Monday, November 11, 2013

Craigslist Kills Free Market Traders

In a stealth move, Craigslist has flagged (removed) all Ads by traders that have an HTML link, without any warning, cutting of income for legitimate sellers.  Sellers in all categories from home based businesses to auto dealers and real estate brokers have found their pipeline of leads just stopped dead and their business seriously affected.  You can post plain old vanilla Ads, but no links.  Consumers actually benefitted from being able to click on a link in an Ad to see the sellers's storefront and legitimacy, weeding out many fraudulent posters.

What is wrong with that simple Free Trade Model?

Why has Craigslist suddenly sought to use power and control in such an arrogant manner?  It doesn't bode well for them to kill off legitimate trade.  It doesn't even affect their business model because this is or was a FREE Classified site.  Craigslist could have adopted an Ad revenue model to generate income.    Instead of  capitalizing on it's real-estate, it has sought to sue sites such as Padmapper and 3Taps claiming it owns the intellectual property of content - it's Ads.  The case was dismissed.

What are the Alternatives?

Sites such as Ebay Classified are too rigid in their format for those looking to create brands and increase awareness by pushing their viewers to their own websites.  Oodle and especially Backpage, are ripe alternatives to steal this traffic away, but lack branding.

Craigslist is reasserting its authority in what appears to be a panic move.  But this is the beginning of a downward spiral as it reduces the value of its services to Advertisers and drives away business to the competition.  It's only a matter of time before alternatives steal the show.  Wake up Craigslist!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baby Boomers Adopting Smartphones Faster Than Younger Age Groups

According to a recent Neilsen survey, Americans in the age group of 55 to 64 are adopting smartphones at a faster rate than any other age group.  While only 30 percent of this age group are using a smartphone, it is the rate of adoption that jumped in Q2 this year over last year. 

So what is driving this trend?  Is it the iPad ease of use that takes the fear away from using a smartphone?   

Many news reports talk about seniors who have never used a computer before, have now entered the world of technology through the iPad.  It's simplicity and ease of use is allowing seniors to stay in touch with family and grandchildren. They don't have to fear about screwing it up.  It's point and click. But we also know that more seniors are now using social media. Social networking provides boomers and seniors with plenty of benefits such as joining groups, keeping up with current events and sharing photos with friends and family members.

According to a recent report by Pew Research, 32 percent of Baby Boomers aged 50 to 64, said they use a social networking site on a typical day. That's up sharply from 20 percent a year ago.  So it's logical that this trend is now transferring to the smartphone platform so they can stay in touch.  Those seniors using an iPad are likely to adopt an iPhone simply because there really is no new learning curve.  And Siri on the iPhone just makes it a whole lot easier to use for technology challenged individuals as well as those that might have certain disabilities making it difficult to use the touchscreen. 

Some reports show baby boomers will have an estimated $4.6 trillion in buying power by 2015, which could shakeup the smartphone market.  It's time for marketers to recognize that smartphones and Apps connected to Facebook are a valuable way to target baby boomers.  And there are some 80 Million in the U.S.!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Will Leave Google Maps In The Dust

Apple acquired C3 Technologies recently for $240 million, a Swedish technology that uses quasi-artificial intelligence to create incredible 3-dimensional maps.  What you see in this video demo below, blows away Google Maps.  I would not say this is Google on steroids just as Siri is not Google's voice technology on steroids.  Expect this new technology to be an incredible leap into the future. 

Back in February 2010, I wrote about Siri the Personal Assistant App on this very Blog. Three months later, Apple acquired the company and the rest is history as they say. Everyone's heard about Siri by now.  So, with C3 Technologies I expect a similar revolution to take place on the iOS platform, integrating this technology completely into iOS 6 perhaps and thus booting out Google Maps from its dominant position. With Siri commands and C3 spatial technology, well that's light years ahead of Google Maps. We'll see the world in a whole new light. 

You can bet that this acquisition was a result of the brilliant vision of the late and great Steve Jobs, who continues to affect our lives for some time to come.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Should Apple Pull Out Of China?

Yep, the land of counterfeit is doing it again, only this time with the world's most famous and successful brand.  Fake Apple stores are opening up all over China.  Apparently even some of the employees truly believe they are working for Apple.

How can Apple protect it's brand?  In any other country this would be an outrage with dire legal consequences.  But not in China, where no one thinks twice about counterfeiting brands or disregarding patents.  Isn't it time that we took a stand to protect our intellectual property?

The consumer is addicted to low priced everything made in China, but at what expense?  Corporations are making more profits to satisfy Wall Street by lower manufacturing costs in China, but our anemic economies and persistent high unemployment in the West are the consequence of this type of strategy.  Perhaps the ultimate has happened when fake stores open on the streets of China that are so good in every detail, that the public actually believe it to be the original brand.  And the owner of the brand can't do a thing about it.

It's time for US and other Western companies to take a stand.  We can produce all those iPads and iPhones right here in America.  If Apple keeps producing results like it has in this last quarter ($28.7 billion in revenue and $7.31 billion net profits), imagine what keeping manufacturing here could to the nation's debt, exports and unemployment.  All politicians need to do is create some incentives for a couple of years, reduce the bizarre amount of regulations and get out of the way. We could become the strongest economy in the world - again.

As consumers, we might all have to pay a bit more for our hi-tech products, but I think most people might be happy to do so if they knew it kept the dollar within the US and created thousands of jobs.  It's time for 'Made in America'!  As a marketer, I could have a field day with this slogan; perhaps even form a consortium that would be proud to promote American brands and American jobs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are Smartphones Killing Your Life?

