December 29, 2004

Biggest Brand Winner & Loser of 2004 Comments Off

I love these end of the year best and worsts. Here’s a good one from Laura RiesThe Origin of Brands blog with the world of brandings big winner and loser from 2004.

BIGGEST BRAND WINNER of 2004: Apple iPod

Ipod – The brilliantly branded, designed, and advertised iPod is my clear choice for Brand Winner of the year. The product is brand divergence at its best. A single focused device that was conceived to be the very best music player period. It also helped pioneer the hard-disk-drive-music player category. Today’s music player of choice, thanks to Apple, is the iPod.

Through the third quarter of 2004, Apple has sold 6 million iPods, since they were introduced in 2001. The last quarter alone, they moved two million units. Estimates indicate that Apple could sell up to 3 million iPod in the fourth quarter of 2004. And the number would be higher if Apple could just make the hot-selling Apple Mini fast enough. Currently, 65% of all MP3 players are iPods, while 92% of all hard-disk-drive players are iPods.

Why did Apple succeed music players where so many others failed in?

In a word focus.

You know I don’t favor advertising for brand building. And when advertising is used, it should reinforce the brand message. And that is exactly what Apple did. They first used PR and a slow roll out of the iPod brand. Then Apple used advertising to accelerate the wild success of the iPod. The campaign was brilliant in its simplicity. Just silhouettes of people and an iPod. Over and over again in print and television advertising. There is nothing more to say. Except here is the iPod. People already knew what it was and how cool it was from word of mouth and PR. The advertising just reminded people. Perfect!

What should Apple do in 2005. Well they might consider getting out of the PC business and focus the whole company on iPod.

BIGGEST BRAND LOSER of 2004: Coca-Cola’s C2

Cokec2 – What were they thinking? Second only to the lunacy of launching New Coke back in 1986 was this year’s introduction of C2. C2 is a mid-calorie soda which has half the sugar and calories as regular Coke, C2 was Coca-Cola’s major new product of the year. The thinking goes that there are some people who enjoy a regular Coke sometimes, but also are trying to lose weight on low-carb diets, and don’t really like the taste of Diet Coke. So Coke makes a half-and-half product called C2. Mix one part real Coke with one part Diet Coke and there you have it.

What must have seemed like a bright idea in the boardroom has fizzled on the market. Consumers didn’t get it, didn’t want it, didn’t need it and rejected the whole idea. Note too, that Pepsi is not immune from stupidity and this year introduced Pepsi Edge, their mid-calorie soda to the same dismal results. According to recent statistics from Beverage Digest, C2’s share of supermarket soft drink sales was 0.4 percent though early October. Pepsi Edge was 0.3 percent.

But it’s Coke that deserves the title of Biggest Brand Loser of 2004. The most valuable brand in the world (according to Interbrand.com) should know better. Coke is a company in trouble. They have line extended Coke to death and have not had a successful new brand launch in 40 years since the introduction on Sprite. They have been line extending and introducing me-too products that have been unable to compete with the first and leading brand in the category:

Dr Pepper, the first spicy soda, is a success, Mr. Pibb from Coke is not.

Mountain Dew, the first high-caffeine citrus soda, is a success, Surge from Coke is not.

Gatorade, the first sports drink, is a success, PowerAde from Coke is not.

Snapple, the first all-natural beverage, is a success, Fruitopia from Coke is not.

Red Bull, the first energy drink, is a success, KMX is not.

Added Recent Flickr Photos to Right Hand Column Below Sideblog Comments Off

I’ve been shooting a lot more photos lately and subscribed to Flickr PRO to share them on the web. I added my most recent 3 photos from Flickr to the right hand column down below my sideblog. Speaking of Flickr… yes, I am still sitting on that MP3 of the interview I did with Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield. I know it seems like sheer laziness, but between the move and the new job and holidays I haven’t transcribed it yet. It’s a great interview and there is some timely stuff in it so I promise to get it up soon.

