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Archive for December, 2008


December 30th, 2008

Tech Top 5 for '08

Tech Top 5 for '08

With 2009 on our doorstep, it is that time of the year when we all look back on what’s made an impact in the tech world. What have been the highlights of 2008? There’s been many but here’s my Top 5:

1. iPhone: Without a doubt the iPhone has revolutionised the way we use mobiles by making mobile apps mainstream and encouraging the uptake of location based services. With its sleek design and simple UI, it is easy to see why this product became more than just a must have gadget.

2. Rick Rolling: A phenomenon! For those who haven’t heard of it, check out a previous blog posting from Prompt’s James Gerber.

3. Twitter: If Facebook was the social networking site for 2007, Twitter was it for 2008 as a forum for marketing, networking and breaking news stories.

4 Google Android/Chrome: 2008 brought the major announcements of Google’s OS and browser. Further proof that Google is everywhere!

5: Blu-ray wins: Just like Beta-Max and VHS in the 1980’s, Toshiba’s HD ended before it began when Warner announced it would only use the Blu-ray format. While Blu-ray hasn’t had the expected uptake, no doubt we’ll see more of it in 2009.

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December 17th, 2008

"Facebook me"

"Facebook me"

I tried for a while to avoid the clash of worlds that is the premise of social networks. Telltale signs: fellow Prompt-ites pointing out “You didn’t confirm my friend request?”, a pulse of pure fear every time I’m tagged on a public photo, and deleting personal messages (then carefully blocking the offenders).

I’m past that now. Like a hapless King Canute trying to stop a social media sea I suddenly find myself knee-deep. Now that I’m immersed, I’m intent on wading in and finding out what’s on the horizon: where can it go to? How can we use it as a business? Should we try Yammer? How do you discourage IM to discuss what should be an ‘old-fashioned’ conversation with colleagues three feet away and yet encourage it between team members 3,000 miles+ apart? How many Tweets can I subscribe to and still have my device option switched on/ get more than four hours’ sleep?

Technology is there for communication and the boundaries are still stretching. As an individual and as a business owner, I find the possibilities both daunting and exciting.

Shaun Abrahamson
tweeted an interesting link this week : ‘Will social networks become the new inbox?’, which talks about how Generation Z is happier communicating via Facebook and IM , and that email (Lord rest my burgeoning inbox) is just not the fashion. This shift is a mental challenge: for many of us this one-to-many form of communication is seen as an imposition and it’s a hurdle we need to get over.

Email has a place in the business world, though it’s disgracefully over-used and I welcome anything that offers alternate ways to communicate. There’s so much we could do.

Meanwhile if you want to get hold of me? My worlds are past collision course – so Facebook me.

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December 16th, 2008

Barack Obama is selling out!

Barack Obama is selling out!

With only days left until Christmas, it looks like Barack Obama’s going to be making a special appearance for many children this year. Sales of the official Barack Obama action figure have gone through the roof and it’s turning into the surprise leader of the Christmas toy race. In fact, sales are doing so well that it’s even giving the popular Tickle Me Elmo doll a run for its money.

Many New York stores have reported they’re likely to sell out of the action figure before Christmas. A worker at the Scholastic Store in Manhattan’s SoHo area said, “They are literally flying off the shelves. The kids see Obama, and they just want to grab him.” Store manager Denys Ramos said they have sold more than 200 of the $12.95 figurines.

The official action figure features the President-elect with oversized ears and hands in packing with original artwork and is dubbed “An Action Figure We Can Believe in”. On Amazon the toy is priced from between $69.95 up to a massive $339.91 and there are only three left in stock.

The success of the Barack Obama toy is incredible, especially compared to his former rival, Senator John McCain, whose doll in many stores has now been discounted!

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December 15th, 2008

The 12 Toons of Christmas

The 12 Toons of Christmas

If you already subscribe to Prompt’s weekly email newsletter, you’ll know that the team here works together with a professional cartoonist to create cartoons inspired by technology trends, marketing and the IT industry.

Our Tech Toons blog (also available as an RSS feed) is this month hosting the 12 Toons of Christmas. These are archive cartoons that we created for the December issues of the Prompt newsletter in previous years.

