iPhone Prophecy

It was July 2008, the iPhone was still a novelty and the second iteration called the iPhone 3G had just been released. The iPhone 3G improved on the Original iPhone in speed and connectivity, but the optics were still deficient and it had one big omission. It couldn’t record video. So on July 16, 2008 I penned a blog post titled – iWant the iPhone Pro!. Here is the gist of my commentary…

The one achilles heel of the current iPhone are its poor optics. The 3G camera is the same 2-megapixel version that shipped with the original iPhone, and it still does not record video. I’m sure some 3rd-party developer will release an App to get it to record video at some point, but at 2-megapixel quality, it won’t be that usable.

So that leads me to the ‘iPhone Pro’. When is it coming, Steve? Oh, you know its coming. Let’s not forget that Apple is steeped in movie making software. This is a company that pioneered the .MOV QuickTime video codec. This is a company that produces Hollywood studio-quality editing software in Final Cut Pro, and has further leveraged their editing prowess to create iMovie for Joe Consumer. Don’t you think we’re going to see iMovie Mobile on the iPhone?

Sooner or later, Steve Jobs is going to walk on stage at the Moscone Center and he’s going to unveil the iPhone of all iPhones. An iPhone that isn’t just going to continue to revolutionize the cellular handset industry, but an iPhone that makes every digital still and video camera manufacturer quiver with fear. Everything from 8+ megapixels, 30-frame-per-second video, zoom, autofocus, image stabilizer etc., and combine all of this with the ability to edit and compose your photos and videos with Apps like Aperture Mobile and iMovie Mobile. Steve Jobs may even bring Steven Spielberg on stage to help demo it and suggest that we are eventually going to witness full-length feature films edited and shot entirely on an iPhone. Heck, we can’t even be that far off from an iPhone HD.

So when is the iPhone Pro coming? I have no idea, but when it does, you can be sure I’ll be buying my first iPhone.”

Fast-forward 6 years, and while I’ve owned my fair share of iPhones and already moved on to Android, I was reminded of that previous post after watching a new commercial spot for luxury automaker Bentley. Bentley produced a beautiful 4-minute promo that was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S and edited exclusively on an iPad Air while sitting in the back of a Bentley Mulsanne. Check it out…

This is by no means the first ‘all iPhone’ commercial production. Another example would be Burberry partnering directly with Apple for their Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show. Burberry used nine iPhone 5S to shoot and produce video of the show.

While Steve Jobs is no longer with us, Steven Spielberg has yet to release a sequel to E.T. shot exclusively with an iPhone and my original post is 6 years old, there is no denying now that the age of the ‘iPhone Pro’ has most definitely arrived.

Tokyo Reverse

“In Tokyo Reverse, it is Zulli who appears to be going forward, the sole exception to a citywide time inversion. In reality, though, the nine-hour French movie (5-minute version below) was made by filming Zulli as he slowly walked backward through Tokyo, then played backward to achieve its dreamy, otherworldly effect. In fact, the 28-year-old ended up taking dance class just to make sure that his movements looked natural when the film was rewound.”

Raising Screenheads

The infographic below provides some truly fascinating and illuminating stats on the early and pervasive adoption of technology by young children. 41% of 3-4 year olds own a media device and 55% of 8-11 year olds own three or more. Both of my kids qualify for that latter stat. Many talking points and issues can germinate from this infographic. Certainly this drives home the paramount importance of talking to kids as early as possible about online safety. Additionally, we are surrounded by all of this programmed technology, our kids are spending copious time with it, yet we do not prioritize computer programming in our school curriculums. And lastly, it also brings to mind a Ted Talk about the impact technology is having on our human relationships and connections. One thing is undeniable, we are indeed raising a generation of screenheads.


credit: Ebuyer

The Curve

The Curve. A recommended read.

“In the commodity era of limited availability, we asked ‘Can I get it?’ In the goods era of manufactured product, we asked ‘How much does it cost?’ In the service era of quality, we asked ‘Is it any good?’ Now that we can get great products cheaply whenever we want, we have started asking a new question; ‘How does it make me feel?'” – Nicholas Lovell

“…try to find the 10 per cent or so of your audience who are prepared not only to pay, but to pay handsomely. Don’t limit how much they can spend, but allow them to spend ten, fifty or a hundred times the previous fixed price. That way you are not only widening your audience reach at the lower price points but replacing much of the lost revenue by nothing more complex than enabling those who love what you do to pay more for things that are valuable to them.” – Nicholas Lovell

You can still innovate in saturated spaces

I often hear or read that innovating in saturated spaces is too hard. Angels and VCs are typically quick to point out that a space is too populated to invest in and entrepreneurs should look to tread a less worn path. I’ve never particularly supported that logic, so it’s always nice to see a real-world example come along to illustrate why it’s not nearly as hard to innovate in saturated spaces as many will have you believe.

Innovation doesn’t have to be, and rarely is, a case of reinventing the wheel. Innovation can come in the form of a small shift-change in how a process or method is handled. The photo sharing app space is about as saturated as they come in the mobile world. However, almost all photo sharing apps are feed-focused and push-based. You take a photo, it gets added to some sort of user feed, and then you can share it out to your networks, friends, public, whatever.

Povio is a new photo sharing app that just launched a few weeks ago, and on the surface it’s not all that different than most other photo sharing apps, save for one exception. It’s not push-based at all. Povio users request photos from other users, and that’s how the photo sharing ‘conversation’ starts in Povio. Essentially, it’s by request or ping-focused, instead of push-focused. Povio users ping other users and let them know that they’d like to see a photo of theirs, and then they wait for that user to oblige and send it to them. It serves as an example of how a small change in behaviour can be a big differentiator in a crowded space.

