TECH TALK: Whatever happened to innovation at APPLE and FACEBOOK?

TECH TALK: Whatever happened to innovation at APPLE and FACEBOOK?

 

Haven’t gone on an Apple or Facebook rant in a while but I am increasingly dissatisfied with both.

First and foremost, APPLE:

  • My iPhone 7 Plus is riddled with quirks and problems that require constant reboots. And it’s a wide variety of issues – from the calendar freezing to the TouchID not working.
  • This kind of problem was the exception when I got my first iPhone, now it’s the norm. And the fact that I don’t even bother to go the Genius Bar, feeling it’s an unsolvable problem, is a sign of what’s up at Apple. I no longer consider the brand exceptional.
  • Perhaps nothing is more symbolic of the new Apple than the dongle!

Interesting piece on NPR on the same subject with former employees noting that under Tim Cook there has been a culture shift that has led the company to lose its innovation mojo. A software engineer recalled that under Jobs, every employee was encouraged to take personal responsibility for improving the products. Under Tim Cook, the message for employees is look down, shut your mouth, do your job.

 

And then I have to talk about Facebook – WOW what a disaster!!

  • Such a dismal experience these days – not fun, not creative, not inspiring JUST filled with crap and copycatting. And although they will probably crush Snapchat, they are doing it in such an uncreative way that it makes me like them even less – if that’s possible!

Read on below for more on my major peeves with Facebook.

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What’s up with OpenTable? Everyone’s suddenly on Reserve or Resy!

What’s up with OpenTable? Everyone’s suddenly on Reserve or Resy!

 

Has anyone else noticed that your favorite restaurants are suddenly not on OpenTable anymore?

This past week, while attempting to make reservations at a few spots that are always hard to get into (e.g. Il Buco, Carbone), I found they’ve all moved from OpenTable to either Reserve or Resy.

An investigation was called for!! Especially since I had bitched so much about both Reserve and Resy when they first launched. I objected to having to give them my credit card before they would make a reservation. And both seemed more cumbersome and harder to navigate than OpenTable. Boy, things have changed!!

In doing background, I discovered interesting details on the fee structure that totally explains why restaurants are ditching OpenTable. Restaurants are saving themselves $12,000 – $30,000 a year by going with  Reserve or Resy vs. OpenTable.

I totally appreciate what a drag it is for restaurants to spend this much on the reservations system but as a frequent diner, it is also frustrating to find my restaurants spread out over 3 or 4 different apps. At most, the industry can support two services….in my opinion!!

Read on below.
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TECH TRENDS: Brilliant, Game Changing Apps and the Latest on SEO

TECH TRENDS: Brilliant, Game Changing Apps and the Latest on SEO

 

Restaurant reservations thru Instagram

Announced last week, this feature is an absolutely brilliant, game-changing move. For example, if somebody you follow posts an image from a restaurant, or if a post shows up based on a hashtag, you can immediately book a table right from the post in the app. And apparently, this will be extended to other businesses e.g. hairstylists, conferences, art fairs, travel, Broadway shows.

  • Available only to businesses that advertise on the platform (one million active monthly).
  • 80% of Instagram users follow a business. Interestingly, while I refuse to follow any businesses on facebook, I follow quite a few of my favorites on Instagram – especially in fashion, home design, art and travel.
  • The ability to actually interact with businesses in a transactional way (through an appointment or reservation) means that a restaurant can see a nearly immediate return on its social media advertising investment .

(Source: Skift)

Read on below for the latest on SEO and how Google is retooling for mobile and voice-activated searches – another game-changer!!

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TECH TRENDS: At the Next Frontier in Mobile and Web Design

TECH TRENDS: At the Next Frontier in Mobile and Web Design

Excellent info from Chicago’s The Deep End on ways to dial up your website’s productivity. I’ve highlighted five tips that I’ve found most helpful (but check out the entire post here)

1. Age-Responsive Design

  • Whether you’re trying to reach Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, or Baby Boomers, there is power in this tactic – from font size to “feel” and aesthetics. And you don’t have to devote your entire website to a particular demographic group, you can use generation-specific images in your social media marketing and on landing pages.

