Archive for the 'innovations' Category

Why the Mac App Store Changes Everything

By: Tim Baker

Apple finally launched their much-hyped App Store for Mac today and in one system update instantly revolutionized the software industry forever.

For anyone that doubts that the Mac App Store is a game changer, I implore you to look at the success of the App store on iOS. Developers of all makes and sizes have found a viable way to distribute software and compete against the industry behemoths on an almost-level playing field. (I say “almost” because the Electronic Arts of the world have the money to clout to feature their big name apps on the storefront when launched or discounted.)

When the App store first made it’s debut on the iPhone & iPod Touch, it was a goldmine for developers – many of them earning small fortunes on the success of their apps with relatively limited competition. Fast-forward to 2011 and the App Store is overcrowded with software of all types and quality; it’s  a lot harder for new apps to stand out from all the noise. Still, an entire community of bloggers and other taste makers have made it their goal to find and share new, quality apps with interested readers and with the right amount of promotion, these innovative apps are being consumed by the masses.

When the iPad launched last year, the second gold rush occurred with developers racing to market with iPad-optimized apps, although this time, many wanted to earn more than they were on the iPhone and charged an “iPad premium.” An iPhone app priced at 99¢ would have it’s “HD” iPad-optimized counterpart priced much higher, say $4.99. There was a big backlash by bloggers against this practice with many feeling they were being ripped off; while the practice still goes on today, I personally see it much less, and the price differential between iPhone and iPad app is usually not as enormous a gap.

The Mac App Store will be no different with developers rushing to get their software into this store while the competition relatively low. Today’s launch includes 1,000 apps and will continue to grow every day. That being said, there is a huge difference between the App store on Mac versus the mobile store – one doesn’t have to use the App store to get new software on their machine. On Apple’s mobile devices, unless you jailbreak, the only way to put applications on is through the App store or a closed corporate environment. Mobile developers need to be in the App Store; Mac OS X developers currently don’t.

The reason the Mac App Store changes everything is simple – it’s the best way for developers to monetize their software. Right now, a small developer makes an app, creates a website about it, maybe puts out a press release and hopes for the best. Many of these developers are making little-to-no money off of their apps, causing them to treat it more as a hobby than a job. Too often, great apps fall by the wayside on Mac when developers don’t have time to update or improve them causing a no-win situation for themselves or the user. Having one centralized place to sell their app, push out updates and make money is going to lead to more quality apps and better prices for users. As the App Store on Mac matures and grows, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to see it being the only approved way to put new software on one’s machine in the future. Many people are very weary of installing software they find on random websites out of fear of spyware or viruses, so the comfort in knowing that these applications from the Mac App Store are safe will be one of the primary drivers in its success.

The mobile App Store has shown that people will pay for software when they feel it’s priced right. The immense competition has made it pretty much de facto that apps that charge use a 99¢ price point. (Obviously this isn’t the case for all apps, but for the vast majority.) One of my favorite authors, Dan Ariely, writes in his book Predictably Irrational that people’s purchasing habits are conditioned. Kids who grew up in the 90’s and stole all their music off Napster and LimeWire don’t feel like they were committing a crime – they just view music as something that should be free. Breaking this conditioned habit is such a hard task which is why it’s a lot tougher to get people in their teens and early 20’s to buy music than it is for the older population that paid for music their entire life. This younger demographic tends to think that anything over 99¢ is too much for a song, yet spending $4.00 on a coffee is perfectly acceptable. The exact opposite is true for those that grew up never paying more than 75¢ for their coffee. This same philosophy is occuring with the App Store; people are conditioned to pay for quality software, but only at very low prices.

Currently, some of the software prices in the Mac store are very high. Pixelmator, a very worthy Photoshop competitor, is priced at $29.99. I’ve used this program and can say that it’s wonderful. When I saw it priced at around that point on it’s website last year, it seemed like a great deal, but in the App Store setting, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I could be wrong, but I expect Pixelmator to be $9.99 in the App Store by the end of the year. If history is going to repeat itself, these high price points are going to have to come down for the desktop App Store if people are going to buy them en masse. $9.99 seems like a fair price point to me.

