It's hard to get customers to pay any attention to an email newsletter. People are busy and their intrays are overflowing. But here's an opening line that grabbed my attention very effectively:
Letter from the Editor: Calling all usability participants
We're not interested in building software that you simply tolerate...or even kinda like. We want to flat-out delight you with tools that help you be awesome at what you do.
That was at the top of an email from TechSmith, a company whose software I've been trying out to capture screen shots when I'm doing reviews of Web sites.
What made me read on? ... Was it the bold, punchy promise? No. My intray is full of bold promises to make me rich, successful, and attractive. I am pretty cynical about such promises. (Besides, I am all those things already .... ahem).
I think I read on because the email got several things right:
OK. My Oscar picks are in. I'm going with a combo "Slumdog sweep" plus "conventional wisdom" strategy this year. It was that kind of year. I'm not going to jinx myself by listing my picks till I can crow about my inevitable victory in the Card Family Oscar Pool. But here are the movies I really thought were the best of 2008, a fairly lousy year:
The Dark Knight. Post 9/11 superhero movie. Sadly, this is what the 21st century feels like. If Chris Nolan could only direct fight scenes, DK might have made my all-time list.
Wall-E. Pixar's best since Toy Story. First half justifies the existence of CGI. Loses a point for preachiness.
I was speaking with a friend today about the state of the economy and its impact on travel. This friend is a survivor of the travel industry’s catalog of crisis over recent years: 9/11, SARS, airline bankruptcies, soaring fuel costs. His view was that the travel industry has become complacent in its approach to crisis.
I was watching 24 on Fox last night, and even though I was fast forwarding through commercials I noticed the Hulu ad from the Superbowl was on again. We'll save the discussion if brand recall works during fast forward mode for another day, and instead focus on Hulu's brand awareness campaign.
Micropayments are happening. Not everywhere, but in some promising areas.
The lessons of the iPod and iPhone apps store, Facebook Spare Change and Twitter's TwitPay all stand as notable innovations in a space littered with the remains of failed efforts to monetize "free" online content.
Yet on media sites, most low-value digital content remains free, even for mainstream media outlets. Two problems remain.
--First, how to process micro transactions cost effectively.
--Second, how to take something that has traditionally been free--like the Internet--and to add a price tag to it.
With that in mind, two recent encounters are worth note.
At MWC, multiple companies have launched mobile application stores that seek to build upon Apple's iPhone success (Microsoft, Nokia, Orange, mPortico, Surfkitchen, Adtonic, PocketGear and others). These join existing announced app stores (including RIM, Google Android, Palm).
These are more than simple me-too initiatives.
Mobile app stores are not new. Palm, Handango and even Nokia with their Download! service pre-date Apple. Like the iPod, Apple was a follower -- rather than first mover -- that succeeded due to terrific execution and a clear strategy and market position. Apple benefits from the ease of commercial iPhone application distribution. Developers now prosper in a virtuous circle: