The projector dongle is evil – a necessary evil perhaps but still evil. I’m not quite sure where all the dongles go but it’s inevitable that you are going to lose them.
There was a time when I used to go to the Apple store and buy five DVI-to-VGA display dongles at a time. If you’ve ever found yourself tearing apart your bag looking for your missing dongle just before needing to give a presentation, then you can appreciate my little habit. Five dongles would usually last me six months.
Fast forward a few years and I still loose these things! Luckily Macintosh laptop penetration has increased to the point where most conference rooms I visit these days have one readily available. Now I only need to buy one or two a year.
Even so, dongles are still fidgety and prone to breakage (a good crimp can turn everything pink and yellow). That’s why I’m so excited about the new OS X Mountain Lion AirPlay features. Now you can stream just about anything you want to an AirPlay compatible device.
It’s going to take some time for manufactures to build Apple’s AirPlay into projectors. However, you can get much of the same benefit today by hooking up an Apple TV to your projector. If you have an older projector that doesn’t have HDMI input then be sure to pick up a Kanex ATVPRO. This little device will connect an AppleTV to your projector’s VGA input.
So start streaming to your projector today. An AppleTV + Kanex will set you only back around ~$150 or seven dongles…
There is a reason why Google’s web search is so good. Yes, they invented the modern way to rank the web. Yes, they have almost everyone who knows anything about web search working there. But I would argue that the biggest reason is their ability to deploy infrastructure that enables the next-genration search algorithms like the one that Mashable talks to Google SVP Amit Singhal about here.
Without massive infrastructure, the semantic web would continue to remain in the confines of academic research as the computing power needed to analyze and extract semantic relationships is enormous and very expensive. Google’s commitment to invest in massive infrastructure is, in my opinion, their “long game” for search. It’s a natural barrier to entry (most of their competitors either can’t afford or don’t have the software/processes to manage the infrastructure stack) that keeps others from entering the algorithmic domains that Google has long been exploiting.
I know it’s less expensive than an iPad but according to Jacob Nielsen, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is also a lot less usable. I think this is going to be one of those cases where Apple’s integrated approach to hardware/software design is going to prove invaluable. It’s also a wakeup call for consumer tech product companies who now find themselves needing to out usability Apple. Get yourself some usability and design DNA. “iPad like” usability parity is new norm.
I took this photo on a recent trip to Kauai. It was shot from a helicopter (doors off) going about 100 miles per hour. I had to compose very quickly and luckily was able to fire off a few shots of this forest as we passed over it. I love the white trees. Feels like they are marking the entrance to Narnia or something. Sometimes you get lucky.
The thing that I love about macro photography is that it gets you to stop and look at little details that normally you would just pass on by. Take this flower for example. I never knew there was so much going on with it. The repeating patterns just kind of suck you in. This one reminds me of a sun and planets.
Click to see this larger.
I shot this with a 120mm macro lens using an Orbis ring flash. Needed the flash to get the depth of field as even at f/18 it’s still kind of fuzzy in the petals. This was my first experience using the ring flash which now definitely has a place in my kit.
Palo Alto continues to have some of the best trees. I came across this lone warrior tree while hiking to the top of a hill overlooking a preserve. In one arm it held a dagger while the other arm extended into a giant claw. All around the base were what looked to be the remains of its enemies. Click the image to see it a bit larger.
If this were 2005, I would agree completely, but looking at Looksmart in 2010, I think it’s not so likely.
In 2005, LOOK was a completely different company. Fresh off of a several acquisitions, it had several important pieces of the web search puzzle:
a scaled a web search engine called Wisenut
a community edited web directory called Zeal which was similar to the ODP
a promising disruptive approach to web crawling with it’s Grub distributed web crawler
a very popular social bookmarking site called Furl which competed with delicious
Lots of very talented engineers and product developers.
the leading parental controls software product – NetNanny
a search advertising platform and syndication network called LookListings
The only thing missing was traffic.
Looking at those assets, the company could have developed them into some very cool consumer search products but instead went in a very different direction by choosing to shutter and sell everything except the ad business over the next few years.
Back to John’s argument. John is suggesting that LOOK still has it’s search technology on the shelf. Perhaps it does, but I doubt very much that it still has the engineering and operations staff necessary to run it. Also, five year old technology is more of burden than a blessing. It would be faster for Apple to hire great engineers that know search and just start over by leveraging the huge amount of core search technology that is now open source.
