper elsewhere that’s probably where I’ll go. Note Chevron has an iOS app that acts as a station finder and promotions vehicle. It’s not the sort of thing you are going to open when you get to a Chevron store. If it doesn’t sent you relevant notifications you aren’t going to remember it.

Oh Safeway. I could write a book on your app. I’ve tried opening it and even using it in-store. Your deals, your coupons, which open to closed folders by category which I’m then supposed to open. You’d be better to just dump it and post all your specials to Flipboard. You know all my shopping purchases and yet I can’t load them. Now you even know my Gas purchases and I can’t even use your app to keep track or help me with my food budget. While I like eating well I have a good sense of how much I spend each week. It would really help to have that detail handy and by product. Then you also know my usual use-up rates or re-buy rates. So you could do my shopping list as a reminders every week. I’m sure you also know how many products I choose with good dates on them and when the lettuce use by date is nearing. Can’t you help me eat fresher food and reduce waste? What about the recipes that you could provide based on special or different ingredients I bought in the last week? Which bottle of wine should I serve with my dinner? What feedback could you collect from me? Do you know how many products you don’t stock that I’d like. There are marmalades, cereals, foreign foods etc. Currently I know you don’t even want my input. Then I could be doing checkout as I load my cart. As apps can be geo-fenced it would be so easy to send a notification each time I’m near a Safeway and make the app actually an important part of my shopping life. For some that may also include pre-ordering from the deli, or a hot meal ready to go.

Both Chevron and Safeway are failing to look at the tool in my pocket. I may actually pay a premium for saving time at the pump. I may even tip an attendant that brings a steaming coffee to my car. Safeway doesn’t get that “online” shopping is a better experience on a Tablet  and with the right approach I could do it on a smartphone. We don’t go to our home office to buy the groceries. We go to the kitchen. It’s time the online shopping experience was re-launched for the the mobile touchscreen world. Both Chevron and Safeway are places many of us go to weekly. That’s a high frequency exchange. That’s where personalizing service can make a difference. You have the future of our relationship together firmly in my pocket. If you think you are just after my wallet then you are mistaken.

So the good news. Despite the sucking on apps I still shop Chevron most frequently 75% of the time. The forecourts are generally cleaner and I suspect the gas is better. Safeway gets about 60% of my grocery business and that’s because they are generally better value. However, I shop Trader Joe’s often, and will head off to Berkeley Bowl and other places. So, Safeway is a two or three weeks out of the month type of place when shopping weekly.

While I know I’m not your normal or typical consumer I could create a number of different personas to make my case and identify how to make food and gas shopping better.

 

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“The unicorn is part of the world of nature and part of the world of dreams–and completely of the heart. In many ways, it is a symbol of our longing for the mysterious and the unattainable …..” 

I thought of the power and the mystical beauty of Unicorns when reading this list by Braden Kowitz, who writes about finding a designer. You can read the article to find out if you are a Unicorn. General agreement is there are a few – very few, out there.

In my view there’s another view to Braden’s list. It really doesn’t matter which job you are in. You better have a pretty good understanding of all of these. As researcher and strategist, the combination tells a story. Not everyone needs to draw, however great employees will paint a picture by design. Yes some HTML etc knowledge may help. The critical element is solving problems, identifying opportunities and finding ways to take action.

If you aren’t a unicorn, and as Braden suggests, they are so elusive, then gathering the input of others, inspiring the team and collectively advancing iteratively and practically while seeking breakthroughs, will make the difference.

From Google Ventures: How To Hire The Best Designer For Your Team

Here’s my short list of the most critical product skills, and the questions that those skills help answer.

  • Research: What do customers want? Can they figure out how to use our product?

  • Product design: What are we building? What are we not building? What’s in this release?

  • Copywriting: How do we describe our product to customers in a way they understand?

  • Interaction design: How does the product behave? How is it organized?

  • Visual design: How does the product look and feel?

  • UI development:How do we build quality interfaces quickly and flexibly?

