Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Green Tech Getting Lost in Media?

Going green is still on the government’s agenda but recently it’s gone quiet around this subject in the media for obvious reasons. Look how the news of the UK Government’s carbon budgets got lost.


Sustainability seems out of kilter with the times and yet its core messages about saving resources and conserving energy are even more relevant for the downturn.


So, Government and commerce needs to raise their game and communicate their successes in this space. Some sustainability initiatives that should be – and are - making bigger headlines include Climate Savers, Earth Smart Computing and QMU sustainable university.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Sing Happy Birthday or Say Goodbye to the Computer Mouse?




Exactly 40 years ago today, Douglas C. Engelbart showed the first ever computer mouse – made of wood. It took a while to make an impact. Apple was the first in developing a computer with a graphic user interface that made use of the mouse – and that wasn’t until 1983.

Today we take the mouse for granted. In fact when the mouse isn’t working, few of us know how to get the computer to do anything at all. I remember navigating a word processing software merely by using the keyboard short cuts. Cumbersome and confusing if you forgot the shortcuts but then I also had to work on a screen that was green and black.

But even as the computer mouse is celebrated its days could be numbered. Lots of companies are making man-computer interaction even more intuitive – touch screens, gesture servers, and a new generation of the mouse that fits between thumb and forefinger and is held like a pen. So maybe the mouse as we know it will soon be a thing of the past – just like the black and green screens are.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Were you at the CRN Awards?

Last night’s CRN awards were a night of celebration. Attended by a huge number of resellers, vendors and distributors it was set to be a night to remember. The awards are probably one of the most sought after awards in the industry and seek to honour the high achievers of 2008 for their commitment to the channel. The awards were presented at the Battersea Park Events Arena, set in picturesque surrounds of Battersea Park and ideal for hosting a big event like last night’s awards. The night started off with champagne (of course) and plenty of time to catch up, gossip and network. This was followed by great entertainment with Jimmy Carr as the host of the night, an award winner himself. To get a taste for his comedy, check him out on youtube.

Our three course meal was barely digested and the actual awards kicked off. Various vendors, distributors and partners were praised and we were starting to feel increasingly anxious about the big moment which would reveal the Security Vendor of the Year. As Doug Woodburn entered the stage, I looked around the tables and realised I wasn’t the only one holding my breath.

Trend Micro was nominated amongst vendors such as Checkpoint, McAfee, Symantec, Webroot, Blue Coat and Fortinet but won the award based on its continued commitment to the channel with successful initiatives like its
Worry-Free SMB partner programme. All the hard work had finally paid off. A powerful award entry led to the shortlist. That was the first step. But since these awards are based on a public voting system, the time and effort put into motivating partners to vote, must have been enormous. Everyone is over the moon. Needless to say, the celebrations carried on until the early morning hours with well needed bacon baguettes marking the second stage of the night: late night dancing at Pacha.

Thanks to everyone for a brilliant awards night and congratulations to Trend Micro – what an achievement!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Video On Demand: Boosting not Breaking Trad TV and Radio


We were at an interesting First Tuesday networking event last night about how video on demand is changing the media scene. The accepted wisdom is that being able to download video whenever you like will destroy traditional broadcasting. But one of the big messages that came out the excellent panel discussion was how VoD extends the impact of traditional TV. One good example is how cult TV shows like The Office which became famous in the UK on BBC2, gained its global appeal via Youtube.
On demand technology is creating a third screen. Most homes have two TVs and now the PC is becoming the third screen for watching TV on demand thanks to services like the BBC iPlayer. Strangely enough we're watching VoD at the same 6 to 9.00 in the evening time slot.
Another familiar point was made at First Tuesday. Content is king and for the consumer it's irrelevant how it is delivered - we want to be able to pick it up wherever and whenever we want and in whatever format.
So rather than replacing traditional media, online will further expand and develop it. Sure there will be some victims, probably those not able to change fast enough. For the rest of us, there is a whole new world of exciting communications opportunities for us to explore.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Is Google Chrome really so Shiny?

Chrome is making headlines worldwide but what’s it really like to use and does it match everyones high expectations?

After seeing the ‘Chrome comic book’ I spent the whole day waiting to get my hands on the first beta version and as soon as it was released I had it up and running at home.

First impressions? Well, I liked everything from the download experience (I remember how it took 30min just to get through to the website for Firefox 3 on the launch day), through to the simple installation and the colourful logo – which actually is very similar to Windows Media Player. Was that intentional?

What is shining? The design, colours, tab management, easy and understandable configuration, visual chooser of recently visited websites after opening a new tab and last but not least the address bar (named ‘Omnibox’) which is really helpful with its suggestions while not being intrusive at the same time – worked a charm for me. I also liked the way the ‘incognito mode’ (known as ‘private browsing’ in Safari) is introduced – with darker colour window and adequate graphics in the left corner.

What is less shiny? The browser seems ‘memory hungry’ – especially for my old laptop. There were some other minor glitches (scroll working one way, some Java applet display faults) but then again this is a beta.

The final impression? Chrome isn't dazzling yet but when it becomes final and receives some decent add-ons sunglasses might come in handy.

Friday, 15 August 2008

I want to be famous

Being a b2b Tech PR bod through and through I have just recently been asked by my consumer colleagues to help out on a “little” b2c campaign for IFA Berlin.

