iPhone 4G Prelaunch Review: The Good and the Not So Good!
There were some iPhone 4G pre launch speculations about the features available on this amazing new gadget. But despite all the rumors, Apple managed to keep most of its ideas secret till the launch date.
The new iPhone 4G is so smart and energy efficient that as you lift it to your ears to accept a call, it automatically turns off the display to save power and to avoid unintentional dialing.
Apple is giving you some FaceTime!
Sci-fi freaks, nerds and your regular movie buffs aren’t the only people day dreaming about video calling. With iPhone, video calling has become a reality. Yet with the new iPhone 4, anyone can now share stories, ideas and smiles across the world using FaceTime.
FaceTime is a revolutionary new software application which has been incorporated into the iPhone 4G. The best part is that you won’t need to register or have a username or password to access the iPhone Video Calling services. Just find your friends on the Contacts menu, and tap the FaceTime button. Simple, isn’t it? You can even transfer to video calling from voice calls without dropping the line. The service is perfectly seamless and so futuristic that you won’t believe how easy it is to use!
Crisp, Clear and… Wonderful!
The new Apple iPhone 4G has a 960×640 screen. The pixel density is a whopping 326 pixels per inch. You ask what is so amazing about that?
Well these pixels are tiny, really tiny! Each pixel is only 78 micrometers wide. This makes everything on your iPhone 4G screen look crisp and sharp. Though it is a small screen at 9.5 inch x 3.5 inch, the reading is quite easy.
The contrast ratio is also 4 times better than the previous iPhone at 800:1.
Retina Display: You used to see ‘em, but now you don’t!
It’s Apple’s new Retina Display Technology that makes everything on the iPhone 4G screen look so stunning! Whether you are reading from web pages, text books or even your emails, or just looking at pictures and watching movies, your iPhone 4G experience is bound to be spectacular!
The iPhone 4G Retina Display technology is so amazing because it displays some where around 320 pixels per inch. This is beyond the point at which any pixels are visible at all. So, nothing on your iPhone 4G display will pixelate, and all you get is good picture quality every time!
At its launch party, Apple’s CEO Jobs demonstrated through a video the strength of the iPhone display screen. The iPhone 4G Retina display glass is made of the same material used in high speed trains and helicopters. This means that your new iPhone screen is more scratch-resistant, long-lasting and tougher than ever!
Well, there aren’t many to tell you the truth! But here are those very little disadvantages that come with keeping an iPhone 4G.
Still no Flash support
Like previous iPhone models and of course the iPad, you won’t be able to interact with websites containing Flash elements. This can greatly restrict your browsing capabilities, especially if you are fan of flash animations, games and software.
A Micro SIM Dilemma!
Always ahead of the pack, Steve Jobs has yet taken another step towards innovation. The iPhone 4G pre-launch rumors were correct when bloggers had anticipated a phone with Micro-SIM instead of a regular one. So just be ready to pester your network providers till you get a Micro-SIM for your new iPhone.
Oh Dear, look at the price!
Ok, so money might not be an object for iPhone buffs. But, man, the phone’s expensive!
At $299 for a 32 GB model, the 4th generation of iPhone is very pricey.
Plus, it doesn’t help that other mobile phone manufacturers offer the same functionality and features for a very reasonable price. For example the Nokia N8 is even better than the iPhone 4G in some ways and still costs less.
If you aren’t living in USA or UK, you are sadly out of luck! The iPhone will start selling in France, Germany, Japan as well as the UK and USA in the first week of July.
By August and September, Apple hopes to take iPhone 4G international. So you have got a lot of waiting to do!
Friday was the release date for two Google phones, called Droids, with Verizon Wireless. Both phones run Google’s Android Operating System and both look like they’re the start of some exciting mobile options for Verizon customers. Both phones, the Droid Eris by HTC and the Droid by Motorola, are both phones similar looking to an iPhone with large touch screen interfaces.
This is not surprising, as Apple’s iPhone is likely going to be the main competition for this new deal between Verizon and Google. The initial buzz surrounding these new Droids is positive. They’re powerful phones, with plenty of hard drive space and a good camera. They feature
QWERTY keyboards, WiFi, Flash, all the standard social application abilities, and a growing app library called Android Market. Predictably, the phones all include a full suite of Google features, such as Latitude, Gmail, Search and YouTube and Picasa. The Droid is supposedly the world’s thinnest QWERTY slider.
