What does technology adoption really mean?

I have been spending a bit of time with the family over the Christmas period as the Carroll family CTO. Reading some of the statistics out there about technology adoption got me thinking whilst I was doing my role as CTO. In my role as family CTO I had my work cut out for me. My first task on Christmas morning was to recover their Apple ID so that the iPad could be used effectively.
Old 2.0

Their mobile communications needs pose a far thornier problem for me and I have been given some thought to my parents and their battered feature phones.

The problem that I have is that its getting increasingly difficult to get them the kind of phone that they want:

  • Focused on voice
  • Really simple-to-use SMS
  • Good haptic feedback (just like what real buttons do)
  • Something that can be easily locked
  • Something that can be obtained SIM-free
  • Something that is physically robust
  • Something that I can troubleshoot easily

It is a tough call. I have been down this route before. I gave them my old Palm Treo 650 a number of years ago and it got them thinking about digital photography, but it failed as a phone. It’s failures were:

  • Being too complicated
  • Providing too many choices
  • Having too confusing a keyboard

The software was also buggy as hell, but I could trouble shoot any problems they had from my memory of using it a few years before they got their hands on it. The Treo 650 eventually gave up the ghost as the family digital camera, to be replaced by the iPad. My friends who have managed to get their parents using Weixin/WeChat on a mobile phone are not particularly good case studies for what I need to do. There is an absolute unwillingness to have phones with a data package: it is hard for them to understand the vagaries of the mobile phone company tariffs; email is something that they can pick up at home. They never hit the wall on their data allowance from the ISP so it never occurs as a consideration to them.

There is also something about the iPad which means it is accepted as something different to a complex smartphone device and more accepted despite the similar pictures-under-glass interface.

Instead a market stall provided a Samsung feature phone with a late Series 40-esque interface which pushes the envelope in terms of my Dad’s comfort level using it. Meanwhile my Mum soldiers on with an old Nokia. My immediate gut reaction is to go to eBay and pick up something like the Nokia 225 or a Samsung Solid Immerse GT-B2710 for the both of them.

I know other people who have faced similar conundrums and have gone with a Windows Phone (it fails my spec because I wouldn’t be able to troubleshoot it for them), but the tiles front page presents what could be a senior-friendly experience in their eyes.  The shy and retiring Tomi Ahonen got hold of some Nokia data looking at phone activations and was both astonished and angry. Roughly a third of Nokia Lumia phones which went out form the factories were never activated. His theory was that a combination of high handset failure rate, unsold inventory from the messy switch over to Windows Phone 8 and possible channel stuffing might be involved.

I don’t know what might justify a 26 million handset short fall, but I could imagine an appreciable amount of them might be due to people using a smartphone as a feature phone. Not having a data plan, being perfectly happy for a phone to be a phone. Is a smartphone still a smartphone if its used as a feature phone?

Extending this analogy further, a large amount of ‘smart TVs’ are now being sold and being touted as the new, new thing in terms of internet eyeballs. Web TV isn’t particularly new as an idea, Combining the web in a TV format has been going since at least the mid-1990s when Steve Perlman founded what would later become MSN TV.

We know that a large amount of homes are buying TVs that are smart, but how do they use them? Are they just using them for the delivery of Apple TV like services; a cable box over IP or are they doing ‘lean forward’ activity one would expect of a smart TV like email, Facebook updates and the like?

I suspect most smart TVs are video delivery mechanisms and that’s pretty much it, are they then really smart? All of this may sound like semantics, but they could feed into the decisions of advertisers, in terms of platforms and creative execution. They are also likely to feed back into product management in the the consumer electronics sector, where TV makers enjoy (if thats the right word) razor-thin margins.

From an information security point-of-view, how would you explain to smart TV owners with ‘dumb TV’ usage patterns that their set may be at risk of being hacked and how they should spend money to protect themselves. A worst case scenario maybe a Sony Bravia (or other manufacturers for that matter) bot army of TVs may never be shut down because consumer apathy to the perceived security risk.