The product we are pitching is being endorsed by a famous American record producer, rapper, and record executive. The media loves him and the product he gave his name for. Radio, glossy men’s magazines and the crème de la crème of the consumer electronics press – are all mad about the gadget we are pitching.

So, I was thinking… can’t I have a celebrity for all my b2b campaigns as well? It would make live so much easier. Would it? Not really. I guess I can’t really have Paris Hilton endorse ethernet services and ask Brad Pitt to support a product launch for a new multifactor authentication product.

But that’s fine because b2b has its own celebrities. It think the Microsoft’s, the Googles, the SAPs and the Nokia’s of this world are “b2b celebrities”. If I am approaching a journalist and mention that I am calling on behalf of “b2b celebrity company X” or that my client has just partnered with “b2b celebrity company Y” things usually start off much easier... or if not easier I am at least assured that people know who I am talking about.

Fire Eagle - for better or for worse?

This week Yahoo! launched Fire Eagle, its location tool that lets users update and manage information about where they are, so that third-party services can connect and use that information to tailor their service. Already, more than 50 service providers have lined up to use Fire Eagle technology. Described by Yahoo! as being a "switchboard that anyone can build on top of", more are destined to follow.
So far, so good. Yahoo! is definitely onto a winner.
Or is it? Despite boasting an opt-in facility, privacy advocates are already warning about the dangers of rushing headlong into using location based services. Fire Eagle users are sent reminders every 45 days to confirm they still want to share their location, and Yahoo! says it'll delete all historical data immediately if they opt out.
But the same can't be said for the services using the data. Yahoo! can't dictate what its partners do with the information they collect, because privacy policies vary from website to website, and they can be changed without warning.
In theory, Yahoo! has come up with a tool that brings us closer to a future where location is going to become increasingly important for Web services. Progress. But until everyone adheres to digital privacy laws, we'll still be in the dark ages.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Olympics are the Digital Games


The Olympic opening ceremony is less than 24 hours away and everyone is forecasting medal counts (and predicting doping scandals).

The Games also will be a test of how much the media industry has changed in the last four years. The lines between the Web and traditional media like television have blurred even more radically since Athens. Digital media landmarks of the Beijing Games include the first games where every sport is filmed in HD; and YouTube will be used to broadcast events.

So, digital will be tested alongside the human competitors. The ambition of the media companies is exceptionally high and they're taking some real risks in the level of investment and the expectations that they are setting.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

E-Petitions Slipped into the Commons

The last day before the UK Houses of Parliament goes into very long recess over the summer is often when the UK Government slips out news it wants to bury and avoid full parliamentary scrutiny. One exception might be an announcement that British members of parliament should be petitioned over the Internet. UK MPs have a (unfair) reputation for being notoriously low tech and Parliament's processes are regulated by tradition not technology. The Government may want to share the pain of e-petitions given the experience of the prime minister's office Number Ten which ran several e-petitions that famously got out of control. Our sister agency GBC Public Affairs reports on this and much more in its rolling blog of political news. Always worth a look.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Amazon Eats up Abe


The biggest forces on the Web get very different press.
Google is no longer the media darling. It's under attack for its privacy policy hypocrisy and the Google Street project. And much of last week's excitement about Cuil comes from a primal urge for a Google beater.


Contrast this with Amazon which just keeps on getting bigger and bigger. Revenues are growing, its ebook Kindle is actually selling well and now it's bought up Abebooks, the online used bookseller network. But, the media reaction is benign with little to no venom. You get the sense that the media like Amazon.

Why?

It could be the profile of Bezos is much softer than the Google boys who've been very flash with their money (Think Bezos and my first association is his desk made from a $10 door; think the Google founders and it's their party plane).

Another reason is the privacy issue. With Amazon we're happier to share data about what we spend and browse. Google is much more closely woven into how we live our lives digitally that every miss-step they make on privacy issues has a rising resonance with us. It's not turning people away from Google (in fact where can we go?) but its souring their profile bit by bit because they themselves set such high expectations.



Thursday, 31 July 2008

Cuil Brand Autopsy

It's not only the catastrophic mismatch between hype and performance that PR and marketing bloggers are raking over but the Cuil brand itself. Here's one very good analysis that summarises all of the problems rather nicely but makes the good point that others (namely Google) commit equally awful crimes against sound branding logic

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Wishing Cuil Well But...

Like many others, I tried out the much hyped pretender to Google's throne yesterday. It worked reasonably well for me but it looks like there's been an almost instant backlash to Cuil's claims of search superiority because of technical issues. Unfortunately these reports highlight problems with the inherent design of Cuil as much as being the result of so many people trying out the new service on its first day.

Cuil looks like becoming an object lesson in how PR should be used to manage expectations when a new product or service is launched. In this case it appears that the opportunity to control the hype wasn't applied as rigorously as it should have been. There is always a risk that the raw enthusiasm for new technology can overbalance sound judgements about a product launch. This is especially true of a search engine service for which the basic expectations are that it is BETTER than Google; and that it works. The core of the problem can lie in how PR and marketing interact and sometimes don't properly communicate.

So why did they go for a full blown, all singing and dancing launch? The beleagered Cuil spokesperson makes a good point that launching the service with a beta tag wouldn't have stopped the criticism either.

