PC Industry Fights to Adapt as Tablets Muscle In

Like the mainframe, which was said to be dead decades ago but has remained a meaningful business, the PC will almost certainly cheat death. True, mobile devices like the iPad will continue to gore PC sales. Those mobile devices, though, will most likely never satisfy spreadsheet masters, film editors and other workers who depend on multiple screens and the precision of a keyboard and mouse.

The PC as we know it will continue to hang around mostly for workers that need to customize docs and edit professional video and images.

But it’s also clear that tablets predominantly for consumption will adopt PC work capabilities. The hybrid tablet with PC-like usability is the future. Only then do PCs “become something like trucks.”

Screen Hopping, The Endless Itch For Attention

The remote control and mobile phone have turned us into bored content hunters. We flip channels and websites hoping to find something that excites us.

Such rapid hopping makes another person crazy. Indecision creates frustration.

There’s simply too much choice on TV and the Web. Without a plan we scan content until we stumble upon something that grabs our attention. The final destination may be sports, music, movies, or the news.

The TV and second screen can compete for attention or be complimentary. Just last night I watched US play Brazil while keeping an eye on game sentiment on Twitter. Other times I’ll use the TV simply as background noise and the mobile or desktop screen as my primary focus.

Whether it’s one screen or two, browsing the TV or the Internet from our coach is an inescapable process. There’s too much content clutter that to our advantage/disadvantage can be viewed quickly.

Sometimes turning everything off to be happy is the only choice.

First Instagram, Then Twitter: Breaking News On Instagram

Instagram is for art. Instagram is for daily status updates. Instagram is also a news breaker.

Instagram is real-time just like Twitter.

In fact, Instagram precedes Twitter (No wonder Jack Dorsey wanted to buy it).  People are pulling out Instagram to document the story and then syndicating it to Twitter and other social networks.

People are taking on to Instagram to break news for 3 reasons:

  1. The Instagram app is fast.
  2. Community.  50 million users since we last checked.
  3. Beautiful stories.  As documented lately on the Instagram blog.

Twitter is for text.  Instagram is for images.  Facebook is for archiving and reliving experiences.

And Pinterest for the display.


Is the airport a social network?

The airport may be the world’s biggest/smallest physical social network. The hubs in Atlanta, Heathrow, and Munich bring people from all across the world, speaking the same language in design.

Airport signs and rules are the same everywhere. You can figure out where you need to go just by following the terminal numbers. You can also ghost the herd of passengers and not talk to anyone.

Airports are symbolic of our online social lives: massive, interconnected and universal places where we’re surrounded by potentially thousands of similar interests. Yet we stick to our tribe, keep an eye on our feeds of people we’ve never met.

That’s what makes me so excited about ambient networking apps like Highlight. We can meet new people simply by being near them in reality, uniting physical and digital worlds.

Today, we connect through screens. Tomorrow we could connect through real audible conversations and shake hands. Face to face relationships is more valuable than ever because the Internet is making them scarce.

Silent networking is ok too. We can connect to a global audience on Instagram through an image which says a thousand words. But it’d be nice on occasion to ask someone like @juunn or @finn how they take excellent photos. Connecting in a lengthy conversation through Instagram is hard.

Google+, maybe?

Eugene Polley, Wireless Remote Inventor

Eugene Polley enabled us to watch TV from the couch and bed, flipping channels, muting sound and turning the TV off with a push of a button.

What’s most interesting about his invention is that It was promoted as an ad canceling device.

You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen. (link)

Today, we set the DVR using the remote control to skip through ads.

The remote is powerful because it gives people the ability to customize their TV viewing experience without interruption. As I wrote yesterday, right now we’re still seeing a manually operated social world.

While the iPhone remote is naturally in our hands it makes it even more difficult to silence the noise. Status posts can be just as annoying to the experience as irrelevant commercials.

Instead of editing, how about one button that turns all social channels off so we don’t get bombarded by push notifications, nor will we have tendency to check our feeds.

We need a wireless social remote like we did the TV remote where all broadcasts can silenced with a touch of a button.

Facebook, Just Like American Soccer

Curiosity and experimentation create innovation.

Innovation gets rewarded, at its peak today with the Facebook IPO.

But Facebook’s innovation all seems kind of robotic. Nothing truly innovative has really come out of Facebook the last couple years. All its innovation is copied (e.g. check-ins) and brought to its masses or simply bought.

Questioning the modus operandi is not in Facebook’s blood. It reminds me of an article I read this morning about an American soccer playing trying to make it in Brazil.

As we spent the next hour taking turns at bending kicks at an imaginary target, I was amazed at how enthusiastic he was about all the ways to strike the ball. The curiosity he had was startling. While I ran extra drills to sharpen certain movements, young Brazilians were always thinking of new moves that nobody had seen before. And because of that constant exploration, they never got tired of the game.

The key to success is doing the everyday things well but more importantly trying new stuff with enthusiasm. Boredom and emulation are the enemy.

Apple and Google enjoy the beautiful tech game more than Facebook. They are thinkers and pioneers bettering the world through product and interconnectivity. Facebook’s thinking is stale.

The real value in Facebook is having fun and acting unpredictably creative. And that starts with thinking differently.

Pinterest: International By Nature

Images are languageless.

With its masonry layout Pinterest turns images into stories. The layout of the board is just as important as the images in it.

Pinterest will expand outside the US faster than Instagram mainly because it’s less focused on original content and more focused on curation and sharing.  The “Pin it” button also feels like a piece the web browsing experience, as does Twitter on mobile.

