weThink Podcast — Digital Trends and What They Mean for Marketers

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Matthew Santone, Dan Shust, Chris BarcelonaLast fall, I started listening to the weThink podcast (here’s the iTunes link) that is unique in that I personally know all of the people who work on it. They’re some of my co-workers at Resource Interactive, and most of them are part of the RI Lab — our “R&D” wing: Matthew SantoneDan Shust, and Chris “Barce” Barcelona, with Lisa Richardson as the moderator. They’re go-to folk when it comes to what’s hot and happening in the digital and social space, and what those happenings mean for consumers and for marketers. Seeing as how I’m both a consumer AND a marketer, I pick up great info from every episode. Even better, the format and style of these bi-weekly chats are entertaining and engaging.

The most recent episode was a bit longer than usual, but it’s a good sample of the breadth of material they cover.

Predictions for 2011

Lisa asked the guys to complete the statement: “2011 will be The Year of…” and she got a range of responses:

  • Barce: Facebook Credits and the superphone
  • Matthew: data — the year we actually start making sense of and great experiences out of all of the data we’re collecting from consumers
  • Dan: the year of “the internet of things” and the year of Kinect-like technology (using motion to deliver great experiences)

CES 2011 Recap

Dan attended CES, while Matthew and Barce followed the event closely from afar. The highlights they discussed:

  • Tablets — the Motorola Xoom, which runs Google’s Android Honeycomb OS; the RIM Playbook, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Razer Switchblade, and all of the questions and issues around how the myriad form factors and applications will evolve (and how marketers and developers will deliver content to such a wide range of devices)
  • Superphones — the Motorola ATRIX made a splash at the show, but the larger discussion was around how a single device would truly become the centerpiece of a consumer’s digital life
  • 3D — 3D experiences are here to stay, but there was some debate as to whether this is really going to be driven more by consumers or more by manufacturers (and not just device manufacturers — Oakley and other sunglasses manufacturers are now introducing 3D glasses). Glassless group viewing may never happen (lenticular displays, even as they evolve, are still reliant on the viewer being in a small sweet spot to get the 3D effect), and what kind of human interaction barriers do 3D glasses introduce that limit the practical application of 3D?
  • Automotive — Audi’s attempts to deploy vehicle-to-vehicle communication such that vehicles can automatically collect data about weather and road conditions and share that information with other vehicles. This, I believe, is one example of “the internet of things” — all sorts of devices floating around the world that have both data collection and network connectivity capabilities
  • Motion — centered around Microsoft as the lead press conference at the event and Steve Ballmer discussing what’s next for the Kinect — controlling both Netflix and Hulu Plus using hand gestures, as well as Kinect-based avatars interacting in a virtual space (the Second Coming of SecondLife, perhaps?). And, the gang discussed how Kinect-like technologies can make for richer and more relevant consumer experiences both in-home and in-store.

The Mac App Store

Apple has now released an app store for the Mac — think iTunes, but for Mac laptops and desktops rather than just for iPhones. This appears to be a harbinger of a future that sounds a little funny: a future where laptops and desktops run apps. But, these are apps in the smartphone/superphone/tablet paradigm, rather than the “heavy overhead installed software applications” that have been a mainstay of computers for years. These apps will have much more of a platform-agnostic and cloud-centric orientation — enabling cross-device usage of an app in a seamless manner. The Chrome Web Store is another example of this shifting paradigm, with the Tweetdeck, Mashable, and Amazon Window Shop apps available there being examples of where it appears this world is heading.

The iPhone on Verizon

The consensus was that the announcement that, as of February 10th, the iPhone will be available on Verizon, rather than solely with AT&T, will be one of the biggest non-news events of the year. While iPhone users are frustrated with the dropped calls they get with AT&T, they’re going to be equally frustrated by the fact that they cannot simultaneously make a phone call and maintain a data connection with their iPhone when they switch to Verizon. AT&T’s 3G service is GSM-based, which allows data and phone service simultaneously…but is prone to call dropping. Verizon’s 3G service is CDMA-based, which is less prone to dropped calls, but which cannot run data and phone at the same time. Both AT&T and Verizon are migrating to the GSM-based 4G LTE technology, so users, presumably, will have similar experiences and similar limitations once that happens.

One way to look at this announcement is that it is a further leveling of the playing field for a 2-horse race </mixedmetaphor> between the iPhone and Android-based phones: Windows Mobile 7 is awesome, but it’s wayyyyy too late to the game, and RIM just can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Picks of the Week

  • Barce: personal hotspots coming to all iPhones in March (Verizon and AT&T)
  • Matthew: over the holidays, he purchased and installed a Filtrete WiFi Enabled Programmable Thermostat — controllable via an iPhone app or an web interface — and is loving it
  • Dan: the new eBay Fashion iPhone app — a very cool augmented reality app whereby you put your eyes between a couple of markers and you can then “try on” sunglasses

Pretty cool stuff. If you listen to podcasts, it’s worth subscribing (iTunes link)!

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