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.

Apple Doesn’t Need Heroes

Apple LogoThe iPhone 5 was launched yesterday with the usual Apple pizazz. It looks like a good solid update but there’s the inevitable criticism about the lack of NFC, wireless charging, average screen size, etc. Much as I’d like to see a high-end device, Apple doesn’t need a hero phone based on hardware features and it doesn’t take much analysis to figure out why.

First of all, the Apple fanbois is not your average iPhone user. The vast majority of iPhone owners I know are comfortable with technology but they’re not techies, geeks or nerds. If you ask them why they got the iPhone, it’s quite often because they’d heard about on TV or because they’re friend had one. It certainly wasn’t because it had a Retina display or an 5MP camera. Fundamentally, it was “you can’t go wrong with an iPhone” and the specific features are largely irrelevant.

Secondly, let’s assume that the majority of Apple iPhones are sold on a 2 year contract. No-one wants a new phone of a model they already have so there has to be an upgrade path hence there has to be a new phone has at least every two years. This is self-evident. But on the other hand, at upgrade time, the upfront cost of the phone cannot be too high as to put people off. If Apple suddenly put a whole pile of new features into the iPhone, the upfront cost is likely to jump. Consequently, I would suggest that generally Apple will only introduce one significant or costly improvement with each iteration of the phone. And with the iPhone 5, it’s the new screen.

Similarly, people tend to like what they know and the iPhone is well-liked. Apple isn’t going to introduce an iPhone with a 4.8″ screen. Why not? Because a big screen is sufficiently different that lots of people will not want to buy the phone and if we bear in mind the previous point, there has to be a viable upgrade for those on 2 year contracts. Apple is then into the situation of having a range of different devices and having to keep them all fresh.

Finally, this argument wouldn’t be complete without mention of the ecosystem. In many ways, this is the killer feature of the iPhone and Apple needs to keep the apps and the media fresh and exciting. Apple very much knows this – it doesn’t trumpet the AppStore numbers for nothing, though Apple has taken it’s time over the iTunes refresh.

In summary, Apple simply needs to provide an upgrade path that offers better phones than last time and doesn’t alienate existing customers by being too different. Only one or two cutting-edge features are needed to maintain the iPhone’s lead; there’s no need for it to be the best at everything. Much as we might want a hero phone, it’s incremental improvement that will continue to bring in the cash.

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.

GNC-2011-12-29 #733 Soapbox Time!

Happy New Year, this is an epic show. For those of you that are long time supporters of the show thank your for your continued and ongoing support. For the Haters well I can’t say what I really want to say.

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GNC #686 Now Your Bank is Tracking You!

Internet connection died half, way through my show tonight. No idea what happened but it made for an interesting show. The Blue Man makes an appearance plus a lot more cool tech, news, and information. Huge Mahalo to our Ohana for your continued support of the show.

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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.

Code of Practice for Privacy Protection

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has published a pair of  guides about holding personal information online.  The first guide is a Code of Practice aimed at organisations, particularly, those that sell goods and services over the web and is to help them understand the data protection law and develop good practice.  The second is for individuals and is Protecting Your Personal Information Online.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent body setup to promote and police the UK’s information legislation including the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

The new Code of Practice has several sections including how the law applies, how to operate internationally, individuals’ rights and pitfalls to avoid.  It also includes a number of special cases, e.g. when dealing with children.

The personal guide provides information on protecting your personal info and identity, online scams, cookies, browser settings and social networks.  Definitely worth a read, even if you are not UK-based.  It’s all good sensible stuff.

What’s been stirring the media is that for the first time the ICO has commented on “behavioural marketing”, i.e. adverts are tailored to your browsing activity.  There had been some debate about the legality of this but as long as its clear what is going on and the person can opt out, there’s no problem.  There’s more information on behavioural marketing here.

Regardless of whether you are in the UK or elsewhere or whether you are a supplier or a customer, it’s worth giving both guides a browse.

Will You Survive The Coming Changes?

Get ready for a world where everything is on demand and à la carte. Traditional broadcasting is going to change whether it wants to or not. Marketing will be forced to change in profound ways. As a result, content-making will also go through a major metamorphosis.

Marketing and traditional broadcasting have long had an interesting relationship that has had a potentially detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of available content. Television in particular has long been known as “a vast wasteland.” If one thinks about how this lowest-common-denominator programming can exist, the realization emerges that anxious, aggressive television advertisers have often been willing to sponsor junk programming content to capture passive viewers. In the pre-Internet world of broadcast TV, people would surf channels in order to find what was often the least-boring programming. Also because of the hypnotic potential of this type of TV watching, many viewers were willing to sit in front of virtually any programming without really caring about what they were watching, using TV viewing itself as a sort of nightly drug. Marketing messages get programmed into viewer’s brains, but more importantly using this type of passive TV viewing as a drug has definite detrimental side effects to both the individual, the family unit, and society at large.

After a few months of agonizing, I recently cancelled my Dish Network account. I was already a Netflix customer and was watching more stuff from Netflix than I was from Dish Network, so it has been a remarkably easy transition.

There are differences. One of the differences is that I’m now forced to choose what I want to watch when I want to watch TV. Being forced to choose necessarily forces me to choose something I find personally interesting. The net effect is I’m making a conscious choice of my television influences. Of course, another difference is that streamed Netflix content has no ads.

Hulu.Com offers streaming content with ads, and recently started offering an inexpensive monthly premium streaming content option, which also has the added benefit of vastly expanding the list of devices they will stream to beyond the desktop/laptop computer to include media extenders and cell phones. Like Craig’s List cannibalized the local newspaper ad business, Hulu.Com and similar emerging streaming services are going to further cannibalize the now-breaking and broken broadcast TV model. I say this not to blame Hulu and other services as I believe this push for choice has been well underway for a long time and these emerging streaming services are simply accelerating it.

The ad-supported content will be forced to change because the programming must be appealing-enough to consumers to get them to choose the particular content. Non-ad supported content will continue to have a market but will be forced to appeal just the same to induce consumers to choose that content.

Consumers, Brands and Social Networks

If you are retailer and want to build your brand, social networks are where you need to be, says IDC in a new report.  According to it, Web 2.0 is creating opportunities for competitive advantage with the top 10 social networks having over 1.3 billion members.  Yes, there’s plenty of people who live on more than one network but that’s still a pretty big number.

IDC says, “Social networks, blogs, price comparison Web sites, and the likes can all be used by retailers of all kinds and sizes to attract and influence customers, to study demand patterns, to improve brand reputation, and, finally, to provide customer support.”  I’d certainly agreed with the latter – I think we’ve all heard the stories about certain companies responding to individuals who have tweeted about problems they’ve had with products.

It also notes that the social networks are a great source of information about customers and what they’re saying about products, whether it’s the retailer’s or a competitors.  For those of us in the space, this isn’t exactly news but for companies looking in and wanting to get value out of their investment, this is going to be important.

Obviously, it’s taking time but if the big consultancies are now able to produce reports with hard data regarding the benefits of social media, the money will start coming into the social / new media and out of traditional media.

The full report costs money but you can read the press release for free.