But No Button?

“How do you play it? There's no buttons.”

The button world is gone and it's not coming back.

The touch and wireless era has begun and they'll get more advanced so that one day, I can instinctively play Fifa or Madden on my mobile or tablet. Right now, a buttonless experience makes a game hard to play.

Fast forward a decade from now and anything computer operated, maybe besides elevators and household products (stuff that doesn't get updated as often) will lose the button.

Everything else will be touched, voice controlled or “sensed.” IBM predicts that a simple thought can produce an action. Think “turn on the lights” and your house will be programmed to do so.

The button is dying slowly. Your hand, mind, and voice are the controller. Long live the button!


Book Publishing Enters Myspace Era

The rift between writers and publishers is getting louder.

The writers argue that they can publish directly through Amazon and make physical books on demand.  They can even build their own fans and followers (aka potential buyers) on Facebook and Twitter for free.  Just ask Mark Cuban whom produced at an eBook and marketed it with a few Tweets.

The publishers counter that without their marketing expertise and global store distribution, the writers simply won't make it.

Both arguments are true.

There's going to be a huge number of book releases this year, just based on the ease of digital distribution.  Seth Godin believes the number will surpass 1 million.

In order to stand out in the long tail, writers will need to (1) either write something completely different, almost revolutionary, (2) sign up with a publisher that can reach into its bank and push the book into the front of stores, digital and physical.  Remember, a stores's “Picks of the Month” doesn't come free.  Or (3) have an an existing fan base of 10k (preferably emails) to sell to.

Of course, even getting the attention of a publisher is also difficult.  The book era is going through the Myspace stage, with so many authors that look attractive yet are really flaky.

The good news is that in writing books, your writing does most of the talking/marketing and doesn't depend on the way you look or how you sound.  Writers also have an advantage in being generally educated so if they had to learns the rudiments of business they could, unlike musicians that typically care about sound and the partying that surrounds it.

Generalizations aside, the best writers will still stand out from the pack.  Content quality is always key and will find an appreciative audience.

But until the book industry comes up with a universal format like the MP3, going direct like Louis C.K. is not an option.

3 Sure Bet Tech Products For 2012

Since everyone else is making predictions for next year I'd thought I'd list a few sure bets.

Below are three new products we'll see in 2012, starting with what I think will roll out first.

1. iPad 3

I know, I know, obviously. But this release will be thinner, faster, and take better photos and videos. It'll also be Siri enabled and include a couple cool tools to be included in the iPhone 5.

2. Google Tablet

This product comes out 2 months before Christmas 2012 and 6 months after the iPad 3. Google waits until the iPad 3 to allow it enough time to make software tweaks and adjust its marketing plan.  Don't put the cart before the horse.

3. Apple TV

This was Steve's last baby. We all now know he felt frustrated with the existing television set and wanted to revolutionize it like he did the music and mobile industries.  I'm not going to go into media convergence, but since everything's connected via Internet the iPhone, iPad, and iPod will be remotes.

Like I said, the above list are sure bets based on tech rumors.  It's a matter of timing.

2012: The Year For Social Refinement

Recapping Facebook and Twitter in 2011:

Facebook wants to be your cultural operating system, providing recommendations and serving as a platform for music, movies and news. Twitter has taken its initial lightweight design and begun to offer more windows of content, hoping to keep you tuned in for more than 140 characters.

Facebook and Twitter have moved beyond simplicity to stay hyper relevant. Some would even say they're RSS replacements.

2012 will see both networks fine-tune their platforms. Facebook will tweak its sharing so it's less spammy and more relevant while Twitter will make discovering trends and followers easier.

Given the big updates in 2011, 2012 will be a year for refinement.

The Password is Dead

Passwords are manual collections of forgotten memories.

Unless your passwords are automatically saved, your going to be very frustrated this morning buying a last second EGift card on Amazon or iTunes while also logging into Twitter, Facebook, and your bank's website.

There are three ways to solve the password burden, given each of these also has your credit card on file.

1. Log in through your social networking ID.
2. Log in through your device for unfettered access to all your accounts.
3. Log in through finger, eye, or voice scan.

#3 is the most secure but also the hardest to develop.

In the meantime, keep a password master list. But keep it safe and avoid putting it in the cloud.

Social Commerce Convergence

There is such a thing as social commerce, it just hasn't worked yet.

Part of the challenge is Facebook's reticence to support F-Commerce, leaving it up to retailers to guide the strategy while it focuses on ads.

Social games made by Zynga show that social users will give their credit card info on Facebook.

One way to make social commerce more compelling is through recommended gifts. Etsy shows you what products friends would be interested in based on their likes. This experience can replicated on Facebook.

Another way to promote social selling is by offering goods exclusive to social. If that same product is available everywhere, the trick to social gifting could be a special reduced price for those who get their friends to engage with the brand in some way (e.g. like the page). Social users devour rewards, even if it's a meaningless point or emoticon.

