Apple isn’t going to take over your dashboard, but it will make it a lot easier to get apps into your car

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Let’s be honest – automakers have been HUGE failures at making the most of the touch screens in their cars. Consumers will most likely embrace tech like CarPlay and increasingly avid any of the built-in interface when they can. Unfortunately, we can expect the automakers to be stubborn in the face of this.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

The automotive and tech worlds are abuzz today with news about Apple’s entrance into the connected car at the Geneva Auto Show, and rightly so. This deal will be huge for putting more apps and into the dashboard and connecting millions of iPhone owners to their cars, but it also needs to be put in a little perspective.

This is a first step for Apple(s aapl) into automotive realm that could take on much more significance later on. With CarPlay, we’re not going to see a new generation of iCars to match our iPads, iPods and iPhones. We’re not going to see automakers abandon their infotainment platforms and hand the controls over to Apple. And Apple hasn’t struck any kind of coup de grace against Google(s goog), Microsoft(s msft), BlackBerry-QNX(s bbry) or Nokia(s nok) in the battle over the connected car. In fact it won’t be long before we see…

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Volvo, Ferrari, And Mercedes First To Add iOS In The Car Next Week

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Congratulations to Apple for their success in getting car integration with some major makes, but shame on the auto manufacturers for not realizing this is a poor way to go.

Consumers don’t need their cars to have proprietary systems for navigation. What we really need is an open standard for -any- type of phone operating system to connect and take over the car’s screen and perhaps a few hardware buttons.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

iOS in the Car, announced by Eddy Cue last year at the iOS 7 launch, was supposed to appear in 2014 and, according to the Financial Times , it’s finally coming to Volvo, Mercedes, and Ferrari. BMW, a premium launch partner mentioned last year, was notably absent.

The service allows for direct interaction with the manufacturer’s in-car entertainment and communications systems and includes an iOS-like UI. While many manufacturers have resorted to USB connections to iOS devices that may or may not allow for easy media access, iOS in the Car aims to offer call control, Siri interaction, and media playback with a simple interface. It also allows for satellite navigation using the iPhone’s built-in GPS and mapping systems.

Honda and Acura have already implemented some of the features. According to AppleInsider, the company was slow to roll out the feature due to internal reticence in Apple’s corporate ranks.

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Samsung’s New Galaxy Gear Watches: Goodbye Android, Hello Tizen

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Does anyone want to wear a watch anymore, even if it’s a “smart” watch? I have my doubts.

Originally posted on Tech:

The huge Mobile World Congress show is starting in Barcelona, which means that the next few days will be jam-packed with announcements of new phones, tablets, wearables and other mobile gadgetry. One of the first big unveilings: Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2 and Galaxy Gear 2 Neo , the second-generation versions of the smartwatch which the company shipped less than six months ago .

There’s a lot that’s not radically new about the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. They’re a millimeter thinner than the first one and a big lighter, but the dimensions are similar overall, which makes them a wristfull. Like the first Gear, the Gear 2 has a camera, but this time it’s on the watch itself rather than the strap, so the watch can take swappable straps. The Gear 2 Neo is similar to the Gear 2, but doesn’t have a camera.

Both watches now sport heart-rate…

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Green Mountain and Coke just staved off their biggest threats in one fell swoop

Originally posted on Quartz:


The Coca-Cola Company and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, two giants of caffeine, announced a partnership today that, on the face of it, looks like a bad deal for shareholders. Here’s why nobody seems to be complaining.

The deal leaves Coke with a 10% stake in Green Mountain and Green Mountain with the largest beverage company in the world signed onto its new cold beverage platform. Coke paid below market value on a per-share basis for its $1.25 billion stake, and the 16.7 million new shares of Green Mountain it acquired were conjured out of thin air.

Green Mountain shareholders got ripped off and diluted—right?

Looking closer, this deal actually added $372 million to Green Mountain’s market capitalization, a shareholder benefit. Because the new shares were added at lower proportion than the per-share discount, Green Mountain’s value rose from $12.05 billion to $12.43 billion.

Green Mountain has been trying to stave off short sellers like…

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Are Display Ads Worth It? Only if You Buy Smart And Measure Carefully

Considering online display ad networks or exchanges? They might not be worth your time.

Recent research from comScore shows that overall, only 54% of display ads are even seen by website visitors in the first place.

Keep in mind this is from the unfortunately very loose standard of having even half of the pixel area of an ad displayed to a visitor for half a second – not much! The actual situation for online ads in the “real world” is likely to be even more dire.

As you might expect, there are big differences between types of display ads – this isn’t a one size fits all blanket statement. As comScore explains:

“While the definition of an ad network or exchange is well understood, there is no industry definition for premium sites. For the purposes of this analysis, we defined a premium site as any site having an average CPM of USD $5.00 and monthly ad revenue of $100,000″

In other words, there’s a degree of “you get what you pay for” involved in buying online display ads. Purchasing from generic networks and exchanges (Google anyone?) will be cheaper, but don’t expect the results to be great.

