Friday, 24 July 2009


Lovely, another week of holiday coming up :) This time heading up north to Sweden.
Will be quiet on the blog for a few days...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

One of the best blog posts I've come across in a while...

This blog post by MadeByMany is so important. Read and have a think about it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The Starbucks rollercoaster

Now, time to post about Starbucks again, the craziest coffee shop chain worthy of its own soap opera. Whilst Nero's a classic black americano (no sugar), Coffee Republic an empty cup, Starbucks is a grande mocha chocha double cream with some stirring and social media topping.

OK so I've previously blogged about Starbucks' being one of the top social media brands, and their excellent CRM scheme.

This is why it's time to talk about Starbucks again
* has ranked Starbucks the world's most valuable brand "based on how they leverage social media to interact with customers."
It's interesting that Starbucks is the only coffee chain that is time and time again involved in social media. Can you think of any other coffee outlets that has made such an online effort? I can't - but do let me know if you can! Starbucks doesn't need to offer users an idea store, but they do. Starbucks doesn't need to be on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc, but they are.

*Starbucks goes whitelabel and I don't like it
Clever @saradotdub told told me (via @denvan) that Starbucks is planning on opening up new coffe shops without the Starbucks branding to slurp your black stuff - but with no mentioning of Starbucks. The idea is to go back to the local scene and try ditching the mega brand image. Is it just me smelling paranoia?

Now I'm all for diversifying and mini-brands (think Virgin, Tesco with its Metro, Local, Express, even McDonalds with its cafe spin-offs), but I appreciate honesty and transparency. By stripping the Starbucks wallpaper, the customers are basically taken for a ride. Sure Starbucks, try out your new concepts. But keep the logo and play with the theme and message instead.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Future week day 3

In day 3 of future week, I'm talking about 'cross reality' today picked up by the clever folks at ReadWriteWeb. You can read their full post here.

"x-reality affects worlds both real and virtual to the point that its platforms have a meaningful and discernable effect upon that particular world."
Beth Coleman

So, what's cross reality?
Cross reality is when the real world senses your digital activity. ReadWriteWeb likens this to walking into a book shop. Say you have stored a book wishlist somewhere on the web, or indications of what types of books you might be interested in. As you walk through the door, sensors would connect with your mobile phone; which in turn indicates if the shop has your favourite books instore and maybe even giving you highly relevant offers.

Should cross reality excite me?

Yes, I believe it should. We all know the benefits of online (offers, targeting etc) but we haven't yet seen our digital and real world truly connect. Imagine all the personal discounts you could get in shops! Money saving tips to engage with wherever you go. A home that responds to your every need. A car that starts up with different settings depending on season and day. Everytime you cross a sensor, your cross reality world will change. So the more you make of your online persona, the richer your real life might be.

Can we use cross reality products now?
As far as I know, no. But it's in the making.

To those thinking this sounds pretty interesting, I would strongly advice reading the excellent essay (it's a serious piece) by Beth Coleman @Massachusetts Institute of Technology, available free of charge here.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Future week day 2

Today's the second day of future week and in this post I'd like to push Sara Williams' blog post 'Smart mobs and smarter media'. She went to see renowned futurist Howard Rheingold give a speech on intelligence theories and what lies ahead for media.

Sara gives excellent food for thought, adds a humanitarian perspective and I recommend taking a good read.

"Could the internet and mobile technologies come together in a new way to bring about change for people who have previously been excluded from the entire exchange because they couldn’t (meaningfully) put pen to paper, much less hands to keyboard? It’s something to think about."

With most of us media people sitting in modern open space offices, often delivering products for people like ourselves, it takes a while to reprogram your mind to think how new digital tools may help developing countries.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Future week: Augmented reality

Welcome to... future week! That’s right! This week I’m going to stretch my mind a little bit and think about what the future holds for web and digital. [Gah I can't seem to change the font!]

Recently, no doubt thanks to the innovation and success of the iPhone, it feels like change is in the air and we’re storming towards the digital future. Today I’m starting with something which has interested me greatly recently, and mixes real life with digital in a way never done before.

