JUNE 2012

  • HEY GOOGLE…BLOW MY MIND

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

    1 Comment

    It’s day one of Google’s I/O conference and developers from around the world who work on top of and around some of Google’s hottest assets (YouTube, Chrome, Maps, TV, Android and so many more.  In short….a really concentrated mass of geeks) gathered in San Francisco.

    My only ask of the day was for Google to blow my mind…..and after sitting down this evening to catch up on the day’s activities, mission accomplished:

    1. Android – with mobile being so close to my heart and soul, this was obviously something I was looking forward to.  They jumped the competition in voice recognition, added offline capabilities to Google Maps, added in location awareness and mobile logic capabilities (as I’ve been hoping for), enhanced the usability of widgets and home screen layouts, re-invented notifications and probably most importantly…..made more efficient use of those really powerful processors to make Android more responsive with Project Butter.
    2. Google Play – In what was a somewhat under-hyped portion of today, the Play store saw some significant updates moving even more of the content we all consume into a cloud-based iTunes eating infrastructure.  Magazines and TV Shows were added to the list but I would have to say the fact that you can now update/delete apps over the air probably stole the show for me.  For those who haven’t seen it yet, pushing an app from the cloud to your phone is cool, managing updates and deleting completes the experience
    3. Nexus 7 Tablet – in what many are calling the Kindle Killer, Google announced their $200, 7″ tablet.  With the power of the Play store behind it, you can definitely see some real potential with this…..will getting the OEM bloatware off the devices make this tablet shine?
    4. Nexus Q – interesting….not sold on the price point yet ($299).  This snazzy device gives you the ability to stream content from your device into your stereo system and the ability to watch videos on your TV.  Apple’s step forward in DLNA technology with “AirPlay” was definitely the right direction, this seems to have some promise as well….oh, did I mention that it also connects to the  Play store??  Seeing a theme here?
    5. Google Glass – in what was a surprise today, Sergey Brin popped up on stage to give an impromptu (yet staged), yet awesome demo of Google Glass.  We got to see a live hangout being conducted by a few sky divers floating above the Moscone Center in an airship. Before you knew it, they were jumping out of the blimp headed toward the roof top, taking you along for the ride.  From their safe landing atop Moscone, they handed a package off to some stunt bikers who JUMPED a gap in the building and met up with some guys who took the package and RAN DOWN THE SIDE of the building.  Waiting with open arms were two more stunt bikers who rode through the lobby and on to stage, handing Sergey the package containing a Google Glass prototype (that they announced would be available for developers in 2013 for $1,500 (watch the entire video here)

     

    For obvious reasons, the Google Glass demo stole the show.  That kind of showmanship always gets my attention and was a cool way to wake the audience up and show them the product in action.  As a mobile geek…..the subtleties of this demonstration are what got me excited.  Seeing these things in action in a real scenario with real people in the real world was interesting and I started to see a true connection as alternative modes of communication (Google+ Hangouts/video chat) and this revolutionary hardware come together.  Am I fearful that text messaging and circuit switched voice calls are headed the way of the dodo bird?  Can the current carrier mentality meet the demands of new age devices like this??

    Not yet…..but soon enough.  I can remember my first trip to NYC as a kid.  There were businessmen in suits running all over the place with these huge bricks sucked up to their ears, SHOUTING to someone on the other end.  The next time I went out there (after college) it was the urban hipsters walking with their heads down…not staring at the pavement but at their keypads, vigorously typing away at their keypads sending text messages to others like them.  Last time I went (a year ago), EVERYONE was staring into the screen of their iPhone.  Taking pictures, Tweeting, checking for places to eat, getting directions and every once in a while….making a phone call.  The world is changing and these glasses look crazy, but what I saw today blew my mind.  As a carrier, we need to be ready to support the ULTRA bandwidth needs of the future….because it’s coming.

    And…..that was day ONE folks.  Tomorrow should be full of more fun!  Check it out live if you have time to spare.

