What’s the best iPhone case?

I wonder how many times an iphone is dropped on average? How often do they fall on their sides, front, corner?  How frequently do they break (broken down by sex, age…)?

Speaking for myself, I drop my iphone roughly twice a month. Half of the time, it’s a fearless drop onto a carpet. The other half of the time I pick it up with a gulp and, when I see the unshattered screen, a massive sigh of relief. Pretty much every time, I tell myself to be more careful next time. However, since the phone is such a regular tool, it’s impossible to be so careful all the time.

So, what’s the best iPhone case out there?  There are a whole lot of super rugged, iron man cases that make the slender phone look more like army gear and unadapted to a breast pocket.  My vote is for the Speck Candyshell case.

iphone 5 Speck case cover, the myndset digital marketing

If my iPhone 5 has lasted this long (I bought it in February), it is because of the Speck case above. Priced at $34.95 (see here), I must say that this case has been worth its weight in gold.  The piece de resistance is the corner reinforcement:

iphone 5 Speck case cover, the myndset digital marketing

If it has just cracked a bit underneath the volume buttons (because I have to change SIM cards when I travel), the structure remains solid.  Hats off to Speck.

What’s your favorite iPhone case?

What’s your iPhone name?

No, I am not talking the name you might give your iPhone. I am refering to the way your name gets changed automatically thanks to the spellchecker in iOS. The most common name for me is “Mintal” rather than “Minter.”  Do you have an iOS name?

Re-definition of who you are

Not knowing what or who is Mintal, I checked and was quite relieved to find, in the Urban Dictionary, the following definition:

Mintal Definition, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

MINTAL – adjective: to describe an item or act that pleases the viewer whilst evoking emotions of craziness. A hybrid of mint and mental.

I was particularly happy to see the reference to mint.

Marketing or poor customer service?

That said, the point of the article was not to gloat over the inspirational definition.  The point was to say that iPhone and the iOS has a crazy way of seeping into our lives.  And, Apple stubbornly does not let its users go in and adjust the automatic speller.  For the amount of times we use the iPhone, iPad, etc, you would have thought that this irritation would have swollen enough to get their attention.  We all have certain words that just don’t compute.  Granted, the iOS does learn… but, sometimes, you feel it would be even better if you were allowed to suggest words or override how it automatically corrects.

What’s your thinking?  Are they doing a good job not letting us in?

What’s the Best Automatic Signature?

I was not able to find a ‘best practices’ site or space on the ‘net listing the best “personalised” automatic signatures (which one can add on to the end of emails). Recently, I have noticed a couple of novel signatures tacked on to messages sent from smart phones — if not smart friends! I thought I would share them with you, as well as suggest a few others to start a possible best practices meme on the topic of automatic signatures… (if only Facebook would allow the same, don’t you think?)

1/ “Sent from small keyboard – pls excuse the brevity” (from Brad C)
2/ “Sent via Blackberry Handheld – Please excuse typos” (from Charlie H)

My own suggestions, trying to look at a more positive spin:

3/ “Think before you print (even if it’s a stretch to think to print from your iPhone”
4/ “Sent from my iPhone. In virtual heaven.”
5/ “Sent from my blackberry, while in a boring meeting.”
6/ “Typed in the toilet.”

Lastly, in total disclosure, here is the one I am currently using on my iPhone:

7/ “Sent from my iPhone… so, please excuse the virtual typos, merely a figment of the imagination.”

Automatic Signature Message

Would be very glad to hear of other suggestions out there!

Of Standards, Convergence & Collaboration – Winning back consumer confidence

Modern life is, at best, complex Electronic Chargers and Rechargersand, at worst, horribly wasteful and confusing. I am galled by the number of chargers that I must pack with me when I travel with my various electronics. On any given holidays, I will leave with the iPod, the blackberry, the Bluetooth earpiece, the laptop, electric razor, and the camera… And my wife will bring her palm pilot and phone to add two more to the mix. Each requires a specific and, typically, different recharger (such as different voltage requirements and different attachment), taking up a sizeable portion of my suitcase. It’s a wonder my carry-on isn’t always opened at the x-ray machine.

