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November 27th, 2008

A 'Prompt' swap

A 'Prompt' swap

Aside from having solid working relationships among and between its American and British team members, Prompties actually like each other! Every once in a while a team member from one side of the pond will hop on a plane to spend some time working with normally distant team members.

Last week, the Prompt US team was elated to host UK copywriter, Duncan Heaney. Duncan made his first trip to America and worked out of the Boston office while enjoying a slice of American culture in all of its glory. The whole team joined Duncan to attend an NBA basketball game and saw 2008 champions the Boston Celtics crush the Detroit Pistons in a 98-80 victory. Of course it wouldn’t have been the American way had we not taken him for pizza and drinks beforehand, and we think he enjoyed every aspect of American sport that we were able to show him!

Part of what makes Prompt unique is the reach that we have and the culture that is created and sustained by the members of its teams in both the US and the UK. You often hear about the struggles and challenges faced by intercontinental companies face, ranging from communication issues to the simple hardships of teambuilding. With such a large body of water separating our nations, challenges are only to be expected. And then there’s Prompt.

An ever supportive, always innovative team, we are fortunate to be a part of a company so confident in the culture that exists within our own growing community. So that will mean at least one comment from the other side of the pond, huh?

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November 20th, 2008

Sweet Child Online

Sweet Child Online

It’s taken 17 years to make, but the new Guns N’Roses album is available now. It’s a measure of how the media has changed in that time that the first place you can hear it (legally) is on MySpace, where the band is streaming the whole thing. When the last studio album was released (1991’s twin LP-set “Use Your Illusion”), the only way to hear it was to buy the album or visit a friend who had already done so. Now you can play new release “Chinese Democracy” whenever you want, wherever you can get a web connection. The new album’s in the shops Sunday/Monday (depending on whether you’re in the US or UK).

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November 20th, 2008

Apple takes on Nintendo

Apple takes on Nintendo

If I say “Apple”? What do you think of? Fruit? No, probably not.
Possibly iPod or music? Yes, that’s more like it.

This week Apple reported that soon they may also be known for gaming. With their high-end iPod Touch rivalling well known popular gaming devices like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP over the Christmas period.

The latest iPod Touch allows users to download music and games from Apple’s online store. Since the iPod Touch has been released over 6,000 applications have been designed by third party developers, 1,500 of which are games. Most games in the store range from £2.99-£5.99, a lot cheaper than the games available for the Nintendo DS which usually start from £25. So, is the iPod Touch the gamers answer in the credit crunch? No I doubt it. According to the research company VG Chartz, 85 million Nintendo DS’s have been sold worldwide, making it one of the most popular pieces of gaming hardware ever made.

There’s nothing stopping people using and enjoying playing games on both, as they do offer different types of games to users and a different gaming experience. The iPod Touch uses a touchscreen and accelerometer which works well for more strategic games like puzzles, while the Nintendo DS has the traditional joy pad and button control, which suits action type games that require a quick reaction. It is hard to compare the quality of games available with the iPod Touch to those offered by the most powering players in the gaming industry such as EA and Sega.

Nintendo are moving quickly to ensure that they aren’t being left behind in the race, offering new forms of digital distribution to their customers. The latest version of the Nintendo’s console the DSi allows users to download games directly from the internet just like the Apple iPod Touch and it is available in the UK later this year. This leaves Apple lagging behind. But watch this space, I’m sure Apple will come fighting back with more sophisticated games. It wouldn’t surprise me if many people have both a Nintendo DS and iPod Touch on their Christmas lists this year and therefore I’m sure both will do equally as well over the Christmas period.

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November 17th, 2008

Can Google give us time travel?

Can Google give us time travel?

Good old Google – it’s already revolutionised the way we all work each day. Now – it’s decided to tackle history.

Google Earth, once the exclusive preserve of narcissists locating their own house has branched out… into ancient Rome! Containing 6,700 buildings and more than 250 place marks, each linked to key sites in a variety of languages, Google has attempted to bring AD360 back to life.

Bernard Frischer from Virginia University, who worked with Google on the reconstruction, described it as: “Another step in creating a virtual time machine. The project is a continuation of five centuries of research by scholars, architects and artists since the Renaissance, who have attempted to restore the ruins of the ancient city with words, maps and images.”

Well, it’s a noble effort. But you can’t just shoehorn a city into these sanitised graphics. Juvenal, writing in the early second century AD, paints a picture of Rome which breathes far more life, than any fancy reconstruction ever could:

“So farewell Rome, I leave you to sanitary engineers and municipal architects, fellows who by swearing black is white find it easy to land contracts for a new temple, swamp-drainage, harbour works, river-clearance, undertaking the lot – then pocket the profit and fraudulently file their petition in bankruptcy.”

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November 12th, 2008

The future's bright at London Chinwag

The future's bright at London Chinwag

This week I attended the Chinwag MoSo Rising panel discussion The panel was filled with many mobile social networking gurus and was lead by well-know mobile journalist, Bena Roberts from GoMo News . It was a great opportunity to hear about the future of mobile LBS (location based services), mobile pricing for application usage and what the next steps will be in mobile convergence.

Out of the guru panel came some interesting ideas:

The mobile world is still seen as separate from the digital world by consumers
With the exception of MVNOs like Blyk (the world’s first MVNO based on mobile advertising) mobile advertising has not been living up to expectations and it not yet a sustainable business on its own

Successful mobile social networks need to be niche i.e. based around a football club at the moment. Sites like Facebook have not been developed for the mobile space but there is lots of untapped potential for them in this space

The Apple iPhone has started to pave the way for more mainstream consumers to use mobile web apps and to set the expectation that the mobile user should have the same UI as the PC user

Some really effective mobile web campaigns include a recent one from Strongbow and flirtomatic to give friends and flirts a virtual pint of Strongbow where they can register to receive a free pint mobile voucher, along with details of the nearest pubs where it can be redeemed during Bowtime (5pm to 7pm each Tuesday). Clever indeed!

What does the future hold for mobile? Greater personalisation of location based services and making applications easy to use. The catch phrase of the night was ‘sharing your life in real time’. No doubt this will be a hot topic at the 2009 Mobile World Congress – watch this space!

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