The netbook is dead, long live the netbook

FastCompany published a good analysis of the netbook phenomena where they argue that the netbook as a growth item is over and has now just become another class of PC. This makes sense and we have seen it with other devices in the past, such as the Palm PDA.

I think however that the netbook phenomena needs a deeper exploration as it has changed the way we look at technology. The concept of the netbook wasn’t new. Psion had a device in the market until 2003 called a netBook which was similar in specification and abilities to the modern netbook. Nokia has developed the n8XX series of Linux-based web tablets with a similar functionality to the phlanax of netbooks. Asian markets which have a long history of sub-notebooks, came out with devices based on the low-powered Transmeta Crusoe processors which echoed the uptake of Intel’s Atom processor.

The netbook phenomena allowed consumers a cost-effective way to sample a new form factor which Western audiences hadn’t considered before. Laptops had gone bigger and more powerful in a manner that was eerily reminiscent of cars manufactured by Detroit in the middle of the 20th century and the netBook is the VW Beetle. VW in itself didn’t crash the US car market, but it opened the door for later Japanese saloons that shared a similar scale and thriftiness. The netbook is dead, long live the netbook.

Links of the day

Canon Electronics – PR fail

Unilever to Test Mobile Coupons –

Apple raises retail stakes against Microsoft • The Register

How People Share Online Video – eMarketer

Report: Server sales declined 24.5 percent in first quarter – – it isn’t all due to virtualisation either

Omniture Adds Facebook Data to Business Comparative Tools

Semantic technology gains publishing foothold | Digital Media – CNET News

Fitting the optimal level of openness to your business strategy | The Open Road – CNET News

Google adds new features for bloggers –

Time Warner splitting with AOL

Users Over 55 Quitting Facebook: The Baby Boom Times Over?

Rzostore – shoes and cool clothes

Sneak Peak: First Video Demo Of Siri Virtual Assistant

AT&T Moves Up Its LTE Rollout, Admits To Network Issues – some interesting materials on LTE

Why e-books aren’t cheaper

Cashing in: The 73 million people opting for mobile money – Networks – Breaking Business and Technology News at

Ovi Store’s debut marred by technical hitches – Rethink Wireless

Why Nokia’s Branded Handsets Flew in Brazil (and May Flop in the States)

The power of word of mouth / we are social

@ D7: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Tries Image Shift | – good PR interview preparation doesn’t make a business turnaround

The Inside Word: On the Web, ‘Streams’ Are Replacing ‘Pages’—Why We Should Care |

MediaShift . How Journalists Are Using Twitter in Australia | PBS – Twitter is being used by journalists to subvert PR machines and crowdsource information from their followers apparently.

Beet.TV: Nokia CEO: iPhone was a “Wake-up Call”

iPhone does a Facebook

I was reading the WSJ blogs and came across Andy Jordan’s article on ‘crap apps’ iPhone applications that are the code equivalent of the whoopee cushion or the paper hat that you get in a Christmas cracker. In ‘The Trucker Hats of iPhone Apps’, one of the people interviewed rationalises these applications as ‘…add users social credibility, useful at bars or social situations.

Another developer described the target demographic as ‘younger, “social” crowd and impulse buys‘. These applications aren’t universally appreciated and it wouldn’t help Apple’s cool branding if the iPhone becomes associated with jackasses.

Facebook has faced a similar dilemma with the variations on the poke application, zombies, vampires etc. Even in the UK, where consumers have drunk the Facebook kool-aid, I recently saw the results from a survey claiming that a third of UK respondents resented receiving invites on the social network. Facebook’s redesigns and process changes have partly been about reducing the impact of these applications.

Whilst we are not looking at a Burberry-esque brand meltdown, a Nokia is starting to look the smarter choice.

Links of the day

What Makes Us Happy? – The Atlantic (June 2009)

You need Doug Winfield | Facebook – Doug is a social media expert who is promoting himself to prospective employers leveraging social media. Check it out!

