Archive for March, 2011

The Power of the Electronic Pen

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Two guys walk into a coffee shop, get their drinks, sit down and start chatting.

“Social media is the biggest waste of time,” said the first person.

“No it’s not. It’s one of the greatest inventions of our time,” said the second person.




The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I will admit that I am a fan of Facebook and I use Twitter on occasion. I love Facebook for a variety of reasons: I’ve been able to re-connect with long-lost friends, it allows me to share thoughts and ideas and get discussions going, and it enables me to learn from those around me. But the key, as blogger Om Malik suggests, is “the message — the act of sharing — is the real product.”

The beauty of social media is simply that – the act of sharing a message. Yet in the tech sector, we tend to get a little too excited about new technologies and sometimes I think we’re simply lemmings jumping off of a cliff by blindly following the hottest trends. That message was clear at the recent Demo show where “just about everywhere you look these days, Twitter and Facebook are the most popular kids in the room.”

But I’m not here to debate the merits or praise the rise of social media. I’m here to say that, as a history buff, I find it fascinating that the social media wave has become a crucial part of the recent upheaval in the Middle East. The people who suffer under the repressive regimes in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt have been controlled and repressed over the years by hard-line governments. Yet the ability of the masses to share the message of freedom with the world did not go unnoticed by those of us outside of those countries. And we have social media, at least in part, to thank. As noted in Mashable:

“The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University cited Facebook and Twitter as playing key roles in spreading dissent-and up-to-the-minute news-in Tunisia, leading to the removal of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who gained control of the country in a 1987 coup d’etat.”

So what can the tech sector learn from this? It’s very important to work closely with your customers, address their needs and make sure that you follow through on your promises. Because if you don’t, unhappy customers have the power to make your life miserable, just like the revolutionaries in the countries mentioned above have for their leaders.

Many PR folks are concerned about the rise of social media and the fall of traditional methods to engage with members of the press. My advice to those people, the social media channel is much more powerful than you might have imagined. Don’t pretend that it can’t come up an get you. It can.

65 million iPads – A New Era in Digital Media Arrives

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Although the excitement level for iPad 2, which probably should be iPad 1.5, is nowhere near the level that it was for the original iPad, the availability of the iPad 2 in stores today generated a notable news cycle. 

What’s also notable is the complete dearth of anything remotely credible as a competitive tablet, as the AP’s coverage emphasized, noting:

Competitors such as Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. can’t seem to match the iPad’s starting price of $499. Tablets that are comparable to the iPad in features cost hundreds of dollars more, while cheaper tablets are inferior to the iPad in quality.

I’m beyond baffled by this given that the PC and mobile phone boys have had plenty of time to simply follow Apple’s example of what a tablet should look like.  Microsoft says it won’t ship a tablet until 2012 which, given MSFT’s track record of late, will be more like 2014.

In the meantime, the iPad is plenty good, with Gartner expecting 65 million tablets (mostly iPads obviously) to be sold worldwide this year.  They’ve even gone so far as to predict a decline of PC sales in the face of the table onslaught.


As tablets reach critical mass, how will they impact the way we in PR and communications do our jobs?

Unlike laptops that are too clunky and smartphones that are too small, iPads let people consume digital media in all forms – eMagazines, news, radio, social media, video, music – anytime and anyplace. Worries about battery life or connectivity are fading fast.  

And while the emphasis is on digital media, many argue that there will be room for more in-depth content such as books and thoughtful articles.  As the success of the Kindle demonstrates, people are comfortable reading thousands of words on their tablets.  What’s more , the tablet can help bring in-depth content to life with videos or slide shows and interactive demos.

For those of us fretting over the demise of daily newspaper and the perceived collapse of journalism, the rise of the tablet is a godsend.  Most likely it will lead to a population of consumers and customers that is better read and more informed than those of us addicted to newsprint.  (I admit, I still get a paper delivered to my door; can’t get over that just yet.)

Overtime, the rise of tablets will lead to a much more successful and healthy news media as business models and licensing issues get sorted out.  This in turn helps those of us in the PR, and will force us to become adept at the art of cranking out digital media content quickly and cost effectively. I can see the day when almost every press release includes a video element, not just the photos we provide today.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, a much improved way to consume digital media is here to stay. To Microsoft, Google, Motorola, et al, come on, get your act together!

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