The solution? It's a hard call. There's been many touted challengers to Google and none has really shone. But we think the media wants to see a serious alternative to Google. Don't forget Google came out of the blue too (anyone remember how Alta Vista turned ever one's heads once upon a time not many years ago?). So there is a deep well of support and goodwill.

So Cuil can turn it around? The answer is maybe but they need to respond fast which to their credit they're doing. Going forward inject a little more realism into the PR machine. Maintain open relations with the media. Invite bloggers for briefings and updates. Demonstrate a sense of humour and quietly start to get it right.

But are there second chances in Web 2.0/Pr 2.0 launches? Well that'll be the most interesting outcome of the whole debacle. So let's see where Cuil's reputation sits in six months time. Hero or Zero? Dud or Dude?

Friday, 25 July 2008

DRM RIP


Yahoo is closing down its online music service. Good article on Ars Technica on how this decision also sounds the death knell of music digital rights management as the Yahoo service is the last((?) service with DRM.

Wish you were here...


Last week I left GBC in the capable (if jealous) hands of my colleagues, and travelled to Turkey for a quick dose of sunshine. Holidays are the perfect chance to get away from it all, and for me that usually means technology too.

The end of our five hour flight was signalled by mobile phone start-up jingles all around me. While for some, the whole point of going away is to be unreachable, for others it seems that news from home is just too good to miss.

But on day 4, calamity struck, as my digital camera took its last ever photo, and my trusty mobile phone stepped into the breach to capture those pina colada moments. For the first time I even taunted friends from afar using my phone's postcard function, (at least they beat you back to England).

True, there was more texting on the beach than ever before, but it’s not replacing the stalls brimming with tacky souvenirs and traditional postcards. After all, you can’t get Turkish Delight by satellite signal, and you can’t put a digital postcard on your mantelpiece. Old habits die hard.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Snail Mail'll Get You!


New anti-piracy initiative between UK ISPs and the music industry is supposed to have real claws. But somehow the threat of getting a good old fashioned letter in the post to re-educate you doesn't seem to be that threatening. What's more ISPs are falling over backwards to say what they won't do to back up those letters with strong evidence of real wrong-doing e.g. no spying on what their customers get up to. So some deterrent?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Green PR Keeps Its Shine in the Gloom


Gathering economic gloom is said to be making consumers and businesses forget their enthusiasm for green issues. Green products and initiatives are labelled as too expensive and out of step with talk of recession. So why have we launched a green communications practice when prospects aren't looking as rosy (or vibrant green) as they did?


The reasons are simple

1. Clients want more not less advice on green communication issues. There's evidence that the first flush of green marketing back fired. So clients want consultants who can help build up credible cases for sustainability. And the issues of making our economies and societies prepared for climate change aren't going away regardless of the state of the economy

2. Sustainability suits a time of austerity. For example, green computing is about saving money on electricity and IT spending on hardware and software while continuing to use information technology to make organisations more competitive and responsive

3. We are launching our practice based on the back of several years worth of quiet but solid experience in working on green issues from a B2C, a B2B and political perspective. The market is looking for more sophisticated responses to how environmental issues are exploited, making our multidisciplinary approach so much more appropriate than other offerings.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Introducing the It Phone




They don’t make it easy for you to get your hands on an iPhone 3G, do they? First there were the Friday queues, now the phone has pretty much sold out in the UK. And that’s only the black version, which, judging from last week’s crowds in front of the O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores, appeals exclusively to alpha males. Which makes us wonder, what kind of phone would get us women queuing? Handset manufacturers, the race for the It Phone is on. And here are some tips for getting it right.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

OOH ERR ERNIE!


News today that the original ERNIE computer, which generated random numbers for UK Government Premium Bonds, is on display at London's Science Museum. Made me think how much this was a bold PR move by the post-war UK Government. How to get citizens to give the Government money at a time of austerity? Well let's win their trust by getting a computer not a civil servant to randomly choose the winning number. An added bonus was associating government policy with what was then considered white-hot high tech - another antidote for the post-war murk n gloom

Thursday, 26 June 2008

David and Goliath: plus cela change?



There used to be a time when everyone looked for a company that would take on Microsoft. But now that’s old hat, and everyone’s rooting around looking for a company to take on Google.

Despite the claims to the contrary, that company isn’t Mahalo. Nor is it ChaCha. Sure, the people-powered search engines have passionate user bases to create topic guides. And the results are meant to be more trustworthy than Google, which is algothrym-based.

The question is, will the SEO industry change the status quo, given their entire industry is built around Google? With the financial interests at stake, it’s safe to assume not.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Google will inhibit the internet’s evolution. Given Google’s propensity to implement new services, it could be just a matter of time before it implements its own people-powered search engine user base.

So whilst companies like Mahalo and ChaCha might not make the history books for taking on Google, they might make it for influencing what Google becomes in the future
.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Press Beach Party Memories













Everyone here is recovering from last night's Beach Party. Close to 200 journalists, analysts, GBCers and Chocolateers spent the night chatting, downing beers, sipping cocktails and nibbling beach food (by the tonne). A very busy night in Soho ended with dancing to bad 80s music and late cabs home.
Asking people at the door if they would like a lei broke the ice more than a little. Seeing how those leis were used - head bands, bangles, bow ties, manacles etc - revealed the Great British IT Press at its most innovative and absurd.
Also we got to see the new Flip video camera thanks to the journos who decamped from their PR event to our party.
Roll on 2009!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Carphone and Best Buy: It Aint About Retail Really

From the day the news broke, the great weight of coverage about Best Buy buying into Carphone Warehouse has been about how Best Buy will attempt an assault on DSG and Comet. That may be the case (especially with weekend rumours about Best Buy hinting it may snap up Currys or Comet), but the actual story here is how the deal makes Carphone Warehouse even more of communications service provider.

