iPhone hype and App hype exceeded by results: iTablet / iSlate to match it?

Along with all the hype before the first iPhone was released, I added my voice, noting that it would forever change the mobile phone business in important ways.  I camped in line to be among the first to get one. There was enormous hype. Yet, in the two and a half years since, more change happened than most hype predicted.

When the iPhone app store was announced, I predicted that even the most optimistic scenarios projected by analysts were likely to fall short of the mark. It seems that apps have also changed more than even the hype suggested — they were off by even more than I’d thought.

So what will become of the Tablet that  Apple announces this morning?  Is it possible that the hype will be exceeded only by the results? Continue reading

Check your plan: new lower cell voice rates not automatic

You’ve probably seen the ads: both AT&T and Verizon have dropped their rates for unlimited voice plans to $69.99 per month. But if you aren’t already on an unlimited plan, you may be paying more for less until you take action.

For example, I was on an $89 voice plan that gave me 1350 minutes a month with rollover. AT&T was going to happily keep charging me $20 per month extra indefinitely. (I effectively had unlimited minutes already — with text and data becoming my dominant means of communication, I had accumulated tens of thousands of rollover minutes.)

$69.99 per month for unlimited voice from AT&T for my iPhone -- but I had to go online to make the change

$69.99 per month for unlimited voice -- but I had to go online to make the change

I went online to login and make the change to my account. In approximately 90 seconds total, I switched and am now paying $69.99 per month for unlimited voice.

So now my iPhone costs $120 per month ($30 data plan and $20 unlimited texting) before taxes and fees (and apps!). Continue reading

It's time to end TSA-sponsored terrorism in the air and on American soil!

In nearly three years on Twitter, rarely have I seen such widespread, rapid and uniform response to anything having to do with politics, security or terrorism. The complaints and jokes came on rapid fire this afternoon, filling my screen with everything TSA and terrorism. It was a slow Twitter day, but perhaps 10% of the tweets I saw over a few hours were on a single topic — that’s unprecedented.

After a failed terrorist attempt yesterday, the TSA has responded with the next escalation after their previous high-water mark of stupidity (no pun intended), the no-liquids rule. Now: no more electronics in flight, nothing in your lap, only one carry on, and no movement in the last hour of flight. Many of those I follow on Twitter are frequent travelers, most are highly intelligent. All who’ve commented seem pissed (and not just that they won’t be able to pee).

They know the real impact of what security expert Bruce Schneier calls Security Theater (if you don’t like that link to his blog, try this one to 60 Minutes, even if they haven’t read his latest reaction.

My first reaction was When I stop flying, it doesn’t mean the terrorists have won, it means the TSA has! Continue reading

iTunes 9 Home Sharing/Sync the Wrong Solution. Give us automatic media caching!

We live in an age when homes don’t have a single computer on a desk, everyone has their own laptop. It’s great that iTunes9 recognizes the need to share files between computers so that everyone in a home can make local copies to hear each other’s music and watch each other’s videos.

Except that we have tiny storage in iPhones, MacBook Air and netbooks — some iPods hold more. We need to solve the problem of keeping only the files we need with us and having the rest stored on the network. I want an automatic system to swap in and out the files on my machines based on my requests and favorites, caching all the most used files locally and pulling less-often used files off the network as needed.

Competition Reduces Friction for Payments

Great news for business models that monitize by charging users: new competition in the payments space is heating up.

The iPhone AppStore capitalizes on 75 million iTunes accounts attached to credit cards to make buying cheap apps frictionless for users. I still want to extend it to paying for web and desktop apps and add flexibility for content and subscriptions.

PayPal powers payments on EBay (where the payments are larger), but doesn’t have quite the same easy single-click power and hasn’t been widely applied to the application/content space. Others, such as Google Checkout have never reached critical mass.

Yesterday, Amazon.com launched its Flexible Payments Service (previously in limited beta), touting it as “the first payments service designed from the ground up for developers.” They clearly intend it to work for e-commerce, digital goods, donations and online services, including digital music and online storage, and provide for subscriptions and recurring payments. Customers pay using the same login credentials, shipping address and payment information they already have on file with Amazon. In other words, it looks like it could compete with both of the above.

Sounds like a great foundation for the service I want to create…

Suing over negative Yelp reviews (and a better response)

A friend of mine, Michael Blacksburg, represents defendant Christopher Norberg in a case where a chiropractor has sued over a negative review on Yelp. They’re in mediation today, trial in March if it doesn’t settle.

The case raises complex issues for everyone such as:

  • where are the lines between fact and opinion
  • how much should that legal distinction apply to consumer review sites?
  • how should online review sites be structured to be fair to both sides?
  • how should they handle negative comments?
  • how should reviewer reputation and identity contribute?
  • what about anonymous reviews?

The Chron has a good story (and an editorial), and I liked PC World’s review of the lawsuit and they had a lively discussion on NPR’s Forum this morning with an attorney from the EFF (who threw one hell of a great birthday party earlier this week).

