Friday, October 11, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is Twitter a destination for all or just harvesting grounds for brands?

The numbers are very indicative of what we all know.  If Twitter is an open microblogging platform accelerated by the ego-centrism of being followed to achieve the hope of notoriety, then it is obvious that people will mislead, over-share, promote, and over produce content that will most likely go unnoticed.  This content and practice contamination is the real issue for Twitter providing value in its second wave of value proposition. 

Twitter has made a fundamental mistake in cornering itself in targeting revenues from companies that seek to know what people express themselves about.  Most of these enterprise customers/partners are only interested to know what is being said about them for market research analytics, risk mitigation and creating campaigns that are not necessarily reaching the people they target.  Or perhaps reaching fake prospects and mercenary promotors that only serve to falsify the performance analytics.

Now Twitter is fixated on delivering the noise, and the growing corrupted content of the crowd to these companies , however they are ignoring the elephant in the room: Twitter is not a destination-drive service, it remains a push medium and it is not designed to help people consume the information that matters to them.  This simple yet obvious distinction of pull and push is what Twitter is not grasping, and reason why users do not spend time reading tweets.

It is time to change the way Twitter can be helpful for everyone.  It is time to shift the Twitter paradigm from push to pull, and from follower-center context to individual-centric context.  

How can Twitter expect to make money on long-tail advertisement opportunity that made the success of Google and now Facebook, when Twitter is not achieving more 21 minutes per month of its user attention?  They don’t because they did not think about it and they are loosing themselves by the promise of being saved by companies that are trying to make sense of this open social media platform.

Ask anyone if they use Twitter to find useful information.  Most will say no, they simply post for their friends and they now understand that following too many people and having too many followers is not necessary beneficial.  Some professionals will tell you that they use TweetDeck (purchased by Twitter) to do have real-time search on tweets to see if people are responding to them.  Yet they all complained that they have to look at the screen to see a result pop-up.  Other more fancy users will talk about Radian6 (purchased by Salesforce.com),  but they also told us that they are not quite sure of its value, other than creating work for social media experts reporting on progress that might not have an actual impact.

Now an IPO for Twitter when they have not figured out how to make money from long-tail advertisement? Just look at the tweetzup ZUP dedicated to the Twitter's IPO to see what's up.



TweetDeck is free and can help if you know what you are looking for.  Radian6 is pricy and useful to a minute and highly specific segment of the professional population.   So what is being done to help everyday people and professionals consume what’s up -in the twittersphere?  Quite simply, we have applied our Darwin Ecosystem fetching, correlation and visualization model to create tweetzup.com, in order to help anyone monitor and create shareable topics of interests, and the ability of have real alerts based on the monitoring of the frequency of tweets containing key terms of interest.  

We strongly believe that by introducing a true information consumption platform for tweets by revealing their real-time correlated movement over time, we can help anyone make the most of twitter by being informed and discover people of similar interests. This simple reversal of perspective should also transform what people tweet about.  Tweetzup allows promoter/advertisers not to have to tweet all the time to be noticed, but rather tweet something meaningful that will emerge in the right context when the individual is most receptive. That alone will reduce the noise of promotional tweets and reverse the tweet contamination that we see today.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My take in real-time on Apple's September 10, 2013 event.

iTunes Festival

Franky I do not care about the event.  20 million people wanted in, so they are live streaming for free.  So what the point?  I need my Apple device to join the party and see the streaming event.   And that is not free, but then we are enough Apple users to enjoy it.  Join the club other humanoids...  I guess.

Retail Focus

Ok the stores serve many customers and provide sidewalk assistance.  Can you please stop impressing us with design to help our "experience".  I am waiting for breakthrough technology, not marketing breakthrough.

IOS7

About to ship 7M IOS devices next month to become the world most popular mobile operating system. Here are the innovations.  Gorgeous home-screen, gorgeous colors, ok enough with the gorgeous, now the goodies...  So far nice design, navigation and responsive page stacking.  I personally like Siri and I glad to see that they increased its capacity and reach.   Different and sounds - so what?  Cool but really, bringing this up as an improvement?  I like the new collection picture browsing.  Much much better.  My wife will be happy as she has been complaining about the pictures' organization for years.  The Share Sheet is also very well designed which now includes airdrop P2P.  Now you are talking distributed and privacy features. Cool!   The New iTunes offers stations that challenges Pandora.  About time!  

With over 200 features we can expect great  applications with better design.  This should finally give me what I wanted to bring tweetzup to the mobile platform.  Apple made a comment about IOS7 being free - Why would you charge for a platform that supports your on-line commerce.  Of course it is free.  That comment takes us, just a little, for idiots here.  Drop the free argument Apple.  We get your business model.