RTÉ Business: Santander to scrap British brands

74% of Employees Agree Their Social Media Antics Can Ruin Your Company’s Reputation

Turkey has Seventh Largest and Most Engaged Online Audience in Europe – comScore, Inc – UK has highest proportion online and most engaged audiences

People Over 55 Are Quitting Facebook

10 Ways to Diagnose a Google Penalty

DoCoMo and Telefonica in handset pact that could pressurize Vodafone – Rethink Wireless

Android race heats up, but Sony Ericsson will wait for release 2.0 – Rethink Wireless – Windows Mobile not a great success apparently

You ask, they answer: Neals Yard Remedies | – some savage comments in here, the silence is deafening

Communities Dominate Brands: Beyond demographics, how marketing will use mobile to collect better insights

Round. The world. Connected. with Adrian Simpson  – really nice Nokia Siemens Networks site: telling really powerful digital stories about connected lives.

SPINNING AROUND : T-MOBILE: THE FATAL FLAW – interesting comments here about T-Mobile’s ad campaigns. The debate adds immensely to James’ original posting: good stuff here.

The inside-out guide to designing a website | Blog | Econsultancy

300+ tips for e-commerce professionals | Blog | Econsultancy

LUXURY IN CHINA: Get Rich Is Glorious – really good presentation on luxury brands in China

In South Korea, All of Life Is Mobile –

Introduction to Twitter – Jonny Rosemont’s introduction to Twitter deck

Negative ads may not be nice, but they work | Blog | Econsultancy

Marketing: when the government gets it oh-so wrong | Blog | Econsultancy

Porsche on the financial brink – Telegraph – karmic payback for the way Porsche borked investment bankers with last years ‘short squeeze

Augmented Reality: Fad or future? | Blog | Econsultancy

The Pitch HK: Langham’s accidental orientalism – PR fail by Hong Kong’s best known hotel chain

msearchgroove » One Mobile Search To Rule Them All? GyPSii CEO Dan Harple Talks Location Services, Open APIs & Cool New Ways To Record/Search The Real World On The Move

A cultural energy crisis?

Mark Fisher argued in Running on empty that I discovered in the New Statesman online that culture lacked the energy it had in previous decades: the noughties are encompassed by a sense of cultural deceleration. He argues that cultural changes were driven by technology and that these technologies gave cultures their indelible mark: what he calls a ‘technological rapture’ that is absent from present culture.

The present moment might in fact be best characterised by a discrepancy between the onward march of technology and the stalling, stagnation and retardation of culture.

He characterises the web in its ‘web 2.0’ incarnation as regurgitating older media forms and having a parasitic relationship on ‘old media’ forms and that web 2.0 encourages us to ‘behave like spectators’. That web 2.0 deprives cultural movements of a ‘laboratory’ to evolve before hitting the mainstream and the networked world provides us with a broadly homogenised culture. Fisher summarises that ‘that technology will not deliver new forms of culture all on its own’.

I think that Fisher’s rhetoric is first-rate, many of the assertions can be disproved (if we had a homogeneous culture, then why is Clear Channel’s radio business going through a long and lingering death spiral)?

I find his point about technology not delivering new forms of culture all on its own most interesting though as I don’t believe that it ever did deliver new forms of culture. It helped them certainly, but it is only one ingredient in cultural change.

The 1960s and the 1970s were as much about a new individual consumerism and a disillusionment with government as much as technological leap forwards. The acid house and rave movement, whilst influenced by cheap computing, digital samplers, MDMA manufacture and cheaper analogue synthesisers it was also influenced by the depressing soulless nature of the 1980s.

