Monday, April 20, 2015

'We Put A Chip In It' - Relatively pointless IoT devices & ideas

We Put A Chip In It is a great collection (Tumblr) of (pretty) pointless IoT ideas like Smart Socks, Smart Beakers, Smart Yoga Mats, Smart Suitcases, Smart Cooking Pans and more.

Sadly lots of the links seem to be broken on the site - presumably the companies linked to didn't like being there, but there are lots that do work.

I'm not saying that all these things are necessarily bad ideas, but like the smart fridge and smart kettle just because you can make something 'smart' doesn't mean that there's necessarily a real need for it, or a big demand for it.

Also - the Tumblr discussed on Metafilter

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A return to walled gardens

Back in the last century we laughed at walled gardens, saying they were the bad old past, and how the web, with search and openness would kill them off.

The original walled gardens, like AOL,com saved you from the dangers and confusion of the world wide web by offering a carefully curated selection of content, like news, travel, sport, shopping and more.  However search engines like Google made it easy to find the best content in each area, and people realised that the web wasn't all that dangerous, and they'd rather choose their own content from everything out there, rather than what AOL or the other portals thought they'd want to see.

Now walled gardens, or things like them, seem to be back in fashion, particularly on mobile, where a pre-determined content, with no need for fast connectivity to move to a new place, can be a good idea.  It also works well in-app, because the app is tailored to your device more efficiently than a web experience, particularly with Apple.

The often-used stat that apps make up 86% of time spent online reinforces this - if you're spending time with apps, it's easier to stay within the app rather than to move onto the wider web, so apps are trying to drag content into their property rather than to send people off elsewhere.  (Years ago portals (briefly) didn't like search because it took people away from the site.  In the desktop world Google used to boast about how little time people spent on Google).

Here are some examples of the new walled gardens -

Snapchat's Discover area, with content pre-loaded by professional content providers seems to be working well for them, and ads that appear in the content generate revenue for both the content creator (like MTV) and Snapchat.

Twitter's cards, with extra content like the summary to a story, a video or a voting link being kept within Twitter.

Child-friendly Apps like YouTube Kids, and Vine for Kids - again we mocked AOL for being so child-friendly in the 2000s, but it makes a lot of sense, and many apps are naturally self-contained.

Finally, Facebook can be seen as 'the new AOL' (something people have been saying for at least 5 years) especially with the recent rumour that it was suggesting some news companies stories to be hosted in Facebook.  Again, it cuts down on navigating time, and a recent survey suggests that a lot of people don't think they are on the internet when they're on Facebook...  As with the Snapchat model, the content creator would share ad revenue with the host.

"Facebook intends to begin testing the new format in the next several months, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The initial partners are expected to be The New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, although others may be added since discussions are continuing. The Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal, one person said.
To make the proposal more appealing to publishers, Facebook has discussed ways for publishers to make money from advertising that would run alongside the content."

Finally, it's the idea of a closed system, or a simpler system, that some users seem to like.  The ultimate manifestation of this is Amazon's 'commerce' button - a physical button that is being tested in the US that lets Prime users re-order items like washing tablets by just pressing a button that can be stuck to the washing machine.  Or another example - the 'Netflix' button now appearing on physical TV remotes for smart TVs, making it easier for people to watch Netflix.

If walled gardens are now back in fashion, what else from the early days of the web is likely to return?

Update - Chris Dixon of Andreesen Horowitz on Open vs Closed systems (He thinks open will ultimately win)

EasyJet's Low Fare Finder

A great bit of user-friendly data visualisation.

See easily the current cheapest price for a flight by month, and then, when you click on a month, by day.

Apologies if it's been around for ages, but it's new to me!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Marketing with Giphy & Facebook Messenger

Giphy is one of the apps that is now integrated into Facebook Messenger.

Giphy is, as the name suggests, a search engine for gifs, and has pretty much anything you can imagine from pics of places and celebrities, to brands.

The integration with Facebook Messenger makes it easy to add these to your conversation to amuse or annoy your friends.

Fox has put lots of Game of Thrones gifs on Giphy to promote the new series.  If you search for #CatchDrogon (not a typo - Drogon is the name of a dragon) on Giphy you see pictures like this:

Which you can share in Messenger like this:

Thursday, April 09, 2015

If Carlsberg Did Posters...

Amazing work.  & of course far more people will hear about it now that it's finished

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