Perfect Packaging by Orlebar Brown

Apple’s a master at the complete end-to-end user experience and has elevated product packaging to an art form. Tech companies aren’t the only ones at this; I recently ordered some swim shorts from Orlebar Brown and this nondescript box arrived in the post.

Orlebar Brown Box

Pretty dull on the outside but open the box up and everything is a visual and sensory treat. The inside of the box is a rich red, the swimwear (not shown) is neatly folded within a branded drawstring bag, the clothing tags are quality card, and with Orlebar Brown one doesn’t simply get a receipt stuffed in the box; one gets a receipt in a crisp brilliant white envelope, reminiscent of an invite to an exclusive event. Glorious.

Orlebar Brown Inside Box

In all honesty, I have never seen mail order done better – I’m sold and I’m now customer for life. And that’s before I’ve even put on the swim shorts, which are equally fabulous. Now, if I can just get that six pack sorted over the winter.

One Does Not Simply Fly into Mordor

One must watch the safety video first! Those of you who have traveled by plane have had the experience of watching a flight attendant give a safety demonstration. He or she pointed out the exits, gave instructions on how to use a seatbelt, and talked about the oxygen masks. People tend to tune this out, especially if they are a seasoned traveler who has watched this demonstration many times.

Air New Zealand has created an airline safety video that everyone will happily pay attention to. The video shows a flight attendant who looks like a elf from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. She begins explaining the safety information to a group of passengers who include Hobbits, Elves, Wizards, a Ranger, and even Gollum himself. Filling out the remaining seats are passengers whose journey did not originate in Middle-earth.

Several characters in the video explain different parts of the safety information. Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes a cameo appearance in the safety video. He finds a ring on the floor in front of his seat. “My Precious”, he says, before putting on the ring and disappearing.

According to Air New Zealand marketing manager Mike Tod, the video was part of a major global promotion for the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He said:

“We will invest several million dollars in Australia, Asia, the United States and Europe on uniquely Air New Zealand marketing efforts related to ‘The Hobbit’ movies to attract more tourists to New Zealand.”

Prize Monkey

Prize Monkey We all like to get prizes, especially if we don’t have to do much. That is the concept behind Prize Monkey. Prize Monkey was being shown off at CES 2012, when Nick Dimeo, host of F5 Live stopped by to find out what it was all about.

Prize Monkey is a kiosk, but instead of working like a normal kiosk, it interacts with your phone. A monkey ask if you want to play, if you answer yes then it sends a message to your phone. Hit the right answer and the Prize Monkey kiosk produces a prize. There is no application to download or install. Each monkey acts a little differently and can be programmed for a specific demographic. It is being marketed toward social campaigns, promotional campaigns, loyalty programs, product sampling and more. Managers can build the campaign they want based on the demographic they are going for with the dynamic campaign tool provided. It has in-depth metrics and analytic tools built right in. Prize Monkey is an example of a product that is shown at CES that is being marketed toward businesses and not directly toward consumers.

I am curious to know if anyone has seen or used a Prize Monkey Kiosk? How well did it work, was it fun to use? If you are a business or social group who installed a Prize Monkey kiosk did it work for your business?

Interviewed by Nick Dimeo, Host of [F5 Live]((http://www.plughitzlive.com/radio/1-f5-live-refreshing-technology.html)

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Flash Drives….Now in Color

Pantone Orange Flash DriveFlash drives are ten-a-penny these days but these color matched thumb drives from Pantone are pretty cool, especially if you are interested in design. Currently available in fourteen different Pantone colors, the aluminum designed drives can be laser engraved on the front and back with a company logo, web address or simply your name and phone number. Great idea as a corporate gift that includes your design portfolio but fun as your personal drive too.

Capacities range from 1 GB up to 16 GB, with pricing from $12.99 to $49.99.

CyberWeek Nets $6 billion in Sales

cyberweek

cyberweek

It’s going to be a really good holiday for some folks. Call it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week or a big pain in the… Well, whatever you call it, retailers are calling it a success as the last week netted $6 billion in sales – 3 individual days hit over $1 billion individually.

comscore released their report of holiday digital spending in the last 30 days. Overall, $18.7 billion has been spent online – a 15% increase on Cyber Monday from last year.

2011 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2010
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Millions ($)
2010 2011 Percent Change
November 1 – December 2 $16,257 $18,697 15%
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) $407 $479 18%
Black Friday (Nov. 25) $648 $816 26%
Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 26-27) $886 $1,031 16%
Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) $1,028 $1,251 22%
Week Ending Dec. 2 $5,164 $5,959 15%

*Corresponding days based on corresponding shopping days (November 2 thru December 3, 2010)

The big promotion was free shipping. More than half the transactions included shipping (63.2% during Cyber Week).

