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 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!

SMS & Healthy Loving Relationships

After getting drummed into our heads that using mobile phones may be carcinogenic, I am increasingly encouraged by recent studies saying that using the text (SMS) function is good for you! For its immediacy, the acceptance of shorthand (and errors) as well as the language of emoticons, SMS and Instant Messaging (IM) communication is a very real way of communicating.  Technology and the human touch is a topic I have addressed previously in a blog post.

So, if you text a lot AND you use the word “I” when you IM or text your soulmate, chances are that you are experiencing a healthy relationship, so says this latest study in US News. With a little imagination, the study would seem to reinforce the notion that you need to love yourself in order to be able to love someone else properly.

And, an article I found on the BBC says that, with the help of SMS / text reminders, a group of people suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder*) in the UK will be reminded daily to sit in front of their light box to give a little light to their gloomy conditions in the midst of the dark, short days of winter.

Finally, knowing the number of emoticons that are included in the TXT messages, it is no surprise that there is an emotional impact from the messages emanating from our handy mobiles. On another note, I have also heard more and more about the abuse of SMS between teenagers and the notion of sextext (as yet an unofficial term according to Urban Dictionary). Something to watch out for. Meanwhile, below is a table of TXT speak in case you need a refresher, but an easier resource is here at, what claims to be, the Largest List of Text Message Abbreviations. But, whatever you do, don’t forget to use the “I” when addressing your loved one.

*SAD affects around 2% of UK citizens and between 1.5-9% of US citizens depending on the state in which they live. According to the wikipedia entry, 20% of the Irish (2007 study) were said to suffer from SAD and 10% of the Dutch.

Steve Jobs’ Launch of Macintosh in 1984… Video down Memory Lane

Apple Computer AdvertisementFeeling nostalgic during these difficult times?  You are not alone.  Many people, in this worrisome period (inspite of the arrival of Obama), are looking for creature comforts, reassurance and transparency.

In the spirit of rekindling nostalgic moments, below is a little trip down memory lane, with the quixotic Steve Jobs launching the original Mac.  Not that one needs to worry today about Apple just yet–despite Steve Jobs’ evidently serious health issues–as the company has just beaten forecasts in its F1Q09 (quarter ending Dec 2008) and seems to be weathering the storm perfectly.
Apple Computer 1984 Big Brother Advertisement
The launch presentation is quaint and yet visionary.  Jobs says, “come see the Macintosh in person…” Revealed as if the 1984 Mac were a human being (not Big Brother), this is an engaging 4:48 video, showing just how human the box could become.  Macintosh speaks for itself, truly.  And the Apple journey continues today, with plenty of vices — but on the whole, LOTS of pleasure and, given the look and feel, plenty of humanity, too.

Could it be that the “lipstick effect” may be becoming the iPod effect? Rather get the latest iPhone or iPod than the newest shade of red lipstick? More likely that people are cutting back on other items other than the little cosmetic luxury they can afford. But, I believe that the paradigm is shifting and the indispensable expense now includes your mobile communication/music player.  The mobile is social, business and personal.  And the innovation of the i-P set of products have driven that change.  And, you have to tip your hats to Apple for not having gone to any drastic discounting measures in the face of difficult economic times.

This Crisis will bring a Paradigm Shift on the Internet

Crisis, What Crisis? Bring forth the Internet

As we spin into the depths of this worldwide economic crisis, the opportunity for companies to move to more Crisis in Chinese Charactersefficient, effective and measurable marketing activities online seems perfectly obvious, if not natural. The time has never been more appropriate for companies to ramp up online activity because their consumer will be increasingly on the other end waiting for them. I identify below five main reasons why the consumer will be more than ever present on the Internet specifically because of the economic downturn.

(1) In this period of crisis, there is a very real likelihood that people will spend even more time online in the near-term because the web will offer a cheaper alternative way to spend time (watch YouTube or Daily Motion videos) and find entertainment (on a myriad game sites) than, say, going out to dinner in a restaurant or going to the flicks. Rather than going outside to buy a newspaper, free subscriptions will bring people online (or the news will be downloaded to their mobile phone). Doing banking/finances on line (a cost benefit for the embattled banks to save on bank tellers), paying your paperless bills (save on postal costs) and other administrative tasks will bring people to their computer.