Secondly, I’d argue that technological innnovation is ‘lumpy’ at the moment there isn’t one ‘world changing’ paradigm shift recently. Recent ones would have been the ‘web, affordable jet travel, the contraceptive pill, colour television, desktop page layout software and the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Many of the energetic sub-cultures that Fisher describes had a similar parasitic nature on old media and cultures that he attributes to web 2.0. Jungle would have been nowhere without the Amen Break from the b-side to Color Him Father by The Winstons released back in 1969. Acid house pioneers saw a clear lineage between themselves and electronic music pioneers like Kraftwerk. House and garage were as much about recreating in electronic means the sounds of the Salsoul record label as they were about blazing a new trail. And I haven’t even mentioned Andy Warhol or the way rock music raped and plundered rhythm and blues.

Finally maybe cultural progress or energy has moved from being a linear track of occurrences: hippies -> progressive rock -> glam rock -> punk and disco -> new romantics -> rave to a massively parallel cultural shift as we can access and tune into Japanese music, Korean films and read about Finnish design in a moment-by-moment way that wouldn’t have been possible before?

Links of the day

Using Social Media in Brand Research by Per E Åsberg – brand management on cut-price evaluation

Pressroom 2.0

Iain Tait and the merry pranksters at Poke London have refreshed Orange’s virtual pressroom to bring it into the 21st century. Jessica Levco posted ten factors that she felt made an ideal modern pressroom.

  1. List contact information
  2. Make it easy to find
  3. Keep the URL short and simple
  4. Make press releases searchable
  5. Talk about your competitors
  6. Include a subscribe button
  7. Eliminate passwords
  8. Include copyright information
  9. Provide multimedia content
  10. List bios of key executives

I’d add to this list search engine optimisation to ensure that the pressroom can be found easily via Google. Atomise your content such as your image library on services like Flickr, preferably under a creative commons licence.

Any other suggestions?

Links of the day

Panasonic: Open-source smartphones are the future » VentureBeat – Panasonic is going to re-enter foreign mobile phone markets with new open source-based phones

LED TVs hit the market, but will they sell? » VentureBeat

Victoria’s Secret enters mobile commerce arena – Mobile Marketer – Commerce

Mobile Internet in China is about to heat up! | Digital China Guide

A.L.L. = Afghan Lessons Learned for Soldiers – interesting site by US servicemen looking to plug the knowledge gaps that US DoD training leaves. Using a blog platform for simplicity

Generation Mobile: Internet and Online Media Usage on Mobile Phones among Low-Income Urban Youth in Cape Town, South Africa

Social media reality check

Fake Reviews. Now now kids, play nice… at Malcolm Barclay

The Media Business: Seeing through the Haze Surrounding Websites, Blogs and Social Media

The Media Business: The Challenges of Online News Micropayments and Subscriptions

ICFF: Kikkerland’s Booth Becomes a Meal for Those in Need –

Microsoft calls off EU antitrust hearing over IE – Microsoft legal counsel accused EU of being inflexible in that they wouldn’t fit in around MS’ busy diary

Bloggasm » Anti-Starbucks filmmakers hijack the coffee company’s own Twitter marketing campaign

Cathay Pacific – Meet the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special – really nice bit of flash work that encourages you to play with the animation

LOLFATCATS – sharp humour

Total Telecom – Sea change at Nokia – interesting analysis of the Nokia business

I Like: Honda Worldwide | Not Found HTTP-404 error

Honda Worldwide | Not Found HTTP-404 error, originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.

Responses will be slow over the next few days, however I wanted to share this 404 page from Honda Worldwide. Rather than just an error message it has a bit of character to it. I love the way the Honda figure bowing in apology is wearing an assembly line uniform indicating that they pay the same attention to their website as their products.

Nice one Honda!

Pen pal 2.0

When I was a kid, I, along with with the rest of my primary school class had a pen pal. We learned about life in the US from students at an elementary school in Palo Alto. I learned what root beer, a peanut butter and a grape jelly sandwich and granola tasted like. I found out how exciting it was to play Pong and how much of a drag it was to go on a road trip to the Yellowstone national park. I was shocked to hear that girls played football and found out what it was like to go to an American football match. We fell out of touch when my pen pal went to summer camp one year, tweens are fickle that way.

