Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan Tech Supply Chain Issues - Tablet + NFC Impact?

In the aftermath of Japan's tragic earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear disaster, some key components in the supply chain for electronics are being impacted, leading to a slowdown and, in some instances, a shutdown of manufacturing. The long and the short of it is that if you're hoping to get units with solid-state memories such as smart phones, tablets, ebook readers and some laptops you might be wise to grab what inventory is out there. Peter Propp and John Blossom discuss these issues in the latest 10 Minute Strategy video below:

Given the near sellout of iPad 2 units after its recent launch, this may have some interesting repercussions in terms of how Apple's competitors benefit. Will Motorola's Xoom tablet, for example, which got off to a bit of a slow start with a rushed launch to beat out the iPad introduction, find that the component shortage turns out to give their upgraded Xoom equipped with Flash video software and 4G communications a chance to use its inventory effectively in this period? And will the general slowdown work to impact the rollout of devices using Near-Field communications to conduct transactions? In general the answer seems to be that we may see more emphasis on software winning sales and customers over the next several months as hardware inventories   work down and then start to build up again. This may mean that mobile phone carriers especially decide to add more software to keep people happy with existing models while awaiting delayed shipments of new models. Could this be the opportunity for carriers to finally upgrade some of its Android-based models to newer software releases? Could be.

On Near-Field Communications, Google is starting to work on rolling out devices with NFC, but so far in the U.S. the Nexus S is the only Android phone equipped with an NFC sensor (one of the reasons I got one). So while component supply chain issues may be impacting other technology rollouts, the expected small-scale start to Google's NFC operations may not be impacted negatively by the slowdown. On the other hand, if the component shortage isn't addressed by the Fall, it will  mean that it will be harder for them to scale up rapidly once they're through their initial small-scale beata testing phase, leaving open a stronger debut for NFC offerings from Apple and other competitors next year. Hopefully Japan begins to heal soon and get back on its feet, for their own sake and the sake of the world.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Google Profiles and Discussions - New Social Initiative?

Peter Propp and I got together recently to chat about Google's emerging social media initiatives and how they relate to the broadening use of profiles and comment-embedding services by social media services like Facebook and LinkedIn. Video below, followed by some quick comments:

In a nutshell, we're seeing in the likes of Google's new Profiles and Discussions features the beginnings of the outlines of Google's emerging social media strategy. It's one in which Profiles is likely to become a social media hub for Google account-holders similar to people's Facebook pages, integrating content from other Google properties as well as links to non-Google content. The Profiles pages also have expanded information for personal and professional details, making it more of a hybrid between data available in Facebook and LinkedIn. Google allows this information to be exported easily by profile owners, so you have more "ownership" over it than you might in some other services.

Meanwhile, in Google Docs there's a new Discussions feature that seems destined to replace commenting in Google Buzz and, probably, other sites like Blogger blogs and perhaps even on non-Google Web sites. I am thinking that the non-Google integration of Discussions might be of two flavors, either floating above a page of Web content, a la its relatively primitive Sidewiki feature, with links to underlying content, and as an embeddable comments system, a la Disqus. There is close integration of Profiles and Discussions already, and hints of a groups management system that may correlate to rumors about a Google Circles feature.  More thoughts and details on my Content Nation blog.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Game Mechanics of Farmville, ClubPsych and Microsoft's Ribbon Hero

Image representing Rajat Paharia as depicted i...Image by Inter Play via CrunchBaseIn Part Two of our discussion, Bunchball Founder and Chief Product Officer Rajat Paharia talks with Shore Comunications Marketing Leadership Principal Peter Propp about three very successful commercial uses of Game Mechanics techniques to achieve a business objective.  

First up -- a discussion of Farmville as a way to identify all of the core aspects of an online game experience.  

Next -- USA Network’s Club Psych as an example of a pop culture brand that has achieved even more success by crossing over to a second screen.  By creating Club Psych, USA Networks claims that the show’s ratings have gone up by 40% among the highly valuable 18-34 demographic.

Rajat has great things to say about Microsoft’s Ribbon Hero as well.  Ribbon Hero is Redmond’s way to encourage and reward mastery of the many different capabilities of the Microsoft Office productivity suite.  