In retail it shares the load with a bigger partner, but in broadband services its strategy is one of buying up the big ISP names one by one.

Evidence for this? Today's news about Carphone Warehouse's bid for Tiscali. So how's Dunstone going to spend the remaining £550m of the Best Buy investment of £1.1bn?

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Bay Area still buzzing despite talk of recession.

Having recently returned from the buzzing Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I was struck by the difference this time around between this possible recession (if indeed it is a recession) compared to the last one back in 2000-01.


The general comment from most exhibitors was ‘what recession’ and the atmosphere was certainly very buoyant and as one exhibitor said: ‘This time around the internet is actually being used by consumers and businesses alike and overall the technology works.’ Indeed, I remember trying to buy items online back then and it was virtually impossible as the technology couldn’t cope nor were companies truly online in their full capacity.

Nor is any kind of downturn likely to change how much we are all going online, in fact aren’t consumers more likely to use the internet in quiet times for shopping, chatting with friends, searching for bargains and reading online?

Unlike in 2001 when I visited the bay area and the business car parks and Starbucks were empty, this time nothing could be further from the truth. In fact plenty of construction work was going on, particularly new office blocks, up and down the bay area. Hardly signs of a long-term downturn.

So I’ve put thoughts of any long-term recession far behind me. Instead, what’s more interesting is some of the exciting companies at Web 2.0 in particular Six Apart, Bungee Labs, Sprout (unusually from Hawaii), and Ortiz. What’s interesting is the total variety of companies exhibiting from the front line consumer guys like Photobucket through to the back room data storage and analysis companies like EMC. In fact, one analyst has commented that this was much more of a business professional show than the previous year when it was dominated by geeks. And the big IT giants were there, obviously recognising that they need to be in this rapidly growing market.

PS – the IT industry might be introducing all the wireless technology it possibly can and although it’s a heck of a lot better than in 01, it still doesn’t totally work 100% of the time either in my hotel room or office blocks and that’s in downtown SF.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The Sound of Keyboards Quietly Hissing

My week is ending with the gently hissing of my colleagues patiently puffing compressed air into their keyboards. Their aim is to dislodge all those pesky toilet seat germs that are scuttling underneath the QWERTYs. The reason is a story that's whipped up a storm of news coverage this week. Which Computer's research revealed that the average keyboard harbours more bacteria than a toilet seat. (Incidentally we did similar research for an old client four years ago. Our results included the discovery of unspeakable body hair in some sampled keyboards)

Ironically this story, which has led to our office cleansing panic and a shortage of keyboard cleaner aerosols in Richmond, appeared alongside another story about the benefits of being exposed to germs. Children who attend daycare nurseries are less likely to develop leukaemia because they build a natural resistance to infection because of germs and diseases they pick up from other children. So germs at your fingertips could actually be a good thing.

So who to believe?

Monday, 28 April 2008

Why the future of all computers is beige

Digging around Diggit came across this strangely fascinating article from the Vintage Computer blog. It answers that question that all owners of lovely snow white laptops will utter one day - why has my computer gawn brown?

We have the technology…

A couple of years ago, Jason Bradbury created the phone glove. A relatively simple idea, he took apart a Bluetooth headset and implanted the contents within a gentleman's driving glove. He was then able to answer his phone and even re-dial numbers with a simple flick of his wrist, whilst hold conversations using the classic hand phone aka your thumb and pinkie.

Fast forward to 2008 and Nokia have extended the concept of the wearable mobile phone device with their announcement of Morph-based handsets. Using nanotechnology, the handsets could theoretically clean themselves, recharge by solar energy and even be transparent where that helps and much more.

So what can we expect next? Qualcomm seem to believe a combination of the above, with the creation of a microsite promoting the Hand Solo Phone.

video

Although clearly a joke and fun marketing activity, it is clear that nanotechnology, once the subject of science fiction movies has moved into the laboratory and we are now exploring the true potential of this technology.

I wonder how long it will be until a similar advert appears on our screens for real.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Technological Fortune Telling

While browsing recent technology news, I came across Michael Chen, this year's winner of the James Dyson award with his ‘Reactiv’ jacket for night cyclists. The James Dyson award is an annual worldwide technology contest, which aims to encourage young inventors to think more creatively.

Chen’s light-up jacket uses movement sensitive technology originally devised for the Nintendo Wii to make cyclists’ movements clearer to motorists. LEDs are sewn into the back of the jacket, and are controlled by ‘accelerometers’. The lights glow green when the bike is moving at speed, and red as it slows down. When a cyclist indicates, their raised arm flashes amber.

Chen’s design has certainly caught the attention of the journalists, and the Dyson Award is the perfect accolade for the launch of his product. But I can’t help thinking that in many ways, awards like these are little more than well educated guesswork.

This is hardly surprising when you consider how so many great technology businesses arose out of real obscurity.