(2) The internet is the most expedient way to do networking — especially important for those people without a job (linkedin, monster, etc.). The Millennials will need to have the “older” generations on board to hire them, but in general, the custom of business networking on line is beginning to build already. This notion reinforces a tenet I have long held which is that your presence online will become your most effective CV or resumé (see here for a prior post).

(3) There are plenty of new applications and sites that now make searching for a bargain substantially easier, specifically the price comparison machines, such as Kelkoo, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla… And this point goes beyond the notion that you can get better information from internet sites (and peer-to-peer reviews, etc.)

(4) In times when travel may be too expensive, there are now many virtual ways just to stay in touch with your friends and family (skype for face to face, facebook for group hugs or twitter, jaiku for group pecks). Essentially, the internet social media networks are intrinsically designed for harder economic times. Not all of them will survive, of course, but each will be forced to carve out its niche, its purpose and the likelihood is that the economic crisis will bring much needed acuity to each social media network’s positioning.

(5) And, finally, the truth is that items sold on line will be cheaper in fact and in perception. When you add the cost of getting in your car (time is money…), consuming fuel with the risk of traffic infractions to go to the brick & mortar (only to find a less informed salesperson) the chances are that the consumer is in effect going to find the Internet a cheaper way to consume. With people and companies forced to work harder and longer hours to survive, time for personal shopping will decline ipso facto. Retirees who have already shown a propensity to hit the ‘net, will do so even more (note to self: big business in keyboards will large keys). Driving to the store hardly eases with age. And, lest we forget that, with driving, there is the added nuisance of polluting the environment. Clearly, on the supply side, more and more companies will move to e-commerce platforms (expensive as they may be initially) because they offer a higher margin business model once the critical mass is reached. Moreover, having one’s own e-commerce site is a useful counter force for the brand/company against a distribution network whose strength in the balance of power has become hard to manage.

Vortex Internet

With the backdrop of the demographic and sociological surge of online traffic, plus the terrific growth numbers in developing countries, it all makes me believe that we are truly in the vortex of the paradigm shift. Beyond the crisis, we will come out different, truly changed in our behaviour and, specifically, our relationship with the Internet. With the oft mentioned Chinese expression (pictogram above), in times of crisis, yes there is danger and great opportunities. The danger lies in the fact that the crisis may be worse than expected and certainly the Internet will not solve everything. And the Internet has its own dangers in terms of potentially dehumanizing relationships or rendering us captive to the 17″ screen…  That said, nonetheless, it is worth noting that since the Internet and the e-companies have already experienced their own bubble-bursting and crisis, they have created more durable models, filled with more substantial content and purpose.  In the process, Internet companies are (perhaps inherently less fat and) potentially more resistant to the current crisis than many brick & mortar brethren.

All the same, the economic crisis presents a golden opportunity for the Internet. How to play it? That will be the subject of another post. 

UPDATE FEB 8, 2009: I found this article written by Le Monde on Jan 30, 2009, showing that clearly this idea above is gaining traction in France:  La Recession accélère la rupture entre le virtuel et le réel.

Podcasts and Videocasts – New reasons to walk to work

Despite the sleek look & feel, I know that the Apple iPhone is still not perfect for my needs, so I have resisted the temptation thus far. Instead, I am content to max out my iPod. Although the agenda and contacts are weak applications in the Apple mobile platforms, I now have all my family videos and photos uploaded. And, thanks to the ongoing developments on iTunes, I have found ample pleasure by mining the available uploadable [mostly free] content, including the album covers, television rebroadcasts and podcasts.

If you have never done it, do go visit the podcast section of iTunes. The number of new podcasts being created is soaring (see graphic below). To those of you creating podcasts, keep at it! The choice ranges from newscasts to business to entertain to education to inspiration. And there are many special interests too. The development of the iTunes U section is absolutely fantastic: mobile learning with support systems to help educational institutions to learn how to do it (see this film for more understanding). I am currently subscribed to some 30 podcasts to which, of course, I cannot listen every day; but the repertoire provides great flexibility.

