Archive for January 2010
Google’s expected unveiling on Tuesday of a rival to the iPhone is part of its careful plan to try to do what few other technology companies have done before: retain its leadership as computing shifts from one generation to the next. The rapid emergence of the smartphone as a versatile computing device may be as much a challenge as an opportunity for Google, which built its multibillion-dollar empire largely on the sale of small text ads linked to search queries typed on PCs.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday and you are as excited as I am about kicking off 2010! After the long hard haul of 2009, I’m eager to see business get off to a fresh start this year. It’s impossible to know exactly what the New Year will bring, but I’m confident more attention will be paid to brands and brand-building. That’s because there are at least three key areas that I see brands having an immediate and significant impact in.
Why is the brain divided? If it is about making connections, why has evolution so carefully preserved the segregation of its hemispheres? Almost every function once thought to be the province of one or other hemisphere—language, imagery, reason, emotion—is served by both hemispheres, not one. There is nonetheless a highly significant difference in how the two hemispheres work, giving rise to two wholly distinct takes on the world. Normally we synthesize them without being aware that we are doing so. But one of the two hemispheres can come to dominate—and just as this may happen for individuals, it may also happen for a whole culture.
Call it 2010. Call it twenty-ten, or even 2K10. No matter how you refer to the last year of the first decade of the 21st Century, everyone in the marketing is wondering what the past few sobering years will mean for brands and consumer behavior. It doesn't take a seer, or even a branding professional, to declare that consumers will continue to demand value, no matter which direction the economy goes. Consumers have learned--some the hard way--that financial discipline is a must. They will also demand that the values practiced by the companies with which they choose to do business are good and honest and trustworthy. And lest any company thinks it can put one over on anyone, a text, a blog, a YouTube video or a Tweet will quickly prove otherwise.
In a manifesto-like e-mail message sent last month to all Google employees, Jonathan Rosenberg, a senior vice president for product management, told them to commit to greater transparency and open industry standards. Rather than hoard knowledge to exploit it, he wrote in “The Meaning of Open,” share it and watch Google and the entire Internet prosper. With the Chrome browser, however, Google’s inclusive principles are being put to the test: a new version of the browser allows, one might even say encourages, users to stop Google ads from appearing. How Google got to such a position speaks to the inherent dynamism (or is that chaos?) of business on the Internet.
A year-end flurry of ad spending helped moderate steep declines at some newspapers and magazines, and has fueled an uptick at others, raising hopes for a recovery in 2010. Still, following a brutal 2009, when scores of publications closed or made drastic cutbacks, publishers remain wary of declaring an ad rebound as marketers selectively reopen their wallets. Publishing executives attribute the recent influx of ad money in part to marketers hurrying to spend the remainder of their annual ad budgets after doling out those funds sparingly earlier in the year amid fears of an economic collapse.
Novartis AG aims to get full ownership of Alcon Inc. through the purchase of a 52% stake in the U.S. eyecare company from Nestlé SA and by buying out minority shareholders, in a deal that will bring the Swiss drug maker much closer to its goal of becoming a global health-care conglomerate. Getting a strong foothold in the market for eyecare products is part of Novartis's strategy of branching out into fast-growing areas of health care to make up for slowing sales of branded prescription drugs. The Swiss group is also investing heavily to build its generic drugs and vaccines businesses, two sectors with double-digit annual sales growth.
If you threw me on a desert island (one with internet connectivity) and said that I could use only one website, it would be Gmail. For the last five years Gmail has become the most indispensable tool in my communications and productivity system. I've even found a full-fledged Twitter client, Twitgether, that integrates into Gmail. My use of Gmail is unorthodox in that I also use it as a massive database -- a backup brain. For years now I have been e-mailing myself articles that I think I might need later. Along the way, Gmail gives me a preview of what the algorithmic, personalized future of advertising and media will undoubtedly resemble.
Imagine a planetarium-style presentation about the future of technology, followed by a tour of dozens of hands-on exhibits — whether of sandlike microparticles that flow like liquid in a beaker, pictures that appear three-dimensional or concrete that floats. Is it the latest science museum, or a new Disney attraction? No, it’s the “World of Innovation” showroom, a cornerstone of the 3M Company’s customer innovation center at its headquarters in St. Paul. In a world of online user communities, social media, interactive blogs and other technological means for companies to elicit customer feedback, you might think that face-to-face interaction is a thing of the past. Think again.
How you use your mobile phone has long reflected where you live. But the spirit of the machines may be wiping away cultural differences.