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Archive for August, 2008

IKEA, not subtle

August 30th, 2008 91 comments

I came across this earlier in the week as I was walking home from work through downtown Boston. Very nice timing on IKEA’s part, since about 100k students are moving to Boston this weekend to start up the next semester.

The Lesson:

Innovative products, as well as good marketing, make you go home and tell your friends what you just saw.

How are you getting the word out about your business?

Categories: Project Rethink Tags: ,

21st Century Excuses

August 26th, 2008 34 comments

With changing technology and innovation, come new problems. This is more of a reflective post, but here are some trends that I have been noticing as new technology becomes available. This is a list of the top excuses and their 21st century counterparts. Enjoy.

10. My dog ate my homework.
“I got a virus”

9. I lost my keys.
“My battery was low and I lost my charger.”

8. My grandmother died.
“My grandmother’s computer died.”

7. I had the wrong conference room.
“The meeting had the wrong call-in number.”

6. It was lost in the mail.
“Did you check your spam filter?”

5. I gave it to… 
“What was your email address again? I think I sent it to the wrong person.”

4. I wasn’t home, I didn’t get your message.
“My phone has been acting really weird lately, I get really bad reception there.”

3. The library didn’t have that book.
“I tried, but it said the website was down.”

2. I went by your office, you weren’t there–Weird, I’ll come by again later.
“I sent you an email last night, didn’t you get it? Weird, I’ll send it again when I get back.”

1. I forgot.
“My calendar didn’t remind me.”

Some things never change.

For a running list of modern excuses, check out http://modernexcuses.com

Categories: Project Rethink Tags: ,

Cell Phone vs iPhone

August 14th, 2008 150 comments

Walt Mossberg recently spoke at the Aspen Idea Festival about a shift in the perception of cell phone technology. Specifically he spoke about the iPhone, and the iPhone 3G. I want to be clear, as was Mossberg, this is not about the savvy designers at Apple, or their elaborate marketing campaigns. Remove the brand “Apple” from the equation, and hardware becomes hardware.  Whether it’s a Treo, a Blackberry, or an iPhone; their hardware is all “basically” the same.  The real difference between the iPhone and these other devices is their software.

More of the same, then something new

The iPhone did something unique.  The iPhone really isn’t a cell phone, it’s not even a “Smart Phone”. Realistically, the iPhone is a computer with a fully functional OS Kernel, a development API, and a graphics core; it just happens to also make phone calls.  I’m not saying it’s perfect.  My iPhone makes mistakes–battery life being one of them, a few dropped calls. I am not one of those people who thinks Apple can do no wrong.  The Apple TV has yet to “get it right”.  They still haven’t figured out how to bring digital content from the Internet to the living room–nobody has.  But Apple did do something right, and creating a completely mobile platform for third-party developers was one of them.

Here is an excerpt from Mossberg’s presentation on why the iPhone matters:

So What?

It comes down to taking technology to the next level–reinventing from the ground up when necessary.  A lot of people think the iPhone was Apple’s first crack at the cell phone market, but many forget the MotoROKR, which failed miserably.  After the failure of the ROKR, Steve Jobs decided they would have to reinvent the phone.  This Wired article tells the impressive back story of the iPhone.

So you have to ask yourself the question, “Does this device make it easier for me to do more with less?” Apple recently told the Wall Street Journal the App store brought in close to $30 million in sales during its first month.  Because Apple takes 30% of revenue sales, that means close to $21 million was distributed to third-party developers.

The iPhone/iPod Touch not only brings more power to the consumers, but also gives developers a unique opportunity to create innovative applications for the mobile market.  How can your product have the same impact in your market?

Wikipedia meets video

August 4th, 2008 204 comments

As I am sure we all know, a wiki is a type of website that allows visitors to add, remove, and sometimes edit available content; the word Wiki is derived from the Hawaiian word for quick. Some very successful applications have developed around the “wiki” concept, Wikipedia, PBwiki, Wiktionary, just to name a few.  This idea was revolutionary at the time, but now a wiki is generally accepted and expected.

KalturaThe next step in wiki technology is found in a company called Kaltura. Kaltura is a great idea; bring wiki technology to video. But it’s not the idea that I want to write about.  Instead, I want to try and illustrate why I feel this idea is actually innovative. 

Why is Kaltura Innovative?

I’ve said countless times that our “boxes” prevent us from creating truly innovative solutions.  At some point in history the idea of a wiki was innovative.  Creating a wiki page that allowed users add video content might also seem innovative at first–but it’s not.  In this sense, our perception of a “wiki” has become the box.  Even though at some point that box was innovative, we can’t stay there; we have to move on.  

We see this problem a lot when we create a new piece of technology; let’s take wikis for example. Later down the road we take something else innovative like streaming video and try to create a mash-up of the two, somehow expecting that innovation + innovation = new innovation.  It seems like a breakthrough, but it’s not; it is just another iteration of wiki technology.  Innovation is not iterative.

It is important to realize what aspects made wiki technology innovative.  A wiki allowed a community of users to collaborate on one document. The purpose was collaborating on articles–collaboration towards a complete form of media.  Adding video to articles is not innovative because you are still producing the same result; only now the article contains video. But taking that concept of collaboration and adding it to the video itself; that is our next innovative leap.

We often get caught up in the idea of something and forget what its true purpose was.  The purpose of a wiki was to produce collaborative articles–not to allow users to add the newest form of media to a webpage.  That is where Kaltura sets themselves apart.

Kaltura allows a community of users to easily: remix videos and images, upload and import videos, add  soundtracks, add transitions, trim video clips, add effects, and more… Kaltura is about editing the actual media as a community, not just identifying various media sources and combining them on a single web page.  The same way a community of users produces an article on a wiki, Kaltura allows a community of users to produce video.

Kaltura is actively developing new tools for MediaWiki software, and earlier this year formed partnerships with Wikipedia.  It is very likely you will be seeing these tools more prominently in the apps we all know and love.