My Mum has used cards and occasional letters to keep in touch with former work colleagues who she worked alongside 45 years ago in a manual telephone exchange as a operator in a small Irish market town. (In those days, you didn’t dial a number directly like you did today, an operator made the connection for you operating a series of peg boards and was also involved in parts of the billing through a docketing system. Now you can dial pretty much any number around the world from a cell phone in your pocket or the Skype software on your home computer).  Despite that they are now in North America and Ireland, the communications keep each other abreast of major life developments and kept alive the ties that bound them together as work colleagues sharing a shift roster all them years before.

Now being a pen pal is a more adult affair. Fear of peadophiles, multi-channel television stations and the immediate commications environment of the internet has reduced pretty much all the factors that made writing to a pen pal an attractive activity for kids.  If you were ten today, why communicate by letter when reality television allows you to see inside other people’s lives with your own eyes, you don’t need to wait a week or more for a letter you could chat to new-found friends on Club Penguin?

I went through the Wikipedia article on pen pals to see if I could find useful information to colour this posting with. I found out about the phenomena of prison penpals. In the US (and most other countries) penal systems, convicts don’t have access to internet communications, so the mail system, limited phone calls and visits are their only way of communicating with their contacts. Combine that with bad boy (or girl) charm and you can understand why prison pen pals has a niche appeal (the site design is effective if dated with mid 90s GIF clip art and MIDI melodies that go with profiles: most of them seem to be fans of the musical Annie and have ‘Its a hard knock life‘ as their profile music).

What does the demise of the pen pal mean that we will have a change in the kind of networks and the nature of networks that we have in the future in comparison to previous generations? I think that whilst we may have hundreds of social network friends, these networks are likely to be ‘looser’ than pen pal contacts, an exchange of letters has got to be a different interaction to wall postings and Facebook status messages.

Links of the day

A tough year speech by Harold Burson

Every Minute, Just About A Days Worth Of Video Is Now Uploaded To YouTube

Mainstream Gen Y isn’t Buying Into Web 2.0 |

How to create an awesome Twitter profile in Google Analytics | Blog | Econsultancy

Sony Ericsson could ditch best asset, the Walkman brand – Rethink Wireless – preparing the ground for a demerger from Sony?

UTalkMarketing – Why social media marketing gets the highest CTR rates

Kaixin001 v. Kaixin: Social Networking Goes to Court – China Journal – WSJ

In Mac vs. PC Battle, Microsoft Winning in Value Perception – Advertising Age – Digital

Why journalists deserve low pay |

Report: Smartphone Sales Up 12.7 Percent; iPhone Market Share Doubles | mocoNews – Counterfeiting of electronics moves online

Yahoo wants to objectify search – a web of things rather than a web of text

Information Arbitrage: Twitter is our id, Facebook is our Ego

I like: NTT DOCOMO SH-06A NERV handset

DOCOMO launched a new range of 19 handsets in Japan yesterday, one of which immediately caught my eye. The SH-06A NERV is made by Sharp for DOCOMO, but the anime fans amongst you will recognise NERV as being the organisation that runs the Evangelion mecha in the anime and manga series New Genesis Evangelion.

Docomo  SH-06 NERV phones

 The handset has a completely tricked out user interface and case design to reflect the series: a complete synergy between entertainment and mobile telecoms. In Europe we get palmed off with a nice wallpaper on a standard model phone screen, I love the trouble that NTT DOCOMO have gone to with this. You can find out more information at their press room. Thanks to NTT DOCOMO for the pictures.

Docomo  SH-06 NERV phones

Links of the day

Major Ad Campaign for Starbucks to Focus on Quality – – interesting campaign supporting social media campaigns with billboard adverts

Poor Wi-Fi Reception? Blame Baby Monitors

Advice in Interesting Times by Jerry Yang – a speech that Yang gave at the University of Hawaii

What’s happening in Japan right now?: TokyoBarCamp – I love the way the Tokyo Barcamp logo features the king of the monster movies Gojira (Godzilla) breathing a radioactive flame

apophenia: is Facebook for old people?