When do I listen to these podcasts? Walking to and from work, which takes me about 35 minutes to do the 2.8 kilometres. This is the novelty for me: like books on tape, podcasts are great for walking. At any one time, I can choose the podcast according to my mood, need or available time — and, of course, sometimes, I just listen to music. Unlike the commute in the metro which means many disjointed moments walking to the station, getting in the train for an all-too-short ride and then walking on to the office, I have an uninterrupted 35 minutes to myself when I commute by foot.

Walking to/from work with the iPod playing podcasts is a singularly great way to begin and end the day. Here are SIX substantial reasons why I strongly recommend it:

1. It is exercise in the open air (granted there is the pollution of cars, so I should theoretically get a mask to make it a healthier walk).
2. A chance to look up at the Parisian architecture rather than being cooped up all day.
3. It’s more ecological than driving or even taking the train — thereby reducing my CO2 footprint (which isn’t very good considering the flights all year).
4. It’s cheaper (than either the metro or car). We could all save a dime these days.
5. Considering the time spent circling to find a parking space, it is also oftentimes just as fast as driving. Moreover, by leaving my car at the underground parking lot at work, I avoid the unnecessary risk of leaving my car exposed for pigeon doodoo, or potential parking tickets.
6. And, the coup de grace is that I get to listen to the podcast with great attention. This latter point is critical for me (and I would argue for leading business managers) because, with the selection of podcasts now available, you can truly get new content to help drive your business or team.

For business leaders, there is a great selection of podcasts available. I have a few favourites that I would like to share with you (with links directly to iTunes):

o HARVARD Business Ideacast — This is a videocast.
o INSEAD Knowledgecast — Thoughtful videocast interviews with INSEAD professors and business people on a wide variety of subject — although this isn’t updated as regularly. You can get more content here in these INSEAD audiocasts.
o Go Green — Tips to go green and there’s also GreenTV, in partnership with UNEP and GreenPeace
o NPR’s This I believe — 500 words from someone that believes strongly in something
o Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixels of Separation for those wanting good web 2.0-oriented marketing and communications analysis and ideas.
o And finally, Robin Sharma’s inspirational podcasts

Do let me know if you have any other favourites you would like to share. Otherwise, get out your walking shoes and slide in to your next podcast.

Cell Phone Etiquette on Eurostar: It’s Not Good to Talk

It’s Good to Talk? An old British Telecom (BT) saying that’s not applicable for Eurostar … or any public transportation for that matter.

Having recently done a couple of Cell phone etiquetteround trips on the Eurostar I have made a few survey-of-one conclusions about the need for a standard of etiquette for cell phone usage on trains.

There is a severe need to reel in the mobile manners of travelers — and this before the airlines democratize cell phone usage on board. On these recent Eurostar trips between London and France, I started to make a mental note of the profiles of those who were prone to get up and be discrete with their telephone call and those who chose to make telephone calls while seated in the midst of their fellow passengers. Whilst my assessment obviously reflects the population on board, in terms of professional profiles, I detected a large number of lawyers [ironically] and other suits who tended not to mind talking openly. In terms of nationalities, I tended to hear more French. But, I am open for debate! [My recent experience at LAX has shown that the US traveller has equally little tact when it comes to his fellow partner.]

Cell Phone Etiquette - Discretion ObligeTyping on a computer, fiddling on the blackberry or listening to an Ipod hardly bother me. And if ever they do, hooking up a low volume Ipod is the perfect remedy. However, others speaking on the cell phone in such confined spaces do truly irritate me. Talking on your cell in the comfort of your [business class] seat demonstrates a total lack of courtesy to your fellow passengers. We have everything to learn from the etiquette of the Japanese who — admittedly reinforced with frequent public announcements — leave to find an isolated place to make an irritation-free telephone call. A culture of respect and cheap SMS are a good combination. Discretion oblige!