Pinterest still needs some mobile work.  Right now an image pinned on the mobile browser redirects you to its app where it’s difficult to pin and credit the source.  All editing occurs on the desktop.

The Internet is a pinnable copy-paste machine. And the world could be Pinterest oyster.

Sit back and watch it grow.

Facebook Fortitude

Word on the street says that mobile threatens Facebook’s future. The mobile screen is way smaller and difficult to insert ads without disrupting the whole user experience.

The Facebook app is janky as it stands with bugs and slow response. That needs to get fixed first. One thing that Instagram taught all app developers is that speed is key to growth. No one wants to wait to see content. Instagram starts uploading user images even before the filter gets selected.

But have no fear, Facebook will figure it out. Zuckerberg feels the heat and is fiercely persistent. He’ll keep adding companies to his portfolio until he figures out how to create the ultimate mobile experience that keeps advertisers on board.

Every time we doubt Facebook it proves itself again. It could disappear one day like MySpace but we should remember that it still has Instagram just like Microsoft has the Xbox. It also knows more about us than our parents.

Facebook has enough manpower to come up with innovative solutions for its users and advertisers. There’s no quit.

People love to hate Facebook and use it at the same time. That part won’t change.

Public’s Public

When we look back at Facebook we’ll have to congratulate it for opening up interest based networks that were reserved for early adopters and niche interests.

Now the only way for startups to scale quickly is to enable sharing activity to Facebook. But not everyone likes this strategy, especially the users.

As soon as Instagram sold out its most passionate users went nuts. How could something so cool, creative, and expressive sell to a behemoth? The same thing almost happened to Foursquare in 2010 and most likely will happen to Pinterest if it keeps it’s pace.

But the main reason people dislike Facebook absorption is mass. Networks like Instagram and Quora were public networks without feeling public. One could post content ‘anonymously’ and grow a tribe outside his or her friends.

As soon as Facebook intervenes users get disturbed. Don’t users want to grow their follower base with the inclusion of Facebook friends? Not really.

As a network, scale is the priority. As a user, niche expression and the feeling of uniqueness are priorities.

The user friction between mass and special interest networks is still overhyped. The best products get recognized and swallowed. And the users keep using.

Forcing Artist Productivity in the Interconnected Era

There’s an expectation today that artists must produce faster and release more content to stay relevant.

If you’re an author, you need to write 2 books a year instead of one and maybe a manifesto or novella on top of that. If you’re a musician, you’re expected to make an album, an EP, and drop a couple Internet singles in a year. The relentless demand for productivity goes on.

Daily communication via Twitter is another demand on artists. Fans want to interact and get the inside scoop. Some writers like Seth Godin maintain a daily blog to keep fans entertained.

Today fear drives an artist’s work. If an artist stays silent too long the risk is irrelevancy. There’s always new authors and endless forms of Internet entertainment that will make people forget. Artists are also competing with amafessionals that release stuff for free. And some of the content is pretty good.

Art is judged on productivity. There’s simply too much noise to be the old fashioned reclusive artist that ships once every decade. There will always be respect for scarcity and quality for masterpieces but artists must have some type of other presence whether it’s blogging or on Tweets. It comes down to this: Hyper-productivity keeps an artist relevant so fans and new followers will buy more stuff.

Over-Sharing, the New Mass Marketing?

Frictionless sharing is the new mass marketing. We’re sharing all our actions across social networks in Facebook’s real-time ticker.

It may not be the TV commercial or radio ad, traditional mass marketing, but frictionless sharing feels just as invasive and annoying because it’s in our faces and happening all the time.

You can’t log in to Facebook without seeing one friend reading the Washington Post social reader app, one friend listening to a tune in Spotify, and one friend pinning on Pinterest. I’m super guilty of all three.

All the sharing screams at you to participate by either clicking on a post in the feed or getting in on the action and sharing the crap out of your own stuff. Frictionless sharing is great when you’re not on Facebook.

Yesterday Quora announced its foray into Facebook’s Timeline. Every vote or new response on Quora shows up in your feed. I won’t do Quora to my Facebook friends.

First of all, Quora is an educational social network in which people engage on true interests, some of them super nerdy and super niche. My friends won’t care and nor will I want to share my Quora engagement with them.

Images, music, and movies are all ok in my book to share automatically on Facebook. They are entertainment consumption. Quora is educational entertainment for the curious but its content is just different.

We really need to reexamine the incessant need to plug all our web actions into the social hub that is Facebook. Frictionless sharing is social media’s version of mass marketing.

An App Within An App

The Facebook app store is a logical next step to organize the hundreds of apps that plug in to Facebook.

In order to access the apps like a Spotify or a Pinterest though you have to have to first download those iOS apps through the iTunes app store.

The strategy here must be stickiness and more sharing and awareness for Facebook apps, kind of like what the Washington Post social reader has done.

Facebook wants to become your operating system. Unfortunately Facebook rises on top of mobile phone operating systems iOS, Android, and Windows. It doesn’t own the hardware nor the software, the starting user platform.

This is why Facebook will build its own phone and mobile software.

I don’t see the day I’ll login to Facebook just to use Instagram, Spotify, or any other entertainment apps. Those apps live by themselves and share my experiences to Facebook. I may use Facebook to view that content however.

Until Facebook creates its own phone and operating system, apps within it are simply an app within an app on an iOS or Android platform. It needs a native environment with app exclusivity.