What apps are downloaded (or conversely not downloaded) tell us much about a given individual’s tastes and preferences. These metrics in aggregate tell us even more about the desired use-case scenarios of hardware.

Last week Apple released their iTunes Rewind 2010 where they highlight the top performing apps for 2010. They did this in 2009, but with the release of the iPad earlier this year there is a new richness to the data that provides several insights into what the masses are trying to accomplish with a suite of devices largely differing only in form-factor…..

Seeing PCWorld’s list of the 100 Best Tech Products from 2010, motivated me to provide my list of Best Tech Products for 2010

  1. Expensify: a great app for taking care of expense reports.  I record my expenses via the app on my phone and the expenses are subsequently pushed to cloud.  When I’m back in the office I can create a report by accessing the site through a browser.  The service is pretty robust.  While you can take photos of receipts and things like that, I use it almost exclusively for cash purchases and pull everything else down on my credit card statement. But for companies that don’t require specific expense reporting forms, you might be able to accomplish everything with Expensify. Expensify rules my cash payments.  No more losing those $2 tips and $8 cab fares.  It is IDEAL! for CES in the cash city that is Las Vegas.  I’ll be in and out of a dozen cabs over the week and find myself tipping in cash pretty regularly. 

  3. TripIt:  life changing app for a frequent traveler. As I receive travel confirmation emails for hotels, plane tickets, or car rentals, I simply forward them to plan@tripit.com.  All of my travel details are pulled together and I can then access them via the app or browser when I’m on the road. I have all my confirmation numbers and can even map to a give reservation like a hotel from within the app.  

  5. Xobni: I probably use Xobni a dozen+ times a day.  I’ve largely stopped filing email because Xobni can find whatever I’m looking for.  Xobni also shows LinkedIn details for new contacts and I make my LinkedIn invites directly from the plug-in…..





On Monday Amazon premiered a new Kindle commercial during Good Morning America. The ad (above) portrays two individuals trying to read poolside – one on an iPad and one on the new Kindle.  The essence of the commercial touts the relative readability of Kindle’s e-ink display in direct sunlight.    

Commentary (for example: here and here) on the new ad suggests a Kindle v. iPad strike. But the pundits miss the quintessential goal (and subsequent achievement) of the marketing spot. The Kindle ad isn’t about besting the iPad, it is about showing the consumer a discernible value. In the past brands created a value proposition, but moving forward they will increasingly create what I refer to as a value position…..

Yesterday Apple introduced Ping in iTunes 10.  As Jobs described it, Ping is “a social network for music. It’s like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes. It’s all about music.”  As Jobs explained, “Ping is for social music discovery. You can follow people and you can be followed. Most artists will hold their hand up and say ‘you can follow me’ — you can hold your hand up and say that as well, or you can say ‘people can follow me but I have to approve who follows me.’ Then you can set up a circle of friends.”

Discovery takes place at the intersection of information.  Some music discovery is already happening within iTunes but with the introduction of Ping, Apple has furthered the creation and velocity of information and thereby increased the probability that information will intersect. 

The introduction of Ping also increases discovery closer to the point of purchase.   

Important to Ping, it is available on the iPhone and iPod touch. I imagine demand for music is more inelastic on-the-go than it is within a fixed location like the home. Research has shown that for certain age cohorts, 45 percent of music is consumed on mobile devices.  Discovery happens with friends making mobile device integration meaningful.  Have you ever watched teens sit around and share music with others from their mobile devices?  

I also think concert integration has potential.  Eventually one can imagine users uploading video clips from concerts – furthering information dispersion.    

I disagree with assessments that Apple is gunning to create their own Facebook with Ping. The focus of Ping will remain narrowly around music.  But I do believe the scope of Ping will increase.  Moving into other content like movies and television programs is a natural extension.

Tonight I was a guest on Sirius NASCAR Radio ch.128/XM 128 after being quoted in this USA Today article on how technology is impacting sporting event attendance and ultimately the future of live sports viewing. Along this vein I wanted to offer some additional insights on how to create a meaningful live sporting event experience for attendees.