Augmented reality

The basic idea of augmented reality is to superimpose graphics, audio and other sense enhancements over a real-world environment in real-time.” From

Step 1 to getting around the AR concept is probably to watch a video. There are quite a few videos out there that demonstrate AR possibilities. Here’s one (finding out where the nearest London underground station is).

Areas which would benefit from AR

*Leisure / tourism: This is where things could get serious. Imagine you’re out and about, and looking for a restaurant or a cinema. With augmented reality, you can see screen based offers applied to the real world. OpenTheFuture illustrates what your AR high street might look like here. Imagine when the ad space opens up!

Clever is already tapping into the market; they have created an iPhone app called NRU which is likely to make information and money saving tips easily accessible on the go.

Think tour guides charge too much? Stan Schroeder at has recently written about a product called ID App which recognizes objects you point your iPhone towards. No more 'we have to check this out on Wikipedia when we get home' - just check the info there and then!

*Military -big business

*Gaming: Nintendogs goes real. Why see fun characters on a predetermined background set, when you can view them in your house?

Also, how about inviting second life characters into the real world? Check out a demo video here.

*Education: Ideal for medicine students!

For more reading on AR,

I like the sound of this! Can I start using AR products now?

Yes you can, if you have an Android phone. iPhone users will unfortunately have to wait a little longer.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

iTunes Live is bringing back the craze to competitions

Ever thought there was no pointing entering competitions? Think again: I swear people seem to win iTunes Live tickets left right and centre. Only a few minutes ago, one of the girls in the design team just found out she's won tickets for Bat For Lashes.

From the iTunes Live site: "The iTunes Festival is a new type of music festival. Free to attend. Running for the entire month of July and to be enjoyed from anywhere in the world via the web."

Who'd turn down free tickets to see the likes of Kasabian and chart topping La Roux? Free night + top music = could it get any better!?

So, what do you need to exchange in order for a chance to win?

1) Go to
2) Become a fan of iTunes by clicking the button
3) Click "win tickets"
4) Pick the night you'd like to attend and hit "apply"
5) ... here's the catch ... First name, Surname and Email are all required fields.

It's interesting how iTunes have chosen Facebook over other social media tools such as Twitter. My guess? Facebook offers such added value for member capture (see point 5 above) that Twitter wouldn't have been able to - excuse the pun - compete. Any other big brands out there that have used Facebook cleverly (and successfully) for member capture?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

When a product isn't as successful as you'd hoped

Life can't always be rosy.

Imagine spending time on developing a new product and when it goes live, no one minds it - in fact quite a few people like it - but the clicks just aren't there.

It's... frustrating. When you're passionate about ideas and product development, you want all users to love it and hopefully click like crazy.

So it's back the drawing board. Has anyone out there got a method for backtracking and figuring out what went wrong + ideally, how to make future products more successful?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Back in the UK...

Back in the UK after a lovely holiday. Silver fake Birkenstocks (prefer Faith's version, softer base) don't quite cut it in rainy Soho.


Whilst my body's in the office, my mind is at times drifting off accompanied by the soundtrack of the trip.... Going on a serious European roadtrip with 11 kiwis meant some serious European music education. Unfortunately the CD didn't go down very well and was quickly replaced with Kings of Leon and surfer style music. Let me know if you can think of any better music from the following countries!

Holland - 2 Unlimited. Techno techno! PS if anyone knows Car Hotel in Amsterdam = they're thieves! Now a Nintendo DS short...

Belgium .... really couldn't think of any Belgian music? I know there was a 90s band called Deus but can't remember any of their songs. Nope nothing.

France - Air. "Surfin on a rocket..." Also, Smoke City's french singstress whispering / singing Underwater Love. Anyone else remembers the Levis ad?

Luxembourg - Placebo (OK wouldn't listen to them now, but was in my teenage years an obsessed fan and therefore knew that Brian Molko was raised there).

Germany - Kraftwerk "Autobahn" - obvious choice if you're going 140 kph with the top down :)

Switzerland ... again couldn't think of any? Celine Dion in the 80s Eurovision? The guys would have killed me!

Italy - half Italian Lady Gaga. "Eh eh, nothing else I can say..." The video is very US / Italian and features a lot of vespas. What a lovely summer song!