Laptop Battery

On another level, I have observed the wildly confusing marketing claims for the duration of laptop batteries. And, going even further, of course, we have the outrageously confusing and mostly misleading eco “green” claims, all too frequently a version of greenwashing.

With a shake of the magic wand, would it not be more sensible for us to have a single charger with variable voltage, a battery life upon which one could rely and a confidence to say that the eco-savings into which one bought are true? In any event, a standardization and convergence on these elements of life in 2010 might go some way to improving my quality of life.

If we take the case of the longevity of laptop batteries, as an IHT article, “Warning: Stated battery life may have no relation to reality” (June 25, 2009), states, you can find wildly varying performances that systematically disappoint. Standardisation as to how long the battery lasts has been created for cameras and (increasingly) for cell phones. However, for laptops, the game remains confused and the consumer remains a frustrated, if not deceived, individual. The current MobileMark® 2007 tests are inadequate and unrealistic. Furthermore, the way to “optimize” the battery’s longevity seems to be fraught with grandma’s tales and urban myths (charge fully, then use the first time until it drains is all I know).

In terms of green claims, it strikes me that the various industry associations have been slow to react. Certain NGOs have attempted to identify green dilution and misleading communications. However, industry would be better off defining the rules of the game rather than letting the well-intentioned NGOs doing so; at the very least, industry and NGO should be collaborating together.

Convergence Image

The more I look at the panoply of brands, the breadth of products and the multiplicity of claims, I continue to see the need for a greater collaboration and “higher level” convergence between industrialists. Such collaboration should not hurt the consumer. Indeed, it should go beyond, even protecting the paying consumer (and such an objective would be honourable enough). If industrialists were able to find common grounds of collaboration – and I am not meaning collusion — this collaboration would be in the best interests of that industry, presumably, enabling it to help enlarge its pie – the sector’s market share.

So, while my inner liberal self might wish to rebel against rules and standards, might feel oppressed by communistic convergence, and certainly would be wary of secretive collusion, I am inclined to believe that the consumer and industry would benefit by figuring out some standard conventions. Of course, not everyone benefits and some would win more than others. The company around whose convention the rest rally will certainly have a first movers’ advantage. But, by clearing up the immense confusion and latent frustration, companies may again go some way to regaining the confidence and trust that consumers seem to have lost, at least in part, in corporate claims and, more broadly, in brands. And by having just one multi-unit charger and a reliable battery life for my laptop, I will certainly travel lighter and better. Of course, I still have to fret about the different electrical plugs. But, that’s another battle altogether.

Looking for an Older Version of your Software ?

Having spent the better part of the evening trying to download an older version of Internet Explorer in order to play an old DVD for my daughter’s homework, I finally landed upon the best solution:

OldVersion so rightly says in its tagline: “because newer isn’t always better…”

But in my case, it was because new just doesn’t work for my DVD…

OldVersion currently has 2862 versions of 190 programs for PC and 601 versions of 35 programs for the Mac.

OldVersion.com has several stated objectives which are quite noble and appropriate, including discouraging the use of spyware by software companies and helping computer users who are unable to continually upgrade their computer. As they write, “[w]e are doing our small part to help bridge the digital divide by allowing everyone to enjoy the same software titles regardless of their hardware.”

Anyway, if you are looking for an older version of the software you used to love or which you found lighter and more useful, then OldVersion is your place.

How to import Hotmail .csv into Apple Mac Mail

If you are looking to import your Hotmail address book into your Apple Mac Mail, here is a nifty application created by Steve Roy: Address Importer Software. It is free for the first use (he asks for a $10 donation thereafter). I have used it just once and it took me less than 10 minutes to get it all done. The association of all the fields takes a bit of sussing out, but it is all rather intuitive and easy. I have not registered just yet, but I will have to assume that on the subsequent downloads, the program will recall the field mapping sequence. In any event, thanks Steve. (It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or higher and is compatible with Leopard OS). And, it is finally a pleasure to have figured out how to transition myself from the cumbersome Hotmail to Mac Mail (without losing my hotmail address).

How to import Hotmail .csv into Apple Mac Mail

Apple Stores – Sheer Genius

Apple Store Manhattan New York CityListening to Apple‘s videocast of the opening speech at this year’s MacWorld 2009, I heard that Apple stores around the world receive 3.4 million visitors per week.