Three years ago, people wanted to keep their mp3 players and phones separate. Today, social users want to keep their social networking and consumer experiences separate. Five years from now, digital commerce and screens (TV, mobile, tablet) will be so interconnected it'll make no difference where the user checks out, in or out of social network.

Your Facebook account will be your Paypal ID, and vice versa.

From Services To Essential Hardware

Barnes and Noble got it right with the Nook, converting its brick and mortar stores into a digital eReader.

B&N learned the lesson from record stores like Virgin and Tower that if you're not building a piece of hardware with an integrated store your business will go extinct.

The same risk was at play for Amazon. Even with a digital store the hardware owners with integrated stores like iPhone and iPad still had the upper hand. The Kindle was therefore a natural succession in the digital service game.

We're seeing a similar shift in social. People are the equivalent of digital products, bought and sold by advertisers. Facebook is building a phone to maintain its social networking hegemony.

The real service in service companies whether it be Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, or Facebook is in the piece of owned hardware.

V Day Augmented Reality

Lacta Mobile App – English from LactaFilms on Vimeo.

Augmented reality is a digital visualization applied to physical objects.

Like a QR code, once something is scanned the mobile phone populates a new, unique image.

Many brands are experimenting with it to see if it creates more stickiness around products.

Expect to see more Valentines Day campaigns like this.

Twitter US Growth 2006 – 2009 (Visual)

Twitter hit mass first in its birthplace of San Francisco followed by Boston/NYC.

I bet we'll see a similar adoption diagram for Instagram given its SF base and its East Coast explosion.

I'm even more interested in seeing the adoption map of a social network (weibo) in China.

My guess is that all the adoption is on China's East Coast starting from the bottom at Hong Kong all the way up to Beijing.

Which city will be China's Silicon Valley?

Business Card powered by Blippar

If you want someone to remember you, give them a business card.  If you really want someone to remember you, give them a business card with augmented reality.

Like the above video, show a few different angles of expression. Start by showing what your company is all about whether that's a logo or latest product and then use one display for personal expression.  Remember to apply music.

No business card, no problem.  I presume mobile wireless info exchange (Bump hint hint) will have these extra content features embedded.

IBM Next 5 in 5: 2011

  • People produce energy
  • One password tied to your identity
  • Mind Reading
  • Digital Unity through mobile
  • Spam email to become relevant 

Listed above are the 5 digital developments forecasted by IBM over the next 5 years.  I crossed two off.

We just got Siri, which is tech's attempt to turn our wireless thoughts into handless actions.  Plugging technology to the brain so all you do is think into action is still Hollywood, not to mention an incredible health risk.

Receiving consistent relevant email will still take some type of manual curation.  Ads have become somewhat more relevant and people still never click those.

However, I do think natural energy, one password, and a thinning digital divide will occur because these are incipient trends today.

Ljung Lunges Out “Sound Will Be Bigger Than Video”

Sound is more than music.

Sound can be an everyday thought, and distributed with one click like a Tweet.

Sound reaches the emotional part of our brain.

Sound is parallel, we can listen while doing other things.

Because of these reasons, SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung argues, sound will be bigger than video.

SoundCloud is a useful tool.  Personally, I've used it to host my Music 4 Japan compilation (60+ tracks), for audio recommendations, and for celebrity interviews.

But I'd argue that people want a visual if they can get it, i.e. the combination of sound + motion.

Sound is something we pursue only when we don't have access to video, like being stuck in a car ride trying to catch your favorite team's football game.  The sound of the radio is all you got but if you were home or at a bar, TV would be the medium of choice.

I also would argue that pictures can be more compelling than sound.  Sharing a picture on Instagram tells a way bigger story than telling it through audio.

Unmuting the web with sound is another tool, not the predominant tool now nor in the future, for sharing entertainment and experiences.

2011: The Year of Mobile

Mobile took over the world in 2011 but people also had their first taste of tablets.

As I wrote yesterday, the future hot gadget will be a mini tablet with a built in phone.  Apple is leading this hardware development while Amazon tees up its own mobile deals.

The two companies will essentially produce the same mini tablet concept; one major difference being that Apple is retrofitting the iPhones slick retina screen display for all its products.

The only pieces holding the computer era together is the keyboard and complete Internet experience.  Soon enough the only piece of hardware you'll need is the one that fits into your hand and pops open an augmented keyboard.  Cool, huh?

7-inch iPad

The first thought that popped into head when I touched the Kindle Fire was that Apple must make a smaller version of its tablet but bigger than its iPhone.

Looks like that thought may come true.

The iPad is made for videos.  The Kindle Fire is made for reading.  A cheaper 7 inch iPad retina is the next logical iteration, despite Steve Job's wishes.

There should always be the larger screen option.  Not everyone wants portability.

Don't be surprised if the 7in iPad is also a phone.