Presumably these are the first in a line of phones released for Verizon that will feature Google’s Android OS. Their main rival would appear to be the iPhone, and their first strike appears to be a good one. Apple has a head start, something that is very helpful in terms of available apps for download, but with the huge amount of Verizon customers now potential customers, I’m sure the Android Market will be growing fast. Couple this with the better coverage area and reception Verizon offers compared to AT&T and Apple could be in trouble.
Still, these are the first Droids on the market. They are the version 1.0 of the Google and Verizon deal. Similar to the initial version of C3PO that Anakin Skywalker was working on in Episode One of Star Wars, these are the first thoughts of what a phone equipped with Google and Android can do. As they refine what a phone can, and should, do the Droids will be even more exciting. Much like generation one iPhones still can’t do SMS these Droids are the first step in a long process of development. There will likely be bugs, and quirks, and things that just don’t feel right. My initial thoughts on the bigger Droid were that it looked a little boxy, and not quite as sleek as it could be.
The main thing to note here is that Verizon customers never had an option for an iPhone, or a G1 Google phone. Whether it was contracts, perks, quality or loyalty keeping customers with Verizon, the choices were between a couple of blackberries and a handful of Windows Mobile smartphones. Few of those options compare to an iPhone, or these new Droids. Now Apple may be hurt by keeping the iPhone exclusively with AT&T, when millions more would’ve purchased one given the option with another carrier.
I got an invite to Google Wave, Google’s latest personal communication and collaboration tool, the second day invites were sent. Having enjoyed many of Google’s other bounty like Google Voice, iGoogle, and Google Latitude, I was excited to see what Google was up to.
I launched Wave and prepared for the shock and awe. I was neither shocked nor awed. I saw a mix of instant messaging and e-mails. It reminded me of my initial impression of Twitter. I saw it, wasn’t excited and didn’t come back to it for a couple months. So right now, I am in that period where I still don’t get it!
Luckily, developers around the world are working with the Google Wave API and according to a recent Business Week article by Lars Resmussen which stated We’ll almost certainly build a storeSo many developers have asked us to build a marketplace¢â‚¬â€and we might do a revenue-sharing arrangement. Resmussen is the Google Engineer behind Wave.
So it appears, Google is following the iPhone model which is so successful for Apple by selling $200 million in applications every month. This could blow the doors wide open for Google Wave users and dramatically increase the functionality of the tool and make some visionary application developers a little pocket cash. This application is also not tied to a device like the iPhone app store, so the growth of the app store and marketplace could exceed Apple. But there are no published details on anything just yet.
Applications that would excite me for Google Wave would be:
- Google Maps integration to see where everyone is or to be able to collaborate on a map with the other users. Imagine working with someone on a trip using the same map and having the dialog simultaneously?
- Google Voice integration so if you start a wave, you could include the message to be sent to someone’s phone number as a voicemail.
- Facebook, Twitter and Gmail integration to be able to communicate with people I am already connected to via Google Wave. That could be one of the most powerful additions.
- Video. Not just the ability to share web cam streams with each other for video conferences, but to be able to show a YouTube slip or other video and all watch and comment simultaneously.
Unfortunately, I am still unamazed and still in limbo. Hopefully, like Twitter, I will see the light and become a devout user who can see the potential and have the application change my life. Hopefully.
Live Sync: https://sync.live.com/clientdownload.aspx?ibm=10
Live Sync is a wonderful tool if you need to share files with someone or if you want a hands off backup of important files. Live Sync allows you to synchronize foldersbetween two computers (Windows XP and later and Mac OSX up to 10.5). The computers can be on a local network or just connected to the internet. This is a great way to share photos with relatives or files with other people. I personally use it to synchronize a folder full of Keepers on my desktop with a folder on my backup server so if my computer ever crashed after I added the document but before the nightly backup could run, I still wouldn’t lose the files.