I know that many passengers in trains and buses around the world are also defying the most normal norms of politeness. Perhaps the transport companies will, themselves, have to intervene as they do in Japan? Otherwise, I fear the onset of liberalized mobile phone use on airplanes…

In the meantime, on line, you can find a myriad of sites giving their version of proper cell phone etiquette. Many of the ideas converge. Here are a few of them:

InfoworldThe Ten Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette. Right on the money in terms of the major faux-pas (or ne faut pas) with a good sense of humour.
About.comHow To Respect The Rules Of Cell Phone Etiquette. A substantially dry but appropriate 7 rules…with nuances according to the person/people around you.
WisegeekWhat is Cell Phone Etiquette, with eight good points here, including the 10 foot personal space.
Digital Media Wire12 Unwritten Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette with some rules that should be or could be written and others that, as Scott Goldberg suggests, should remain unwritten.

Motorcycle Helmet Day: Visit to Hanoi Vietnam – Part 3

Hanoi Vietnam Motorcyclists Without Helmets StillVisit to Hanoi Vietnam – Part 3 of a 3-part recount…Today is December 15th, an important day for motorcyclists in Vietnam:

Based on a personal survey, I would say that, up until a week ago (when I left), less than 5% of the scooter riders were wearing a helmet. With the photo to the left taken a week ago, you can see for yourselves [note the mobile “tea time”]. By itself, the absence of helmets is a statement on the value of life. During my stay, I witnessed five accidents where a scooter rider was sprawled out on the ground motionless. Every year there are reported to be 15,000 deaths on the road, with 80% due to cerebral damage. The ironic thing is that, today, December 15th, a new law is going into place in Vietnam to make wearing the helmet obligatory. There were several large Soviet-style posters dotted around town announcing the new legislation (right). With less than a week to go, when I was in Hanoi, I did not see people lining up Hanoi Vietnamto buy the helmets in the stores. I can only imagine the process of implementing the helmet law will take a good long time before (a) the police manage to pass along the message sufficiently, (b) the people find the resources to purchase the helmets and (c) the habits change such that no more than 3 people ride together (it is much harder, even more dangerous, to group ride if everyone were wearing a helmet).

Scooters are parked chock-a-block on the sidewalks. Some are even parked inside the shops. I saw one house with a car parked in the ground floor living room. Scooters are part of the daily life and represent, it seems for the majority, the way of life. Families, friends, colleagues, baggage, goods, livestock… You will find all grouped onto the the scooters. The record I saw was 6 adults (young kids) who clambered on together (although it was difficult for them to get started). I was simply fascinated by this way of life. You just about saw any combination. Parents with their two kids; sometimes an infant carried by the mother behind the husband. Many were fortunately wearing a mouth protection, of course, to avoid inhaling the ghastly pollution.

Anyway, in honor of the December 15th law, this post is to encourage ALL motorcyclists to wear helmets, wherever ye may be!

Meanwhile, among I have just a couple of final observations to share with you. As much as the messages may still controlled by the government, the young population is clearly getting plugged in to the outside world, despite the filters. The internet cafes (left) were systematically crammed with eager surfers.

And I save for last the merchandising magic of the jeans stores (photo right). The mannequins are placed in the street and ALL of them are turned around so that you can evaluate “properly” the way the jeans fall. Quite an astute marketing ploy, no? In this photo, I also half captured a live mannequin-slash-shopper.

And, finally, a quick blogroll of other interesting blogs of people commenting on Hanoi:

Lockportions from NY
Sri Kebatat Photo Blog
Peter – A life in Hanoi
And, Web Censorship in Vietnam from Global Voices Online

Global Power Rankings China versus ROW

China Global Power RankingChina is making progress up the Global Power Ranking if you count market caps.

Chinese publicly traded companies are now dominating the top 10 list of biggest market capitalizations worldwide. This Figaro article of 30 October highlighted that 5 out of the top 10 largest market caps are Chinese, including world #2 PetroChina at $446 billion USD, behind the ExxonMobil at $511 billion. China Mobile is fourth at $398B.

