Links of the day

Revealed: The Internet’s Biggest Security Hole | Threat Level from

What The Veoh Decision Means For YouTube And Others

900 Web APIs – handy reference


China’s 3G strategy revealed – The INQUIRER

Micro Persuasion: Trends That Will Help Define the Future of PR and Marketing

Foxconn helps shift Apple iPhones with viral photo giveaway?


There is a buzz on the blogosphere amongst iPhone users about iPhone Girl. A UK iPhone purchaser found pictures of one of the Foxconn factory workers on his phone when he activated it. Like other buzz campaigns such as the bring back Cadbury Wispa Facebook group fiasco, the orginators have up to now denied that it was a buzz marketing exercise.

Foxconn claim that the iPhone Girl was a member of staff and had not been expelled.

Xiandai Kuaibao claim that the photo may have been taken during production testing of the device.

This buzz has directed some attention away from the product criticisms of the new iPhone and a recent UK government censure for Apple regarding misleading advertising claims made about the new iPhone. Given the efforts of Apple’s PR (or this little video gem) and marketing teams subcontracting this work out to Foxconn makes perfect sense.

Foxconn‘s factories were alleged to have been described by Apple’s engineers as Mordor.  If nothing else the smiling girl in the pictures lends credibility to Foxconn’s claims that allegations of poor working conditions in its factories were without merit.

Kudos to MarkM49UK for the picture

Links of the day

ProofHQ – interesting approvals workflow tool for designers and the creative industry

Contagious – Great examples of branded entertainment content

The Death of Trends, the Rise of Zara | PSFK – Trends, Ideas & Inspiration

PingMag – Big Issue Japan: Saving the Homeless – interesting article about the Japanese version of The Big Issue. Of particular interest is the way different homeless magazines like Big Issue UK and Japan syndicate their content around each other. Something to think about in terms of PR ROI

HelloTxt – Update Status – Similar to (thanks to Alex)

Orange owns up to download speed limit for all 3G devices – the future’s limited, the future’s Orange

Study: Blogs Love Obama, News Sites Love McCain. But McCain Is Catching Up By Going Negative. – interesting analysis of the online election campaign

Softbank to cut minimum monthly fee for iPhone to Y2,324 › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion – to counter lower charge services launched by NTT DoCoMo. Looks like the cache of the iPhone wasn’t enough

Brands in eBay UK’s Zeitgeist

As part of its mail out to customers I noticed that eBay had included a ‘what’s hot top ten’, think of it as a kind of brand version of Google’s zeitgeist. It made some interesting reading:

  1. iPhone – not terribly surprised by this one. Even Ewan over at Mobile Industry News was struggling to get hold of a first-generation iPhone recently.
  2. Wii fit – your starting to get bored of the Wii Sports games that came with the console, how do you keep the crumblies amused?
  3. Nintendo DS – a work of pure genius and good value for money, can’t understand the reason why people poke around on eBay for one – its all a bit pikey really
  4. Next – the people’s clothing store. I still haven’t worked out why though
  5. Laptop – family rows used to be about who drove the television remote control, this was eventually settled by hand me down TVs in the kids rooms. I suspect this laptop popularity is the internet equivalent.
  6. Diesel – Diesel is the new Levi’s so its inevitable that they would feature on the poll. Surprised that clothes purchases rate so highly though given the highly tactile purchase experience offered in offline stores. Shopping centres are doomed
  7. PS3 – not only is it the high-spec games console that isn’t as much fun as a Wii, it is also a respectable Blu-Ray player. I am holding out for Denon to get some skin in the game and Richer Sounds to start chipping them to play disks from all other regions before investing. I mean you can’t take the PS3 seriously, it looks like Darth Vader’s cigar humidor
  8. PSP – whilst the DS is the ultimate portable games console the PSP has been carving out a very good niche for itself as an alternative portable video platform to the iPod video. Its all about the screen. I still think the PSP looks like a tombstone
  9. Nokia – the people’s mobile phone, why pay for a new handset when you can get a cooler unlocked handset on eBay, no questions asked. With widespread BB5 decoders about to go on sale it will be a lot cheaper to unlock handsets in the future
  10. Radley – the value designer bags with the highland terrier logo (you know similar to the terrier that also appears on the Netto supermarket bags like this one below)

netto bag

Links of the day

Perspectives : Firefox Extension – extension to the popular Firefox browser that contacts network notaries whenever your browser connects an HTTPS website. The extension provides two primary benefits: 1. If you connect to a website with an untrusted (e.g.,self-signed certificate)*, Firefox will give you a very nasty security error and force you to manually install an exception. Perspectives can detect whether a self-signed certificate is valid, and automatically overrides the annoying security error page if it is safe to do so. 2. It is possible that an attacker may trick one of the many Certificate Authorities trusted by Firefox into incorrectly issuing a certificate for a trusted website. Perspectives can also detect this attack and will warn you if things look suspicious.