  • TEAM BUILDERS…NOW ACCEPTING CREDIT!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech

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    You can fault my company for a few things, but we have outings at Kauffman Stadium down to a science…  The marketing group takes it upon themselves to get everyone out to the K for a good time at least once a summer.  Thanks to a few passionate individuals, this event generally goes off without a hitch including but not limited to:  tickets to the game, parking lot games, wonderful tailgate food, BYOB and all of the sunburn you can handle.

    As long as I’ve been in the corporate environment, when you don’t have a vendor sponsoring something, it’s on your own dime.  I don’t have a huge problem with this at all….as long as we have good participation and a great time (fortunately, I have a bunch of like-minded co-workers and a day off doesn’t hurt either)

    I can easily donate $20 toward the cause of supplying all of the above, but I NEVER CARRY CASH!  I’m not sure what took us so long, but we finally decided to grab the Square Reader off of my shelf, plug it into a phone and use that to collect payment from co-workers.  We quickly found there were a LOT of benefits to this:

    1. People paid – Much like me, people just don’t carry a lot of cash.  Aside from that, there is a novelty to this new method (I’ve yet to find a person who isn’t completely FASCINATED by Square…it’s fun to watch your payment go through on a mobile phone)
    2. We could track payments – It can be a bit overwhelming when people run by your cube to drop off payment…keeping the cash straight and crossing them off of the list turns into a chore
    3. We aren’t worried about cash laying around – not that I don’t trust all of my co-workers…..but some times a few hundred dollars in pure cash is just too tempting.

     

    This is our first experiment with this, but so far I don’t see a reason to not do this (aside from the 2.75% fee…but we went ahead and passed that on.  No one seems to mind).  It’s amazing how slow to adopt new technologies we can be at times.  It could be the fact that we’re too close to it all to put the utility into practice, but I always try to push the envelope when it comes to “eating our own dog food.”

    Have you tried Square yet??  No?  Go download the app (Android OR iPhone)….they’ll send you a reader for FREE

  • INSTAGRAM ENABLES OTHERS TO MAKE THEM BETTER

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech

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    I’ve been enjoying Instagram for a while now…but was struggling with how to get the most of them.  Everyone I know enjoys framing up really creative and artistic looking prints, but how can you enjoy them in the physical world??

    I stumbled upon this post on Gizmodo the other day and decided to spring for some Instagram magnets from StickyGram (Use the code FRIEND60NX to get a discount!)…..they turned out AWESOME (seriously, go click the link and buy some)!  $15 and a few days patience waiting for an envelope from London….. [BAM!!] beautiful new magnets for my metal appliances.

    What I’m fascinated by is the growing trend of these innovative companies like Instagram opening up their business for other entrepreneurs to build on top of them.  Instagram obviously has something amazing with their product but couldn’t they pull off a “store front” to sell things like this?  Why on earth would they allow these other companies to profit on top of their business?

    Instagram (like many other newer app developers) have opened up their “API‘s” for other companies to build on top of.  As they put it on their Developer Site:

    The first version of the Instagram API is an exciting step forward towards making it easier for users to have open access to their data. We created it so that you can surface the amazing content Instagram users share every second, in fun and innovative ways.

    Build something great.

    That last statement is a reflection of the genuine culture of the new age developer.  It’s less about protecting your brand at all costs and more about seeing what others can do to extend and grow your capabilities beyond what you alone could have imagined.  Is your brand protecting something that could be much more valuable in the hands of other innovative people?

    As a bonus….anyone want to go in on one of these with me and work a few weddings on the weekends??

  • APPLE MINT OLD FASHIONED

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Cocktails

    4 Comments

    I came home today with a thirst for an old fashioned but was COMPLETELY out of oranges….  OH NO!!

    All was not lost, I decided to put a twist on my favorite cocktail.  To the cabinet for the Maker’s Mark, a couple mint leaves from the deck and a lone apple from the fridge.  The rest is history.

    It’s just as refreshing as a crisp apple and cools to the core on a hot summer evening….