There’s no doubt there will be a lot of growing pains from developers who don’t want to be a part of Apple’s walled garden App Store, but at the end of the day, they will have to go where the money is, even if it means they have to lower prices and give up some control.


The Top 10 most influential Internet moments of the decade

By Dominic Custodio

Has it really been over 10 years of internet? The Internet has come a long way, and with 2010 just around the corner The Webby Awards came out with a list of the Top 10 most influential Internet moments of the decade. Whether you agree or disagree with their selection, it’s as good time as any to look back and appreciate how far we’ve come; to remember that what is now taken for granted, used to be biggest buzz.  The list:

Craigslist expands outside San Francisco (2000)
In 2000, the free classifieds site broadened its reach outside of San Francisco into nine additional U.S. cities, sending chills down the spines of newspaper publishers everywhere. Today Craigslist serves free listings in more than 500 cities in 50 countries, serving as a model for no-frills business and community success and the catalyst for countless jobs, apartments, and just about anything else you can think of.

Google AdWords launches (2000)
With the launch of AdWords in October 2000, Google turned advertising on its head. The self-service ad program opened up the marketplace to any business, no matter how big or small, and allowed advertisers to target their customers with laser-sharp precision.

Wikipedia launches (2001)
Containing 20,000 articles in 18 languages by the end of its first year online, Wikipedia today boasts more than 14 million articles in 271 different languages. The free open-source encyclopedia epitomizes the Internet’s power to bring strangers from around the world together to collaborate on projects both big and small.

Napster Shut Down (2001)
Although Napster was shut down in 2001, it opened the file-sharing floodgates. Its demise sparked a wave of innovations that forever changed how we obtain and experience music and video – from Hulu to iTunes to Radiohead famously dropping its label and self-distributing their “In Rainbows” CD online for free.

Google IPO (2004)
Google’s IPO, one of the largest in history, put the six year old search engine on the path to becoming the most dominant and influential company of the decade. From gmail and YouTube to Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Android, the Internet giant and constant innovator is the engine that powers countless aspects of our everyday lives.

Online video revolution (2006)
In 2006, a perfect storm of faster bandwidth, cheaper camcorders, and the groundbreaking use of Adobe’s Flash 9 video player by YouTube combined to launch the online video revolution. The trifecta led to a boom in homemade and professional content – the Diet Coke and Mentos guys, lonelygirl15, SNL’s Lazy Sunday, and Senator George Allen’s “macacagate” – that has reshaped everything from pop culture to politics.

Facebook opens to non-college students and Twitter takes off (2006)
In September 2006, a social networking site for college students changed its user qualifications to include anyone 13 and older with a valid e-mail address. Facebook struck an immediate chord — and almost overnight, social media went mainstream. Less than a month later, the creators of Twitter acquired the company and its assets from its investors, paving the way for the service to take off in 2007. Both companies took social media mainstream, radically changing the way we connect, collaborate, and communicate with everyone from friends to colleagues to customers.

The iPhone debuts (2007)
The iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. By the end of the weekend, half a million had been sold, and smartphones had gone from a luxury item to a necessity. The iPhone inspired the development of operating systems like Google Android, as well as an app for just about every aspect of modern life. Over the next decade, it’s estimated that a billion new users will come to the Internet for the first time through mobile devices.

U.S. Presidential Campaign (2008)
The Internet altered presidential politicking in 2008 much as television had forty years earlier during the Kennedy/Nixon race. From videos like “Obama Girl” and the Reverend Wright clip shaping the debate, to social media mobilizing voters, to record-breaking online fundraising from small donors, every facet of the way campaigns are run was permanently transformed.