Security essentials: http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/
Microsoft has realized the necessity of antivirus software on windows PCs and has stepped up with the free Security Essentials. Security Essentials provides protection against viruses, spyware, rootkits and Trojans. This is a huge step in the right direction by providing this service free of charge. Keep in mind, that like all anti-viruses, they are typically only effective in telling you AFTER you’ve been infected, so practice safe surfing habits like not downloading from questionable sites, don’t open e-mail attachments, and make sure you are running as a limited user on your computer and not running as administrator.
Microsoft has a history of releasing non-supported PowerTools and Power Toys that their developers create because there is a need. These are not publicized formally nor are they supported by Microsoft, but there are some gems.
Color Control Panel Applet: Being an amateur photographer, being able to control how the computer displays colors and be able to control it from the screen all the way to the printer is very important. This powertoy does just that in one centralized area.
SyncToy: If you have multiple copies of files or need a simple way to compare files, Sync Toy was built to help copy, move and synchronize various files like photos, docuemtns, etc.
RAW Image Thumbnailer Viewer: As a photographer, I like to shoot my DSLR to capture RAW images. The issue with RAW images is that many softwares can’t display the RAW files natively. This is where the RAW Image Thumbnailer Viewer comes in. it allows you to see thumbnails, previews, EXIF data and even print RAW images you may not otherwise be able to see.
Alt-Tab Replacement: If you multitask and have many files open at once, you may use the Alt-Tab key combination to cycle through the open windows. The Alt-Tab Replacement PowerToy beefs up this ability and included page previews and the application icon.
Tweak UI: By far, my favorite of the PowerToys. TweakUI has been around for years allowing people to manipulate the user interface of Windows to better suit your needs. Tweak UI is a must have for me when I set up a new computer.
Image Resizer: Why open up Photoshop or some other powerful image editing tool if all you need is to resize the image to e0mail or post somewhere? With a right-click, you can resize one or many images.
Webcam Timershot: This PowerToy allows you to set up a time lapse photo using your webcam. Maybe you want to capture traffic or the weather moving in. The Timershot tool is a simple way to take snapshots at specified intervals.
As Twitter has matured, the Twitter clients have appeared, and they have flourished. Being a twitter addict, I felt compelled to check into some of these for you so you wouldn’t have to install them only to find out that they are incredibly painful to use.
Here’s my list of Twitter Clients:
The Web interface : (http://www.twitter.com) It would be a disservice to leave out the twitter.com site itself. In fact, many people only use the web interface to update their tweets. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it gets the job done.
TweetDeck: (http://tweetdeck.com) TweetDeck is the dark alpha dog of twitter clients. It is feature rich with the ability to monitor multiple twitter accounts, Facebook,, and MySpace. You can also quickly see replies, direct messages, topics, saved searches, and it has a built-in spam monitor.
Twhirl: (http://www.twhirl.org) The cheery twitter client, twhirl is a bright, well designed interface that allows you handle all your usual twiter needs, but also includes the ability to send photos to TwitPic, automatically shorten long URLs, and cross post to Jaiku.
Twitterfeed: (http://www.twitterfeed.com) Sign up and enter your blog RSS feed and Twitterfeed will publish your blog posts onto your twitterfeed. You choose how often it published the new blog content.
Tweetie: (http://www.atebits.com/tweetie-iphone/) Strictly for iPhones, Macs and iPod Touches. It has a super clean look and lets you post to multiple Twitter accounts. It allows you to follow tweets, replies, direct messages and trends on Twitter. It is super easy to set up and will help tweeting on your iPhone, Mac or iPod Touch easier and more powerful.
Twitterberry: (http://www.orangatame.com/products/twitterberry/) one of the best twitter applications for the Blackberry platform. Twitterberry separates the replies, direct messages and the posting tof tweets, but makes it very usable on the Blackberry. Currently there is not integration to TwitPic within the application, but that would be a nice addition¢â‚¬â€(wink wink).
Ping.fm: (http://www.ping.fm/) What Ping.gm brings to the table is how it centralizes updates of Twitter, but also Facebook, Jaiku, Bebo, Friendster, and Myspace. The interface is simple and straight forward. I’ve experienced a bit of a lag on the cross-posting, but the ease of use to update all those sites at once may be enough to lure you over to this site.