Russians dent Google’s world domination – Times Online

Sinopec warns of third-quarter profit plunge – China Economic Review

Pudding Relations: Research on Twitter demographics from Hitwise – digerati main users of twitter

Paul Kedrosky: U.S. Consumers Live in Smelly Houses with Fat Pets – interesting data on where the recession is likely to squeeze spending on the supermarket isles

Exclusive Lifehacker Interview: Debunking The Myth of Multitasking

Oprah Time: Open Sources 2.0 edited by Chris DiBona, Danese Cooper & Mark Stone

Open Sources 2.0

I reviewed a compilation of essays from leaders in open source development. Open Sources: voices from the revolution focused on development methodologies and infrastructure. Open Sources 2.0 was compiled in 2000, focused on how business models and processes can be built from open source software. There is a very nice section on how businesses can combine open source and proprietary software to provide a complete solution.

What these essays lose in revolutionary zeal they gain in reasoned persuasion. The dialogue is different, the people writing the essays are writing for a much wider audience than the developer audience of the first book. For business decision makers Open Sources 2.0 is invaluable because it provides a great primer in how open source business works without the hype about an army of homebound coders working away for the good of software-kind.

Links of the day

TechCrunch UK » The top 15 ways to get on with TechCrunch UK, and maybe other media  – good basic advice

Current Analysis and Future Research Agenda on “Gold Farming”: Real-World Production in Developing Countries for the Virtual Economies of Online Games (School of Environment and Development – The University of Manchester) – gold pharming and power levelling could be as big as Indian outsourcing business

Why Yahoo Japan Is Worth Nearly As Much As Yahoo

Richard Edelman – 6 A.M.: The Wisdom of Negativity

Designing for popularity

Pimp my N95

It seems amongst the circles that I move that the Nokia N95 is as ubiquitous as the iPod. However when you have a bunch of blokes around the table in the pub who take their phones out of their front pocket to sit down things can get a bit confusing.

Nokia’s accessory line doesn’t cope that well – there is a belt mounted phone holder, which whilst it is practical would be a no-no in Western European culture (we leave that kind of thing as a way to designate power-crazed sysadmins).

There are no third party skins or Express-On covers that ironically Nokia pioneered in the late 1990s with the Nokia 5110. For some reason Nokia did not design the N95 for popularity, had the company unlearned the lessons of its success in the late 90s or did it not envisage the N95 as a successful handset?

I guess it was a case of taking ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best’ a bit too literally.

I got around the problem thanks to a fist full of Moo stickers and some free stickers that the peeps at Slam City Skates had sent me.

Links of the day

YouTube – No Time to Think by Dr David Levy – The use of the new technologies has contributed to an accelerated mode of working and living that leaves us less to think, not more.

PC gaming hits $10.7 billion in revenues worldwide – Digital distribution sales, where gamers download a game over the Internet to their computers, approached $2 billion, while ad revenues from websites, portals, and in-game ads accounted for $800 million.

Coke Will Not Find This Funny – AgencySpy – Spanish-speaking sports stars racially insensitive pictures continue, this time with the potential to embarrass olympic sponsor Coca-Cola.

Thousands of file-sharers face legal action in UK – By Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) – Thousands of people suspected of sharing music, films and games over the Internet will be pursued through the courts for damages, lawyers for entertainment companies said on Wednesday.

How to Work the Room – I really like the tips on this piece

GIRL TALK – FEED THE ANIMALS – ILLEGAL ART – recommended by my colleage Nathan

35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action – I got this from Mecca.

What Are People Actually Doing On The Web? –

Bloglines Mobile v3 beta

TBS To Mac Users: No Seinfeld For You!

socialized » Seven rules for establishing a corporate presence on Twitter – quite a nice summary

10 Promising Web Platforms – ReadWriteWeb – I particularly like the sound of Iceberg

Copyfight: Creative Commons attack posse targets England’s Prime Minister

State Of The Valley: Bracing for the big one – economic outlook

Intel Demos Wireless Power, Robotics, ‘Programmable Matter’ — Intel — InformationWeek

Diverse Vinyl – Your one stop vinyl web shop

Online real estate

When I used to work at Yahoo! the phrase online real-estate was used to describe the space on page available for advertising and promotion. A couple of blog posts have taken the analogy between property and online services to new levels.

Stuff White People Like hides some canny observation beneath its iron fist of satire. Its post on Facebook:

For a brief period of time, MySpace was the site where everyone kept their profile and managed their friendships. But soon, the service began to attract fake profiles, the wrong kind of white people, and struggling musicians. In real world terms, these three developments would be equivalent to a check cashing store, a TGIFridays, and a housing project. All which strike fear in the hearts of white people.

White people were nervous but had nowhere else to go. Then Facebook came along and offered advanced privacy settings, closed networks, and a clean interface. In respective real world terms, these features are analogous to an apartment or house with a security system/doorman, an alumni dinner, and a homeowners association that protects the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

Within a matter of months, MySpace had gone from a virtual utopia to Digital Detroit, where only minorities and indie bands remain.

The scandal mongers at Valleywag Fox News VP calls Facebook users “more sophisticated” than MySpace users where Fox News VP of development Joel Cheatwood discussed the different constituencies who made up Facebook and MySpace communities. Which neighbourhood would you like to live in?