  1. Sports fans and technology go hand-in-hand. Recent CEA research finds more than half (53%) of consumers who consider themselves high level sports fans also consider themselves early adopters of technology. This relationship has the potential to fundamentally impact sports viewing in the years to come. Those most interested in watching sports are also most technologically inclined. This suggests sports fan will only want greater integration of technology. Moreover, they will likely want to leverage the newest technologies. To take advantage of this trend teams should look at neutral offerings that allow fans to customize their experience with the newest technologies. For example, teams could offer web services that fans can access from a myriad of different devices.
  2. Create a differentiated experience. The same research study referenced above finds sports fans prefer watching sports in HD over viewing the event live. More sports fans (48%) prefer to watch TV broadcast of live events in high-definition over attending the same event in person (10%). But this doesn’t have to be looked at in bad light. Sports leagues and teams can use this to their advantage in creating a meaningful live experience. As the USA Today article highlighted, “When the NFL kicks off the 2010 season next week, about 1 million fans will turn out to watch games in stadiums across the nation. And in their living rooms, an average of 16 million fans will gather to watch each of the 16 opening-weekend games in what has become the golden age for NFL consumption.” There will always be more fans engaged outside of the venue. Teams should look to create a differentiated experience as opposed to trying to compete with in-home viewing. Use technology to make the live experience better. This can include a myriad of services and offerings that are just now rolling out and some that aren’t widely available including ordering food, replays on-demand, or access to additional and exclusive video footage to name a few.
  3. Technology enables personalization. Some will argue technology runs the risk of overwhelming the end-user. How can the attendee fully enjoy the live sporting event when they are overwhelmed by devices? The key to technology is that it is highly customizable. This ensures sports fans can bring in as much or as little technology as they want to enrich their experience.
  4. Whatever the current limitations, technology will improve. Whatever the current limitations of technology it will improve. Processing power will prove, bandwidth will increase. Video will be a key equalizer and an important differentiator for in-stadium viewing on mobile devices and this experience will improve with technology. Don’t write-off possible services now simply because the infrastructure isn’t yet perfected.

E-Readers aren’t a hardware story. E-Readers are a distribution story. E-Readers are one means to an end. They are about digital goods not devices

Last week I spoke at that the Digital Media Conference where I shared some of the following thoughts on connectivity and Internet accessible devices.

The number of devices connecting to the Web via cellular, wireless, or wired connections continues to proliferate. But many of these devices frame the value of connection within a historical context. More connection in an ambiguous sense means more data. Adding connectivity to these devices is intended to drive more data to the device. Or at least the option of more. But more needs meaning. Tomorrow’s connectivity needs to be more than just greater options and greater flexibility for the end-user. Connectivity needs to be about choice with meaning and context.

Take for example the mobile phone. When we originally brought the Web to the mobile phone it was largely about browsing the Web from the phone. This was the historical context of the time. At this time we largely understood Internet access from the context of a computer browser. The focus at the time was on a better browser experience. A mobile Web experience needed to make it easier for users to get to and between the websites they were most interested in visiting. Websites even got involved by building sites optimized for mobile viewing. During these early years of Internet access on the phone the primary story was still about the phone. Browsing the Web on the phone was secondary to using the phone as a phone….

Much has been written about the “death” of Microsoft’s Kin (see: here, here, and here). The focus of these analyses has centered on what might have gone wrong. I’d like to focus on something slightly different. In the death of the Kin phone I think we see something that has greater implications for technology innovation. Namely, the rate of innovation is accelerating and this puts increasing pressure on products at the intersection of success and time.

Let’s first step back in time a few years. The year is 2004. In the fourth quarter of that year, Motorola introduces the RAZR. By July 2006 it will sell over 50 million units. The Motorola RAZR would go on to sell over 110 million units before things where said and done four years after the initial launch. This record makes the RAZR one of the most successful consumer electronics products of all times and the most sold mobile phone ever (a record it still holds)….

I’m often asked why I only have “two opinions.”  In fact, for those who know me well, they will be quick to point out that I have dozens of opinions on a myriad of topics.

President Truman was credited with asking for a one-armed economist, an economist with only one opinion.  “I’m always looking for a one-armed economist [one who can’t say “On the other hand”] – Harry S. Truman.  

In this vein, I’ll write my two opinions (and many more).  Always looking at different sides of the issue – trying to ask why and why not.