Windows 7 Tablet + Xbox: Why Microsoft Needs An “XPad”

In the two weeks since I guest posted on Ars Technica about the iPad and its role in a phenomenon I’m calling “Curated Computing,” comments have been heated and very interesting. Eliot VanBuskirk frames the debate this way on the Wired Epicenter blog:

“Curation is the positive flip side of Apple’s locked-down approach, decried as a major, negative development in computing by many observers, present company included. Who would have thought that in 2010, so many people would pay good money for a computer that only runs approved software?

It runs counter to the idea, prized by geeks, that computing equals freedom. If it were Microsoft doing this, we’d all be storming the Gates with torches and pitchforks.”

I don’t think that you have to exercise Apple’s level of control (e.g., not letting developers use third-party tools like Flash, not approving apps that threaten your business model, etc.) to create a compelling, curated experience — an experience in which content and functionality are deliberately restricted to serve a new form factor like a touchscreen tablet or a wearable device.

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Google's Economic Impact Report: Just A PR Ploy?

Today Google announced that it had generated $54 billion worth of economic activity in the US in 2009. The report, which shows state by state economic contribution, bases Google's total value on three factors: 1) Sales driven through AdSense and AdWords; 2) Ad revenue generated for publishers through AdSense; and 3) Google grants. As a research analyst, I'll admit that you can make numbers tell any story you want to, and my gut here is that this report is principally a PR effort to: 1) Communicate some altruism about the Google brand that has been getting some bad press of late; 2) Simplify the complex transformation Google has brought to advertising into a simple, single number; 3) Shift the focus away from questionable strategic decisions that Google has recently made. I wholeheartedly believe that Google has transformed advertising and is almost singularly responsible for the phenomenon of biddable media buying which I think will ultimately replace relationship-facilitated media buys across channels. But I don't believe that Google stimulated $54 billion worth of business. I think what Google did do is provide a new revenue stream to small businesses and site owners, catalyze some new sales, and take a share of commerce and media expenditures that would have happened anyway.

Join Forrester’s New Online Community For Interactive Marketers

Hot on the heels of our new blog platform, Forrester has launched an online community for interactive marketers focused on the key business challenges that interactive marketers face every day. The community is a place for interactive marketers to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.

The community is open to all interactive marketers, whether you’re a Forrester client or not.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues. 
  • Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders.
     

I encourage you to become part of the community:

  • Ask a question about a complex business problem.
  • Start a discussion on an emerging trend that’s having an impact on your work.
  • Contribute to an existing discussion thread from a community member.
  • Suggest topics for upcoming Forrester research reports.
  • Create a community profile.
  • Share your perspective with others.
     

Click here to go to Forrester’s Online Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals and bookmark it for easy reference. See you in the community.

Facebook, Privacy, And How It’s Affecting Facebook's (and Marketers’) Future

LONDON - FEBRUARY 03: (FILE PHOTO)  In this ph...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It’s no secret that Facebook is facing a privacy backlash. . . again.  Headlines ask if Facebook is at a tipping point, and many people give Facebook low grades for the way it has handled user privacy.

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Forrester’s European Online Ad Forecast: Rich Formats Will Push Display Ad Spending Higher While Search Growth Will Slow

One of the first tasks I settled on when I returned to Europe this year was to update our online ad forecast. After months of research, I’ve just published that report, ‘Western European Online Advertising Forecast Through 2014’ – and I’m happy to say that overall, the picture that’s developed is one of an industry returning to health. 2009 wasn’t a great year for the market, but thanks to a strong fourth quarter it wasn’t the terrible year everyone was expecting either – and more importantly, it looks like the weakness was a short-term blip rather than the beginning of a prolonged market slide. Western European online ad spending – which we define as the total of display ad spending and search spending in 17 countries – totalled €9.6 billion in 2009, and will grow to €13.9 billion in 2014.

When you dig a bit deeper, however, it becomes clear that different sectors of the market will have differing fortunes over the next five years. We think the big story between now and 2014 will be online display advertising. After a year of stagnation in 2009 – when it grew by just 1% across Western Europe – we think display is starting to look as healthy as ever. With huge advances in targeting helping response marketers deliver their ads to the right users, and with rich ad formats convincing brand marketers to shift more of their budget online, display will grow by 4% in 2010 and hit double-digit annual growth by 2013.