    Ingredients:

    • 2 slices of fresh apple (pick your poison…I went with a fuji)
    • 2 apple mint leaves (one goes in the drink and one for garnish)
    • 1 tbsp demerara syrup
    • 2oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon (hey….this 1.75 isn’t going to drink itself!)
    • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

     

    How I did it:

    1. Add apple slices to sturdy mixing glass, muddle until sufficiently juiced
    2. Add one mint leaf and muddle gently (you don’t want the mint to overpower this drink…just accentuate the apple)
    3. Add in the demerara syrup, bourgon and bitters
    4. Add ice cubes and stir until sufficiently cold
    5. Strain into appropriate glass over an ice sphere (important…that apple and mint won’t look pretty mingling in your drink)
    6. Garnish with apple wheel and mint leaf
    7. DRINK/enjoy!
  • DID JUSTIN BIEBER MAKE THE CD COOL AGAIN?

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech

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    As mentioned in a previous post….I’m a big fan of Augmented Reality.  There are a lot of cool applications of the technology, but I’m most impressed with companies who use it to allow users to interact with objects that are normally inanimate.

    My lovely wife came home from Target today really excited because the new Justin Bieber CD launched (yes, she’s 30 and LOVES Justin Bieber….that’s a problem I don’t have time to get into).  As she tore it open to listen to the contents of the packaging, I noticed they were promoting an interaction with the blippAR application.

    I grabbed my trusty smartphone and sure enough….there was Justin Bieber delivering a message, thanking my wife for purchasing his newest album.  In addition to that, you can buy concert tickets and even take pictures using your smartphone camera that super-impose Justin looking longingly into your friends’ eyes.

    Cool implementation, for sure…but I have a couple of issues:

    1. I don’t feel like  the content was rich enough to be meaningful.  BlippAR only recognizes the front of the album and even that is limited in functionality.  If driving purchases to physical channels is truly a key strategy of the Record Labels, they have a LONG way to go before this becomes something people stand up from their computer and walk into a store to purchase.
    2. It wasn’t easy to find….a geek like me noticed the blippAR integration but my wife sure as heck didn’t know it was there.  Would this be something a teenage girl would take the time to play with? (this is obviously a challenge for the AR community in general)

     

    Overall…cool integration of AR.  Keep innovating Bieber.

    image image image

  • WHAT THE HECK IS PRODUCT MARKETING??

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Life Lessons, Marketing Brilliance, Mobile Tech

    4 Comments

    I spent some time with my Mom and Dad over the weekend to celebrate Father’s Day.  Over a nice spicy meal of Thai food we had some great conversation (as always).  My brother brought up a story from earlier in the week where our Mom was proudly telling a friend about her 4 boys and their career paths to date:

    Micah (the youngest) is currently in college at the University of Nebraska and is interning in Haiti.  Through the sweltering heat, he’s helping out with service projects, pitching in a spare hand as needed and teaching young children the meaning of life (I can’t think of a better person to do this…)

    Kyle has personally invested in TENS OF THOUSANDS of $$$ into professional video/photography equipment (including his latest pride and joy….an EPIC RED).  He currently ‘resides’ in Boston but is on location filming a small independent film in Maine before shipping out this September for another in Australia.

    Ryan spends his days (and currently nights) managing business development, sales and marketing for my cousin Jake’s private security company.  He’s currently busy looking over the $40K plus in accounts he sold for the College World Series in downtown Omaha, keeping visitors from all over the U.S. safe as they enjoy some college baseball.  In addition to his day job he spends 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks a year operating the famed UH-60 (or as his bumper sticker would read…I’d rather be flying my Black Hawk)

    Erik…….works for Sprint.

    I’m not offended Mom, in fact, I’m glad you brought this up.  No one understands Product Marketing.

    I am extremely proud of my trade.  Not only is it exciting, interesting and EVER changing….it’s a function that gives me exposure to everything in the product life-cycle (innovation, market sizing, business development, business modelling, segmentation, customer research, distribution, media/advertising and more….)