Via a separate source, I see that Apple had 251 stores as of the end of calendar year 2008 (as reported here on CNET) and is planning to open another 25 this year (half outside the US), a slightly slower pace than the last few years. 

Doing the mathematics, that means that the each Apple store had, on average, 704,382 visits per year, or 13,545 per week (assuming 9-19h working hours, 7 days a week).

As a benchmark for other retail stores, this means that, on average (which includes the slow time and the startups starting at different times of the year), there were 3.25 people per minute walking through the doors.

On a sell-through basis, the numbers are pretty potent. Apple said that they sold 9.7 mm Macintosh® computers in Fiscal 2008 — and of course, I do not know the mix between own stores, internet and other stores.   The Company sold a record 22,727,000 iPods during the quarter ending December 2008 and 4,363,000 iPhones in the same quarterly period.

One thing is for sure, the genius that is on iTunes is also in their stores.  The harmony on a visual level and the service on a human level has raised the game of the retail experience.  I would love to know the conversion rate (consumers walking through the door who actually purchase); but, whatever it is, I am sure that there is an element of pride and satisfaction for each person that does make an Apple purchase, making them all the more pride to be able to flash their apple logo-ized bag.  Now that is MARQUE-ting. 

Apple’s inspiration reaches out… again

Marmara suitcase advertisement in Paris
The never ending flow of examples of how Apple has impacted the world continues… Above is an outdoor ad in Paris by a travel site (www.marmara.com) using multiple coloured suitcases, much like the Apple Shuffle, to mention one of the iconoclastic campaigns.
Mini iPod Rainbow Color Spectrum

In both combinations, there is a joyful combination of personalisation, fun colours and escape. As the ad says, to each their own!

Convergence – In search of the Uber Consolidation

Convergence logoAre you like me, Seeking the Consolidation & Convergence of all Applications, Tools and Electrical Wires?

I enjoyed this article from Engadget “What Apple could learn from Palm Web OS” and it spurred me to consider my state of un-convergence, with the multiplicity of electronics that I lug around, different coloured USB keys to swap files, portable disk drives for backups, Apples and Dells, iPod and Blackberry, camera and video, work and home, Freebox and AppleTV, avi and wmv… The list of interdependent yet not connected items continues to gall me. When can we have the uber-converged mother-of-all tool?

Specifically, I dream of consolidating all my address book information whereby all my snail mail and email addresses and telephone numbers are simultaneously updated and accessible across every platform — think Plaxo on drugs. I think of centralizing all my digital communications so that, instead of jumping from Facebook to LinkedIn to twine to twitter to Hotmail and gmail, etc., I just have one email site to open and one preferred functionality to use — think universal netvibes. I wonder if it is time for me to abandon a fixed line at home (like 1 in 5 US households apparently) to concentrate on one mobile phone (nix one for work and one for personal use) so that I have just one telephone number to give out and have one less bill to pay (albeit the fixed home telephone is embedded in an internet and television subscription here in France). I am confounded by the number of different electric chargers that I must carry with me to support my blackberry, my iPod, laptop and earphone, etc. — much less when I travel abroad with all the different plug adaptors. I puzzle at the stash of USB connector chords that I have by my computer to connect the various apparatus with non-standard fixtures to my main computer (thank goodness for the USB hubs). And, if all that were not enough, I just want my laptop, desktop, television, iPod and mobile phone all to be the same. On this latter point, aside from the large keyboard, one can sniff that an economically viable answer is around the corner.

Convergence Mobility Telephone & Computers

Somehow, despite my fast typing and reading skills, I still feel like I am near to being submerged by the burgeoning number of sites and applications to which I have signed up. Is my webiquity catching up with me? On the application front, among the solutions that are out there and that are truly helping, there is hellotxt that creates“what am I doing” microblog messages for a wide variety of twittery applications — and can be updated now via the mobile. There is the aforementioned netvibes (est 8 million users) or pageflakes for storing a good portion of different applications such as Facebook, gmail and/or hotmail (albeit you still need to switch to the individual applications to read and write). Still, there is no full coverage system. Proprietary applications and stonewalling is clearly stopping the creation of the mega-consolidator. One thing is for sure; I am not alone in my desire, even in France. There was a study done by Accenture in France about the desire for telephonic convergence in France (no longer available on line).

