Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Microsoft: What’s in Store?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I stopped into the brand-new Microsoft Store in Atlanta on opening day last Friday. On the whole, it’s something that needs to be done for the sake of unifying hardware with Windows, but I wasn’t totally sold on the execution.

What could have been better

Remind you of anything?

Boy, were they trying hard. Even down to individual elements, design inspiration from Apple was very obvious. Pricetags next to each machine looked very similar to the inclined plane-esque placards that used to grace the Apple Store (before the iPads), and the screens wrapping around the wall were probably the exact same dimensions as their upstairs counterpart. I could go on about the similarities – everywhere you look, the physical design screams Cupertino.

The music inside was also a little too loud; I couldn’t hear much outside of the blasting of Ke$ha. Hopefully that was just a little first-day overzealousness, but that extended past the decor. The employees were really aggressive in approaching people; walking in felt like being in a gauntlet of being asked how I’m doing, if I needed any help, or if I knew that “this computer is touchscreen!”. At the Apple Store, the employees are bombarded by the customers, but at the Microsoft Store, the customers are bombarded by the employees.

What they got right

Even if the idea was far from original, there’s an interesting twist on the wraparound wall displays: they’re actual screens, not just sheets advertising products. Information about different products is rotating marquee-style, and even cooler, Xboxes are connected in certain areas and can be played on the screens.

Two Microsoft Surfaces were also sitting out - if nothing else, this is the one element that makes the store unique. Most of the people that’ll come in from foot traffic will likely have never seen a Surface before, so at least for a while, it’ll be a good way to generate buzz.

Big picture

Over time, the idea of the store will come to settle with people, and if you’re genuinely looking to buy a PC, it’s one of the better environments for buying a PC that I’ve seen. I doubt it’ll convert many Mac users, but it’s a great option for the existing base of Windows fans who are itching to buy a new machine.

TweetDeck Acquisition

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Ah, yes, another blog post about TweetDeck.

As of yesterday, Twitter’s rumored to go through with a $40-50 million acquisition of TweetDeck.

While this makes sense considering Twitter’s position on having more control over their third-party ecosystem, it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll handle the extreme split in user experience between TweetDeck and Twitter for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. As an idealistic user, I hope they’ll split the two clients into “Twitter for Mac” and “Twitter Pro for Mac”, although it’ll still be pretty disjointed – Twitter for Mac is only for one platform, and TweetDeck runs on both Windows and OS X. Not to mention how Twitter’ll feel about the dependency of Adobe AIR.

The rumor‘s also been thrown around that Twitter made the acquisition simply to shut down TweetDeck. If that ended up going through, that’d show a complete disregard for users, not to mention all the brands that have TweetDeck firmly integrated into their marketing processes. And that’s a pretty hefty purchase for the sole purpose of exercising dictator-like control. Is strict control of the platform really worth upwards of $50M?

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t take a crack at developing the next big Twitter client right now.

Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Market Research

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The marketing industry has done a pretty good job at adopting the power of the Internet to better reach their audience. Social media’s become a huge buzzword in the space, and these first two sentences could probably pass as a rearranged garbling of some Mashable or TechCrunch post.

But market research is an entirely different story. Everyone’s pretty set in their ways when it comes to traditional surveys and focus groups. Brands are leveraging their fans online to figure out how to sell better, but not to figure out how to develop better products. Why conduct surveys from a totally random group of people when you could be doing it from the people that are actually going to convert to customers?

The Layer team and myself already have built a forced ranking app off of Rank ‘em to handle the actual surveys, but the next step is automating targeting on Facebook and beyond. I pitched Layer as decision-support software at Startup Riot, but after a good bit of feedback, we think market research is a vertical with a lot more potential.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. And things are just getting good.