Everyone knows Microsoft was the invention of a student drop out, HP was born in a shed and the Google guys started off making inkjet printers out of Lego bricks and building a solar powered car. Who can say where the next big idea will stem from?

Technology awards provide a great forum for airing the latest trends and developments. But
often the best ideas come from less predictable sources.

If the Reactiv jacket improves road safety for cyclists, we’ll have the Dyson award to thank. However, when it comes to technological fortune telling I suspect we’re still in the dark.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Mobile Monday

I am no longer a MoMo virgin, having been to my first Mobile Monday event. Held in Munich, it was amazing to see how popular and influential MoMo is becoming. People had tried to get onto the guest list and couldn’t.

Mobile Monday has become a true brand. Both the industry and the media are recognising that the event organisers are THE experts in the telco space. The latest example is the article by Jemima Kiss, well known blogger and columnist at The Guardian, who covered a recent London MoMo.

It is great to see how big MoMo has grown since its inception in 2000. I first heard of it only a year or so ago. The events have the reputation of being well organised (I agree from what I have seen in Munich) and attract everyone from telco start-ups to the big brands. Companies on the guest list at the Munich event included Jamba, Microsoft and Netbiscuits.

The idea of organising events to discuss issues in the mobile space was first introduced in Finland where the first Mobile Monday took place in September 2000.

The founders of Mobile Monday decided to form a company with the same name in 2004. In the same year, Mobile Monday went international. The first chapter (subsidiary) outside of Finland was Tokyo, followed by Silicon Valley and Italy. Presently MoMo has around 64 active chapters and has 14 more in the pipeline. The next countries to join will be Estonia, Argentina, the Philippines and Malta.

We’re finding that our clients regard MoMo as an integral element in their communications strategies. If MoMo can maintain the high quality of subject matter and audience its reputation should remain high for several years to come.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A WEEE bit for the environment....

Recycling is a huge topic. Everyone is talking about 'going green', 'recycling', and ‘preserving the planet'. We are all trying to do our bit for the environment both at home and in the office. At GBC, we have been recycling and re-using printer and copier paper for a while now as well as making a conscious effort to switch off PCs, printers, lights and any other equipment which may waste electricity. But what about the disposal of electronic equipment like PCs and printers - do you ever wonder what happens to them when your office decides to get rid of it?

If not disposed of correctly, they end up in a landfill somewhere which has a huge negative effect on the environment. Many studies have shown that old printers contain materials that can make their way into the water system. In turn, this ends up causing a number of different problems for the environment.

A year after the introduction of the WEEE Directive (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment), the UK now has a nationwide collection and recycling network with 1556 collection sites. Electronic equipment manufacturers as well as retailers are obliged under the regulations to take end-of-life items back or inform consumers of local disposal facilities.

Late last year, on a cold December's day, I visited one of these local disposal and recycling facilities that Toshiba uses, to see for myself how electronic equipment such as printers, copiers and PCs is recycled. To see the recycling in process for yourself, please click here.

Huge corporate printers are shredded into small materials around 100mm in size, before being separated into re-usable materials, such as iron, steel, copper, glass, plastic and aluminium. Most of the material recycled can is sold on or re-used following the process. While vendors such as printer manufacturers are taking the WEEE directly very seriously, UK consumers are also being encouraged to recycle their unwanted electrical and electronic equipment, in a bid to reduce waste going to landfill.

So.. next time you are replacing your mobile phone, home PC, fridge or flat screen TV, consider asking your local authority or retailer on how to do your WEEE bit on recycling.

Friday, 4 April 2008

What's High Tech Really All About?

Perhaps the beginning of an irregular series of doodlings and musings but the whole concept of high tech deserves a good old debate.

This story on today's BBC News website caught my eye (and imagination). The knitting machines at the world's oldest factory still in operation have changed over the centuries but the basic technology is probably the same.

Good technology lasts. High technology isn't simply about junking the old and replacing it with something new. If the technology works why replace it? Surely the best strategy is build on its strengths.

In the case of this woolly jumper factory (is there anything more quintessentially English than this?) the traditional knitting factory technology is being focused on producing quality products. So technology designed for mass producing the woolie items that made Britain great are now producing high ticket fashion items for consumers in the Far East.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Blogs are Old Hat, Young Chap?

Reading the biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and among the many interesting insights (e.g. there was no big clamour for him to bring Sherlock Holmes from the dead and he kept writing Sherlock Holmes stories well into the 1920s) was how much Conan Doyle was a bit of a blogger in the (of course) pre-blogging, pre-Internet, pre-computer, pretty much pre-electricity etc. age.

What made me think of a parallel or two was the huge amount of work and energy that he put into contributing articles, firing off letters commenting on other people's articles (and then firing back counter-replies and counter-counter replies) and joining and being an active member of countless clubs and a spinning kaleidoscope of special interest groups. This was in addition to writing hundreds of short stories, novels and poetry. The late nineties and Edwardian period saw tremendous activity in the publishing industry with new magazines being launched and heavy pamphleting about a plethora of issues. Much of this was self-publishing akin to today's social media movement - albeit done by the upper middle classes and in print.

Faced with all these opportunities to see his words in print Conan Doyle simply could not stop himself. The blizzard of activity is overwhelming and even more impressive because all he had was a pen and paper and later a wonky second hand typewriter rather than a laptop and an Internet connection.