Applications on IOS

Apple can be a serious competitor to Google Docs with its iWork suite.  I have been using it and love them.  The new announcement abut making these 5 apps free is the needed approach to challenge Google Docs.  The issues still remains in the war for cross-platform shareability.  XML anyone?

iPhones

Apple claims that The iPhone 5 is the most liked model, bringing the iPhone to new levels.  The new price announcement is pared with a customer penetration strategy to increase its market share.  

First the iPhone 5C includes all the iPhone 5 features and new design.  I think that the color is trivial, but then again I am not a teenage girl.  I wish that they could toned down the beautiful design and experience argument during these shows.  The cases are poorly designed where the name iPhone show "non" which means "no" in french.  That is such a basic design mistake, especially for a company that prides itself about design.  Nonetheless, it is not revolutionary but it does what it should do for the right age group at the right price of $99 and $199 with a contract.   Unlike for the iPad, I think that the covers are just idiotic given the strong independent manufacturers and the fact that it is made out of plastic.  Why the redundancy?  Not needed.  Also, what about the eco-friendly and recyclable mission?  Dixit Jony Ive, senior VP of Design: "It's quite remarkable when something feel familiar, and yet it's new at the same time." Sounds like a rationalization for weak design innovation to me.

Now the iPhone 5S. I was waiting for innovation and here is what we got.  Again drop the design and let's explore the substance.  Gold with diamond cut edges?  Yep the gold standard.  Now let's look at the innovations.  Performance is key and this phone appears to have it with the A7 with the first 64bit chip in a phone.  Now we are talking, but if we design powerful applications for this phone we will need to dumb them down for the other phones.  Well, c'est la vie.  At least we can be 32 bit compatible.  This is god news.  Can you believe that the power has increased by 40X since the first iPhone and 56X for the graphics. Impressive.  The power of OpenGL/ES will help us create our tweetzup cloud animation. 

M7 works with the A7 as a motion co-processor what can truly improve application addressing environmental motions.  The fact that the M7 is separated from the A7 allows better resource management and performance for many applications.   As to the battery life, Apple has been able to pack the new features without depleting the battery capacity.  

The new iSight camera appears to have the right new hardware with F2.2 aperture and better sensors, the real improvement is the 1.5 micron for better color range and light capture.  Now the software appears to be keeping up with the hardware.  It has preemptive environment detection about lighting and other sensing capability.  The new True Tone Flash is now capable of producing the right color variation to adapt itself to the ambient situation.  This is true innovation providing more natural colors.  The image stabilization is also a great addition through multiple shots selecting the crispier areas to build the right picture automatically.  More features are also included in video multiple shot selection are included through real-time processing.  And now slow-motion camera can create great scenes.  What a great use of its processors and software.  That is very cool and innovative advancement without user editing.

Security is now stronger and smarter.  Apple's innovation in using the finger prints is right on target, and they have achieved what IBM failed to do on its ThinkPad over ten years ago.   The Touch ID capacitive sensor is right on the home button.   That makes sense to me, and it is effortless.  The extended authentication  to other services is also great.  I can see many new usage for this innovation.  But please replace Jony Ive videos, his tone and voice makes me feel like he is trying to control my brain. Sorry Jony.

The iPhone 5S priced reasonably, but the case... you could have left that to the store and not the show.

Apple starts to take orders on Friday 13.  Thankfully I am not superstitious.


The overall presentation was just OK.  The real gems have been hidden by silly distractions like iTunes festival, music, colors and cases.  This always feel like a substitution for substance.  And substance was presented, but lacked the focus the lighter touchy-feely distractions received.    Will I remain a faithful Apple user.  Sure.  But next time wow me with a freaking iWatch that lightens my bag-o-tech.











  


Steve Jobs. Where are you? - Bad design @ work.

Ok this is just dumb,

I had to blog about this.  Can you believe that the new iPhone 5C's cover hides the name iPhone and shows the word "non" which means NO in french.  Please fire the idiots who will kill the Apple company.  Please hire a bright college drop-out and empower him/her to run the show.  It seams to work best that way.



Tweetzup + YouTube = Serendipitous Searchless Discovery

This summer we expanded the reach of tweetzup results (correlated clusters of emerging topics from twitter) by plugging in a dynamic YouTube search result driven by the user’s expressed interest.  As a result, we have discovered that our users are now accessing YouTube videos based on the awareness of movement from tweets. This makes it more focused and provides entertaining ways to discover videos that are popular or recently posted. With tweetzup, the user does not need to subscribe to YouTube channels and be limited to only those videos.  Instead, users can now choose their topics of interests, see if they are chirping as an indication of something happening, and then be exposed to any contextual video without search.

Tweetzup also offers its users’ the ability to set alerts when a theme is showing some movement from their followed topics. This also makes it easy not to have to be glued to the screen to see what’s up. The system let’s you know via email, or you can choose to tweet the alert to your community automatically. This is what I do on my twitter account @thierryhubert.