“Free shipping is one of the most important incentives that online retailers must provide during the holiday season to ensure that shoppers will convert into buyers,” said  comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Consumers have come to expect free shipping during the holiday promotion periods, and retailers, in turn, have realized that they must offer this incentive if they want to maximize their share of consumer spending – especially at the outset of the shopping season. In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers say that free shipping is important to them when making an online purchase, and nearly half say they will abandon their shopping cart at checkout if they find free shipping is not being offered.”

Comscore also polled people (1,000 internet users) to ask the value of shipping. 36% said it was very important, while 42% said it’s somewhat important and 12% was neutral.

Overall, people are feeling more comfortable shopping online. With a $6 billion dollar weekend and $1.25 billion Cyber Monday, it will be interesting to see what happens next year for CyberWeek.

It’s The Content, Stupid

Admittedly I’m coming in late to the party. I had all sorts of excuses – I already have a MacBook Pro, as well as the latest generation of iPod Touch. Why would I need an iPod with a giant screen to run mostly the same apps I can already run on my iPod?

After buying an iPad 2, I understand what all the fuss is about. It has also become immediately clear to me why there is a booming iPad market but currently not much of a tablet market. The reason is staring everyone in the face, yet few seem to see it, particularly large tech companies that are struggling to compete in the wrong arena.

The iPad is admittedly an incredibly nice piece of hardware – however, that’s not why it is so successful. The reason for the iPad’s overwhelming appeal and success is very simple – it revolves in large part around being able to run well-written targeted iOS iPad-specific apps that take advantage of the iPad’s screen size and svelte form factor. At about the size of a traditional magazine, it takes the best elements of the multimedia computer and puts them into a highly-readable, touch-interactive color screen that will easily fit into places and situations where even laptop computers don’t work so well.

In short, it’s all about the content and being able to easily consume it anywhere. The content isn’t just about browsing, listening to music or watching videos. The content in large part is the iPad-specific apps themselves, some of which are incredible, such as the 100% free Flipbook RSS reader app.

Amazon has a chance at success with the 7” Kindle Fire, not so much because of the $200 price point, but because Amazon has a lot of ready-made content hanging out in its cloud. Many people pooh-poohed the original Amazon Kindle, only to witness it quickly morph into a success. The Kindle was not and has never been a success because of the Kindle hardware – the plethora of Amazon ebook content is what caused the original Kindle rise to stardom. The availability of the content finally got the ebook ball rolling in a huge way, and the mass market finally realized the incredible convenience and advantage of having a cloud-connected ereader.

Would-be iPad competitors will never effectively compete with hardware alone, no matter how sexy or inexpensive they are able to make it. To borrow part of a phrase from an early 1990’s presidential campaign, we would all do well to paste this sign on our wall:

“It’s the content, stupid.”

Gartner: PC Shipments Worldwide Continue to Decline

Gartner came out with their quarterly press release detailing PC shipments in 2011. In Q1, they found Worldwide PC shipments totaled only 84.3 million units. It’s only a 1.1 percent decline from Q1 – 2010, however, this trend has shown that PC shipments have, for the first time, suffered a year-over-year decline.

That means PC shipments have declined for 2 years in a row. This after Gartner predicted a 3 percent growth in Q1.

Of course, you can guess what caused the decline.

“Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest inhibitor of growth,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We’re investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market.”

Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 1Q11 (Units)


Company
1Q11 Shipments 1Q11 Market Share (%) 1Q10 Shipments 1Q11 Market Share (%) 1Q11-1Q10 Growth (%)
HP 14,797,299 17.6 15,312,468 18.0 -3.4
Acer Group 10,893,793 12.9 12,412,859 14.6 -12.2
Dell 9,984,370 11.9 10,210,766 12.0 -2.2
Lenovo 8,137,904 9.7 6,976,683 8.2 16.6
Toshiba 4,821,600 5.7 4,580,746 5.4 5.3
Others 35,615,953 42.3 35,686,995 41.9 -0.2
Total 84,250,918 100.0 85,180,518 100.0 -1.1

Note: Data includes desk-based PCs, mobile PCs, including mini-notebooks but not media tablet such as the iPad.
Source: Gartner (April 2011)

Will this Trend Continue?

