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Archive for February, 2014


February 27th, 2014

Just how much is your smartphone worth to you?

Just how much is your smartphone worth to you?

According to Business Insider Intelligence, six percent of the global population have a tablet, twenty percent use a PC, but twenty two percent own smartphones. That’s phenomenal penetration for a technology platform in relative infancy. The first-generation Apple iPhone was launched in June 2007. Today analysts believe there are more than 1.4 billion smartphones in use around the world.

So why is the lure of the smartphone so strong? For those of us who have seen a few more computing dawns than perhaps we’d like to admit, it’s surely the fact that we’ve finally got all of the fun, features and functionality we ever really wanted in one elegant device that fits in a pocket and is there whenever we need it. It’s hard to remember now, but the idea of so much connect computing power in such a slick form that pretty much works all the time, and exactly how we’d want it to, was completely unthinkable even a decade ago. For younger people who expect this kind of performance and flexibility, well why wouldn’t they want one?

Smartphones are so compelling that some academics even think we’re becoming addicted to them – and you have to admit they may have a point. Take Leslie Perlow, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School for example. Her study of 1,600 business professionals revealed that 70 percent check their smartphone within an hour of waking up, 56 percent check within an hour of going to sleep, 48 percent check over the weekend, 51 percent check continuously when on holiday, and – perhaps most worryingly of all – 44 percent said they would experience “a great deal of anxiety” if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for a week.

Of course at up to £500 for leading unlocked handsets and minimum contract durations of typically two years, these are first-world problems that most of the global population cannot afford to suffer even if they wanted to. Well, until now it seems. This week Mozilla, the firm behind the Firefox browser, showed crowds at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a smartphone built specifically to unlock emerging markets. And it could cost as little as $25 (£15). A partnership struck with Chinese cheap chip manufacturer Spreadtrum has enabled Mozilla to produce a workable smartphone for very little money, and while it won’t compete with the latest Apple or Samsung, it will open up the mobile internet to people who have never experienced it before.

Mozilla will be seeking a pioneering anchorage for fresh markets, from which it can expand its influence and introduce further devices to a new population of consumers and business users. The $25 phone may feel clunky and poorly featured to those of us who have been using evolving smartphones for up to eight years, but it’s represents a huge leap in what is possible for the very low-cost handset market. And is it any good? Not really, is the verdict from both the BBC and PC Advisor. But of course ‘any good’ is entirely relative, and compared to simple text communications – or no digital communication at all – the $25 phone has every chance to change many more lives than the next iPhone or Galaxy.

Please let us know what you think about the advent of the $25 smartphone. What are the pros and cons of this development for everyone concerned as you see it? We’d love to hear from you.

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February 25th, 2014

WhatsApp bought by Facebook: “Well, that’s great…”

WhatsApp bought by Facebook: “Well, that’s great…”

WhatsApp is undoubtedly ‘what’s up’ in tech news these days, with business experts and digital pundits everywhere weighing in on the colossal $19 billion deal (£11.4 billion).

Facebook is buying the instant-messaging service for $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook stock, and setting aside another $3 billion in stock units to be dealt out to founders and employers over the next four years. Mark Zuckerberg is trending on Twitter this week as a result, and took the stage at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – the world’s premier mobile industry event – to share his plans for the messaging service.

To put the deal into perspective, it’s bigger than, well, any tech deal pretty much ever, and that includes Google, Microsoft and Apple acquisitions. The closest in recent years was Google’s deal for Motorola Mobility, but that was only a paltry $12.5 billion three years ago. Chicken feed, compared with the WhatsApp acquisition, right? Old news.

WhatsApp is an app that lets users chat with their smartphone contacts either individually or in groups, and send texts or photos (there are also plans on the horizon for video calling).  The app already had 450 million users, now reportedly being boosted by an extra million each day.

The gist of the strategy behind the purchase of WhatsApp is to further expand Facebook’s growing empire of connectivity worldwide. The companies’ shared values and goals appear to be the driving force behind the acquisition. In yesterday’s keynote, Facebook’s CEO sung WhatsApp’s praises (as if the money didn’t speak for itself) stating that: “it’s the most engaging app that we’ve ever seen exist on mobile so far.”