More information
Bizarre Stat of the Day: Microsoft (and Nokia) have only achieved 50M Lumia activations? Seriously? Out of 76M shipments? What happened to the other 26M? Seriously! Tossed into garbage by retail? | Communities Dominate Brands

Links of the day | 在网上找到

MPAA Considered Pulling Out of UK Pirate Notice Program | TorrentFreakBoth Vaizey and Luke felt that if notices only started going out in the months preceding the May 2015 general election that would be an unwelcome development. A delay on notice-sending until the fall of 2015 was preferred all round

Personal tracking and online identity – 31C3 – from the CCC conference watch this and have a serious think about the quantified self etc

Xiaxue.blogspot.com – Everyone’s reading it.: The Big Gushcloud Exposé – interesting Singapore blogger ad network spat

How the Graft Crackdown is Rippling Through China’s Economy | WSJ – (paywall)

The Battle for Space | Slate – really interesting overview of space technology

Apple expands its social presence with new iTunes Tumblr blog | 9to5Mac – social publishing

The tao of Lei Jun, founder of Xiaomi | Techinasia – interesting model and a bit of a dick

Morgan Stanley Analysts Try GoPro, Discover Their Lives Are Boring | WSJ – just brilliant (paywall)

Google eyes Android to be built directly into cars | Shanghai Daily – is it ready for this?

The ten most popular posts of 2014

First of all thank you for having visited my site this year, I thought I would revisit  what posts were most popular on here this year.

  1. The WhatsApp | Facebook post (part I) – On February 20, I woke up to find out that Facebook had acquired OTT messenger service Whatsapp for an apparently very large sum. I wrote two posts that day which tried to make sense of what was happening. I drafted the posts in a franchise Starbucks on the edge of the A41. If I had to sum up this post in one word it would be gobsmacked. You can read part II here
  2. Throwback gadget: Apple iPod hi-fi – my throwback gadget posts I write seem to do very well on an ongoing basis. I had a new old stock unit in storage which I brought out of storage and pressed into use when I moved back to the UK and wrote about what attracted me to this system. It seems to have a marmite reputation even amongst Apple fan boys
  3. The WhatsApp | Facebook post (part II) – part two of my analysis for the Whatsapp / Facebook acquisition came together later that morning after a Facebook and WeChat conversation with my friend Calvin Wong. I started to think about the why of the purchase in more detail
  4. Throwback gadget: Nokia E90 Communicator – Ironically for someone who maybe perceived for being digitally forward, I miss having a proper keyboard that I can still slip in a (Carhartt) jacket pocket. My ode to the E90 got picked up by Tomi Ahonen and the rest as they say was history
  5. On smart watches, I’ve decided to take the plunge – At the beginning of October I decided to experiment using a smart watch. This was the first of a couple of posts that outlined my thought process and what I found out through using the Casio G-Shock G+ watch
  6. Jargon watch: app constellation – I started off what I thought was a pretty straightforward post and got to be a bit of handful in the end. I went down the rabbit hole looking at the different app constellations rolled out by the worlds major internet companies. The research was manageable, but editing the HTML on the table turned turned out to be more of a handful than I expected
  7. The Apple Watch post – I stayed up to watch Apple’s messy online presentation of the Apple Watch. Whilst I was impressed by the technical expertise, I was unimpressed by the likely customer experience and was struck by the obvious ‘borrowing’ of design elements from Marc Newson’s Ikepod watch range of yore
  8. Garnier’s PS Cream campaign – Garnier’s advertising agency doing a classic PR hijack in China that shows the innovative environment of Chinese platforms and the blurring of lines of what PR actually means now
  9. My digital tool box – I was doing some work at the end of April and was struck by how many tools and hacks that I used to use in my daily work life were no longer available. I thought it would be a good idea to do a snapshot of the stuff I currently used for posterity. I hope to revisit it on a regular basis, we’ll see how it works out
  10. The Amazon Dash post – I am intrigued by new technology that seems to reject the icons-under-glass metaphor that seems to dominate convergence these days. Amazon Dash is a dedicated order-input device for Amazon’s grocery service in the US that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Braun product brochure from the 1970s

People that have made my year

2014 has been a year of disruption for me, here are some of the people who played a key part in it:

My Hong Kong partner-in-crime Calvin Wong who brought a wealth of expertise in measurement and analytics to our role at Burson-Marsteller and a great friend

My former colleague Emma Xu Meng lin, who has just started a new role at Landor Beijing, we learned a lot about WeChat as we set up and ran the CIVB WeChat account

My good friend and go to creative Stephen Holmes at Bloodybigspider. If you are looking for someone to deliver a challenge brief in a tight timeline, pick up the phone and give them a call

 Tom List at Sysomos who has put up with some of my annoying questions

My good friend Cecily Liu at China Daily, who is always a great source of intellectual discussion

My friend Becky McMichael over at Ruder Finn, and Alex Banks at Social Bakers, both of whom I caught with far too little

 

 

Merry Christmas

I hope that everyone who logs on to this blog, promptly logs back off again to have a restful and enjoyable Christmas break.
Muji Xmas