For instance, this morning the system tweeted the alert on my behalf the following message: “DISRUPT is Emerging on the STARTUP #TweetzUp report http://tweetzup.com/startup?interval=15034636&term=disrupt …”.  Clearly I follow tweetzup’s STARTUP, and I set an alert a few months ago on the term DISRUPT.  I clicked on the link and saw the following:



Right away the system highlighted in orange the correlated keywords associated with DISRUPT, showed the tweets and displayed the most recent videos posted this very morning as the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco is occurring. Needless to say, I would have waited for a late Google alert, depended on my social network friends, or spent too much time searching Google/YouTube and other news/blog aggregates to achieve this kind of result. Crucially, it would not have been on one page that also allows me to see other emerging terms occurring simultaneously about the theme STARTUP.

About that serendipitous searchless discovery? Well, being exposed to my topics of interests when something is going on is very fertile ground of serendipitous opportunities. In this case, I discovered a cool application being presented at Startup Alley at Tech Crunch which offers a strategic angle for our business.  This is what I call serendipitous business intelligence.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The New Nouvelle France.

I am French and born in France, also American and Canadian (very confusing for custom agents ;-).

I spent most of my formative years in Montreal as child and teenager at a time when being French in Quebec was not an advantage. They called us the maudits fran├žais (the damned french). Admittedly for good reasons, the french, and I know what I am talking about, always complaint and they have a self-proclaimed claim to a superior knowledge and perception of what the empirical truth should be. Now wrapped this little package in an impeccable linguistic mastery of nuances, and voila! You now have the perfect recipe to create an obnoxious persona that all secretively envy and hate out-loud. 

Living from time to time in France, Canada and the United States has given me an interesting perspective on how the french are perceived, see themselves and see others. What appears to be universal is that the french hold a high position in culture and knowledge from centuries of self-affirmation and recognition by others mimicking their social contract, art and engineering-focused education, entrepreneurship (sorry W, but entrepreneur is a french word), and of course gastronomy. No wonder why the french can afford to be so damn arrogant. To further feed this perception, I am always amused to see how wealthy Americans, Russians and now Chinese seek to adopt the french style as if it allows them to pretend to be understanding of the french.  It is faltering, but all I can think of is that they are being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous merchants of objects and services designed to dress the naked emperors that they are; If you want to be french you need to learn in order to control, show-off what you know to claim victory, confront people about it, do not care if people hate you, and when asked to do something always say “non” first so that they offer you something to change your mind. If you can master that, they go ahead and purchase your Louis XVI furniture, but by then you might just think that it is too gauche and predictable. And that is something that is just beneath you at that stage.

Ok so I had fun writing the last paragraph. So what about the New Nouvelle France? For the last few years I have been going back and forth from Boston to Montreal for business and noticed an incredible influx of young and well educated french immigrants, at a time where things are not so good for french graduates in France. This generation is impressive, smart, fun and has something I have not seen in french people since my days in Paris during the mid-90s’ tech boom - They want to succeed, create, learn and enjoy a life that is intertwined with intellectual pursuit and real social connections to others (and not just the french). This is a departure from the sad and doomed France of present days where people expect to be helped by the government as they are depressed by the lack of job opportunities. Unfortunately some have the illusion that socialism is a refuge for a secured future. Not the case at all for those who take a Darwinian leap of faith to come to Quebec to seek opportunities and new lifestyle. This is why I now call Quebec "the New Nouvelle France". It is being colonized by a generation of French citizens who have a superior ability to take risks and be open-minded. I applaud them for leaving a France that is less and less enviable, corrupted (let's put this one on hold for now), depended, and doomed to fail for lack of innovation and a false confidence that is rooted in exploits of the past.

I strongly believe that the future of the true French spirit, quench for knowledge and conquest is being revived in the New Nouvelle France.

Monday, January 28, 2013

When cool design is bad design - Air Canada Executive/First


I am traveling from Montreal to Frankfort on Air Canada 's new executive first class seat (more like a pod).  At first I was impressed by the cool and seemingly futuristic design of these diagonal seats capable of flattening completely to ensure a decent night of sleep.

Before take-off one of my business partners made a request for us to be seating next to each other (after all we are three business people going to Germany to close on a deal).  This was the first issue; the seats do not provide any passenger-to-passenger interaction due to their 45 degree angle and encasing.   They are designed for isolation.  First mistake!

Then comes the takeoff.  A 45 degree angled g-force that causes an uneven weight distribution during take-off and the ascent.   You are pushed against the panel, and your back muscles wrestle to find a symmetrical position.  Second mistake; comfort.

Once in the air, your tray table keeps you prisoner in your seat as  you do not have to ability to push the tray forward to slide sideways to go to the bathroom.  Third mistake feeling trapped.