How should businesses participate in the process and respond to negative comments online?

I’m in the camp that says the lawsuit does chiropractor Steven Biegel far more harm than good (no matter what the outcome). Everyone would be better off to handle these issues conversationally than legally.

I like the suggestion ‘from Sharemarketing’: Don’t sue your way out of a bad review on Yelp:

Suing is the exact wrong thing to do. Why not go onto Yelp and respond. Say something like this:

“I respect the opinion of Mr. Norberg, a client of mine from date to date. But I think his characterization of me is wrong. I’m honest and hard working, and I’ll work hard to solve the issue you have. Also, my rates are public and agreed upon before treatement. I’m not sure what specific disagreement Mr. Norberg had with me, but I wish he would have talked to me directly instead of using Yelp. Call me anytime, night or day and I’ll happily explain how my treatment works, and I’ll let you know the rates.”

UPDATE 2:36pm 9-Jan-09 Blackie texted to tell me that the case settled to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. (The issues raised, however, remain for all of us as we move forward online!) Elinor Mills at CNet provides great coverage of the settlement.

iPhone vs. Blackberry: Touchscreen no substitute for good user experience

iPhone vs. Blackberry Storm data from a href=

A new study of user satisfaction thirty days after purchase confirms what some have been saying all along (see previous post Storm vs. iPhone: Experience not Features).

Touchscreens no substitute for good user experience.

Despite several shortcomings, the iPhone user experience is great for a variety of consumer and smartphone uses. The iPhone UX isn’t a function of the touchscreen (or any other feature) but of overall design.

On the other hand, all but the Blackberry Storm are great purpose-made devices for reading and writing email. Highly recommended if that’s your primary use for a smart phone. RIM optimized the Blackberry UX

The Storm, on the other hand, just blows.

The Tale of Despereaux: World's First Live-Twitter Movie Review?

In the middle of a press screening for the movie The Tale of Despereaux last Saturday morning, Ken Twittered me:

I replied:

dalelarson: @kyeung808 Yes, live tweeted the press screening, but not new. Did something similar in 90s with Star Wars: Episode 1, fax and web. 11:47 AM Dec 13th from Twittelator in reply to kyeung808

In other words, while I was in the theater seeing the movie a week early, I was Twittering whatever lines I found interesting. Ken asked if that was really what I was doing. And what it meant.

I’d done the same thing with an AC/DC concert the week before. Actually, there I tried to work song titles into witty sentences. Last year, I was asked to speak on Twitter to a conference at Stanford after live-tweeting Barry Bond’s record-breaking home run (from the fence, with the Sports Illustrated photographer who captured the moment).

All my unedited Tweets of The Tale of Despereaux are after the jump, and feel free to skip to the end for the actual one-tweet review. Since I’ve done mobile marketing for films from many studios, I have to wonder: what, if anything, does this change about how we share our experiences with each other and what movie marketers may need to consider in the future? Continue reading

San Francisco Mobile Marketing Meetup

There are plenty of Mobile Marketing providers and agencies and other interested parties in the Bay Area. It’s time to have our own local group for networking and sharing.

I’ve developed mobile marketing strategy and implemented hundreds of mobile marketing campaigns over the last four years using text, voice, ringtones, video, mobile web, and mobile applications. While I’ve enjoyed many meetings and conferences (as a speaker and participant) more oriented to startups and developers in the mobile space, or limited to mobile advertising (i.e., mobile banner ads and search), as well as the global Mobile Marketing Association, my personal interests are more about:

How is mobile changing customer behavior and markets?
How do businesses need to adopt in this new environment?
How can business and customers best communicate via mobile?
What’s working and what’s not, and how to available technologies and platforms stack up in the field?
What are hot new campaigns?

Join the Meetup group and let me know if you have any suggestions or can offer help, including ideas for future topics, speakers and locations.  Thanks!

Tonight will be our first meetup, an informal gathering for drinks with special guest Kim Dushinski, author of “The Mobile Marketing Handbook” (on shelves next month), in San Francisco at House of Shields at 7pm. RSVP on Meetup.

Celebrating 15 years on the web (or please excuse the mess)

I registered the domain name for my business and started a web site in 1993. You may take down the dumb “under construction” graphic, but you never stop making changes.

The WayBack Machine only goes back to 1996, so I’m left with only vague memories of just how primitive the first page was.

I sold my original domain name to a startup in 1999 and moved to dalelarson.com where I’ve been ever since.

Until this week, a good friend has hosted my web pages continuously for 15 years. (At some point I gave him a Sun IPC workstation as a form of payment. (I had typeset my first book on that machine.))  Thanks, Mark!

Anyway, it was time to switch things up a bit, and there’s always a bit of extra mess when one moves. Not to mention that thing about the cobbler’s own family. Please excuse the mess while I change servers and domain registrars and make the overdue switch from Blogger to WordPress. And thanks for all the fish.