Iranian election protests (2009)
When Iran’s 2009 presidential election produced fishy results, the opposition took to the tweets — and the “Twitter Revolution” was born. In fact, it was so vital to organizing demonstrations that the U.S. State Department asked the company to delay planned maintenance.. The protests also highlighted Twitter’s key asset as a protest tool: Since most users don’t access it through a central website, it’s nearly impossible to censor.

An interesting selection. I would add a few that really stand out from personal experience:

  • Gmail launches: It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, the battle was between Yahoo and Hotmail. Even I had my doubts about the new contender. E-mail addresses are a sticky commodity, like a cell phone number, which you’d ideally like to keep forever (unless you want to go MIA). Who uses yahoo and hotmail as their primary address anymore? Exactly. Conversation style email, combined with the power of Google search tipped the scales. Can you imagine your life without it?
  • Adobe buys Macromedia: Momentous, especially as a designer, because it meant the merging of the de facto design tools (photoshop/illustrator) and with the de facto web tools (dreamweaver/flash). From a production standpoint, it really meant streamlining the flow between designing and buildling sites, and blasted the creative doors wide open for web designers.
  • The rise of AJAX: Another thanks to google. With AJAX, web applications could now retrieve data from the server asynchronously in the background without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page. Everything Google (gmail, docs, maps), not to mention many of the standard functionalities we find on Web 2.0 sites would not have been possible without it.
  • Amazon Kindle: eBooks. Up until this point, it all seemed like a pipe dream – an empty promise from the beginning of the digital revolution. Many had tried to come up with a good e-reader and a viable business model, but with little success. And then the Kindle came a long. With its smart interface, simplicity and the backing of the largest online bookstore in the world, it became a runaway hit. You could now download not just books, but magazines and newspapers, wirelessly as well. Sony and Barnes and Noble have followed suit with their own readers, but whoever wins the battle in the end, eBooks/eReaders are a pipe dream no longer.

What are your moments?


Foursquare: The Game That’s a Real-Game Changer

One of the hottest trends in social media is the growth of location-aware mobile applications. With the immense popularity of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-powered mobile devices, software developers are pushing the mobile platform forward faster than any segment of consumer electronics.

Foursquare LogoOf all the location-aware mobile applications, Foursquare is perhaps the most exciting. Foursquare was created by Dennis Crowley and Neveen Selvadurai and launched earlier this year. Crowley’s previous project, Dodgeball, was one of the pioneering social networking services for mobile devices. Dodgeball required users to text their location into the service and they would be instantly notified of friends, other Dodgeball users and points of interest all in their close vicinity. Dodgeball was purchased by Google and has since morphed into Google Latitude, Google’s up-and-coming foray into location-aware social networking still in its infancy.

Foursquare takes the basic principles behind Dodgeball but presents it in a much more robust and user-friendly way. Rather than text in one’s location, Foursquare users simply fire up the mobile application on their device and it utilizes the phone’s GPS technology and data network to presents them with a list of venues near their current location. The user selects their location from the list (or adds it if it’s not currently in the system) and they are “checked in.” By connecting to Twitter and Facebook, users can instantly and automatically alert their social networks of their location.

Foursquare doesn’t end there; Crowley and Neveen have implemented an ingenious reward system into their applications that not only encourages repeat use of the applications, but truly bridges that gap from “virtual world” to “real world.” Based on the city one is in, Foursquare users can unlocked badges basedjavascript:; on their check-ins. For example, New Yorker’s that check into a venue above 59th Street can unlock the “Far Far Away” badge. Check in to three karaoke venues unlocks you the “Don’t Stop Believin'” badge while checking in at a gym venue 10 times or more in 30 days earns you the “Gym Rat” badge.


Perhaps the most innovative feature built into Foursquare is the “Mayor” system. Users that check into a venue with the most frequency in a set period of time are tagged as the mayor of that particular venue. Aside from the bragging rights that come along with being the mayor, more and more locations are taking Foursquare off the mobile devices and into the real world by rewarding mayors with a variety of prizes. Restaurants are offering free food to the Foursquare mayor while some bars have been known to give free drinks to their respective mayors.