 

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I see new statistics popping up all the time. It is one of the ways research firms get visibility. However, I’m often skeptical about the sample, the purpose, and what it actually means. A ranking on “used once in the last month” isn’t really helpful by mobile standards. Is it used daily or 2-3 times a week? Then that is helpful. I also have a real problem with the definition. When is “mail” or “safari” or “chrome” not an app on a smartphone? Is Google+ in this chart really Gmail on Android? What about iMessage, FaceTime or AppleMaps? Of course the “Camera” probably beats all of these. The point of the chart is to try and make “WeChat” big and it is certainly BIG and important.  Still this chart isn’t going to help you or your company create a better mobile strategy. I’m sure Google Maps tops this list because of the number of times it is opened by some other app. 

“The China-made smartphone app WeChat is now the fifth-most-used program in the world, according to new rankings published by GlobalWebIndex. WeChat is apparently installed on some 27% of the world’s smartphones, which makes it more popular than western favorites Skype (22%), Twitter (22%), and Instagram (11%). Google Maps reigns supreme, installed on 54% of all phones, with Facebook floating a bit behind at 44%. Nevertheless, it is surprising to see WeChat, which is typically considered a “Chinese” program, beating out heavy hitters like Facebook Messenger (22%). In the past few months, WeChat has boomed to hit 70 million users outside of China, in addition to its 300+ million within the country.”
Read Original Post.

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“Do you have the dumbest PIN in ATM history? | Hard to believe 1 of 10 pin # will be right 20% of the time http://buff.ly/15McbTL According to research company Data Genetics, that’s about as effective and secure as making “1234” your personal identification number (PIN) for the Bank of America (BAC -1.08%), Wells Fargo (WFM +0….  Read Original Post.

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Awesome post on usability and how the amber alert was pushed to mobiles in California last night. They are now turned off on my phone. If they had used the accelerometer they may have worked out who might even have a chance of assisting. Oh jeez don’t read texts while driving it is against the law! See the weblog post by Craig Hockenberry Read Original Post.

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Netflix ChromecastWho will win the SmartTV love affair? What does the remote of the future look like? How is Google Chromecast shaping up against AppleTV? My latest experiments with Chromecast and Philips Hue (Yes the light bulbs) and IFTTT suggest the potential may be shifting quickly into Google’s favor. When you put these three App/platform approaches together you start to ask some new questions. The openness of Google’s approach encompassed in their DIAL standard may payoff very quickly. See this post on Gigaom.  . Before I get to my new “wants” examples…

Highlights – the current debate.

1. Apple Airplay lets you throw content from your iPhone onto the TV screen. This is limited to Apple iOS devices. It also requires an AppleTV. With this combination the user has the option to mirror their phone or use the AppleRemote to instruct the AppleTV to use one of the preinstalled Apps. With Chromecast the big difference is your “remote” is now app by app and you are not always returning to the AppleRemote (which may be slow to reconnect). AirPlay in a few instances does enable games that Chromecast cannot.

2. The chromecast DIAL approach lets you instruct a cloud to send a URL for playing on a  second screen. It’s instructive rather than mirroring.  Chromecast does this very effectively enabling an App to remain the “remote” while a cloud service sends content to the TV. It currently works for Netflix and YouTube on iOS, however the ease with which it works will encourage developers to build it in quickly. Going app by app as a remote overcomes the nasty “Tree” structure that gets you buried in AppleTV (doing “back”, “back” to move up levels).  Chromecast can also very smartly launch the TV. Unfortunately it doesn’t manage volume – at least on my 4 year old TV.

3. Google is providing an SDK and API however it remains in a testing phase. An example of how developers are already working around the “AirPlay” restriction is BubbleUPnP. This sends your file from your phone  via WiFi locally or to the cloud and then on to your Chromecast ready TV. This in inline with Google’s strategy of enabling every app to potentially add a Chromecast second screen.

So what sort of Apps may we want? What could emerge quickly? This post was stimulated as I found myself playing with Philips Hue, Chromecast and the various iOS apps that work with both. I’ve also been looking at IFTTT wondering what it could do with Chromecast (currently nothing)?

