I've been asked by a lot of reporters in the past few weeks whether Sling.com -- Sling Media's online video Website in the US featuring content from Hulu, CBS and many others -- is something they should cover. I don't envy reporters who aren't specialists in media technology, they really have a hard time knowing whether a specific site, application, or device, matters. In the case of Sling.com, it was particularly confusing to the lay reporter because it almost appears like a shift in business model. As in, "Oh, no, the Slingbox isn't selling well, let's get into the online video business!" I had to reassure reporters that in fact Sling.com makes good sense for Sling. In fact, it's part of a secret plan.
Why? The N97 will be premium priced and won't be the only handset to feature a touch screen from Nokia, or the new 5th Edition Series 60 Symbian OS. The N97 isn't due to ship until mid-2009 by which time it will face improved competition. The current models that commentators have compared it with in the last week are a red herring. Against mid-2009 rival handsets the N97 will look less strong.
The N97 is important as a part of a bolder overall strategy by Nokia and is not the entire story in itself.
The mid-range will be the new mobile Internet battleground in 2009:
Samsung (especially), LG, SonyEricsson and Motorola are already pressing into Nokia's traditional mid range strength. At some point, Apple will extend the iPhone range with lower priced models as it did in the past with the iPod Mini, Shuffle and Nano. This will open a new front onto Nokia's heartlands. RIM is already targeting consumers with cheap'ish Curve's and consumer-focused marketing.
I got home last night from a trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Seoul... It was an enjoyable trip, but It feels great to be back!
During this trip, one of the challenges that I faced was the fact that I had to a couple of late night Webex / Teleconferences with customers in Asia. I imagined that it wouldn't be too difficult to just wake up in the wee hours, get on the phone, deliver the presentation and go back to sleep.
I hadn't banked on the "characterful" European hotel rooms that I'd be staying in ...
(1) Amsterdam - The Gresham Memphis Hotel
A very "old fashioned" room, with a phone by the bed and wired internet at the desk. But no phone on the desk...
I spent an interesting evening trying to drag the phone from the bed to the desk (even the 5m cable that I tried wasn't long enough), and then trying to extend the LAN cable to the bed (couldn't plug my LAN cable in because the socket was buried under the carpet).
Long story short - I ended up dragging cables from two corners of the room and working in the middle.
The last day of Nokia World, I interviewed Jeremy Belostock, the Head of NFC for Nokia's Device Experiences group.
NFC -- for those of you non-gadget types, like myself -- stands for "near field communication." And it is basically a functionality which allows mobile handsets to have "contactless" communication with other handsets, ear pieces, keyboards, other devices, even with out of home media, product packaging, kiosks, turnstiles, or anything where you can enbed an NFC-smartcard. Think of NFC as a tooll which allows you to use your mobile phone as your subway pass, your credit card, your change at a vending machine, or as a way to interact with media for additional information or promotions.
There are a few hurdles keeping NFC from becoming a mainstream application:
I need to read the Synovate report for myself, and I will look at the next results from Forrester's surveys of Japanese consumers to see if I see the same thing... Can't do that right now, I'm afraid.
I think Jeff is spot on with his view that Japanese Social Computing is often Web1.0 at heart. In particular, I agree with his observation that anonymity and lack of segmentation (trying to cater for the "general population") hold back the possibilities for Social Computing.
Could Japan's fickle consumers decide that SNS was just another fad and "move on"?
Somehow I cannot imagine it. (Move on to what? Long socks and tiramisu?). Is it possible to have a "camel" shaped adoption curve...?
Alan Gutman, the lawyer representing Axl and Guns N' Roses, sent a scolding letter (which cited Advertising Age's coverage of the campaign), to Larry Young, president-CEO of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. The letter stated that Dr Pepper's campaign had exploited the singer's reputation and the "eagerly awaited" album, and stated that payment would be sought for the unauthorized use of the Guns N' Roses brand.
Home for the holidays. It has a melodic ring to it, but the idea of lost baggage can be wincing.
Air Canada has announced some customer service initiatives around baggage that are truly responsive to travelers needs.
Workers in Alberta's oil region have been carrying their tools home to Newfoundland, and then flying them back to Alberta. Air Canada has partnered with some companies to provide storage for these tools. This saves the travelers the inconvenience while freeing up cargo space. Win win.
Employees travelling during the holidays will have their bags placed on lower handling priority than paying passengers. (I appreciate this as several of the premium seats on my Thanksgiving flight were filled by airline staff, which did nothing to enhance my impression of the carrier — if, for nothing else, because they didn�t bother to tell employees not to wear their uniforms. But that is another rant)
If Air Canada bags do not arrive, passengers can park for free in short term parking to retrieve their bags. This may seem small, but it is like lemon juice in a papercut to have to hand over dollars to pick up something that should have left the airport with you the first time.