Updated: I added and updated my photosets too. Some good recent ones are Xmas, Judah, Sierra, and Goose Spit.

December 27, 2004

Interweb 2K5 ala John Battelle Comments Off

John Battelle, search engine guru and interweb godfather, has released 17 predictions for how the online landscape may change in 2005. I see some of the same signs John does regarding Google (number 5) and Firefox (number 9). Should be an interesting year as the web continues to evolve and blogs, search, rss, tags, etc continue to increase in popularity and sophistication. Thx John.

A Look Ahead

Here we are again, the end of the year. Last year I did pretty well with my prognostications, mainly because I chose carefully. This time, I’m feeling a bit more reckless. A year from now, I am sure I’ll bescratching my head – what was I thinking? – but then again, that’s not such a bad place to be.

So in no particular order, here are some things that I believe have a reasonable chance of occurring in 2005 with regard to the intersection of media, technology, and search.

1. We will have a goat rodeo of sorts in the blogging/micropublishing/RSS world as commercial interests push into what many consider a “pure medium.” I’ve seen thi movie before, and it ends OK. But it’s important that the debate be full throated, and so far it looks to be shaping up that way. I’m already seeing these forces
at work over at Boing Boing, and I am sure they will continue. We’ll all work on figuring out ways to stick to our principles and get paid at the same time, however, I
expect that things might get more contentious before they get better, and 2005 may be a more fractious year in the blogosphere as we evolve through this process.

2. Along those lines, things will not go as swimmingly as we’d like with regard to “monetization.” As the majors get into the space and start throwing around their weight and lucre, some folks will make bad decisions, and others will freeze
and make no decisions at all. It will get harder to innovate before it gets easier. We’ll all be surprised by the lack of what we consider “progress” in the RSS/Blogging world, and expectations of major publishing revenues will not materialize as quickly as perhaps we think they should. However, we’ll in fact be making huge strides in understanding the path forward, it just won’t seem like it. By the end of the year, the world will begin to realize that “blogs” are in fact an extraordinarily heterogeneous ecosystem comprised of scores, if not hundreds, of different “types” of sites.

3. There will be two to five major new sites that emerge from “nowhere” to become major cultural influencers along the lines of the political bloggers of 2004. One of them will be sold to a major publisher/aggregator for what seems like a large sum of money, driving the abovementioned #2 and #1.

4. Meanwhile, the long tail will become the talk of the “old line” media world. To capture some of that value, we’ll see a slew of deals and new publishing projects from the established brands that seek to capture the idea of communityjournalism, affiliate commerce sales, and collaborative content creation.

5. Google will do something major with Blogger. I really have no idea what, but it’s overdue. Six Apart will grow quickly but face a crisis in its implementation as its core users demand more features that are “unbloglike” like customer databases and robust publishing support tools. This (and other things) may drive Six Apart or one of its competitors into the arms of Yahoo or AOL or even – gasp – Quark or Adobe or Marcomedia.

6. Ask will continue to consolidate traffic by buying smaller search sites.

7. Yahoo and Google will both test systems that combine local merchant inventory information with search, so that merchants can use search as a direct sales channel. By the end of the year, there will be no question that the search companies are in direct competition with the ecommerce companies, but it won’t matter – there’s room for them all. Paul Ford will continue to get droves ofreaders to his related, and very prescient, three year old post on how Google takes over the world.

8. Microsoft will lose search share before they gain it back later in the year when the integration of MSN search starts to scale with new versions of Office and IE . Net net, however, MSFT will gain total in total search sessions from last year, and its technology will get much, much better.

9. Firefox will near 15% of total browser share. Firefox faithful will wonder why it’s not much much higher. But MSFT will release a very good upgrade of IE, see #8.10. A third party platform player with major economies of scale (ie eBay or Amazon) will release a search related innovation that blows everyone’s mind, and has everyone buzzing about how it redefines what’s possible in search.

11. The China question will become a critical issue to the search community. Defining the China question will in itself be a major task of 2005. How do search companies go in without being “evil”? Is the tradeoff worth it?