My initial thoughts were simple: 

  1. Turn the TV on with hue… and point to new netflix recommendations. This is just the alarm / clock type of approach – done elsewhere.
  2. The opposite. Reset the room lighting by turning on chromecast for tv  when watching after sunset. Note Hue already knows about time.
  3. Enable chromecast to turn on and broadcast breaking news if matches my criteria… With lights and time… if I’m home.
  4. Tie hue to say baseball… I can already do that via IFTTT but not to launch the TV or start playing the Radio of the game only if I am home of course. Perhaps I’d just like the Game starting notification on the phone which would potentially start the TV, set the lights etc.

There’s a lot more….

  • Consider other benefits of having a second screen that is now actively monitoring or providing content – perhaps queued for different types / times of day. Perhaps light cues or even sound queues when certain content arrives. A TV in the office now become Twitter, Facebook etc.
  • Want to switch to Chromecast when a commercial comes up while  watching regular TV and then back to Channel 3 and the cable service? I really like this one! Although the delay could be a problem if not pre-queued.
  • Could chromecast work with google hangouts where the phone remains the camera and microphone.
  • Will we see voice activated app solutions emerge to manage content, skip, find favorites etc. Unfortunately Siri is unlikely to chromecast anytime soon. That’s a shame.
  • Will App Aggregators emerge like TVGuide plus to integrate and help plan my live programming.
  • There are already apps that enable Hue lights to play to music. Tying them in to broadcast content could add additional dimensions.

So how many options are there…

You can develop sender applications for Android, iOS, and Chrome which “cast” their content to a receiver device connected to a large display (television), and you can develop a receiver app that extends the default receiver functionality.  via Google Cast Developer Preview – Google Cast — Google Developers.

Is the real Pocket remote starting to emerge? The answer is a definite yes. 

1. Moving to remotes that are App by App and thus customized to task. The smart phone controls the TV or second screen. This is in-line with expectations. Our phone controls the music in the car, the music at home.

2. Expect remotes to engage Chromecast to also engage the broader Smart Home – light, heat, sound?

3. When apps start screencasting they can simultaneously start managing other things. Example social aspects, or background details, data on who’s watching, assessments on what you think or are feeling, etc. Thus richer experiences – the augmented smart TV. This has big benefits to networks who want to increase engagement.

4. User expectations. If I can do this with Netflix, won’t I want to do it with CNN or other news? When apps capture most of our watching (that may be really soon for those that watch primarily Hulu, Netflix or YouTube) using a remote this way becomes second nature.

As an Apple user using Chromecast the flaws in AppleTV are showing:

1. Open AppleTV to “Screencasting” so developers can use the same type of “send” and “receive” approach. AirPlay isn’t enough. Being able to stay in the app and process additional content or social interaction is a real advancement. Use iCloud to augment this. If you can do more with a Chromecast enabled app then developers will soon propagate their apps with it.

2. Turn iPhones and iPads into “gaming” controllers. Games may be the secret weapon for AppleTV. I suspect that a Chromecast+ is really required to bring gaming to this service. Downloading the “game controller” – app in the App store should automatically add it to any AppleTV when gaming is desired. I’ve always assumed this will happen. It just hasn’t yet and that is hard to understand.

3. Expand the “social” capabilities of any app that is “screen casting” so the remote is part of my experience. Enable dual screen capabilities, including zooming, frame in frame, etc.

Summary:

Chromecast presents a new model for app developers, networks, and media producers to explore. It makes the digital cable box a joke (it was already) and demonstrates that Internet TV can become a richer media experience compared to cable TV or over the air. Possibly the best thing you can do today to promote the TV of the future is to buy a Chromecast dongle and help to push the cable box under a bus!

So what’s your chromecast strategy? If you aren’t sure spend $35 and at least try it out.

Still skeptical? Conside a few illustrations beyond TV where cloud data could change the experience. What’s an Amazon app look like using chromecast as the shopping screen. How does it change “home shopping”? What about all those shopping networks. How could you change the car buying experience or home buying if you are Zillow or Redfin? As a magazine how could you integrate with big screen experiences? Example – How should Wired use Chromecast? How could the queuing approach be used in a broader public social situation? How does this emergent model affect “advertising”? Advertising on the remote? What about survey tools? What about TV game show participation? Could it be used by Customer Service for product and complaints? What about for learning and training programs? How could it enhance e-learning?  Your turn….

 

 

 

 

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