HootSuite: (http://hootsuite.com/) Tweetdeck can tend to be a bet wide especially on netbooks, but that’s where HootSuite comes in. It allows you to create custom columns to store searches so you can keep an eye on people talking about your store or brand name. HootSuite was one of the first to incorporate multiple twitter accounts as well.
Seesmic: (http://seesmic.com/) Available in a web application, a desktop application and rumor has it, a mobile application soon. Seesmic is one of the dominant twitter clients and it’s easy to see why. They are continually pushing the envelope of features including a single column interface that resembles the familiar e-mail interface. They also allow an unlimited number of columns to be added, a simple way to watch search terms, direct messages, and @ replies. They included all the follow stats and complete profile view of your followers. Not bad for a company that started as a vlogging site. Seesmic is making tweeting on any platform easier and more intuitive.
Destroy Twitter: (https://destroytwitter.com/) An unusual name for an application, but in a sea of weird twitter clients, it needs to be this odd to stand out. After all, it would be a little different if you were building an application for your Mac called Kill Apple. I am digressing. Destroy Twitter is eerily similar to Tweetdeck (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) What appears to be Destroy Twitter’s strong suit is configuration. You can choose when to ping twitter, font size, column size and a plethora of other settings to make your tweeting more enjoyable
Every person has different likes and dislikes, but if I were to recommend three to look into, they would be Tweetdeck, Seesmic, and HootSuite for their attention to detail, ease of use and over all usefulness in daily tweeting. No go forth and tweet!
Halloween is coming soon, so now is the time to get your technology ready and maybe express some of your geekiness. Besides the staples of candy corn, plastic orange pumpkins with black toothy grins, and kids dressed like Spiderman, here’s eleven items to put the geek back into your Halloween.
- Turn your monitor into a strobe light. http://www.bobshowto.com/fun/strobe-light.htm
Maybe it’s a laptop, or a big projector, get a great spooky effect in your house with just your monitor and this web site. This would be perfect for a haunted data center for the co-workers to walk through!
- Decorate your workstation for the spooky season with this USB powered decoration set. http://www.thisnext.com/item/C5EB1B00/BC37BE2A/USB-Halloween-Decoration-Kit
Complete with seasonal mouse pad, lights to hang on the monitor or possibly your collection of action figures in your cubicle.
- Build your own talking skull. http://www.kickthefog.com/talking_skull.htm Everything you need to build your own creepy talking skull. This is an involved build, but the result is one that will make all your geeky friends drool with jealousy.
- Create your own Jack o Lantern carving pattern. http://www.canadianliving.com/crafts/other_crafts/digital_crafts_jack_o_lantern_templates.php That’s right. Want to carve Tux or maybe a portrait of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Follow these instructions and you will have a 100% original pumpkin on your porch this season! Here are a few of the geekier Jack-o-lanterns I’ve seen decorating the porches of probable geeks.
5. Use a voice changer. http://www.screamingbee.com/product/download.aspx Sure there are great toy versions of this technology, but here’s a free piece of software that will morph your voice into something a little creepier!
6. Dress up like Master Chief from Halo. http://halloweenaddict.com/2009/08/halo-master-chief-costume.html Who wouldn’t want to be master Chief from Halo? Hop on your Warthog, although it does looks more like a Puma and go blast some enemies. Afterwards, kick back and watch a little Red Vs. Blue.
7. Dress up as Pixels. Get a bunch of square boxes and spray paint them different colors. Walk next to each other all night. Try to look Jaggy.
8. Get answers from the Beyond on the internet. http://www.witchboard.com/online-witchboard/Online Ouija-like board for your amusement and Halloween fun! Ask questions like What is the next Apple Announcement and see what the digital spirits have to say. Hopefully it won’t be a Null Pointer Exception.
9. Online Trick or Treating? http://doorlesschambers.com organizes online trick or treating for virtual Disney-themed goodies every year from October 25 through the 31st. It may not fill up your pillowcase, but it might be just what you need while you are stuck answering tech support phone calls on October 31st.
10. Make your own real Spiderman web slinger. http://www.instructables.com/id/Creepy_Cobweb_Shooter/?contestId=V9T8TI4FLROLS8R Instructables does it again with a great video and set of instructions on creating a webslinger. Sure you need an air compressor, but what Spiderman fan didn’t want their own web shooter?