2. Shopping Cart Marketing: Customers who bought this item also bought…

  • Shopping cart marketing that promotes similar products or upsells can increase e-commerce revenue by 10% to 30%. 

3. Animated Call-To-Action Buttons

  • A new trend is to add subtle animation to the CTA button — just enough to attract attention without taking away from the product or other important visuals.

4. Cinemagraph Hero Images

  • Facebook ads using cinemagraphs have a click-rate 60% percent higher than static ads.

5. Scrolling Trumps Navigation

  • Thanks to increased use of mobile devices, scrolling is a much preferred for navigation than having site visitors wander aimlessly from page to page on their own.

 

Personalization of UI Design (Source: Alesia Nik, Appinventiv)

  • The two most important concepts: responsive design and age-responsive design.
  • Responsive design is about adapting a layout around multiple devices.
  • Age-responsive designs are based on adapting the layout to specific people based on the availability of metadata that has been left by users on apps, devices, and various platforms. This is considered the next frontier in mobile and web design.
  • It is through this metadata that the app will have the capability to increase font size, eliminate flashing images or sound or decrease the brightness of screens to make it age-right.

Read on below for innovations in digital signage, digital health opportunities, and emerging tech toy trends. Read More >

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Health Apps from J&J: Amazing Digital Innovation In Health Care

Health Apps from J&J: Amazing Digital Innovation In Health Care

 

Johnson & Johnson is working on 4 different apps that are so on the money when it comes to health issues from allergies to knee replacements. The pollen count app, in particular, sounds amazing.

The AllergyCast App

  • This app provides the pollen count each day for your zip code, along with an “allergy impact number.” Thanks to a proprietary algorithm, the app uses multiple factors—such as weather and social media mentions of allergies in your zip code—to give you an idea of how likely you are to have symptoms each day and helps you identify the optimal time to take your allergy medication before the onset of symptoms.

Read on for more below on apps for arthritis, glucose levels and knee surgeries.

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Can Snapchat Snap Back? Never Say Never But Outlook Not Good

Can Snapchat Snap Back? Never Say Never But Outlook Not Good

I still haven’t given up on Snapchat – I use it as my personal broadcast platform and love following friends as well as business mavens like Mark Suster (his snapstorms are phenomenal), tech start ups (e.g. Brian Park above right) and even the NYPD!

Nevertheless, the prognosis is not good. Facebook is out to crush them and so far succeeding – with an inferior product – but with size on their side (1 billion users vs. 150M).

Snapchat is not giving up without a fight and remains the #1 social media platform for teens and college students (at least for now) – with many hitting it up 20 times a day.

There have been several small studies done to gauge the impact of Facebook/Instagram’s attacks on Snapchat. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Instagram Stories slowed Snapchat’s growth by 82% at the end of last year
  • Snapchat’s growth in 2017 is expected to come from users 45-54 years old (Source: eMarketer)
  • However, Snapchat is still teens’ primary means of communication, used more often than texting (Source: Susquehanna)
  • Snapchat Streaks are an important driver of engagement. The Streak is broken the day either user fails to send a snap to the other. Many open the app solely for the purpose of sending a Snap and keeping their Streaks alive.
  • Most skip Snap ads and could not recall any brands. However, they were able to recall sponsored Lenses & Geofilters and enjoy interacting with them.
  • Instagram is the second most popular social app among teens – perceived as a platform to showcase highlights from their lives vs. Snapchat which is viewed as a platform to share everyday moments with close friends. IG stories are viewed as a look inside influencers’ lives, but not as a way for them to share moments with friends.
  • Core Facebook is typically viewed as their parents’ social network
  • College students turn first to Snapchat (58%), then Instagram (27%), Facebook (13%) or LinkedIn (2%) (Source: LendEdu)

Now that Snap has IPO’d, Facebook is getting even more aggressive. Read on below for highlights of how Mark Zuckerberg is neutralizing them at every turn.

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Book Review: The Third Wave by Steve Case

Book Review: The Third Wave by Steve Case

Had such high hopes for this book by Steve Case (co-founder of America Online). For those of you not familiar with his premise:

  • The first wave applies to companies like AOL which lay the foundations for the internet
  • The second wave (which we are at the tail end of), is about companies like Google, Facebook and Snapchat that built search and apps and social media on the internet.
  • The third wave applies to a time we are currently entering where entrepreneurs will use the internet to solve major problems in healthcare, education, transportation etc. Third wave entrepreneurs will require massive amounts of governmental approvals. It will be more akin to the first wave than the second, because there will be more resistance to the disruptions than there was in the second wave.