I suspect his attitude to information technology would have been warped by his well-known obsession with spiritualism - the belief in the afterlife, which Conan Doyle and others saw as a basis for a new all-unifying super-religion. Spiritualists regarded key technologies like electricity, radio and photography as revealing the spirit world - e.g. unexplained (actually often faked) ghostly auras on photographs or radio waves being the same method the dead communicated to the living. The movement got a huge boost by the First World War because so many people died so young so suddenly and many times with no information about what happened or even if they were dead. Their bereaved friends and families were desperate for closure and the idea of making contact with the dead held huge appeal.

The Internet as a means of universal connectivity certainly would have excited Conan Doyle's mind and - as we all know - is very much a tool for all sorts of wild n wacky obsessions of the kind that appealed to him.

So Conan Doyle, a blogger? Elementarily not because he went over to the Other Side in 1930. But potentially he could have been the world' s greatest blogger. And given his beliefs is desperately trying to get through to get a broadband account and pump out his reports from Afterlife.com

Friday, 14 March 2008

Happy Birthday Flickr

Flickr, the Yahoo-owned, photo-uploading, image-hosting, memory-collecting site has just celebrated its Fourth Birthday. To put into perspective the success of this site, in the minute that I’m writing this a further 4,493 photographs have been uploaded. A search for ‘Grant’ returns 183,293 results, ranging from ‘Grant Lake Falls’ to ‘Richard E Grant on the District Line’ (in the interests of parity ‘Butler’ returns 64,661 results and ‘Coomber’ only 226).

While in an Art Gallery recently I came across a project where the artist had searched for ‘sunset’ and printed 1,000 copies of the result, making a powerful collage. I’ve been reliably informed that a number of bands now even get their album covers from Flickr.

Uploaded photographs can of course be linked to blogs, and in a splendid ‘Web 2.0’ moment, I was able to link 30 of my best photographs on Flickr to my facebook profile. Now snaps of Accra, Bangkok, and Coffs Harbour sit proudly next to my ‘wall’.

The more snaps I uploaded, the more comments I received (all positive – its bad etiquette to post particularly negative ones). Similarly, I was invited to post my photos in groups such as 'UltimateSkyscraperShots', which is apparently significant. It is certainly a compliment when you browse some of photos that your work is then displayed alongside.

Before sites like Flickr, the majority of the photographs now online would doubtless be sat idle on someone’s hard drive. Thankfully, they are now out there for all to see.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

BBC Wowed by New Zealand Technology Stars

We're coming to the end of our work for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise at CeBIT. Our international team led by GBC Germany with support from GBC UK has done some excellent work at CeBIT, drawing crowds of the world's media to the stand to see demos and meet some of New Zealand's best and brightest high tech companies. What has stood out for us this year is how the BBC has covered NZ companies in tremendous depth - a testament to the hard work of our team, the news value of the NZ tech companies and the whole NZTE marketing effort.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

CeBIT Gets Wirelessed Up

Mobile World Congress and CeBIT seem to get closer every year. It’s not just the dates but the fact that CeBIT is jumping on the MWC agenda of mobile communications and computing more ardently than ever before.

Now in its second year, CeBIT’s WIRELESSWorld is located within the Communications sector in hall 13. It is a hub for everything related to mobility, organising networking events, maximising exposure of exhibitors and organising speaker events as well as panel discussions.

Speaker events worthwhile stopping by include::

- Siemens talking about “Pervasive Connection with 802.11n”

- Dialogic talking about „Mobile Video Telephony“ or

- Mobile Complete explaining How to jumpstart mobile shopping/browsing“

The panel discussions organised by US enterprise tech magazine eWeek should also trigger some interesting discussions. Editorial director, Eric Lundquist and Senior Technology editor, Wayne Rash together with a representative from Nokia, Siemens and Mobile Complete will be talking about how to best “Capture the Potential of the Wireless Enterprise”. Let’s see what the outcome of this could be…

eWeek Panel

Location: Hall 13, Stand D34

Date: Wednesday 05.03.2008, 11:00-12:00 o'clock

Monday, 25 February 2008

Mobile World Congress - making waves

Now fully back from the whirlwind of Mobile World Congress here are just a few things I thought were particularly noteworthy.

Mobile Advertising
The show dailies were full of news, views and opinions about mobile advertising. Not surprising as mobile device technology actually comes of age as a platform for data services. This, combined with how the big brands are finding it harder to reach key customer segments via traditional media, is increasing the number of mobile advertising trials and services using delivery technologies such as SMS, MMS, Video and mobile TV that can put the brand into the hand – as the pundits say.

Estimates for the mobile advertising market coming out of the show were astounding with a claim that the market is already worth $640bn. Pie in the sky? Well, with 2.7bn mobile devices operating globally, compared to 1.5bn TVs and 1.1 bn internet connected PCs, it seems mobile advertising has a bright future and could take over from traditional forms.

Other much talked about areas included multimedia and the launch of innovative handsets from new players such as Google will continue to increase the use of voice, data and video.

Location based services
Strategic Analytics predicted that global spend on location-based services delivered over the air will reach $6bn by 2011 - which is probably why Nokia paid $8.1 bn for mapping company Navteq in the autumn. At the show, Nokia announced Maps 2.0, its latest mapping and nagivation services as well as its 'context' strategy (moving into value added services. Geotagging was another buzzword from the event (for those who don’t know, it’s when a user takes a picture and its automatically adds geographic coordinates that allows the image to be searched basdd on its location).