11. EVERYTHING Halloween Online. http://www.halloween-online.com/ Buy a prop coffin, check out some ghoulish recipes ( I like the Skull Jell-O mold), find some costume ideas, check out some Halloween games to play with your friends, and even Halloween party planning ideas and suggestions. This site has everything you need for a fun and safe Halloween.
Once upon a time children woke up on Saturday mornings, came out to the only TV in the house and watched cartoons. Why? Because that’s when the cartoons were on.
Since then, television has gone crazy with specialty channels, 24 hour cartoons, 24 hours sports, 24 hour extreme salad shooting, etc. Cable companies have been able to tier packages to combine different channels and make a little money. OK, a LOT of money.
People recorded their shows on VCRs and now DVRs so they can watch them later. We began watching TV on our terms, not based on what the TV execs thought was the best timing for the program. We could just schedule a recording of the program, but that is almost becoming a bit more work than some folks want. What if all the programs were available all the time. Sort of like a 24-hour TV channel? That’s where the internet comes in.
The big networks (and some of the smaller ones too) have joined up and began placing their past shows online at sites like TV.com (http://www.tv.com) , Hulu (http://www.hulu.com), and Joost (http://www.joost.com). Here you can search for the shows and individual episodes you desire to watch. Miss that last episode of Grey’s Anatomy? No problem! Don’t have cable at all, but need to feed your Family Guy addiction? There you are. TV on the internet. As these sites grow, you will start to see more and more integration between the computer and your TV. Hulu already offers a free application (Hulu Desktop) to give you a more TV-friendly experience.
At home, you could connect HDMI or DVI from your computer to your TV or, go a little more old school with an S-Video cable from a laptop and a cable with RCA on one end and a plug for the earphone jack on the other to port sound to your TV. Put a wireless keyboard and mouse on it and set your TV input to the right source and you will be watching the internet on the original Boob tube.
iTunes is another possibility. This way you can purchase episodes for $1.99 each or season passes to your favorite series and then watch them on the go via your iPod or iPhone. This is a super simple way to watch your shows without being tethered by a cable to anything. Plus you can always hook your iPod up to your TV to watch the shows that way. Apple does sell a cord to do that.
Lastly, I give you the Slingbox. This is a nifty little contraption that hooks up in your house, connects to your existing cable, cable box and the network via Ethernet and allows you to log in and control your cable box over the internet. Watch shows, flip channels, etc. The Sling website even has some shows streaming from their site. This is the ultimate tool for a road warrior who longs to watch their familiar local news every night, or for that downtime in a hotel and you can watch shows you’ve already recorded on your cable-provider DVR.
What this all boils down to is that we now have even more options when it comes to What should we watch, honey? Hopefully this increasingly level of access to programming will mean an increasing level of quality content provided by the networks. Still all of these options may still hear the phrase uttered, There’s nothing on!, but hopefully it will be uttered less often.
Five of the most addicting Facebook applications your friends want you to play.
Bejeweled Blitz may be the most addictive game on Facebook. It’s a common internet game that you’ve probably played before. You get one minute to match up three of the same kind of jewel in a row to clear them for points, getting bonuses for speed and for four or five gems in a row. As is standard for Facebook apps, it keeps a high score list of all your friends and sends you notifications when someone tops your score. The most addicting part of this is that it’s only a minute to play. It takes almost no time, until you repeat to yourself It’s just one more minute 30 times and before you know it you’ve been playing for an hour. The high scores reset every Tuesday morning so even if you’ve set a comfortable score and have stopped playing, as soon as you see your friends setting new scores, you’ll be right back at it.
2. Mafia Wars
Mafia Wars is a popular game, and it’s title basically tells you what it is. You create a mobster and have a long list of jobs you can do as well as fight other mobsters. As you gain levels you can do more complex jobs, put hits on people, or expand your empire to Cuba. Your mob is basically your Facebook friends that also play Mafia Wars, and like every other app, it publishes to your news feed to alert your friends you need help with a mission, or gain a level, or reach a new kill total. The game is less demanding than others because you have energy and strength meters that can really only be refilled over time. You likely won’t be able to sit there and play it non-stop for an hour, and can have fun just checking in occasionally and doing jobs with your refreshed energy. The game will continually exploit peer pressure to get you to return. It’ll send you notifications whenever one of your mob reaches a milestone that you haven’t, and will offer little rewards for you to claim when your character is used in a fight by one of your friends.