    As animated in the chart above, my interpretation of Product Marketing is a role that manages the product life-cycle based on WHY your company exists to help achieve the goals of your business.  It’s a revolving cycle that starts and ends with the customer:

    1. Insight:  can come from either your customer or the industry.  In many cases, when improving on an existing product, your current customer behavior will tell you a lot of what you need to know….  However, Henry Ford knew that simply asking your customers what they wanted wouldn’t always produce a meaningful insight (Faster Horses anyone??).  The real gotcha in industry insight is that there are THOUSANDS of innovations….which ones really align to your business goals and have an addressable market??
    2. Brand Strategy Alignment:  Who do you want to be when your brand grows up?  Believe me, there are thousands of vendors out there who know exactly WHAT you should be doing…..do you know WHY your brand exists and does the product capability in question align to that?  We could sell candy bars in Sprint Stores and make a bunch of money…but we don’t and there’s a reason.
    3. Market Sizing/Business Case:  So you have an innovation that aligns perfectly with your brand…..will it stick?  Sizing up the market and understanding the opportunity is a beautiful exercise that allows marketers to stretch their mathematical wings.  You have finite resources and making sure you use them properly is key (why do you suppose Apple hasn’t produced a car yet?)
    4. Product Development/Commercialization:  Once you’ve decided you have something that’s truly going to line customers up at the door, how do you develop it (internal development?  vendor selection?) and how do you launch it (have you finalized that 4P plan yet)?
    5. Customer Usage & Behavior:  Once you’ve done it all and you have “happy” paying customers, it’s key to start thinking about the next cycle…  What should version 2.0 look like?  Did this actually solve the original problem?  Is there a new problem that I need to solve? etc…

     

    Even the short version is a bit long-winded, but it’s an important function for any company to understand (large or small….service or tangible product) and I’m VERY passionate about making sure it’s implemented properly (the future of your business depends on it).

    So Mom…next time someone asks, you can tell them your son works at Sprint and has the daunting task of sorting through the thousands of tech enabled innovations, bumping them up against customer needs and finding the best mix of wireless services and apps that will help Sprint retain and acquire customers into the future.

    Or…..you can just call it like it is:  Erik’s a mama’s boy starved for attention with talented over-achieving brothers to compete against.

  • APPLE’S NEXT KILLER APP…

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech

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    I have been catching up on some Apple news today RE: the iOS 6 announcement.  After reading a few reviews I saw some common themes popping up:

    • “finally, a re-imagining of the Phone app, Apple does it again!”
    • “Facebook integrated directly into my iPhone???  Brilliant!” (BlackBerry circa 2006??)
    • “Maps, on a phone??  WHAAAAA???”
    • “Siri…that might actually work as advertised?”
    • And more common “Apple is losing focus, will they be able to pull all of this off?”

     

    All joking aside, there were two fairly massive announcements today.  Passbook, probably the most novel approach to mobile commerce to date and the fact that LOCATION base presence is being integrated into a few more apps.

    I wrote a post last week talking about Microsoft’s dive into mobile logic with on{x}.  In true Apple fashion, they promptly one-upped Microsoft’s science fair project with some simple uses of location data into a lot of core applications:

    Phone Calls

    • When ignoring a phone call, you can have it remind you “when you leave” (handy for ignoring a phone call from your boss in a noisy bar on a Friday afternoon)
    • You can have it remind you when you get home (a great way to remember to call Mom after ignoring her at 2:3o during a meeting)
    • You can even have it remind you when you get to the office (a good one for that pesky 8pm call from an anxious partner on the west coast)

     

    Passbook

    • When arriving to a movie theater, your iPhone will automatically bring up tickets you purchased for the movie
    • When arriving to the ball park, your iPhone will automatically pull up your baseball ticket
    • When arriving to the airport your iPhone will automatically pull up your boarding pass and even tell you if your gate has changed

     

    Maps

    • Your iPhone is now providing “anonymous, real-time and crowd-sourced” location data to the cloud to make sure traffic congestion data is as accurate as possible…maybe quickest routes in the near future?
    • Siri now integrates some fun and quirky comebacks while in a navigation session “Siri, are we there yet??”

     

    Obviously this isn’t a complete list….just some of the observations I could glean from the transcript today.  Surely Apple recognizes the power of context and presence, hopefully they have the good sense to open it up to the development community to see what else can be imagined.