In my experience, this bears out. I no longer invest in any of the lower-tier types of exchanges – or keyword text ads for that matter, since almost all of the positive results I have seen come from careful investments in targeted industry sites, hand-picked and designed to function far differently from the ad blocks that some are used to buying. Who knows, they must still work for some products, but I can count the number of people I personally know who have bought from an ad network display ad on one hand.

From comScore’s breakdown of the ranges in viewable ads, the best placements were seen upwards of 90% of the time, while the worst close to never, only a few percent at best.

Of course, when your ads aren’t viewable, visitors aren’t taking action on them. Surprisingly, increases in viewability do not seem to create a linear improvement in results, but even better than that, as Jack Neff writes in AdAge :

Experience at Kellogg shows viewability matters a lot: a 40% improvement in ad viewability produced a 75% increase in sales life from digital advertising, said Aaron Fetters, director of Kellogg’s Insights and Analytics Solutions Center.

Of course, we aren’t all huge consumer brands, so results will vary. And by the end of 2013, we may be able to buy online ads based on their viewability metric – at least if the Interactive Advertising Bureau (iab) has their way.

For now, the bottom line here is that if you are going to invest in online display, make careful, conservative buys and measure the results closely, dropping those that underperform. It’s better to purchase ads at one or a few sites that your target audience really reads and you know the ads will be seen than to simply buy up tons of placements that won’t have any effect.

New photo of Nokia’s 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 leaks with additional specs


Will a 41-megapixel camera smartphone from Nokia help Windows Phone gain more market share? I feel like we actually do need a strong third competitor in mobile as an alternative to Android and iOS.

Originally posted on BGR:

Nokia is widely expected to unveil the Lumia 1020 during a press conference on Thursday and as is typically the case ahead of Nokia’s handset launches, we already likely know almost all there is to know about the unannounced phone. The Lumia 1020 will be Nokia’s most impressive camera phone yet, packing a 4.5-inch display, a 41-megapixel PureView camera, a xenon flash and optical image stabilization. According to a new report from Windows Phone Central, Nokia’s new smartphone will also feature 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with no memory card slot, NFC and an optional back plate that supports wireless charging. The blog also published a new photo of the upcoming Lumia 1020, which follows below.

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Declare Your Social Media Independence this July 4th

New Year's 2013 - San Francisco

Image Credit: Anthony Alvernaz

“You have to do this, you have to do that… you MUST follow these seven rules or your social media strategy will fail!”

The truth is, a winning social media strategy can be different for every individual and every business. There is no “one size fits all” solution except for the common thread that all paths to success include investments of time, effort, planning and measurement. Even the very definition of what “success” is changes from company to company.

Declare your independence from online hucksters and the “get rich quick online!!” type schemes that seem to be on every other website these days. Make your own plan based on your organization’s needs, your available time investment and your skillset. Go out there and execute, see what your results are, and adjust if necessary. Want to only concentrate on Twitter? If it works for you to do so, fine. Want to engage only with email and Facebook? No problem! Is Instagram the avenue that you believe will work best for reaching your customers and prospects? Great.

Just be prepared to constantly adjust based on the results you are seeing, and don’t get tied down if your strategy doesn’t work after all. Be flexible and concentrate on building relationships, and you’ll do fine. You might find you were right all along, in which case congratulations – keep doing it! If not, then reassess and look at your options.

Create your own path to online success – get out there and be social!

Elegance Counts – in Marketing As Well As Product Design

Attention to detail sometimes makes all the difference, whether you are designing the next great mobile phone or laptop, or putting together a new email and landing page for an online marketing campaign. Regardless, one must pay attention to all facets including presentation, ease of use and the overall customer experience. Let’s look at some illustrative examples:

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Dell laptop power adapter. Image Credit: Dell, Inc.

Consider the design of the laptop power adapter above. A generic PC experience that is familiar and comfortable – everyone has seen and knows how to use one – although boring. Remarkable only by its ubiquity in the industry.

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MacBook power adapter. Image Credit: Apple, Inc.

The second example here almost needs no introduction, as it clearly stands out amongst the sea of generic laptop chargers – Apple’s “MagSafe” power adapter. The smooth edges and white polycarbonate plus a touch of aluminum look are iconic. Above all, however, is the functionality provided by simply switching the connection between laptop and power source to be magnetic.

Imagine your laptop connected to each type of adapter, sitting alone on top of a desk when someone casually walks by and runs into the power cord. In the Dell scenario, your laptop comes crashing to the ground, cracking its screen and transforming itself into an expensive paperweight. For the MacBook, though, the story is completely different – the magnetic adapter falls away harmlessly and the laptop does nothing more than perhaps shift an inch or two on the desk.

Sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference in customer experience.

It’s the same in online marketing as it is in physical product design - you have to pay attention to the details to get the best results!

Look at the following examples of marketing landing pages for enterprise accounting software:

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Acumatica landing page.

This landing page for Acumatica isn’t bad, really. The design and navigation are fairly well focused and the layout is simple. I especially like the “Award Winning Cloud ERP Software” headline and the live chat option for quick answers to questions without leaving the page.

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NetSuite landing page.

But this landing page for NetSuite is much stronger just with a few key changes. Let’s compare:

  • The CTA (call to action) button on the NetSuite page is much larger and the color stands off the page well, plus the conversion itself makes more sense than the corresponding text on the Acumatica page. I know exactly what I will get when I click a button labeled “FREE PRODUCT TOUR,” but I’m not so sure about “Custom Demo” (note even the difference in the capitalization on the button text itself that makes the NetSuite button that much stronger!).
  • The addition of the subhead “Trusted by 16,000+ Organizations worldwide” which is then backed up by actual customer quotes on the right make the message very cohesive.
  • Also notice how the bullets on the NetSuite page convey concrete benefits, while the Acumatica page lists features instead. If I’m buying, I want to know what the actual end result of my software implementation could be to my organization.

These aren’t huge changes, but I will bet that the NetSuite page converts at a higher rate than the Acumatica page. In these examples of “sweating the details,” you end up with a power adapter that either leaves your laptop crushed on the floor or saves its life, or you end up with a landing page that works somewhat, or you get one that works well enough to bring in that extra percent of prospects your sales team really needs.

Declining Support for Internet Explorer 8 Spells Trouble for Enterprise Users

Use of Internet Explorer 8 has been falling in most quarters pretty quickly quarter over quarter as users decide to move on to more modern and robust browsers (or update their OS and no longer have IE 8 available). Unfortunately, one group of users are laggards as might be expected – those on corporate PCs. Enterprise users, especially those in organizations that employ custom developed software or are subject to security or other standards that make the upgrade process slower, are going to be stuck on IE 8 for quite a while longer.

As of May 2013, Internet Explorer 8 was still the most widely used browser worldwide, with 23.05% market share according to Netmarketshare.

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Worldwide Web Browser Market Share, May 2013.

Unfortunately, developers of web-based applications are certainly not holding out for this group of desktop Internet users and are increasingly dropping support.

Internet Explorer 8 not supported by HubSpot

You’re showing a little gray, according to HubSpot.

HubSpot, above, has not one but TWO warnings when you try to log in with your “ancient” copy of Internet Explorer 8.

Google Drive not supported by Internet Explorer 8

Blatant self-promotion greets you when logging in to Google Drive.

Google Drive/Docs would like you to upgrade to a “modern” browser like, say, Chrome. Imagine that.

Microsoft thinks internet explorer 8 is a bit old, too

Microsoft “soft sells” an upgrade – but they do it absolutely EVERYWHERE.

Even Microsoft thinks it’s about time you switched to something new.

Of course, it’s not so easy to upgrade in a corporate setting, and most of the time installing other browsers is frowned upon, because it means even more configurations to support (or decline to support, as the case may be). Makers of online apps that need enterprise customers would be wise to keep this in mind and not let their urge to implement new features outrun the capabilities of a percentage of their customer base, not when even losing a percentage of sales could spell profit or loss for most vendors. I’m certainly not saying that online app developers should not be looking to the future – of course they should. It’s just wise to consider the market before deciding to drop support for any browser.

This same line of thinking goes for online marketers of all kinds. If you work in (or sell to) an industry where prospects and customers are likely to be running older hardware or software, consider the implications and TEST. Your urge to publish your next online video in 4K resolution may be somewhat disappointing to users on a corporate network running monitors at only 1280×1024. Worse yet, keep in mind that some sites will be blocked on corporate networks and your efforts may go to waste. Posting your video on YouTube could be fruitless if your audience can’t access the site. Consider an alternative such as Vimeo. Don’t make your HTML marketing emails too fancy if your audience is using Outlook 2007 or 2010 to view them (ironically if they are truly stuck in the past and using Outlook 2003, your messages will render better – go Microsoft…). Actually, on that last thought: don’t make your emails too fancy at all if you’re aiming for corporate users – your messages will likely just get blocked as spam anyway.

Work in a corporate environment or another type of large organization? What browser is the standard there?

Caribou Coffee Social Media Needs a Course Correction


This short presentation from my MBA program illustrates why two-way communication is important when companies are undergoing a transition. Caribou Coffee illustrates how alienating and ignoring your brand’s devoted fans during a time when they need to hear from you is a terrible idea. If the company had handled the situation differently, or decides to take an about face soon, they could actually reap the benefits of being open and transparent instead of what they are getting now.