Foursquare users also have the option to leave a tip for others at the venue they are checked into. Whether it’s raving about a particular restaurant’s salmon dish or urging others to try the Long Island Iced Tea, Foursquare’s system is posing a real threat to popular social review services like Yelp and CitySearch.

Crowley and Selvadurai have created a system that not only is immensely fun for its users, but allows local businesses to market themselves leveraging social media in a whole new way. Whether this was truly intended or is simply a side-effect of the game’s popularity, there’s no denying that Foursquare is creating a new level of interaction between businesses and customers that is sure to be a growing trend in 2010 and beyond.

Kinesis Helps Bring Coldwell Banker Listings to In-Car Navigation

In its latest strategic move on behalf of long-time client Coldwell Banker, Kinesis has partnered the global real estate franchisor with Dash Navigation, Inc. making it the first real estate company to allow drivers to access real-time real estate listings and property details from their vehicle and instantly create a route to them. Consumers can search for homes with the Coldwell Banker “Home Search” button now available on Dash GPS units—the first Web-accessible portable navigation system.

This relationship extends the Coldwell Banker brand’s reach to those who are actively in their cars and on the move searching for new homes, supporting the company’s position as a real estate innovator.

“Identifying, investigating and implementing the most appropriate strategic innovations to help our clients reach their business and marketing goals is what we are passionate and relentless about, “ said Nick Dimitrakiou, Kinesis Partner, Emerging Media. “This latest execution brings our client Coldwell Banker firmly into the Web 2.0 world while providing real value to their Local Sales Offices, Agents and consumers.”

While driving the strategy, Kinesis also worked with Dash Navigation on the user experience of the Home Search capability and managed the project’s process.

Coldwell Banker Gets Viral

Trying to create virality from scratch is a difficult proposition at best. Expectations run very high and often the results don’t meet them. There are so many variables, like timing, content, and target audience, that are out of your control, it’s hard to project success. But we have to say regardless of the outcome of this campaign (we will have to wait and see) we just put together for Coldwell Banker, we are really proud of the work.

A little background: Coldwell Banker has just launched a new market positioning supported by a new TV campaign featuring the founders of the 100 year old company (well, their portraits anyway.) You can see the spots here to see what I mean. To support the TV campaign, Kinesis developed a highly interactive microsite aimed at allowing people to interact with Coldwell and Banker, get to know them and share them (and ideally the brand and its tools and agents) with others.

CB Microsite

Users will get to meet Coldwell and Banker in their office, watch the new TV ads, and even challenge them to online ping pong or a staring contest. The blog highlights the curious adventures of the portraits as they travel across the US – so far they’ve taken the time to ride a trolley car in San Francisco, visit the Grand Canyon, attend a rodeo and ride a roller coaster.

Visitors enter the microsite via the reception area of a virtual Coldwell Banker office. From there, they can enter the “Mail Room” to send friends eCards featuring the portraits; the “Theater” to view the portraits’ TV spots; the “Break Room” to challenge the portraits to ping pong and staring contests; “Human Resources” to learn about career opportunities with Coldwell Banker; and the “Conference Room” to use the company’s innovative real estate tracking tools including: Home Tracker, Home Value Estimator, Map Search, Video Library and Personal Retriever.

The site went live late last week and has already had more than 4000 visits a day. It’s a really fun site. Major props must go to Kinesis’ own Trevor Aldinger, Amanda Thiem, Paul Sekerka and Brian Kempf for their hard work and creativity on this.