12. By the end of the year, there will be no question that search is a media business, and that the major players in search are major players in the content business.

13. Something major will finally happen at Tivo. We all hope that it’s a sale to Apple, but if it is a sale, it will more likely be to Comcast or DirecTv.

14. All year, Apple will be rumored to launch a video iPod, but it won’t – it’s still too early. By the end of 2005, we will just be starting to see traction in the video over IP market and itsconnection to search. Google will introduce Video search at some point in 05, but it will stay in Labs.

15. Mobile will finally be plugged into the web in a way that makes sense for the average user and a major mobile innovation – the kind that makes us all say – Jeez that was obvious – will occur. At the core of this innovation will be the concept of
search. The outlines of such an innovation: it’ll be a way for mobile users to gather the unstructured data they leverage every day while talking on the phone and make it useful to their personal web (including email and RSS, in particular). And it will be a business that looks and feels like a Web 2.0 business – leveraging iterative web development practices, open APIs, and innovation in assembly – that makes the leap. (More on this when I start posting again).

16. Perhaps most recklessly…I will finish my book. The reviews will be mixed, as my attempt to satisfy both the exacting audience of Searchbloggers and the more general audience of a major trade hardcover may fall flat. Many will say I tried to do too much, others that I didn’t do nearly enough (how’s that for airing my deepest
fears in public?!). However, I’ll be happy with the effort, and the book will do OK, thanks mainly to the support of this community. So, ahead of time, thanks for your support this past year. I learned more from this process than I ever thought possible, and I owe it all to you, who grace my site with your time and input.

17. Lastly, I will be involved in starting a new business in the field of media and technology. It will start very slowly, and I’ll screw up as much as I possibly can in the early stages, before imposing it on the rest of the world. Hopefully, you’ll all be there to keep me honest as I try to figure out a few ideas I’ve been simmering
for the past year or so.

December 24, 2004

Congrats to Ben and Mena – PC Mag People of the Year Comments Off

I was cruising Kottke today and noticed that Ben and Mena Trott of Six Apart won PC Magazine’s People of the Year award this year for their work with Moveable Type and blogging. Congrats guys… and here’s to a bigger, better 2005.

Here’s a link to the interview I did with Mena earlier this year for Digital Web Magazine.

December 20, 2004

The Persuaders – PBS Frontline Documentary Comments Off

Watch this great online documentary by Douglas RushkoffThe Persuaders.

FRONTLINE takes an in-depth look at the multi-billion dollar “persuasion industries” of advertising, market research, and political campaigning. To cut through mass-media clutter and to overcome consumers’ growing resistance to their pitches, marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages deeper into the fabric of our lives. Correspondent Douglas Rushkoff explores how the culture of marketing has come to shape the way Americans understand the world and themselves, and how the influence of marketing on politics has profoundly impacted our political culture and our democracy.

December 17, 2004

Photos from Washington DC – Via Flickr Comments Off

So I started my new job in DC and spent 8 days out there this month. I’m a little slow on getting these all posted, but here is an online slideshow of a bunch of photos from my trip.

My favorites are the night shots of the Lincoln Memorial and some of the new WWII memorial. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments on the photos… it’s quick and fun!

WASHINGTON DC PHOTOS

I signed up for Northern Voice Canadian blogging conference today. Comments Off

Today I signed up for Northern Voice… a new Canadian blogging conference put on my some friends here in the city including Roland, Boris, and Darren. I looks like Lauren is playing a big role too, and while I’m familiar with her work I don’t think we’ve met before.

Anyway, it looks to be a great one-day conference. There are some big name speakers like Tim Bray and Robert Scoble… as well as the rest of us little guys who make the world go round. It’s only 20 bucks and if you’re looking to get to know some people doing interesting things with new web technologies including blogging, podcasting, multi-user publishing, content syndication, etc there won’t be an better place in BC to be on that day.

Hope to see you there.

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