Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The mobile response to Haiti=technology for good

Over the past 15 years we have seen the Internet connect us globally during tragic events. We witnessed this during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and now, unfortunately again, in Haiti. Each time, however, we see a quicker and more powerful response as people learn to use technology in new ways.

In the case of the Haiti earthquake, one of the most phenomenal, and one might say surprising responses in the U.S., came via mobile. Less than a week after the earthquake, $20 million was raised by the Red Cross via text messaging, in $10 increments. The New York Times called it the "largest outpouring of support via mobile devices in history."

What is so interesting about this response, in addition to the incredible show of support, is that every person who took this action learned a new way to act. As Clay Shirky says in his book, Here Comes Everybody, "Once people adopt social media in an unusual situation, they are much likelier to integrate it into their everyday lives."

It's a true game changer in many ways, and it will be interesting to see how this event influences the use of mobile in the U.S.

By the way, you can still donate. Just pick up your phone, and text the word "Haiti" to 90999 (Red Cross), or 20222 (William J. Clinton Foundation) or you can text 'Yele' to 501501 (Wyclef Jean's Yele charity).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top 5 in digital | Predictions for 2010

The mobile Web goes mainstream
Fifty-six percent of adult Americans access the Internet by wireless means and two-thirds own a video-enabled mobile device. Those are signs of major growth - but mobile is set to grow even more in 2010. Take m-commerce. It's set to pass the $1 billion mark this year. And by 2013, it is predicted that more than 600 million people worldwide will access social networks via mobile devices. Who needs a laptop, or a wallet, when you've got a smartphone?

You'll utter the phrase "Web 3.0."
Techie folks started talking about Web 3.0 this year, which, just like Web 2.0, is comprised of a number of concepts, such as the real-time Web, the Semantic Web, and the Internet of Things. While Web 3.0 can be complex and hard to grasp, it does have marketing implications. Expect to see the advertising and marketing world try to get its collective head around this new era of the Web (just know that it will be a good three to four years before they start to figure it out).

Augmented reality will become the "it" app of the year
Twitter is so 2009. But augmented reality will be so 2010. If you're not familiar with it, augmented reality puts a layer of information over a real-world item, essentially merging real and virtual worlds. For example, if you hold your iPhone up to a restaurant in front of you, you can view reviews of that restaurant through your iPhone screen. Augmented reality also allows you to hold a printed image up to a webcam to see a 3-D image arise. Expect to see more AR apps this year, as anyone who's anyone gets in on this trend.

Google takes over voice
For the last few years, the iPhone reigned supreme as the king of the smartphones. But Google's mobile operating system, Android, is gaining ground. By the beginning of this year, 19 smartphones will run on Android, which unlike the iPhone, is an open-source platform. Google is also rumored to be releasing its own smart phone, the Nexus One (supposedly with a magnetic compass and FM speaker), as well as near-real-time translation for mobile devices in 2010.

Publishers will try paid-content models, again
In 2009, 367 U.S. periodicals shut down and 64 went online-only. So it's no surprise that publications are once again looking at paid-content models to survive. We saw numerous paid-content models about 10 years ago. Some, such as The Wall Street Journal, have been successful, but many others failed. And some publications, such as The New York Times, have gone back and forth on charging for content. We're hearing lots about paid content again these last few months, but unless the offerings are niche, offer stellar user experiences, or center on mobile, chances are, they won't be viable business models.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Top 5 in digital for 2009

I wrote this a few weeks ago but never published it. And since this blog helps me keep track of my thoughts, I felt a need to publish it now, albeit a bit late. Tomorrow I'll talk about what's exciting for 2010.

Internet TV finally became a reality
From both a hardware and content perspective, Internet TV truly became a reality in 2009. Wi-fi enabled big screen TV’s hit the market prior to the holidays, and industry experts predict that 50 million people in the U.S. will have Internet-enabled HDTV’s by 2013. As more TV viewers sought content online, they turned to sites such as, which garnered more viewers than Time Warner Cable in 2009. Changes occurred in advertising as well with shows such as such as CSI and The Simpsons garnering higher advertising rates at Web sites than on prime-time TV this year.

Politics went social
Using the Internet as a political tool is not new – in fact the first spam email in 1971 was an anti-war message. But with the inauguration of President Obama in January, we saw social media merge with politics in new and interesting ways. From opening executive branch data on to finding volunteer opportunities on to health care reform on Facebook, President Obama and team took social to a new level. On an international front, the Iran elections were so strongly supported on Twitter that the U.S. State Department asked the micro-blogging site to delay taking down the site for service so that communications would not be disrupted during the election protests. Also, in a show of support, some Twitter users changed their location to Tehran to make it difficult for the Iran government to target dissidents.

Twitter got its day in the sun
Three years and many naysayers later, Twitter finally got to say “I told you so” last February when they experienced a 1,382 year-over-year percent increase in users. In October, they surpassed 5 billion tweets. The status update may well be the person of the year for 2009, and Twitter is the site that truly put it on the map (while others, including Facebook, quickly followed suit). Twitter was also integrated into XBOX this years and IBM is evening developing a TV remote that can tweet.

Fans called the shots
Only the Internet could make Susan Boyle a superstar because only the Internet could deliver instant, global and shared access to her very human story, which resonated with people around the world. Those people viewed and passed along her video to the tune of 120 million views on YouTube. Halfway around the world, Michael Jackson’s funeral generated an unprecedented 33% increase in global web traffic. Some experts said it even slowed the Internet. But the story was not only about Michael Jackson, it was about his fans and how they connected with the event, and with each other online.

The search wars reignited
Prior to 2009, it had been a few years since search had anything substantial or exciting to report. But this year, search brought us a few very interesting developments. In May, Wolfram Alfa, the computational search engine, was announced. A month later, Microsoft’s Bing, the “decision engine” launched and performed well, actually tacking market share away from other search leaders. Finally in December, Google launched a number of new features, including real time search, which indexed Twitter and Facebook status, among other content.