Unfortunately, while the first half of the book provides great background and interesting details e.g. I didn’t realize that until 1992, it was illegal to connect a commercial service like AOL to the internet, the second half of the book is a real slog and incredibly boring.

From Chapter 8 on, Case is proselytizer-in-chief. There are way too many “I’s” dotting the page – basically he sounds like a bit of a narcissist – he’s so smart and if only people listened to him, none of these problems with AOL/Time Warner and so on would have happened. Dozens of paragraphs start like this:

  • I was hoping to enter into negotiations (p. 120)
  • I was reluctant to give up control (p. 121)
  • I understood enough about Jerry (p. 121)
  • I decided, before picking up the phone (p. 121)

Compared to Phil Knight’s highly touted recent memoir, Shoe Dog, about the start of Nike (which was riveting, humble and incredibly personal), The Third Wave comes up short on multiple levels.

Nevertheless, there are some interesting details to be gleaned from Third Wave:

  • One of AOL’s early users got his start in coding by hacking AIM. His name: Mark Zuckerberg.
  • America Online was named through an internal competition because there was no money for a branding firm. The leading choice had been Online America, Steve Case flipped it to America Online and it stuck.
  • Steve Case was born and raised in Hawaii and was a surfer as a kid. One of his business mantras comes from a fellow surfer: “When the wave is cresting, you’re either in the tube or you’re in the sand.
  • Nearly half of the top-ranked companies in the US will be gone by 2020 (Source: Global Center for Digital Business Transformation)
  • The idea of a self-driving vehicle was not first born in the tech sector; it was born in the agricultural sector. John Deere was developing GPS navigation systems for its tractors more than 20 years ago – before Google was even founded.
  • Many people have the power to stop an idea, but very few have the authority to green-light one. This creates an environment where there is a strong bias toward “no.”
  • The greatest challenge for successful companies is focusing on customers’ current preferences while preparing for their future preferences.
  • Some legacy companies have developed internal venture funds, in part to have an early-warning radar system for emerging ideas.
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Fintech? Bitcoin? Blockchain? ETFs? – What Exactly is This Stuff?

Fintech? Bitcoin? Blockchain? ETFs? – What Exactly is This Stuff?

“Fintech“ gets bandied about a lot. Yet few people understand it especially when it comes to bitcoin and blockchain. Writing this post reminded me of Albert Einstein’s quote: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Only now, the twist might be that the six year old understands it, while the fifty year old remains clueless…

For those of you not familiar with fintech, it refers to businesses involved with leading edge technology to make financial transactions more efficient e.g. Venmo, ApplePay, Acorns, mobile banking etc. Big financial institutions, after initially dismissing fintech as a fad, are now busily developing their fintech capabilities to streamline their back-office systems.

And what about blockchain? It’s the freely available database that underpins the digital currency bitcoin. It can replace existing methods of transmitting assets and currencies. Scores of institutions are racing to use blockchain to simplify the way securities are traded, settled and recorded. All these endeavors fall under the fintech umbrella. (Source: Bloomberg)

ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are the fastest-growing, biggest disruptors in finance:

  • Mario Gabelli, a leading investor, advisor and financial analyst, let the cat out of the bag recently when he said on CNBC: “I’m a dying breed, it’s all about ETF’s now.”
  • The growth of ETFs also tells me that people have more trust in algorithms than in people’s decision-making which is not surprising given that 80% of active managers fail to outperform ETFs (Source: S&P)
  • Also explains why investor/commentators on CNBC increasingly have that “deer caught in the headlights” look. They know their days are numbered as ETFs become the dominant force in the investment world.
  • Finally, Warren Buffett, interviewed on CNBC SquawkBox yesterday morning, had this bit of advice: “Anyone who relies on financial advisors is wasting their money” (vs. investing in ETFs).

Read on below for more on ETFs, Blockchain, Bitcoin and Insurtech (watch the video from Metromile – great info!).

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