    Now…..about that battery that can last a month on a single charge………

  • THE BROWN DERBY

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Cocktails

    3 Comments

    In my ongoing quest to taste the best cocktail on earth I came across the PDT book by Jim Meehan (thanks to my friend Mark!).  For those who don’t know, Please Don’t Tell is a speakeasy in New York City located in the phone booth of a hot dog shop (that sounds strange….but it’s real and you should go there).

    Tonight’s replica (not an original like my earlier post) comes compliments of the Hollywood Cocktails lounge and was created in the 1930’s.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. Maker’s Mark
    • 1 oz. Grapefruit Juice
    • .75 Honey Syrup

     

    How I did it:

    1. Grab a cocktail shaker (when to shake and when to stir…)
    2. Pour ingredients into shaker (I squeezed my grapefruit fresh…only because I happened to have one)
    3. Add ice, shake vigorously (make sure you use good ice…shaking should be abusive!)
    4. Strain and pour into an appropriate glass (I don’t have a coupe, so I just went with my modified martini glass)
    5. Enjoy

    I’m digging this drink….definitely can taste the honey in it and it’s extremely refreshing.  I’m also a firm believer in the fact that you can’t mess up a cocktail as long as you are pouring Maker’s Mark!

    Cheers!

       

  • MOBILE LOGIC

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Mobile Tech, Other Cool Stuff...

    2 Comments

    Microsoft this week announced a cool new project that came out in beta called on{x}.  While this isn’t the first application to apply “If __ then __” logic to mobile (check out the winner of the ORIGINAL Android developer contest:  Locale), it definitely strikes me as a step forward and validation of mobile logic to automate tasks .  The interface is minimalistic (similar to other Microsoft projects of late*), fairly simple to learn and easy to apply some basic rules to your daily life in a few different ways:

    Basic:  Show me the weather the first time I unlock my phone every morning

    Advanced:  Automatically launch the music application when I’m driving

    Custom:  (possibilities are endless here….as long as you can write a little java script) Automatically check into my favorite restaurant when I’m eating there….I really want to become the mayor but I keep forgetting to use Foursquare!

    Much like it’s predecessor, it’s very cool, but I’ve found the app to be a little impractical due to the impact on your battery life (over 15% of my battery consumption throughout the day….unacceptable).  While that is a concern now, I fully believe that some sort of modified “Moore’s Law” in battery tech will bring us batteries that last a month (probably longer)…..

    When concern over running processes are a thing of the past, how will your mobile lifestyle adapt to the “always on” capability of functions like GPS, Network, Barometers, Thermometers, Accelerometers, Gyroscopes, DLNA, Biometrics and more???

    What if:

    -Your devices could sense other connected devices around you and elegantly pop messages/phone calls/information to that connected device (i.e. pop up a text message in the corner of your big screen)

    -Your devices could detect the presence of other people around you (i.e. you have a friend over, so don’t pop that text message because it has sensitive information)

    -Your devices could tell you about that person sitting next to you, how you know them, people you both know, similar interests, what you talked about the last time you sat on this couch

    -Your devices tell your house that you’re not coming back any time soon so it locks the doors, shuts off the lights and arms the security (but turns on a light inside and flips on the TV when it detects an un-recognized presence outside)

    -Your devices could sense that it’s 6:30, you haven’t checked into a restaurant or grocery store and the fridge at your house is telling it that it has no food…..you need to hit the store pronto!

    The possibilities are endless and it’s interesting to watch Microsoft start to dive into this space…..what would you do if your device could provide some menial intelligence and automate certain parts of your life?  What would you do with all of that free processing space in your real brain?!

     

    *Full disclosure….I believe that Microsoft has been making some killer moves over the last decade and we haven’t even seen the beginning of what they’re capable of.  As the iPhone and Google have seemingly kicked their ass in mobile, they have quietly made big moves in the living room (XBOX), hardware technology/peripherals, voice, messaging and also still happen to own a majority of the computers in the world.  Should be interesting to see what they do with their war chest.