Farmville by the makers of Mafia Wars is another addicting game. It’s a guilty pleasure type of game though, as many that play it feel ashamed that they do so. It’s also one of the more annoying games for your friends, because it publishes updates and requests to your wall more often than most. The game itself is very simple; you run a farm. You need to do nothing more complicated than click. You set up the ground, pick crops to grow, plant trees and buy animals. Then after a set amount of time you can sell your crops or harvest milk or apples to gain money which you can then use to turn around and buy more. Your friends become your neighbors, and after a while you can make your farm bigger. It almost becomes a decorating game of arranging your farm and trees and animals and fences to look nice. It’s one of the few applications with music playing. You’ll find the music becomes both irritating and catchy as you are playing.
MindJolt Games is a collection of hundreds of different games. Most of them are quick and easy games, and some of them aren’t even very good. Most of them are simple, fun, and addicting. They are always adding more games as well, and they’re all simple enough to be intriguing without having to learn a lot of rules. Today I played Smiley Collapse, a game where you have a smiley that you have to navigate downwards past rising platforms. There are strategy games and card games and solitaire games and pretty much anything you can think of. It keeps track of all the high scores of your friends so you can follow them to their best games and try to beat them. There are reflex games like SplodeyMan where you simply have to hit the space as fast as possible upon command. While you are in the application, it’s always suggesting five or six different games for you to play on the sidebar, and it’s very easy to get drawn in to check out another game that sounds interesting.
Farkle is a dice game. In each of 10 rounds you roll six dice and try to make combinations that score points. Three of the same number score points, as do one of each number and three pairs of numbers. A one or a five can score points on its own. After you pick up the dice to score, you have the option of holding your score for that round or rolling the remaining dice. If at any time there is no scoring opportunities, you get a Farkle and don’t score any points for that round. The game is mostly luck, but there is just enough decision in when to hold and when to roll that keeps you coming back to try to beat your, or your friend’s, high score.
Remember the political refrain “it’s the economy, stupid!” first uttered in the 90′s and probably more applicable today then it was then? Well, while we are all wringing our hands trying to survive the financial ills that have blanketed our land, there is another economy sapping up just as much of our energy as the monetary one. And I’m not talking about the Information Economy. By definition, economics is the study of how a society uses its scarce resources. And information is no longer scarce. To the contrary…it is not only abundant, but its cup is forever running over. The Internet took care of that!
What is more scarce today however than the world’s diminishing oil reserves… is man’s attention.
So in case nobody formally informed you, welcome to the Attention Economy, where value is based on drawing attention to oneself. To understand this better, let’s contrast the Attention Economy to that of other economy: the wallet economy. In the wallet economy, instead of competing for a share of people’s attention, you’re seeking a percentage of their disposable income. Capital One built a whole advertising campaign around the value of not only carrying hard currency, but the clout that comes from credit cards… hence, the “what’s in your wallet?” ad nauseum TV ads.
The term Attention Economy was invented by the first introduced by Michael Goldhaber, who wrote a remarkably prescient piece in December 1997 in which he described a new arrangement in which the “flow of attention” metaphorically replaced money as the currency of the Internet. A book on this topic has since been written by Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck, with some of the basic principles laid down by Goldhaber.
In the Attention Economy, your value is no longer determined by your net worth… but more importantly…by your NET worth. Since the Internet encompassed our lives, think about how inexpensive it is for an individual or a corporation to disseminate their message to the masses. The paradigm has shifted. All of sudden talk is cheap, and it’s listening that garners significant value. Man needs interaction to determine his or her self worth. And no fat wallet is going to make us feel better about ourselves unless it is coupled with a little ‘attention currency.’
