Initial Thoughts on Genius

OK so I've been playing around with Genius and here are my initial thoughts / experiences:

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Hotels.com Launches Photo Filters for Accommodation Recommendations

Hotels.com has launched a new feature called Visualiser that will generate hotel suggestions based on a range of images travelers have selected on topics such as the type of trip they want, how they want to feel, what a fun evening is, etc.

The system was quick, easy to use, and intuitive. My first attempt had some unsual recommendations: I searched for a beach holiday and was surprised to have San Francisco listed as an option. The neighborhood of North Beach was recommended (perhaps this is the logic that put San Francisco on a beach list). The hotel I was recommended was surprisingly not in located in San Francisco but instead in Redwood City.

Subsequent searches garnered much more relevant searches. It is an inexplicable programming truth that an analyst or journalist will always unearth the last glitch.

Overall, I like the idea of using photographs to filter. People have some emotional aspiration with their leisure travel, and it is an interesting way to use photographs to identify those aspirations.

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Usage-based Broadband, part deux

Great (and timely) post by Kevin Tofel over at jkOnTheRun, highlighting the new HD content available from iTunes (via version 8) and its impact on those consumers whose ISPs impose bandwidth caps.

I decided to see how big a single episode would be and luckily, one of my favorite shows is available as a freebie. I hit up a 43-minute Battlestar Galactica ep that's available at no charge and see that it's a 1.38 GB download. Now I don't think many Comcast customers are going to grab 180-odd high-def TV episodes from iTunes in a month to bump their cap, but these can add up quickly.

Time Warner Cable's 40 GB cap (equal to 29 "network hours" of HD) currently being trialed down in Texas doesn't look so generous, especially for a family sharing that connection, and side-loading content onto iPods. There's a big difference between expressing bandwidth caps in terms of HD video as compared to emails sent and web pages viewed.

As I've said before, a new JupiterResearch report on Usage-based Broadband will hit the street soon.

NME and Oasis: What's the Story?

My old friend Conor McNicholas, editor over at NME, is embarking on an innovative spin on the covermount. In conjunction with Oasis and Arts Council of England NME are giving away a CD that contains sheet music and lyrics of some songs from Oasis' forthcoming album. One of the underlying ideas is to get fans to upload their own interpretations of the songs before having heard them. It's a cool way of engaging with fans, taking Radiohead's Nude remix into the "real intruments" realm.

It also illustrates Conor's ongoing efforts to pull NME into the 21st century. Some critical observers have pointed to the declining print readership and to the more mainstream focus of the content. But such criticism ignores the facts that:

a) declining print readership is an industry wide trend, felt particularly keenly in the music press
b) NME used to be mainstream. Flicking through my dad's old 1960s copies and it's all about Cliff Richard and the Beatles. Not exactly underground
c) NME is now becoming a multimedia entity (web, TV, live events etc), having the foresight to limit its dependency upon a dying medium

Can Google Be a Serious Player in TV Advertising?

This week's announcement of Google's 'advertising, technology, and research partnership' with NBC Universal has got everyone talking again about just how important Google might become to TV advertising. And since I'm an advertising analyst who also recently spent a couple years covering digital TV, it's something I've been asked about a few times. My take: while there's room for Google to make TV ad buying more efficient and accountable, there's only so much you can do to target ads on TV -- and so Google can't, and won't, cause nearly the upheaval in TV advertising that they did in online advertising.

Google's dominance of online advertising is based primarily on their ability to target relevant advertising to consumers. But it'd be incredibly difficult for Google (or anyone else) to ever target TV ads nearly as well as online ads, for several reasons.

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Twitter Steals Apple's Thunder

Even though there wasn't any "killer" announcement yesterday at Apple's "Let's Rock" event it was very notable for an unexpected reason: the role Twitter played. I was posting sporadically throughout the event and thus saw the flurry of Tweeting activity that was going on around me. With no exaggeration, close to 90% of the posts were all related to the event and a large share of them were actually in San Francisco or London (which in itself is indicative of the tech professional skew of Twitter). Though the likes of Engadget have for some time posted live text commentary of Apple announcements this time Twitter democratized that role.