Since this content is licensed under a creative commons licence (as are all the Tech Toons), you can feel free to use these cartoons on your blog, website or anywhere else. (Full rules here, but basically you need to link back to the Tech Toons blog, and cannot modify the toons or use them for commercial purposes, without asking first).

Check out the cartoons and feel free to leave us your comments, or a festive ho ho ho!

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December 9th, 2008

The future of mobile – random, and mostly unknown

The future of mobile – random, and mostly unknown

Prompt attended the recent Chinwag ‘what will happen in the future’-looking event ‘Xmas futures: Crystal Balls’. A panel consisting of Andrew Orlowski, executive editor of The Register, Jonathan Mitchener, futurologist at BT, blogger Neville Hobson, and a couple of agency heads of digital, chaired by Richard Titus, the head of user experience at BBC Future Media and Technology, discussed what the state of mobile usage is likely to be in 2013.

As an audience member pointed out, 2013 isn’t even that far away and we probably won’t know what the changes have been until at least 2050. But some thoughts did come out of the session. Such as, ‘In the future we will…:

– look for convergence of all our personal content (music, pictures, data, contacts etc.) in one central storage area that we will access via different devices depending on location

– be at a tipping point at which service convergence will become widely adopted, as currently service access is prohibitively expensive

– still be looking for ways to monetise mobile contracts, the current trend is to rely on extended – up to 36 months – ‘all you can eat’ contracts; while long tie-ins don’t always benefit the consumer
– see all innovation come from India and China; mobile devices have had a profound impact on business and life in Africa, and sim credit is even used as currency in some areas. But, payments via mobile phone won’t happen in Europe as operators don’t have commercial relationships with brands and retailers (unlike in, for example, Japan)

– likely see commercially successful services and applications emerging as a result of the economic crisis, as hard times help innovation. Although Google Android, is nice, but will make no real difference to the market – as the majority of consumers aren’t interested in building their own applications

One recurring theme was the impossibility of recognising contacts between Facebook and Twitter. This confused and angered the panel immensely, leading to a discussion concluding that the definition of privacy is changing, and that increasingly individuals are seeing some value in giving away information. Similarly, the panel and audience agreed that personal relationships will change, become more defined and compartmentalised, and that the problem of identities – professional, private etc. has yet to be solved; and fianlly that the state of continual partial attention, that several members of the panel recognised the symptoms of in themselves, would continue to affect mobile and PC users.

Anecdotal evidence also cited included:

– gender-defined traditional shopping roles are reversed when shopping online. Men will happily browse multiple sites in order to compare products and review offers, while women are likely to take a more missile-guided approach and complete transactions swiftly, as browsing is ‘not as pleasurable an experience as visiting the shops’

– at least one incidence of ‘Facebook access + WiFi provision + desirable mobile device’ has been witnessed as listed as perks of the job, in a US job advert designed to entice young recruits. This is, possibly, a clue to things to come.

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December 4th, 2008

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

The attacks that took place in Mumbai last week were disturbing, not just to the West, but to the world. It showed that events such as these will continue to take place and nowhere really is safe from fundamentalists to target.

With many people calling this India’s 9/11 (obviously on a smaller scale – the death toll is currently standing at 183) what soon became apparent was the amount of ‘chatter’ that was taking place on social networking sites, with the number one site visited being Twitter, a somewhat latecomer to the social media game where users can send short messages of up to 140 characters.

Twitter turned out to be effective due to the lack of communication coming out of the Indian authorities to worried family and friends. It was a place for people to read clear, first-hand accounts of what was happening as the ‘filtered’ news was slowly trickling out. Also it proved a vital tool for people to post ‘I’m fine’ messages to loved ones.

However, people were writing on the micro-blogging site, exact locations of explosions and where hostages were being held. With people worried that this information was going directly back to the terrorists, making it simpler for them to plan their next move. Indian authorities were the left frantically asking for people to stop using the site.

With the siege now over, their still seems to be many questions over how it was dealt with and why it continued for as long as it did. With the sad reality being those situations, like what the world saw in Mumbai, occurring again. All of us web-users will always log-on, not just to find the latest information, but to check about people they know caught up in an attack, seeing that we know now to expect our mobile telephones going down in events such as these.

Networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace will now always be the first place that people turn to.

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