There's no doubt that smartphones have changed our lives mostly for the better, but when is it time to switch off? We are in a 24/7 world in terms of communication access, but we don't have to work 24/7 and we need to learn to disconnect. Take the holidays for example, there are people who are compelled to write emails, send texts or even call. And since your smartphone device is your connection to your family and friends as well, it's not practical to switch it completely off. So what do you do?

A simple solution is to learn to use Google Voice as your business number. Sign up for a free account, choose your number and have it be your virtual telephone system. When on vacation or out of business hours, check the "Do Not Disturb" and all your calls will go to voicemail and even be transcribed to email. If you use this Google Voice number as your outgoing specified number, you can even text from this number on your cell phone app

One other useful tool for online businesses or anyone with an online presence, is to use your Google Voice number on your website. If you get unwanted calls, it is very easy to block that caller forever. 

The time we are spending on our devices while out of work has become almost a compulsion than a necessity, and ultimately it does affect our productivity. In fact some employers have become concerned especially since the Fair Labor Standards Act has strict rules on overtime for American workers who are paid by the hour. If such workers are specifically asked to attend to emails after hours, then the employer owes that employee the overtime.

So is it the fault of technology or just bad managers who don't know how to delegate, or are afraid to lose their control?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Has Apple And Android Killed Nokia?

It certainly looks like Nokia has missed this generation of smartphone technology. A company that was once a pioneer in mobile phones producing stylish handsets, an OS (Symbian) that was ahead of its time a decade ago, has simply just failed to innovate. We've seen Palm, a once great company, drop by the wayside too (acquired by HP), because product development was too slow. Microsoft's attempt in the mobile sector with Windows Mobile Phone 7 hasn't been all that exciting either. In fact Microsoft's previous relationship with LG was not successful. So why would a struggling company like Nokia attach itself to Microsoft? It's a last ditch desperate attempt before an acquisition and Nokia's CEO, Elop, came from Microsoft.

CNET reports: "The companies plan to build products and services together as well as share strategic plans. The vision is to create a "third ecosystem" that can compete directly against Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms."

Well, if Microsoft's attempts in the mobile sector are anything to go by, this marriage is likely to be unspectacular. While Nokia is (or was) the world's largest handset manufacturer, partnering with a PC software company doesn't give it the leverage it needs to compete against Apple, which controls the entire product design and OS. (Apple's success has been that control over its hardware and OS throughout its product lines.) So why not go with Android? Elop believes that would have resulted in Nokia becoming just another commodity with no control over the OS. But Android is an established OS and Microsoft Windows 7 trails far behind.

When you are looking at a rescue strategy to turn a product or company around, it makes more sense to pick an established partner in that sector. Even if Nokia and Microsoft merged (more likely Microsoft acquires Nokia), that does not automatically mean success. Two slow moving dinosaurs become one big slow moving dinosaur. Add to the mix that Zuckerberg intends to launch Facebook on lots of Android smartphones, and one wonders what is Nokia thinking?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Could Apple Be On The Verge Of Another Revolution?

The smartphone and tablet revolution created by Apple has changed the way we work and live.  More people are now accessing data not at the office or the desktop, but on the move or in more relaxed environments.  In fact Apple has just reported selling over 16 million iPhones and over 7 million iPads in just the last quarter of 2010.  We all love these devices and can't leave home without them, but the major problem has been battery power. While Apple has unquestionably revolutionized mobile computing, we are still left with pretty appalling battery life for these hungry devices.

But that's about to change in a big way.

It's recently been reported that Apple has secured its first patent for a Liquidmetal, a new innovation in space-age metal alloy technology.  The liquid metal (amorphous alloy), is the main component of small fuel cells. The new patent describes a container plate of amorphous alloys for fuel cells, an electrochemical battery that uses hydrogen to generate electricity. Utilizing this technology Apple could create mobile devices with battery power lasting 30 days or more, and MacBooks with battery life of 20 hours or more. That's hard to imagine and sounds like science fiction, but it's real. NASA says this technology is “poised to redefine materials science as we know it in the 21st century.”

While there are those that talk about Apple's market share being eroded by Android phones or other tablet device manufacturers, let's not forget that this company created these sectors and all the others are now having to follow to stay in the game.  Such a prolific leap in battery usage time (the holy grail), will give Apple yet another leap ahead of its nearest rivals for years to come. And this technology is cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly too!

Just as the competition comes up with a competitive product, Apple is already preparing its next big move. We certainly hope Steve Jobs is back soon.  It is his unique vision of the future that is the powerhouse of Apple's product development. Could Apple be on the verge of the next revolution in technology?  I think so.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ford Launches Sync Destinations

The Ford Motor Company has launched a new App called Sync Destinations. This is not just another navigation App, and there are many free Apps for both iPhone and Android smartphones already available. Sync Destinations is special because it is designed to work not just on the handset but also with its Synch in-vehicle operating system, providing seamless synchronization between the smartphone app and the car’s onboard navigation system.

On the phone, the user can search locations and map routes and save those destinations for future reference. Once the user enters their car, the app instantly links with Ford’s on-board navigation system. The system not only uploads the saved destinations but extends the nav system’s more sophisticated functionality to the app. Now the user can access the destinations through voice commands and receive turn-by-turn directions. The app also uses real-time traffic and weather data to adjust routes which is really useful in major city centers. It will even give you a suggested time of departure to make your destination on time.  Now that's really useful.

Ford has really thought about the consumer in developing this technology.  It's perhaps one of the reasons why this car manufacturer has survived the auto industry downturn without needing a bail out.  Sync Destinations is available on all the major smartphone platforms including iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Ford will be showing off its Sync platform at CES, Las Vegas next week.  

Hard to imagine this kind of technology would be at our fingertips 10 years ago!


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