Protecting our children
It was great to see the industry joining forces with GSMA to form the Mobile Against Child Sexual Abuse Content. Hutchison 3G, MobileKom Austria, Orange, Telecom Italia are all participating to create significant barriers to the misuse of mobile networks and the services for child sex abuse content.

Social networking goes mobile
Facebook is on a mission to make its site universally accessible, both on mobile devices and through peoples native languages. At the show, Facebook introduced a new platform called Facebook for Mobile Operators, which aims to provide a simple, online, self-service tool so that any operator can add Facebook’s mobile services to their network using the kind of Terms of Service model common on the Internet. Though early days…it’ll be one to watch I suspect.

Sue

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Femtocells and Rubber Stairs: Bring Em On!

Having recovered from man flu caught somehow on the Fira show grounds, I can now reflect on the whole Mobile World Congress experience.

Some inital thoughts in no order of importance whatsover.

1. MWC doesn't roll off the tongue like 3GSM. Journos, clients and prospects regularly had to correct themselves.

2. Femtocells have been annointed the great hope of the industry. One analyst who came to our pre-show party said femtocells had popped up like mushrooms in the last 12 months. But the nagging issue for me is how are the operators going to convince ordinary punters to have a 3G base station in their home. Scientific facts support femtocell makers and operators but when did rational argument stop the general public's irrational fears about mobile phone radiation?

3. One big innovation for MWC2009 should be replace those lovely stone stairs with something a little more forgiving on sore feet e.g. rubber, deep pile carpet, anything except marble, limestone or whatever else those stairs are made of between the two levels in Hall 2. Opportunities to ride on an escalator became a real pleasure for this visitor. Moving pavements. Rickshaws. Sedan Chairs. Cable Cars. Anything that makes trudging around the show ground a little less physically punishing.

4. Tell office manager to not book me into a hotel near Barcelona city cathedral. Spent nights discovering the delights of medieval clocks and their bonging mechanisms. One bong for first quarter, two bongs for second quarter, three bongs for third quarter and four bongs for forth quarter, plus a sequence of bongs for the hour. I think you get the idea of what the whole auditory experience was like....

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Mobile World Congress - possibly the hottest show in town

As Mobile World Congress (MWC) draws to a close for yet another year, it’s time to reflect.

Over the past seven years (or is it more!), I have fully expected the fever pitch to tail off but it never does. In fact it seems to get more so. My gut feeling is right and according to the organisers, there were a record breaking 40,000 visitors on the first day alone (no wonder the queues were so long!)

This must be the hottest European show in the telecoms/IT industry right now. So what creates such excitement?

The mobile industry really is coming of age especially in its convergence with the Internet. Quite simply this stuff actually works on most people’s mobile devices most of the time in most places.

Three years ago when mobile data services first appeared, I couldn’t look up the latest news, local restaurants or cinema details without the device crashing. Today my mobile is reliable and provides this information at a price that I’m prepared to pay.

So we are there. The technology works and the customer is prepared to pay for it. Hurrah!

Nonetheless, the pace to innovate, drive up revenues, transform the customer experience with new services and find new market opportunities is relentless. Nothing ever stands still in this sector as this year’s MWC revealed yet again.

This year, the buzz was around Hall 8 where the big brand giants (including Nokia, Samsung, Huawei and Ericsson)were showing off their latest wares. It was like bees round the honeypot – I know not why! One of the hottest pieces of news that Radio 5 Live reported before the start was that Google was to launch its own mobile phone. However, it didn’t make big headlines at the show itself.

Sony Ericsson wants to be number three in the hit parade and to that end unveiled a range of new products including an addition to its Walkman range. From May, customers will be able to access up to five million tracks and navigate their music from the external idle screen.

Under the tagline ‘The Ultimate Essence of Mobile,’ Samsung Electronics launched its new flagship handset. Known as ‘Soul,’ the new handset is packed with features including a 7.2Mbit/s HSDPA browser and a 5 megapixel camera. (in fact the pink Soul banners were plastered over almost every concrete surface in and around the Fira including the defunct bull ring opposite the main gates). Let’s see what happens.

Rumours abounded that the latest gadgets and gizmos were being given away on every stand and that there was a plastic mobile phone that could be rolled up,..…sounds cool!

In Halls 1 and 2, there was a different atmosphere, less frantic, less hunger for the latest sexy gadgets. But this is where you could often find the next cutting edge technologies, the next jewels in the crown. Checkout Datawind, Ortiva Wireless, Newbay Software and Nubiq (on the Irish stand), Airwide Solutions and Actimagine.

And then of course, there were all the cool companies in Hall 7 focused on multimedia and the advertising and media communities. Checkout Mobile Complete, Mobstar Media, Netbiscuits, Lemonquest, Nunet, and Cloudmark.

Perhaps best of all, fabulous hall 6, where we could all collapse at the end of the first day. The Spanish government was looking after it’s 40,000 visitors supplying us with copious amounts of free Spanish Cava and beer,tapas and live music from some great Catalan bands...a definite must on the list for next year!

So can Mobile World Congress sustain its excitement and energy for a few more years? I would have thought so.