Web 2.0 Asia :: Playstreet lets you walk through Seoul’s hotspots – this is too cool for school

Facebook’s OpenID Goes Live

Why is measuring Lead Gen in Social Media so hard?

Seven Articles about Strategic Planning and Social Media

Corporate Social Media Teams Are Growing

Wired Struggles to Find Niche in Magazine World –

Springtime – Taxi Guides for China

ipadio – phonecast live to the World, any phone, anywhere – I hate the term phlogs – reminds me of flogging a dead horse, quite a neat service though

55 Ways to Get More Energy | Zen Habits

Japanese vending machine cafes are a recession hit | – machines reduce the need for waiting staff

The rebirth of the news business | Tossed by a gale | The Economist – The Economist on the state of the US news media business

AFP: Japan officials promote hip home – “Japan has been too quiet… and hardly made itself felt” on the world stage, he said, adding that anime and manga are “one of the few ways in which Japan can exert influence on other countries”. Or in other words, our army might only be allowed to defend the homeland but if you mess with us, we’re bringing Sonny Chiba, a posse of Gundam and Gojira (Godzilla) himself if need be

Creative Commons Releases Facebook App: Choose a License for Your Photos, Videos, and Status Updates – ReadWriteWeb

Linked Data is Blooming: Why You Should Care – ReadWriteWeb

ConvoTrack – great way of tracking conversations related to a given website.

PR 2.0: Reviving the Traditional Press Release

ZOOGAMI BEER – addictive site, very cool dynamic flash work which pulls content from around the web | Luxury Brands in China – some of the smoke-and-mirrors stuff in here makes me wonder about luxury brand longevity

3quarksdaily – Rise of the Nu Mohemians – interesting intro on how the mobile novel started off in Japan

Burger King: when great marketing doesn’t produce great results | Blog | Econsultancy

Measuring & Selling the Value of SEO for Public Relations | Online Marketing Blog

Red Cross builds communities with Flickr | Article | Homepage articles

3 Snapshots: No.1 Toyko. – 3 Snapshots – Tokyo – this happened back in March, but I seem to have missed it until now when I discovered it quite randomly.

Drilling Down – Social Networks Eclipse E-Mail –

Dell says Windows 7 price is possible barrier – CNET News – A Dell marketing executive says Windows 7 pricing is potentially an obstacle for Windows 7 adoption. What about all them bargain bucket buy a laptop adverts?

How Internet Content Distribution & Discovery Are Changing

Pay Walls Alone Won’t Save Newspapers –

Good design makes good PR

If you’ve read this blog for while you’ll know that I like nice things and write about them. In PR terms, the best stories often sell themselves.With the rise of the internet and modern search engines it is now easier than ever to find great design. I came across a classic example of this earlier in the month.

5.11 Inc are an American company who primarily sell clothing and supplies to law enforcement, military and military wannabes. They have been going for over 40 years and up to now haven’t made much of an impact outside the law enforcement sector. The name came from a US rock climbing term. At the end of April they launched a new LED torch aimed at the law enforcement market. Nothing unusual in that, these things get launched all the time.


5.11 Tactical light for life

However, smart industrial design set and a modicum of marketing smarts had 5.11’s Tactical Light for Life feted all over the internet from design blog NotCot to Wired magazine. The torch uses some smart electronics, powerful capacitors with ability to hold a large charge and go from flat to ready-to-go in 90 seconds. The torch has a light resilient plastic case meet military and law enforcement standards.

Good design makes good PR isn’t a new idea of course, from Marc Newson to Charles and Ray Eames reputations have built careers based on their product design work as a motif, but what the internet does is augment, amplify and accelerate the process by which good design makes good public relations. This is posted on my company blog dot comms.