Based on the discussion, there are three big take-aways on the use of Game Mechanics in a business setting:
  1. Make sure there is a “Towards” – If you don’t give your audience something to achieve on your game-oriented site, it is unlikely they will return.  
  2.  Embrace what your brand is about – Your game should be highly aligned to the values that your brand represents to your customers.  Don’t do "cute" unless that is what your customers expect from you.  Don’t be afraid to engineer ways for customers to engage with the reason your customers already like you.  Microsoft Ribbon Hero and Club Psych are great examples of games that embrace the core value that the brand represents.
  3. Make the game real, and reward in a real way – Levels, recognition, online goods, real world branded goods.  Make sure your rewards are always reinforcing your brand and your game.

Rajat is a fabulous communicator.  If you are at all interested in Game Mechanics, be sure to watch this interview.

There is a rough transcript below the video.

If you want to see Part I of the interview with Rajat "The Secrets of Game Mechanics," click here.

Super Rough Transcript of Peter Propp's interview with Rajat Paharia:

Farmville – When you look beyond the harvesting and planting, there is a heavy use of game mechanics in key ways including:
Point Balance – People love points, love to be rewarded and have status
Level – and progress towards next level. Like frequent flyer miles, karate belts, job titles – based on this achievement, I deserve status and respect, maybe even access to content and site areas.
Virtual Farm/Avatar – simple self expression elements – allows you to spend, customize, self express
Ribbons – expressions of accomplishments.  Gives goals, for example

Most apps have no “Towards” – no objective to try and get somewhere.  When you add a towards, you can get some great in-game results.  For example:
 Xbox 360 == each game comes with 12 or more achievements that gamers are encouraged to master.
 Pogo -- social gaming site Women 35 and older– very successful – strong use of achievement badges used to drive users to new and underperforming areas of the site.

USA Networks – === loyalty program for TV show “Psych”
How to activate your loyal and engaged fans to become a viral marketing force.
Earn points via social media missions, participation in Psych chatter, gaining new Club Psych members, joining facebook page, making twitter updates
Points can be redeemed for virtual goods like
Or real world goods like T-shirts, Skateboards etc.
Psych also created Campus Wars – earn points – not just for yourself but for your college. Brigham Young University won this competition in Spring 2010, and the university was mentioned by name in an actual episode of the show.

Dual screen experience Psych vision (iPad app) – tying TV show watching to computer/tablet, etc.
Results for Psych:
  • Page views from 2/session to 4.5
  • Time – on site minutes increase
  • Approximately 40% Increase in viewership among 18-34 key demographic – their core business of getting youthful eyeballs to watch the TV show, with commercials, at its live broadcast time.
Microsoft Office Ribbon Hero – Rewards for exploring the deep capabilities of Microsoft Office – especially the Ribbon context.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Secrets of Game Mechanics -- Bunchball

Image representing Bunchball as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBaseYou started getting "gamed" by airlines in the '80s, when they won your loyalty through points, upgrades and free trips. Now Facebook (Farmville) and Foursquare have inspired businesses to execute a wide variety of gamified strategies. But what makes a good game? And how do you put it all together?

Bunchball is one of the top providers of game mechanics capabilities -- servicing clients like NBC, Hearst and Hasbro. If you have a solid tech team, you can probably leverage BunchBall's services through their API and start your brilliant game-based strategy within a month.

On this episode of 10 Minute Strategy, Bunchball founder and Chief Product Officer Rajat Paharia sits down with Shore Communications Principal Peter Propp to discuss the appeal of games and the smart ways that companies can leverage the gamer in all of us for success in the marketplace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Expand your Network with MeetingWave

Image representing MeetingWave as depicted in ...Image via CrunchBaseGrowing your business?  Growing your career?  Need to tap into the experience of people who know more than you?  Then MeetingWave could really help you out.  And if you are running a conference, MeetingWave can establish appointment times for attendees to meet and maximize their experience.

In this interview, MeetingWave Founder John Boyd tells Shore Communications Principal Peter Propp the inspiration for MeetingWave, and some very interesting scenarios for  University Alumni Offices, Trade Show and Conference organizers and anyone trying to grow the value their members get from their involvement with the group or activity.