Is there a Kindle in your future?

Picture of the Kindle from Amazon’s page.Remember, people scoffed at the first iPod, $500 for an MP3 player. They ridiculed the video iPod- “Who is going to watch a movie on that small screen, and pay $1.99 for a tv show I could watch the night before for free- puhlleeezeeeeee”

Well, we know what happened there. And remember, Apple wasn’t the first mover.

Today the news broke on the Kindle, Amazons entry into e-readers. E-readers haven’t exactly taken off, but then again- Sony has been hitting a bunch of singles lately, and they are behind the most successful e-book to date.

Amazon has taken the e-book to a new level, with constant connectivity via the Sprint high speed cell network, but, there are some hidden gotcha’s that make this book worth passing on - mostly, the fact that Amazon wants to charge you to upload your own data, or to subscribe to blogs. Eh, better luck next time.

Here is a brief description of the reader from the lengthy Newsweek article, which is well worth reading:

Amazon: Reinventing the Book |
First, it must project an aura of bookishness; it should be less of a whizzy gizmo than an austere vessel of culture. Therefore the Kindle (named to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge) has the dimensions of a paperback, with a tapering of its width that emulates the bulge toward a book’s binding. It weighs but 10.3 ounces, and unlike a laptop computer it does not run hot or make intrusive beeps. A reading device must be sharp and durable, Bezos says, and with the use of E Ink, a breakthrough technology of several years ago that mimes the clarity of a printed book, the Kindle’s six-inch screen posts readable pages. The battery has to last for a while, he adds, since there’s nothing sadder than a book you can’t read because of electile dysfunction. (The Kindle gets as many as 30 hours of reading on a charge, and recharges in two hours.) And, to soothe the anxieties of print-culture stalwarts, in sleep mode the Kindle displays retro images of ancient texts, early printing presses and beloved authors like Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen.

But then comes the features that your mom’s copy of “Gone With the Wind” can’t match. E-book devices like the Kindle allow you to change the font size: aging baby boomers will appreciate that every book can instantly be a large-type edition. The handheld device can also hold several shelves’ worth of books: 200 of them onboard, hundreds more on a memory card and a limitless amount in virtual library stacks maintained by Amazon. Also, the Kindle allows you to search within the book for a phrase or name.

My bet would still be on Apple- with a tablet style iPod Touch, or tablet Mac. Combined with the iTunes store, you have an integration that’s already proven- plus an Apple device would be able to play video- a key media tool that can’t be ignored. And hopefully, Apple won’t try to gouge you on uploading your own content- after all, it’s an Open Source world- shouldn’t you be able to upload anything you want that’s yours to your own device without paying the piper?

The big question is when does this device become cheap enough that it becomes cheaper for a newspaper to give you a reader instead of a printed newspaper? When does your choice of reading materials start serving up targeted ads? Amazon will have suggestions, no doubt- but, how will this help their partners move the sales needle?

Watch and see?

In the mean time- what do you think? And, do you want one? Even if it is butt-fugly?

Google Maps, iPhones and your business

By now, every one has seen the Apple iPhone ad “Calamari” showcasing the Google maps function on the iPhone.

And, when typing in Pizza it does a great job around my home. It also works for locating the nearest Apple Store quite well. But, when typing in “Advertising Agency” nothing even close to an ad agency got a pin in Dayton. So, of course, I had to fix that. Google informs me it will take up to 4 weeks before my listing is updated (unbelievably slow in the Internet age)- but, it was incredibly easy, and the verification by phone system worked well.

If you haven’t put your business on the Google Maps page, I highly recommend doing it as soon as possible- and, if you are a Pizza place, you can even put a coupon on it for free!  So, proceed to the following link and look for the “Add or Edit your business” part- make sure you are at your business phone and have a live internet connection at the same time.
Google Maps

For right now, it’s cool to show up on iPhone users phones- but, soon, this will be more important than the Yellow Pages ever were. And, before you select an ad agency, that claims to be digitally literate,  check out if they have a complete listing on Google Maps.

Advertising personalization and TV over IP

Recently, I decided to take a look at the CBS show, Jericho, which was slated to be dropped, but was reinstated by fan support.

First stop was the free version of the pilot on the iTunes store. Perfect download, no problem watching and controls that actually worked. Plus I could watch it on my iPhone.

Next stop, where I thought I’d be able to watch it on my mac. No such luck- since CBS engineered their site with the “RealPlayer” which has been referred to as one of the worst pieces of software ever. The mac plugin wasn’t even available the first time I tried. So, lucky for me, CBS was going to rerun the series in order over the summer. Tivo here I come. The second showing ended up being a fast forward through at least a half dozen episodes- and no where near as good as the seven minute Sopranos. Then, CBS skipped a week (or Tivo balked)- and I went back to the CBS site again. Somehow, I got it to stutter through a painful hour and a half viewing of a 45 minute show- complete with the same 2 commercials over and over. Then- JACKPOT- seems CBS put up another site: which runs fine on a mac -problem solved. I’m in Jericho heaven- even though the play controls still aren’t near as good as Quicktime, and the resume doesn’t work at all.CBS error messages

But, here is the thing: CBS has the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with me. I’m coming back over and over to their site, to spend “quality time” with their show. They could ask as few as 1 or 2 questions in return for providing each episode on demand for free and start customizing the commercials. Right now, I get one for Gerbers baby food (I’m a single male over 40 with no intentions of breeding) and for AT&T Wireless- to whom I’m already stuck with, since I have an iPhone. Irrelevant ads, presented by the most relevant personalized delivery system.

CBS network timeout messageIf you are a marketer and are buying online ad delivery, you should be asking about how the message is being targeted and what kind of feedback mechanism is provided. Since I can’t fast forward through the ads easily (remember, the controls of “innertube” suck) all you are doing is annoying me, instead of having a chance to build a real relationship. In an age of earned media, that annoyance factor could actually contribute to negative brand equity- distaste for your brand from the intrusiveness and repetitiveness of your ad delivery.

Advertising online can be the most powerful tool yet, but, like all power, used without care- it can backfire royally.