More Second Life For Coldwell Banker

Virtual Home featured this article today on Coldwell Banker’s latest addition to its Second Life initiative (click here to read about the original project that we released this spring). Kinesis and its development partner Code4 Software worked with Coldwell Banker to build a virtual model of a real house for sale in Seattle. Avatars in Second Life can tour the house, meet with an agent, make a bid, and even negotiate a deal all within the meatverse. The real home is priced at $3million, but you and your Second Life alter-ego can check it out for free here.

At the risk of tooting our own horn, this is one more giant leap for marketing in Second Life. Any product you really need to experience before you buy it is perfect for this environment. Plus it’s convenient as heck for consumers. This is where it’s heading, folks.

WAP Sites? We don’t need no stinkin’ WAP Sites!

While new technologies are introduced daily, every now and then a technology comes along that truly revolutionizes peoples behaviors, attitudes, decisions and lives. Take a moment to think about how the DVR and HDTV changed the TV experience – I mean come on…who really watched those colorful nature shows on the Discovery Channel before HDTV?

Well, June 29th, 2007 was one of those days, as it marked the change of mobile web forever. What happened on that summer Friday you ask? The iPhone!

NYT WAP The New York TimesWAP site for conventional mobile phones

The New York Times site on the iPhone. NYT iPhone

Put aside the fact that nearly 1.0MM units were sold in the first week. After experiencing the iPhone first hand, (yes some of us were fortunate enough to have recieved ours the first day) we can honestly say mobile web will never be the same. Seeing what this gizmo is capable of, leads us to believe there will no longer be the need for WAP sites to exist (talk about single-handedly changing an entire industry in one fell swoop).

Forget all the hype and buzz about the pros and cons. This topic of this conversation is not even about a phone. It’s about a device that will change consumer behavior and portable content as we know it.

When putting this single thought into context, not only will the implications of this device have a direct impact on mobile web, but consider all the other businesses/models that have or will be affected – Distribution, Marketing, Promotion, and on the list goes.

Consider this – prior to the release of the iPhone, the general consumer experience to purchase a new mobile phone consisted of going to a store, signing over rights to your first born child and literally wasting an entire afternoon – not anymore. The experience in buying the iPhone was seamless from the get-go. you purchase the phone in a store, or now online (literally a :60 sec credit card transaction), and then activate the phone (including the transfer of your phone number from a different carrier) through iTunes in a matter of 3 minutes. This kind of user experience is what is generally forgotten (ignored?) by the wireless companies themselves in their haste to win the battle over 2 percent of the market. Apple’s influence here is evident – the experience of the product begins with the environment in which your purchase it.

Because of the iPhone’s real web browser feature, users can experience web sites the way they would on their computer. That means no longer do marketers need to create promotions that require WAP sites or special mobile elements. what is good for the computer is good for the phone. Now an opportunity exists to create integrated, cross platform, web based, mobile solutions without compromise, a benefit for both marketers and their customers.

Content Portability:
For years publishers have pitched the notion of “portable content” as being able to access digital content anywhere. We create Widgets, Gadgets, and RSS feeds to enable customized information and while some of these technologies offer mobile components, they are clunky and not very user friendly. Now consider a custom widget for your iPhone, which enables a true wireless “always connected”, visually appealing experience which by the way, includes all the most important information relevant to ME! (NOTE: While Apple has yet to announce additional software as of this posting they have distributed the developer’s guide which will allow developers to begin working on new compatible software.)

While most smartphones enable many of these technologies to happen, none have come close to creating an experience such as the iPhone. That’s the best part about this story – its about an innovative company who took technologies that already existed for years, and packaged them in a way for even the most “non-savvy” individual to enjoy, creating an entirely new market opportunity for various industries in the process.

The question now is: as a marketer in the digital world, what marketing innovations can we bring to this environment that will enhance consumer experiences and maximize the value of our brands?

Stay tuned….

About Kinesis Momentum

Want to keep your digital marketing moving forward? Welcome to Momentum, brought to you by the folks at FD kinesis. Whether its online advertising, social media, mobile technology, web design or any other discussion of the digital domain, you'll find it here.

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