Links of the day

Woolworths rejects takeover offer from Iceland founder – North Wales boy made good Mal Walker on the prowl. I wonder if he still drives is V12 S-Class coupe?

Why Vista is ‘Universally Hated’ and Other Training Truths – interesting perspective on SaaS and the longevity of MS Office

Yahoo’s Fire Eagle Location-Data Platform Has Landed — Yahoo Search — InformationWeek

Are Macs More Expensive? Let’s Do the Math Once and For All

iPhone is big in Japan, reflects local failure to innovate

How should I approach a VC I don’t know? (Tech Confidential – VC Ratings)

Toyko hones its vintage clothing market – International Herald Tribune

Web Censorship Is So Bad in Turkey That Blogs Are Shutting Themselves Down In Protest

Sharemo: How Japanese people share used stuff using their cell phones

Following 4G: The State of LTE – GigaOM

Can Optic Cables Predict Economic Shifts? – GigaOM

ErrorKey – Search engine for Error codes and messages

50 Amazing and Essential Novels to Enrich Your Library | Zen Habits

Liverpudlian scalpers, scam Web sites, and other highlights of an Olympic-sized ticketing fiasco. – By Jacob Leibenluft, Tom Scocca, June Shih, and Tim Wu – Slate Magazine – makes me proud, crafty Scouse ticket touts go to Beijing to sell tickets despite the challenges of working in a tight security environment

MEDIAdeluge – my old colleague Christian Anderson’s blog

Microsoft Silverlight: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it | The Register

Dark art of product placement

I went to see The Dark Knight at the BFI IMAX back on August 16. The film is so-so, despite all the hype and is likely to become mythical over time due to the untimely demise of Heath Ledger. In terms of the gadgetry, Nokia took pride of place with an iPhone form factor phone that is being called the Nokia Tube amongst the rumour sites.

The first thing which had me puzzled is that Nokia did not have the phone ready to go to market. Timing is critical if they are to take advantage of what Nokia must have felt was golden opportunity (why else do it?).

Without revealing plot spoilers, a central part of the plot revolves around mobile phones being used as surveillance devices by Batman. This is the technology that the new Nokia handset is central to. I was a bit confused, can this have been a smart move for Nokia? Mobile technology has enough sensitivities around it and the mere association of Nokia with a surveillance society in the post 9/11 western world is already too close for comfort.

Symbolic splits from mainstream media

Brand Republic talked about how Carat was no longer including Maxim as part of its media buying plans for clients following circulation declines. Carat withdraws ads from Maxim:

Dominic Williams, press director at Carat, said: ‘They are not investing in the magazine, so why should we?’

The title’s circulation tanked 44.5% to 43,542, representing a year-on-year decline of almost 60%.

A key question is where are all those readers going? As Maxim’s numbers are the most extreme decline in a battered sector. Men’s lifestyle magazines in general have been suffering from a declining readership.

Nicola Clark wrote about how the economic downturn had made mainstream media inventory a buyers market in Media agencies pressure magazine brands during downturn.

‘It’s a buyer’s market and magazines are really struggling,’ warns Dominic Williams, press director at Carat. ‘Magazines such as Heat, which were so bullish on rates when their circulations were rising, will now see Aegis coming down on them like a ton of bricks.’ Carat estimates that the press market as a whole will be down by between 10% and 12% this year.

As in the television market, a growing number of brands are holding back their spend to capitalise on their investment. John Ryan, deputy press director at OMD, says that publishers are facing up to some really tricky negotiations and rebates on retrospective agreements.

In common with much of the market, Ryan has held back on committing to long-term deals. ‘Brands will get more value if their agency is flexible and can drive deals through at the last minute,’ he says. In short, advertisers are getting more for their money.

It was interesting to see the lack of a mention of how online may be affecting the mix on marketing spend.

Over at the Wall Street Journal Suzanne Vranica wrote GM Won’t Buy Advertising Time For 2009 Oscars about the US parent of Vauxhall/Opel General Motors moving spend away from advertising, sponsorship and experiential marketing around the Oscars to more targeted techniques.

While GM has been under pressure to save money, the company has also been aggressively shifting ad dollars to digital marketing, such as search-related ads, and away from traditional media, according to people close to the company. They add that GM is looking to put a larger share of its ad dollars into media that offer a measurable return on its investment.

It will be interesting to see how this affects PR, will it mean that publications look for more advertorial content and will clients demand a greater burden of proof for ROI? Will there be cross-discipline benchmarking around ROI? It looks like now is the good time to be building integrated online and offline integrated brand communications plans from a PR perspective. Advertising agency-style planning will be crucial in this process.

Links of the day

Japan urged to be creative to stay competitive | The Japan Times Online

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Frontier Daze | PBS

Android And The Internet Of Things

Strategy: Serve Pre-generated Static Files Instead Of Dynamic Pages | High Scalability

LiTraCon™ – light transmitting concrete, is this crazy or what?