Sue

Friday, 8 February 2008

Sangria, chorizo y todas las cosas moviles

It’s that time again and Barcelona is no doubt coming alive with the buzz and anticipation that only one event brings every year around this time: The Mobile World Congress 2008. Ahead of the mobile industry’s biggest annual event next week, news announcements are already starting to gather speed.

So why should you care? Well - Robert Redford will be attending the event.

On a more serious note, you can expect to see all kinds of interesting announcements from device manufacturers and carriers. Handset manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson will be showcasing their latest models. It’s also rumored that a prototype running Google’s Android will be on display.

This year, like others previously, a big part of the debate is likely to focus on how to encourage users in developed countries to use their phones for more than simply making calls. Operators are increasingly eager for us to use our mobiles for Internet services, games, music downloading or watching television. Then you’ve got popular online social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook moving to the mobile and the one question on many minds will be: what will be the killer mobile social networking app?

Whilst a few of my colleagues will be burning the carpets at the show, I will be closely monitoring the announcements, tracking the success of our client Mobile Complete, who will be showcasing their DeviceAnywhere Pro application.. oh and last but not least I shall be deciding on my next mobile handset :o)

Monday, 4 February 2008

The world's most famous geek


I am new to blogging, so I had no idea what to write about. I started to do some research. I looked at other blogs, general news, checked the BBC, and flipped through some newspapers – still nothing I really wanted to comment on. Having been in PR for almost 4 years now I read, research, look at angles and brainstorm… to come up with ideas, even if it is “only” for a blog! Everything needs to be properly prepared, have the right angle and the right reference… What a geek I thought to myself. Geek! That’s it, let’s talk about geeks.

What are geeks? My own definition of a geek might be my colleague who gets more excited about a new phone being released than about the sales at Selfridges. Or it could be someone with more gadgets than books. Or whoever spends more than 12 hours a day on a computer could be a geek.

The word geek used to have quite a negative connotation, referring to peculiar or odd people. Is this still the case? Not at all anymore. Defined by Wikipedia, a geek is a person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media or it is someone who is more devoted to something than others – and who has a great amount of knowledge in this area.

If Bill Gates buys Yahoo he may soon be named “the world’s most famous geek” according to The Guardian. So if someone calls you a geek – be proud!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Tell me why I don’t like Mondays…please Dr. Arnall

The papers, the radio, the telly and my mates have been part of the great conspiracy to make me, and the public in general, aware that today, January 21st, was going to be the bluest day of the year.

I decided to scour the Internet to discover who is behind this all this negative psychology. Thank you Dr Cliff Arnall, of Cardiff University Psychology department, who reached this conclusion based on research encompassing a variety of factors.

I’m no psychologist, but even I can work out that January is midwinter, where we’re all fighting hibernation and thinking that the winter layer might have to see us through the hard times inflicted by December’s overspending. But the idea that today was destined to be the worst sounds a little pessimistic and, dare I say it, a gem of a PR campaign – not a bad one though.

As I trundled through town in my decidedly chirpy red coat I can’t say I noticed my mood was any different to any other day, and work was pretty normal too. Granted, I was greeted by an overflowing inbox, but if you work in an office, you’ll know that’s a Monday thing, and there was nothing very nasty about today’s.

If you disagree, and the early sunsets are getting you down, perhaps you’ll be tempted to do one of the following: (or if you’re a bloke you might prefer a pint at the local…)

- book a week in the sun
- join a gym (release those endorphins)
- indulge in retail therapy in this fine bargain season
- eat chocolate (containing anandamide to make you happier)

If I were a glass-half-empty kind of girl, I might conclude that the common impact of these three remedies is the negative impact they have on my bank balance, and the simultaneous boost they give to the retail industry (coincidence?)

So, was the mood in the air, was it infectious or are the media responsible for your bad start to the week? I say, if it hit you, claim it was inevitable, and rest assured that that’s as bad as it’ll get all year! You survived!

The PR industry makes me laugh

The PR industry makes me laugh (yes, indeed, the very business I work in). Agencies have banged on for many years now about wanting to be treated and valued like other professions and senior business advisors. ‘Why aren’t we respected like management consultants’ being the common question. Well when did you last hear of a management consultant offering their services for free?

We be moan the fact that we never seem to able to charge for pitches (unlike the ad industry), we debate for hours why our client fees aren’t as high as the advertising world (I sat on a PRCA committee for a year which was very busy discussing all of that) - but then what do I spot, one PR agency offering to work for free!

Now if that’s not devaluing not only your own business but the whole industry in one fell swoop. I know the whole argument about enticing a client in and being able to prove what you’re worth…but surely that short term gain is not worth the long-term damage it does to the profession?

What’s even worse is that this particular agency was rewarded for its positioning by winning a couple of highly acclaimed PR Week industry awards. So PR Week is actually endorsing undermining its own profession…interesting.

I ask you.

Sue

Monday, 7 January 2008

Don't bloggers need legal protection?

The front page of last week's USA edition of PR Week has reported that the blog, ThinkSecret.com, has agreed to shutdown after a lengthy 3 year lawsuit with Apple. The problem stemmed from the fact that the site received leaked information about Apple products from an unknown source. The details of the settlement are unknown with the two parties settling out of court.

In this ever changing social media world, this latest news regarding ThinkSecret.com surely emphasises the need for bloggers to have more protection legally just as regular journalists already have.

SCG