If this is a hard concept to swallow, just think about a world where you receive no acknowledgment from your fellow man. As Goldhaber puts it: “Living without feedback, even in the lap of luxury, would be for all (but a few recluses) barely living at all.” And that statement was made over ten years ago when the Internet was barely coming out of its digital womb. So how much cheaper is it to get your word out today and why is it so much harder to be heard. Because of the information explosion online, we no longer read – we skim. The news that lasted days now becomes old news in just a few hours.
Attention Economics is primarily concerned in getting consumers to consume advertising. Traditional media advertisers retained a model that follows consumers through a linear process called AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. Attention is therefore the primary first step in the process of converting non-consumers. Since the cost to channel advertising to consumers is now sufficiently low and more ads can be transmitted to a consumer than the consumer can process, our attention becomes the scarce commodity to be allocated.
When information is abundant, the false positives are very costly and basically deal breakers. Web-surfers happily leave web sites, knowing they have plenty of alternatives. Unfortunately, this becomes a lose-lose situation, because if potential customers are not satisfied then sellers lose revenue. The idea behind the Attention Economy is to create a marketplace where sellers make buyers happy by providing them with relevant information.
It is important to realize that the key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy. As long as consumers see relevant content, they are going to keep coming back – creating more opportunities for sellers to sell. Statistics show that the longer a user stays on a web site absorbing content, the greater the odds they will be swayed by one’s brand message or sale of product.
Twitter with its medieval-like armies of “followers and followed” is a fitting example of how the Attention Economy works. The value of one’s fiefdom on Twitter is based on how many followers we have and thus how many people read our words. In essence we grow our power base as digital feudal lords by winning the attention of a huge army of followers. In place of food and shelter provided in the days of feudalism, we exchange information for one’s loyalty.
To put this in perspective, think about how many articles have been written about the “monetization” of Twitter, and the reluctance of the Twitter brass to roll out a business model just yet. I believe one of the reasons for this hesitation is based on the current state of Twitter. Since attention is the valuable commodity Twitter can offer its users, its enrollment growth has exploded exponentially. And the fiefdom of the Twitterverse continues to be a marketplace for the attention-deprived to thrive and connect.
According to Goldhaber, “if money becomes less reliable or less useful to prop up our standard of living, we would could be heading fast for a pure Attention Economy, whereby goods and services would flow directly to those who have attention from those who can provide the goods and services.”
While all of this is very abstract, how does this work in the real world? Well
some companies have been hard at work trying to hit the mark. Goldhaber offers up Apple and Google as two role models that have captured our imagination for years. But lesser known is the Yamaha Corporation of America, Band & Orchestral Division that recently announced the launch of a new Facebook application called “Harmonize.” Here you have a platform that provides instrumentalists with the ability to connect with other artists worldwide in addition to presenting interactive advice from Yamaha artists, technique tips and performance opportunities.
Developed in a collaborative effort with R2Integrated, a leading creative digital marketing firm, CEO Matt Goddard noted that the goal of this application was predicated on “developing a tool that was not a time taker? The ability to share wisdom and tips with other artists quickly using the efficiency of the web was targeted as a time saver.”
So in an attention-deprived milieu, Harmonize was not trying to change behavior but rather provide another set of tools for an already existing behavior. According to Goddard, “our goals were long term. Not to try and create a one-and-done viral campaign, but for Harmonize to be the foundation for many customer related engagement activities, over the long-haul.”
Goddard believes, “the only way to overcome any distraction in our Attention Economy is to find the things that matter to your customers and get that piece right. Tools will come and go, mobile will soon take over and then something else. Getting people’s attention is going to be harder and harder over time.”
In a recent NY Magazine article,”In Defense of Distraction,” Sam Anderson notes that “Focus is a paradox¢â‚¬â€it has distraction built into it. The two are symbiotic; they’re the systole and diastole of consciousness. Attention comes from the Latin to stretch out or reach toward, distraction from to pull apart. We need both. In their extreme forms, focus and attention may even circle back around and bleed into one other.”
David Meyer, one of the world’s reigning experts on multitasking, says there’s a subset of Buddhists who believe that the most advanced monks become essentially world-class multi-taskers ¢â‚¬â€that all those years of meditation might actually speed up their mental processes enough to handle the kind of information overload the rest of us find crippling.