Will Povio be a big hit? Hard to say. It’s not a very defensible concept and can easily be cloned or added as a feature to existing apps. It will all depend on how strong and how quickly it can attain a community of users. They were also recently selected to be part of Y Combinator’s latest cohort of startups, so that can only help.

Grow organic base, study early behaviour, foster bond with users and never lose it

As a sort of follow-up to a previous tweet of mine about the importance of harvesting an early organic and small base of users comes a timely article about how Sony studied the behaviour of a small base of early adopters of digital cameras.

While Sony certainly made some mistakes along the way in the 90’s, namely, not paying close enough attention to the nuances of usage of those early digital camera users, it does highlight just how much can be learned during the nascent stages of early user adoption and their behaviour.

Whether you are building an app, a website, a consumer or enterprise SAAS, whatever it may be, truly connecting with and understanding the motivations of your users is a critical precursor for success. No employee, executive or founder is too small or too big to be involved in the process of engaging with and understanding your users better. It’s a fundamental tenet of building a successful, anything.

Another example of this would be Travis Kalanick, founder of the super-successful personal transportation billion-dollar+ startup Uber. Travis to this day, on Friday nights in San Francisco, will often take his Land Rover out on the streets to be an Uber driver. Doing 10+ rides in a night, sometimes dealing with party-goers and very drunken folk. Travis doesn’t stop doing it. This means he is interacting directly with at least 15-30 Uber users almost weekly. Travis certainly isn’t doing it for the money. He does it because the value of keeping a pulse on the connection with his customers/users is absolutely priceless.

A reminder to anyone involved in a startup, small or big. Every user and every customer matters, never lose that connection to your base, no matter where you are and what your position is in the company.

“By putting you in close contact with the private lives of your customers, empathic research helps you see your product through the eyes of someone with values, concerns, and emotional triggers that are different from your own.

This perspective becomes absolutely critical when you are dealing with products that are highly personal–like photographs. So when I worked on a project involving the design and marketing of digital cameras during my time at Sony, empathic research on how the camera and its pictures were used became absolutely vital to our success…

By watching and interacting with early users–people who had started using digital cameras well before they hit the mainstream–we learned that pictures were starting to play more of a role during the occasions and a more casual role at that…

…now that they (digital photos) were “free” and disposable, getting the perfect picture was no longer as important. Sometimes images would then be saved, printed, and displayed, but many would remain in the camera forgotten after the moment passed.

This kind of behavior had not been anticipated by our product designers.

We watched and listened as these pioneering customers used our cameras. We heard them when those products failed to satisfy their emotional needs for spontaneous fun. Empathy also helped us understand why our products weren’t more successful. Our cameras were loaded with excellent features, but we had designed and marketed them with the intention of satisfying a completely different set of emotional needs–those of memory preservation. By focusing on promoting product features we had missed the emotional connection.”

Link: Fast Company

Content strategy like your favourite coffee shop

Having a presence on social media is not enough nor is producing regular content. It’s all about flavour, aroma and atmosphere. All of the things that make a special coffee shop different than the rest, is similar to what separates an average content strategy from a great one.

“…more often than not, companies tend to focus on securing their presence in the race to catch up with competitors. They get the coffee shop in the form of a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube presence, but forget what they’re serving… The content is what makes the medium social, not the other way around. An empty coffee shop is no good strategy.” – Thomas Crampton & David Dubois

Producing great creative content is the key to getting good dissemination to and by your target audiences. That’s less about content scheduling, and more about the quality of your content coffee and uniqueity of your content environment. In some ways, an iron clad content schedule can lead to the creation of content that hinders viral sharing. Schedules are unavoidable, but it’s equally if not more important to foster a content strategy that sows the seeds of creativity, out of box ideas and reactions to real-time opportunities.

YouTube is getting younger

To curate or not to curate? To control or cede curation? YouTube is readying a new site that specifically targets kids under 10. Stripped of racy videos and comments, parents and advertisers will love it. Curation can be very profitable for YouTube.

“As the biggest video sharing site by a landslide, YouTube attracts people from all walks of life, for better or for worse. Yet the Google-owned company is reportedly developing a version of the site for kids under 10 years old, and has even gauged the interest of video producers willing to create child-oriented content, according to multiple sources cited by The Information.”

Link: YouTube is reportedly building a version for kids

Video games are a content treasure trove

“Twitch Interactive Inc., the company formerly known as Justin.TV, recently notched a major milestone when it recorded 45 million viewers watching 13 billion minutes of streaming video games in a single month.”

Live broadcasting has typically been focused on console gaming via PlayStations and Xboxes, but now even mobile gaming is getting into the broadcasting fray. Video games have been a spectator sport in regions such as South Korea for years, but it appears the North American audience is growing in interest and numbers.

For game publishers who initially were very guarded over copyright concerns are also now recognizing the undeniable link between broadcasting game content and growing game sales. All of those live broadcasts on services like Twitch and walkthrough videos on YouTube are helping sell their games and the publishers didn’t have to spend a penny to create that content. Everybody wins.

“Twitch announced via a partnership with Gameloft that its broadcast platform is going mobile for the first time ever. Asphalt 8: AirBorne is a popular arcade-style racer for iOS being billed as the first ever mobile game to feature Twitch’s live-stream technology. More titles are said to be on the way, too. “Live broadcasting represents one of the most important shifts in the way people play games,” said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch VP of Marketing, in a statement.

Link: Fast Company

Michio Kaku on Alien Brains

“I love to watch science fiction movies, but I cringe whenever I see a depiction of the aliens. We have Hollywood special effects, so why can’t we get better aliens?”