Then come the ergonomics of the usable space.  The control side has an armrest that can not be lifted for you to access objects that you might have stored.  The opposing side's armrest can be lifted but collides with the tray table, and makes it difficult to store a laptop and close it for elbow use.  The seat is not too narrow, and the privacy panels make the space very claustrophobic and uncomfortable to navigate and store objects if you want to work.  The touch-screen entertainment system is not within arm's reach unless you sit-up and reach forward.   The control panel blue lights are at eye-level when lying down, and they are disruptive when all is dark.  Fourth mistake is the storage and features' ease-of-use.   

In summary, very poor design.  Now let's look at it from the airline's perspective.   First, the economics;  by eliminating first class and giving business class sleeping comfort, by compromising on space and the diagonal positions of the pods, the airline is making more money by seat.  From a crew's perspective, the passengers are more likely to remain in place during service and sleep.   I personally hate this configuration and if I do not need to sleep exclusively, and travel with my team, I will book economy tickets to interact and not feel trapped.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"I am the Best"; This generation's popular egocentrism movement reveals the death of real communities.

I am observing that my industry is becoming the breeding-ground, and accelerator, of this generation's popular egocentrism movement that is increasingly disconnected from community accountabilities.  I use the word "popular" defined as "pertaining to, or representing the people, especially the common people".  This is an important distinction because this new generation is not only admiring ostentatious popular icons, but appears to embrace their attributes in every day life. 

Everything from reality television to idol branding is putting the "brand-of-the-ego" at the center of advertisement strategies.  As such, it is not surprising that this generation tries to mimic this new form of fabricated value.  




The danger is further accelerated with online social media conduits that allow the every-people to shine and feels that they are something special without true merit.  The impact of jumping the important steps of discovering and building skills leaves us with a mediocre generation that has a self-importance feeling without substance.  Even more worrisome, as a group they validate and encourage each other.  

This support allows them to sustain this eroding artifice into their late 20s. Those who succumb to this temptation, because they lack the proper parental or "real" community guidance, are doomed to face reality and lack the true skills to operate in a constructive society.

Some of you know my thoughts about the disruption of information technology on the social ecosystem.  In brief, all technology is an accelerator of time and space.  We all know the natural ecosystem is disrupted when we introduce a foreign organism or entity that would not be able to be injected on its own device.  This is why a particular algae in south Africa could not disrupt the shores of England unless it attached itself to the hull of a boat.  The same is true for the "social ecosystem" our technology has constantly disrupted societies since mankind has been able accelerate its travel.  We brought disease to America, cane toads to Australia and destroyed entire civilizations.


Our communication capability is no exception to disruptions.  We know that societies, just like nature, have a change adoption clock.  I had the privilege to have a conversation with Walter Cronkite, in Paris when with Lotus/IBM, about the impact of media before the  Iranian Revolution in 1979.  He believed that the clerical power of Iran was taken by surprise when Iranians were able to see the western world's lifestyle through television.  The clerical power felt that they would loose control if people embraced these values.  And they did.  Iran was on the westernization  track, and too fast.  The balance of intra-social powers were shifting too fast.  This conversation has inspired me to consider the social disruptive factor when creating new web social solutions.  This is why I look at this generation with an eye on the future and the impact our industry has on our society.


In my introduction I mentioned "community accountabilities".  This is not trivial. The absence of accountability in any community can lead to the use of force or violence.  Basically, if you can't trade with your community for your wellbeing, then you are disconnected.  Unfortunately social media services give the illusion of meaningful communities.   How many of you know your neighbors?  Or depend on your relationships with them to prosper?  The fact is that in most urban communities your neighbors will send you a lawyer's letter to ask you to cut off branches, silence your dog, or ask you to put carpet on your floor.  That is because many of them have nothing to trade.  If you do not have a trading community, then respect, manners and politeness are not needed; force is now needed.  This is probably why this generation is mainly arrogant, lacks empathy,  manners and uses poor language.  
What do they have to loose?  They have no immediate accountabilities, and the media is leveraging this attitude for rating.  It is a vicious cycle because the media eventually dictates the new normal (see the above about Iranians embracing western values through media exposure).

This is not rocket science and we have all been exposed to this new reality.  The fact is that if people are divided in the physical world, yet connected in the virtual world through superficial and guided values, the marketing machine will become more powerful.  This can lead to an economical power where virtual communities become a significant commercial resource.  If we reach this point, no political incentive will be able to protect the people from being reduced to a lesser quality.  The have-not will live in the illusion of satisfaction and stagnate, as the emerging new order of the information economy will continue to grow them as a human consumption resource.


As you can tell, this is a theme that constantly preoccupies me.   Perhaps it is my French tendency for the critical and philosophical.   I think that this kind of debate is needed for people in my industry to start to have some social awareness and accountability when creating solutions that impact our society.


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