Anderson also underscored this point by noting that, “we recently elected the first-ever BlackBerry president, able to flit between sixteen national crises while focusing at a world-class level.”
According Goldhaber, Obama, in addition to managing the nation’s financial economy is also a master at managing the Attention Economy. “His whole campaign was strategic, where it netted him money, volunteers, and much loyalty. “There’s No One As Irish As Barack O’Bama” is a humorous folk song written in 2008 by the Corrigan Brothers. “The adulatory quality of this video, coming from Ireland, made Obama’s fan base seem that much larger, which also helped expand audience loyalty further, and win new fans for Obama domestically and internationally,” noted Goldhaber.
Similar to the Buddhist monks ability to multi-task, it appears that we are evolving as the Attention Economy matures. The next generation will have an easier time adapting to the ebb and flow of this phenomenon. Our kids will be able to juggle multi-levels of challenges while also conducting mindful web-surfing, dedicated Twittering and perhaps as Anderson sees it, the ability to live in syn ch with a world that offers a “zen-like state of focused distraction.”
Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this article, I give you props for providing me your undivided attention. Now if I can impose on you for comments and feedback, I promise I will give it my utmost attention as well. Also I welcome you to follow me on Twitter, where I run my own little fiefdom of presently 3334 followers!
In case you haven’t heard, Tony Hawk is releasing yet another video game based on his extreme skateboarding franchise. I’ve played a few of them, and found them very much the same. This new one, simply known as Ride, comes with a very unique accessory.
The board peripheral is motion-controlled, which would make it a more advanced version of the WiiFit Balance board. There may not be any wheels on this board, but the player can manipulate it as if it was a real skateboard. More advanced stunts, such jumping and grabbing the board, are accomplished by kneeling and touching the buttons on the side.
Tony Hawk: Ride is planned to be released later this year for the Xbox 360, Ninetndo Wii, and Playstation 3. There is supposed plans that the board peripheral will be used for other games like snowboarding and surfing.
This seems to be a trend among video game peripherals to be used for more than one game. For example, the WiiFit Balance Board can be used with other games where balance is important, and has recently been incorporated in the Wii version of Punch-Out. So not only can the player use the Wiimote and Nunchuk like boxing gloves like in WiiSports, but this new version of Punch-Out allows the gamer a chance to dodge blows by shifting weight on the WiiFit board.
Perhaps we are seeing a dawn of a new age of video games where the accessory is a heavy part of the action. After all, Guitar Hero and Rock Band were simply complex controllers that were in need of a game, and they have swept the nation. The soon-to-be released DJ Hero will have a turntable peripheral that could be just as popular.
Sadly, this was not the fate for Steel Battalion. This was an X-box game which required an advanced peripheral with two control sticks and forty buttons. Granted, it completely immersed a gamer into playing a vertical tank, but sales of units were quite limited due to its complexity. The high price didn’t help it, either.
I would like to suggest other games that would come out, though it would require a huge peripheral.
Starbucks Barista: The game comes with a very complex controller that can make virtual coffee, espresso, lattes, in many forms. Players must compete as the morning rush comes in, and points are given as they meet all the orders exactly.
Folk Hero: Imagine that you are mythical American heroes Paul Bunyan, John Henry, or Johnny Appleseed. It is easy with the axe, hammer, and seedbag peripherals.
Crazy Climber 2000: I realize that we are long past the year 2000, but an update of the old-school Crazy Climber video game is long overdue. Of course, this version requires the user have their own climbing wall and a Virtual Boy. Now the question you have to ask yourself is: which is harder to obtain?
Rifle Squad: This game is made for all the cadets at the academy that have to do those rifle drills like at the beginning of A Few Good Men. Some of you might not remember that film, and I suppose it would not help to mention the film Stripes. Maybe you should catch the end of the Hillary Duff classic Cadet Kelly. Anyway, the motion-controlled rifle peripheral along with the game will make you feel like you are a part of the spinning and stepping rifle team.
I can’t really think of any more of peripheral-based games right now, but I am certain that the video game developers will. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if similar ideas are under development.
So does this age of peripherals do to the video game industry? It will encourage more gamers to get off the couch, and immerse themselves in the game. In short, it is preparing us for virtual reality gaming.