As you'd expect, some of the posts were simply echoes of each other and the novelty was seeing who could type quickest to get the newsbyte up first. But, and somewhat surprisingly, there was genuine diversity most of the time, ranging from office based journos conversing with their colleagues on the ground about Steve Jobs' appearance, through to complaints about Jack Johnson. It seems that Jack Johnson wasn't a good choice for the tech community with one major TV broadcaster tech correspondent logging off in discuss by the time Johnson started his second song.

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What's Hot at CTIA? Social Networking for Starters

CTIA seemed a bit quiet yesterday, but granted that was a day before the show floor opened. I'm glad I was around yesterday because I got the chance to see some really cool stuff - in addition to the nano-chromatics announced by Apple. For those of you who didn't see the new Nano's, there were some cool new additions. One of my favorites was use of the accelerometer - you shake the iPod and it shuffles. Hopefully, this functionality will come over to the iPhone. I'd like to train my iPhone with some simple gestures to dial, hang up, look up where my friends are, etc. So much fun potential lies ahead.

Aside from Apple, Verizon, Intercasting and Yahoo! all had some announcements around social networking. I just published some research on social networking opportunities for operators and handset manufacturers (it's posted on our site). There is also a summary in RCR.

Social Networking applications can be addictive, and they are not just for twenty-something's. Our research shows that those who use social networks online frequently have much higher data usage and buy more mobile applcations than others their age or other cell phone users. Right now, it's mostly about "following" activities with some communication and "sharing."

Aggregation of feeds is a good first step, but there is so much more potential if someone (a carrier? an infrastructure player? an online media company? a handset ODM?) can put together the pieces to leverage the PIM, network intelligence, handset capabilities, online media consumption, communication behaviors, etc. Putting the infrastructure in place such as Verizon is doing with Intercasting is a good move.

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Sales Enablement is Strategic and Cross-Functional, So Says Panel

On August 27th, Forrester hosted the first Sales Enablement roundtable in the industry focused on addressing challenges related to profitable growth objectices for large enterprise technology companies.

Assembling a balanced group of sales and marketing executives, through one lens the session could have been viewed as an economic summit. Added together, the total revues of the participants exceeded $350 Billion.  To put that into perspective, that would make our panel the 27th largest economy in the world right behind Greece, but ahead of Denmark.

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New iPods: Solid Refresh but Nothing Much New

Enough people, including colleague Mark Mulligan, covered yesterday's iPod announcement, and I certainly spoke to a few in the press. It's a solid upgrade. Apple won't lose any market share, but they're not likely to bring any more new customers into the fold, at least not via features and pricing.

As expected, no on-demand service, subscription or otherwise. Apple has no need to endorse this $250-ish million market that's fairly sluggish. Rhapsody, Napster and Zune haven't proven differentiators or high growth businesses yet.

Nothing on the service/content side as innovative as Nokia Comes With Music (or as biz-model unsustainable?) or some kind of ad-supported strategy.

Cool colors (Jupiter orange!) and nice screen at the sweet spot of the market.

What ' s Hot at CTIA? Social Networking for Starters

CTIA seemed a bit quiet yesterday, but granted that was a day before the show floor opened. I'm glad I was around yesterday because I got the chance to see some really cool stuff - in addition to the nano-chromatics announced by Apple. For those of you who didn't see the new Nano's, there were some cool new additions. One of my favorites was use of the accelerometer - you shake the iPod and it shuffles. Hopefully, this functionality will come over to the iPhone. I'd like to train my iPhone with some simple gestures to dial, hang up, look up where my friends are, etc. So much fun potential lies ahead.

Aside from Apple, Verizon, Intercasting and Yahoo! all had some announcements around social networking. I just published some research on social networking opportunities for operators and handset manufacturers (it's posted on our site). There is also a summary in RCR.

Read more

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