The company plans to keep WhatsApp separate from the Facebook platform. Zuckerberg stated: “There are very few services in the world that can reach that level. The vision is to keep the service exactly the same.”

Outside of the blockbuster deal, Zuckerberg also used the MWC stage to raise awareness and advocacy for worldwide, easily-accessible internet for all, though his ‘internet.org’ project. His vision is that the internet should be as accessible and affordable as picking up the phone and dialing 911 – an essential service that should not be limited to first world countries.

So what do we think as WhatsApp users? Well, we’re kind of split across the whole gamut of it being great, from “Well, that’s great…”* to “Well, that’s great…”**

*Said by one of our Brits in a somewhat sarcastic tone
**Said in an overly enthusiastic American voice

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February 14th, 2014

Tech PR viewpoint: Avoiding launch jitters

Tech PR viewpoint: Avoiding launch jitters

Launching a product or service is a strange experience. I’d go as far as to say it’s a very vulnerable one.

Imagine that you’ve thought of something new, interesting and exciting — a product, service or application that you believe will change the way people work, communicate or see the world. You’ve lost sleep, may have bootstrapped and walked a financial tightrope, worn out family and friends while nurturing your idea to reality. You’ve dreamt about it, built it, developed it.

Now you have to tell other people about it.

This is where launch jitters come into play. It’s so hard telling people about your idea, sharing yourIt’s a very personal thing, and to make turn your concept into a success, you have to share your innermost thoughts with other people.

Launch jitters manifest themselves in different ways. There’s what I call ‘launch stage fright’ which stems from hesitation and a genuine fear and to share the story. I don’t mean scared to tell a PR company (like Prompt) so that we can write up the news in the form of a well-worded press release, I mean scared to get out there and tell people face-to-face — at meetings, at bus stops, over the phone, shouting from the rooftops…

Sometimes this stage fright is accompanied by ‘skewed launch perception’. It could well be a brilliant idea, but now how do you share your long-term vision? There are very few overnight sensations (some would argue that there are none), so it’s vital to be persistent and believe in your product beyond day one, week one and month one of the announcement. You have to be in it for the PR long haul.

So here’s my advice for getting over any launch jitters:

• Follow a well-mapped out plan. Your go-to-market strategy should include all the sales and marketing elements that you need, with plenty of built-in opportunities to measure, revise and revisit. The long haul, remember?

• Get your messaging right before launch. It’s very hard to backtrack and attempt to rename something, even if you think no-one has taken any notice first time around

• Don’t get ‘over-corporate’. Yes, there are product categories, magic quadrants, and a heap of ‘leading provider of’ stories out there, but you simply cannot beat communicating at a personal level about the launch

• Budget properly. Unless you’ve created wireless electricity for the masses, cloned Justin Bieber, or come up with a carbon capture solution that fits in a handbag and costs less than $10, you’re going to need more bucks in your PR line after that first press release

• Be passionate. This is your vision and it’s your job to share the reason, opportunity and uniqueness of it. Be genuine and passionate. After all, this is part of your life’s story

Would you like to discuss an upcoming launch, or share your own thoughts about launch jitters? Then please book a slot to talk to us, or contact us via Twitter, LinkedIn or .

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February 1st, 2014

The Lenovo juggernaut: Google to sell Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion

The Lenovo juggernaut: Google to sell Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion

Tech PR viewpoint

Well, the Lenovo juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. It’s the world’s largest PC maker (boosted by its 2005 acquisition of IBM’s PC unit),then last week it announced it was buying IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion, and this week – in a somewhat surprise move, Google announced it would be selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. If the deal is approved by authorities and goes ahead as planned, it will be China’s largest tech deal to date.

If you don’t recall, Google announced its acquisition of Motorola in August 2011 for $12.5 billion (it closed in May 2012). While this may seem like a massive loss, Google will be hanging onto the majority of Motorola patents and talked of its future direction around Android software.

In a statement Google CEO Larry Page acknowledged that the “smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices” and that “Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem.”

It seems that Google will be redirecting its hardware efforts elsewhere, with Page calling out the wearable and home markets as examples of opportunities to build “amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.”

It will be interesting to see what a company like Lenovo does from here and to see how it will compete in its local markets handset makers Huawei and ZTE Corp, and its unfolding plans for the US and other markets where it will compete with Samsung – and how it may upset the Apple cart…

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