As for buying LOOK for it’s ad platform, I think that’s also a stretch for two reasons:
What search results are the ads going to run next to? This was one of the reasons that LOOK bought Wisenut to begin with. Google and Microsoft are not going to let Apple use their search results without also displaying their ads.
Search ad platforms are a dime a dozen at this point. There are plenty of tier two and three players that have them. But more importantly they are not that difficult to build.
However, I do agree with John that Apple needs to make a move with respect to search, but I don’t think the company should start by trying to tackle web search.
Instead I think that Apple should focus on large vertical search applications to start. The two that come to mind are media, and local. Local is 20% (and growing thanks to iPhone) of search queries and obviously a close fit with Apple mobile OS focus. Unlike web search, there is still tons of innovation left be done in the Local search space that Apple is uniquely positioned to capitalize on. Media is more obvious: open up iTunes and wrap a community around it.
Disclosure: I’m long APPL, and used to be CTO at LOOK.
However, judging by the way Apple keeps offering core application services such as geo-location, payments, and now advertising as iPhone APIs, I believe it’s only a matter of time before they offer up their own usage tracking/measurement/analytics service to developers.
If Apple wants to keep control of the Advertising opportunity that the iPhone/iPad platform creates, then the key will be to have tight control over how application usage data is collected and used for ad targeting/reporting.
Specifically, this means that Apple is going to need a capability to measure post advertising click ROI as well as a way to turn all of that iPhone/iPad usage data into behavioral targeting dimensions.
Since behavioral tracking/measurement is not one of their core competencies, I think Apple will likely follow in the footsteps of almost every previous major ad network and ultimately buy a web analytics platform. Let’s hope they consider backing open source web analytics as opposed to fueling the commercial Adobe/Google duopoly that dominates the web analytics space today.
This Sunday evening’s pilgrimage to the coast caught this mountain stream meeting the ocean on the first day of spring. It was cold and windy which is to say it was a normal day on coast. There are streams like this up and down the northern California coast that return the mountain water to the ocean. I’ve been told that some of this water comes all the way from the Sierra Nevadas.
Shot this with the D100 and a three stop graduated neutral density filter. Wish I had the 20mm with me but that’s a sad tale for another time.
This video demonstrates a theory called the Information Gap that is very relevant for new product development and marketing. If you develop products for a living, chances are you’ve played out this theory more than once before.
File this under the “just in case this iPad thing has legs” department… Despite having their own Nook eReader device, Barnes & Noble plans to also have an iPad app ready day one. Also, worth noting is that Amazon already has a Kindle app for the iPhone which it will presumably upgrade for the iPad.
If you haven’t been following the fight that has been brewing between Amazon and publishers over the profit of Kindle ebook sales, author Charlie Stross has a great breakdown of it here.
Charlie nails the point home – this is all about profit.
Amazon is collapsing the supply chain and the publishing houses see the writing on the wall. Of course they didn’t have to look any further than the music industry to see how things might play out. In that industry, Apple’s iTunes, became the number one retailer of music in less than 5 years putting them in a position to dictate pricing and promotion to record companies that had been used to calling the shots.
More to the point, the change to digital consumption of music caused most record companies to shrink to just a shell of their former size in order to retool their cost structures to meet the realities of declining revenue and unit profit.
So the big question on everyone’s mind is: will what happen to the music industry happen to the publishing industry?
I think so.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos recently revealed that for every 10 print books sold, Amazon sells 6 Kindle ebooks. Pretty good for a new format, but it’s even more impressive when you take into account that those sales are on an estimated 2-3 million Kindle user base.
If these number are correct, the ebook revolution could be even faster than the iTunes revolution. Now that Apple has entered the ebook game with iPad and ITunes, I am betting that book sales will tip digital inside of three years.
If I’m right then publishing houses need to reinvent themselves fast and become experts on creating, selling, and marketing digital content on the Internet.
Why? Because like iTunes, centralized distribution means centralized channel promotion. If there are only one or two distributors left in town then everyone is going to be fighting for the limited promotional areas that exist within their channels. This is exactly what happened with record labels. For a solid two years, while album sales were in free-fall, the only online marketing move most record labels could fathom was securing a tile on the home page of the iTunes music store. And since the iTunes home page is only so big, you can imagine how long labels had to wait to get their shot at it.