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How Forrester Defines Western Europe

Because I’ve just published a new Western European forecast – and because I often get asked how we define which geographies we cover – I thought I’d clarify what we mean by "Western Europe." As of May 2010, Forrester defines Western Europe as the following 17 countries (listed here alphabetically):

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK

 

Put another way, when we talk about Western Europe, we’re talking about the old EU-15 plus Switzerland and Norway.

Intercontinental Hotels: A Case Study In Customer-Centric Marketing

I just attended Unica’s annual Marketing Innovation Summit (MIS) this year in Orlando.  I sat in on a few terrific conversations about making multi-channel marketing a reality.  Here is the first: An overview of Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) use of data-driven marketing to improve communications with existing customers and prospects.

Lincoln Barrett, vice president for guest marketing and alliances, shared that, for IHG, building a customer-centric marketing strategy hinged on three different, but overlapping, initiatives:

  1. Invest in technology
  2. Expand into new frontiers
  3. Build a centralized customer organization

Each of these initiatives is still a work in progress, but excellent progress has already been made in each one. 

Invest In Technology

Step one here was to build a new data warehouse and real-time data mart that would allow IHG to match the data it was gathering through proprietary and third-party sources to existing customer information.  This step also made it possible to gain immediate access to data for analysis or campaign building purposes – a significant upgrade to IHG's previous functionality, which updated records in batches and only made data available some 30 days after a customer incident (like a hotel stay).

The next step was to expand outbound campaigns beyond email.  Technology upgrades (using Unica) automated internal campaign processes, created localization capabilities (for franchisees to create programs customized to their locale and customer relationships), and integrated call center data and activities with outbound campaign management.  As part of this step, IHG also streamlined its formerly multi-agency model into a single global agency.

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We're Hiring In London

I have a great job. My role, essentially, is to uncover the most interesting questions in interactive marketing (things like 'How should we measure our social media programs?' and 'What are the best ways to use online video for marketing?' and 'Can you really build a brand online?') and then talk to as many smart people as I can until I find some answers. I then get to present those answers in research reports, blog posts, speeches, teleconferences, workshops, and consulting projects. 

If that sounds fun to you, and you have a couple years experience in marketing, you may want to consider applying for the Researcher job we have open in London. Our Researchers play a crucial role in all aspects of the research process: they help us find those smart people we talk to, and then help us conduct the interviews; they help us field surveys and analyze the resulting data; they contribute to our written reports -- and eventually write entire reports on their own. Along the way, they learn a remarkable amount about interactive marketing and the research process. And if they're good, like my last researcher was, they get promoted to analyst.

If you'd like to apply -- or you know someone who might -- we're collecting applications now. Check out the full job description, and apply using the online tool. And if you have any questions about the job, feel free to drop me a line: nelliott at forrester dot com.

Curated Computing: Designing For The Post-iPad Era

iPad mania has reached full tilt: Apple announced that it has sold more than 1 million units, and Apple’s competitors (like RIM and potentially Google) are rushing to get their own products out (or not, as the case may be for HP). But there’s something very significant about the device that has nothing to do with how many units it will sell. What’s revolutionary about the iPad is the experience that it delivers: The iPad is a new kind of PC that ushers in an era of Curated Computing.

Forrester defines “Curated Computing” as:

A mode of computing where choice is constrained to deliver less complex, more relevant experiences.

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How Have You Responded To Facebook's Recent Privacy Changes And Breaches? [POLL]

Facebook announced new Open Graph and Instant Personalization features at the F8 conference on April 21, 2010.  Since that time, several privacy bugs have been found and patched. 

All of this has resulted in greater awareness about privacy issues on Facebook.  Some have predicted that Facebook might lose users as people delete their accounts out of fear or frustration about their data being shared or exposed. 

So, how have Facebook's changes and news affected you personally on Facebook?  Have you made any changes or altered your behavior on Facebook as a result?  Please participate in the poll below.  (Your data will, of course, be kept confidential.)  Thanks. 

You will find the poll in the right column of this page, below the "About the Analyst" or "About this Blog" section.

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