While we are definitely on a tablet kick, we still need another computer for when the tablet becomes more of a hindrance. Something that holds more data, plays higher-resolution games, sits on the desk while we enter finances or taxes, or something that has a little more horsepower than the iPad or Galaxy Tab. It’s definitely getting overshadowed by a tablet, but we are not ready to ditch the old tower or laptop just yet.

The big question: Have you parted ways with your desktop or notebook for a tablet? Let me know by commenting below.

96 Years of The 3D Gimmick

The 3D gimmick has been periodically making the rounds for many years. How many people are aware that the first presentation of 3D films before a paying audience took place 96 years ago? According to an article at www.3dgear.com, it took place at the Astor Theater, New York, on June 10, 1915. The program consisted of three one-reelers, the first of rural scenes in the USA, the second a selection of scenes from Famous Players’ Jim, the Penman (US ’15), with John Mason and Marie Doro, and the third a travelogue of Niagara Falls. They used 3D glasses with red and green lenses.

The first big Hollywood film debuted 57 years ago on April 8, 1953, called “Man In The Dark.” Ever heard of it? I haven’t.

Periodically over the years, Hollywood would bring the 3D gimmick back to life in hopes that it might catch on. 3D has made the most lasting splash with highly specialized short films in special venues such as Disney World.

Of course, the biggest 3D splash was made in 2009 by “Avatar.” I saw the 3D version of Avatar on the big screen. It was an okay movie – lots of spectacular special effects but very light on plot. After 3 hours of Avatar, I left the theater with 3D fatigue. When all was said and done, Avatar was a very lengthy special event film.

In the real world, we have natural depth perception. We are used to moving our heads back and forth and up and down and see around objects in very subtle ways.

The 3D movie experience is exaggerated and is not anything like normal depth perception. Producers of 3D movies always seem to feel obliged to make things appear to come out of the screen at the viewer.

I’ve seen a number of 3D HDTV demonstrations at my local Best Buy store from a variety of different TV manufacturers. None of them have impressed me.

3D television will never catch on in a big way until it can approximate normal depth perception and can be easily experienced without the obligatory 3D glasses.

The Best; Then There’s The Rest

One of the classic methods of marketing centers around the idea of bundling; i.e. getting people to pay for lower-quality merchandise by pushing sheer quantity over quality. This strategy isn’t always successful, but when it works it can work brilliantly.

When I was a teenager growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, music was sold via vinyl records. The “hit” songs were played on the radio, thus creating artist familiarity and product demand. Radio stations of the day would sometimes play the “B” side of the record but most often they only played the “hits.” In other words, they weren’t playing the “misses” on the radio.

In a stroke of marketing genius, however, someone somewhere got the idea to bundle the musical misses and missteps on the “B” side of the vinyl records. When 33-RPM records came along, this trend was amplified because there was more room than ever. Make consumers think they were buying not only the artist’s latest hits, but throw that filler material in there too. Sometimes with certain artists the filler material could be brilliant too. However, most of the time it was just filler material.

This strategy mostly worked until digital recording and playback techniques, combined with the Internet, caused massive changes in the way people manufactured, discovered, marketed, and purchased music. For a variety of reasons, today people tend to only want to buy what they consider to be the very best “hits” from services such as iTunes, and there’s little to no market for the “filler” misses.

The same marketing concept has been used via bundling to get people to pay for “filler” cable TV channels. Want a “good” channel such as Discovery, TLC, or History? Sorry sir, that sandwich only comes with pickles, mustard and horse radish – take it or leave it.

What consumers often fail to realize is that substantial portions of their cable TV and/or satellite bills are paid directly to bundled channel providers that they probably never watch. Bundled mediocrity gets rewarded.

Why are you mindlessly paying good money for bundled channels you probably don’t know the names of? Stop rewarding bundled mediocrity. Turn off your cable or satellite subscription. I promise you – your heart won’t suddenly stop beating. The world won’t suddenly come to an end.

Big App Show For Android

Adam Curry is a clever guy. Back in 2004 he was working on the concept of podcasting. Now he is pioneering smartphone apps.

About 6 months ago, Adam Curry came out with a free iPhone application called “The Big App Show.” Each day, day in and day out, Curry records a new video of himself demonstrating an iPhone app.

The Big App Show is now available for Android. The concept is the same, except with the Android app the apps Curry demonstrates are obviously for Android and are available in the Android Marketplace.

The Big App Show is a very witty app that really takes advantage of the power of Android and iPhones. Curry is adding value by demonstrating the apps right on the screen as he talks rather than giving dry descriptions. He puts out a new app video on both the Android and iPhone platforms every day of the year.

Bravo Adam! I think you are on to something!!!