There are 3 US companies in the top 10 (ExxonMobil, GE #3 at $413B and Microsoft #6 with 327B). Royal Dutch Shell and Gazprom (Russian with $253B) round out the top 10. In other words, there is only one [true] European country represented.

Of course, this is just a snapshot before a currency revaluation, a downward shift in oil prices [what?] or another Enron were to occur. Nonetheless, it speaks to the prospective valuation of future earnings.

Another interesting slice of the top 10 shows that 5 of the companies are in Petrol & Gas, 3 are financial institutions (including GE which is classified as diversified financials by Fortune, but go figure), and 1 each for computer software & telecom.

On another angle, and not to be forgotten is the size according to sales… The Fortune 500 is still widely dominated by US companies (162) with Japan (67) #2 and France at #3 (with 38), just ahead of Germany (37) and England (33). Six of the top 10 are US and the first Chinese company in the Fortune 500 is Sinopec at #23, albeit with the fifth highest sales growth. But, one can expect the composition of the top 100 to change dramatically over the course of just the next five years.

Of note, tracing back the data from Fortune 500, as limited merely to US companies, there are now 4 financial-related companies in the Fortune 500 top 10, as opposed to just one basically since 1955 (always the same company, GE which, naturally, couldn’t always be considered a financial company). Since 1955, there have been between 3 and 4 oil & gas companies year in and year out, with communications and computer (IBM) rounding out the top 10 historically.

For an interesting blog and further reading about the shifting balance of power, visit Global Power Europe. Plenty of commentary and numbers on the world balance and the need for a stronger, united Europe. I also enjoyed this post from America vs the World, a subjective listing of the International Power Rankings dating to last year ,but still pertinent. Last posting on the topic was August 2006. I loved the fact that the Football World Cup is included in the concept. Note to Gordon: time to update! Meanwhile, thanks to Gordon, I found this link to an IHT article referring to Paris’ perception of the US and the terminology of ‘hyper power.”‘

And for a thread that seems plentiful and dynamic, try the World Affairs Board, Whose Who… Power Ranking. An interesting point: can a super power be a power if a large portion of its population remains illiterate?

SNCR – Spending on conversational marketing looking up

Spending on Conversational MarketingA new research study from SNCR says that spending on conversational marketing will outstrip traditional marketing by 2012. Commissioned by New Communications Review (SNCR, run by Jen McClure), and Joe Jaffe, the study shows some interesting figures and projections from 260 respondents (and I quote):

* 70% are currently spending 2.5% or less of their communications budgets on conversational marketing

* Two-thirds plan to increase their investment in conversation within the next twelve months

* 81% of marketers believe that in 5 years (ie. 2012) they’ll be spending as much or more on conversational marketing vs. traditional marketing

And, as one could expect, there will be challenges. The study cites the following foreseeable obstacles for investing in conversational marketing:

“Manpower restraints” – 51.1%

“Fear of loss of control” – 46.9%

“Inadequate metrics” – 45.4%

“Culture of their organizations” – 43.5%

“Difficulty with internal sell-through” – 35.8%

SNCR New Media NetworksNaturally, the challenge will also be about getting the message right, into the right hands via the right tools. Presumably material that Joe will be covering in his about-to-be-released Join the Conversation!

At the same time, I believe that technology will be taking us to new unforeseen spaces namely in the mobile arena. Clearly, the short attention span and the limited text/visual zone offered by mobile technology are well suited to one another. And, the role of permission marketing will evolve dramatically as well such that the cost per subscriber or cost per consumer reached will ultimately even out. That is to say, there will be window of opportunity for the early movers. Then there will be a tipping point. And finally the cost of production and necessary resources to get the message out through the media noise will inevitably require greater investments to overcome the crowded media field and personalized filters.

Of course, the pace of conversion of traditional marketing dollars into conversational marketing will depend very much on the countries too — despite the global (if still monolingual) nature of the consumer on line. I have new term that I’d like to trademark: the MONLINEGUAL©. Definition: a mashup (or portmanteau) of monolingual & online.