Palm Pre TelephoneI gather that Palm has come up with a new palm PRE (coming soon, pictured right) all-in-one product. See here at Engadget and here on Mobiledia for more details. A friend at Nokia has reliably told me that the Nokia E71 “connected freedom” is a good alternative with the bonus of being available already. And, there’s the Touch screen qwerty Nokia N97 coming soon. Could it be that a hardware company can come up with the wherewithal to centralize all the different applications?

But, as urgent and (de-)pressing as the need for convergence is, the world of the web is expanding like the universe…to appear and operate on many different media…well beyond phones… on buses, tables, buildings, all electronic appliances… And newer still appliances and applications are sprouting up like mushroom so that, just when you think you have it all together and think you can converge onto one new glorious, unifying ubermetaplatform, you are going to be faced with the mobile book reader (Sony’s PRS-700BC or Amazon’s Kindle); the to do list consolidator that wirelessly feeds the “shopping list” on the kitchen fridge into your uber-PDA todo list; or a digital pen that magically transforms letters on a page into a typed document.

Just think about it. There are a billion people connected to the net now via their computers. The next billion internet connections will come on mobile platforms… Ready for mobile phone banking and mobi-creditcards (try wizzit which won the top prize at the NetExplorateur 2009)? On-demand shopping assistance, advice and ratings on your uber personal mobile device (try Big In Japan – Biggu – T-Mobile G1 on YouTube coming soon to Europe)? The third billion one has to imagine will have internet literally at, if not, in our fingertips. Everything will be wired.

Of course, there’s another topic brewing here regarding the convergence of branding, entertainment, advertising and consumption and how best to tackle the convergence from a marketing standpoint. But, better save that for another post.

What are your thoughts about convergence? What are your favourite tools? Or do you feel that it is just an interminable rat race and a way to get us to spend more money (think Vinyl-DAT-CD-mp3-mp4…)?

Microsoft Opening Stores — A landslide or a landmine?

News is out that Microsoft is going to start opening its own stores. (Seattle Times 12/2/09 or Mercury News, 13/2/09) Having hired David Porter, a 25-year veteran of Walmart, Microsoft wants to go down the Apple path to create a retail outlet to express, educate and sell its wares… (Photo below courtesy of Gizmodo)

Microsoft Store Boutique Concept

Personally, it seems like the right approach considering the big array of products that Microsoft can display and the need to harness its retailing power. However, they will have a long way to go catch up to the beauty of the Apple store experience as well as the 251 outlets that Apple already has up and running. Not that Apple is Microsoft’s sole worry. The challenge is quite large. Can Microsoft craft a store culture that is consistent with its brand culture? What hardware will they have to bring to life the look & feel? One interesting idea for Porter: use open source for creating the design! What about co-creating it with a designer or a sporting goods company? Niketown meets Microsoft. (Portland isn’t too far away from Seattle).

Meanwhile, here is Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, at a conference in Barcelona yesterday… looking awfully like a Jobs job, no?

Steve Ballmer Microsoft CEO

This store idea is a bold initiative — but they should be able to find some good real estate at bargain basement prices these days. It will either be a landslide idea or a landmine depending on if Microsoft is able to create a sexy, well articulated store concept. Is a Walmart executive the best suited for that? Certainly, Porter has some exotic experience after heading up worldwide distribution for Dreamworks Animation. But, he will have to mine his REM cycles to come up with a great store strategy for Microsoft.

UPDATED FEBRUARY 18, 2009: Ballmer’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (as pictured above) was to launch the second compliment to Apple in as many days. Microsoft announced its Windows Market Place, a virtual store in which mobile phone using the mobile Windows application (a paltry 20 million) can download applications — to copy if not combat Apple’s AppStore (you have to love the elegance of that name) which, launched in July 2008, has had 500 million applications downloaded for the iPhone and iPod Touch users. The title of Windows Market Place, which is slated for an autumn launch, is somewhat more clumsy. As much as Apple remains elitist and stiff in its approach, Microsoft just does not have the same “hacker” friendly community. And Windows certainly does not inspire the imagination or stir the emotion. The WMP may find its place, but it will likely be a slow grind.