However, if you know how to drive buyers into the store to buy your product, then you are not beholden to the distributor for promotion. This is why its critical that publishing house 2.0 becomes an expert with blogs, social media, search, email, and internet marketing in general. These are the new marketing tools of the trade.
Let’s hope that publishing houses are reading the music industry’s history books.
Flash is just taking a beating this week. Now it turns out that the technology has a huge carbon footprint when embedded in web pages as ads. The study below seems like another great reason for the Internet Advertising industry to move away from using Flash and towards open standards based Ads.
It’s going to take a well skilled ninja to untangle this knot.
The iPad is out. Jobs and co. did their usual great job of building the pre-launch excitement and then delivering what looks to be a revolutionary product.
Whether or not you’re a buyer, the iPad is going to have some very big ramifications for some product categories, industries, and the web.
One industry that is going to be immediately impacted is “web design”.
Unlike its cousin the iPhone, The iPad is largely a media consumer. It has no camera and it was more than chance that Steve did the demo sitting in an arm chair. That’s because the product is designed to tap into the casual media consumption that the iPhone fosters with it’s form factor.
Speaking of the iPhone, I read more of the New York Times and more Facebook on my iPhone than I ever did on my laptop. This is a huge behavior shift for me (and I know others) that I attribute mostly to one thing: a vertical screen I can use while lying down.
Web pages are not really pages
This is where web designers come in. Ever since the first web “pages” were published in 1994, designers have been trying to trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as they applied print design maxims to a medium viewed through computer monitors with horizontal aspect ratios.
This resulted in beautiful web pages that very few people ever saw the bottom half of. If you are in the business you know that designing for “above the fold” is a web design principle that was developed in response to just that.
Basically designing for “above the fold” means that a web page is broken down into two major parts: the part that is visible when the page is first loaded by the browser and the part that is not. The two are separated by the “fold” which is a newspaper design term borrowed and used in web design to describe the bottom edge of the browser viewport.
Page elements that are “below the fold” risk never being seen as they require the user to scroll the viewport – which. as web analytics has shown us, doesn’t always happen.
This has caused print designers to unlearn the art of designing for the unobscured printed page and start making hard design choices for the web and it’s horizontal aspect ratios.
The IPad changes all of this as it introduces the web’s first truly vertical screen orientation. Yes, the iPhone had a vertical orientation too but t was too small to read without zooming unless you used a native app.
Return of the Broadsheet
The iPad marks the return to “broadsheet” and magazine formats. It rocks the “above the fold” web design paradigm to it’s core as the user can now scan the entire page without having to scroll – much like a magazine.
If this device is as successful as I think it will be, I believe that we could see a lot of web page consumption in vertical mode – ushering in a renaissance for web design and web information architecture.
Because web pages will no longer only be viewed one half at a time, designers can finally design pages that are meant to be scanned and read all at once.
It only took 15 years, but it looks like the web page is finally going to act like a “page”.
I’ve used Foursquare for months checking in everywhere I go but, after a while, my checkin’s have definitely slowed. I think the reason is that the game/points dynamics of Foursquare is not really what motivates me to checkin over the long term. My checkins are fueled by a desire for two things: status (yes, I’m the “mayor” of my favorite places) and the ability to get deals.
The problem I’m seeing with Foursquare is that after becoming the mayor of my spots, there are no deals to be had. If I was getting access to new deals I’d still be checking in daily, but alas, the only deal to be had in Palo Alto for the last few months has been half price pitchers at the Blue Chalk Cafe (nice! but not my cup of tea).
Foursquare needs more deals if they want to attract and retain a broader user base. This is where Yelp has the advantage. Yelp has relationships with tens of thousands of businesses and I’ll bet that e-mails will soon go out encouraging them to post special deals for frequent visitors that checkin. I already use Yelp to figure out where to go, so a checkin once I’m there is a no brainer.
So is Foursquare doomed?
I don’t think so, but they desperately need to figure out a model whereby they can organically acquire relationships with businesses as quickly as possible. The key move for Foursquare is going to be in leveraging their very loyal (and growing) user base to generate the awareness among business owners for them. Someway or another Foursquare has got to find a way to either shame or fame their users into getting their favorite businesses to engage in the model and post deals.
If Foursquare can turn their user base into their “feet-on-the-street” sales force, their advertising model could be explosive. If not, they run the risk of “dying in the sand”, just as countless other local content and advertising ventures have, as they attempt to scale their direct relationships with local businesses.
I’m hoping they make the right moves in response the Yelp’s play for the space.