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Strategy Bounty.

I’m in a hurry this morning. Heading to Orient Point for a ferry to Connecticut then on to see Pearl Jam at Fenway Park in Boston, MA, It’s great being human.  Anyway, I will only post a short one today (as if they aren’t all short.) 

Apple has decided to offer bug bounties to hackers for any software glitches found in their software. Very contrary to Apple’s position of bug-free software it has been lauding over Microsoft for so many years. Still it’s a good move.  

I’m going to riff on the idea and ask companies to offer “strategy bounties” to brand planners. I’d love to look at a brand strategy for a company and ID any anomalies for money. Who will my first payor?


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I’m not sure how I feel about Microsoft’s plans to purchase LinkedIn.  Microsoft’s vison as a professional cloud co. sounds like it should marry with LinkedIn’s professional network co., but to date Microsoft just doesn’t seem to have a lot of luck with vision purchases.  I thought Nokia would end up a great idea. My post about lowering the prices point for smart phones around the globe never happened.  

LinkedIn lost money last year. Jeff Weiner and Reid Hoffman are so use to success, it must have been a smelling salts moment.  The buyout money was too attractive. When you are on a rapid rise you don’t have time to think sale. As the corner turns however one starts to consider.

I hope LinkedIn stays independent (under Microsoft) as Satya Nadella suggests. I’m worried it won’t. And don’t get me wrong, I am a Microsoft fan. Still a believer in the Windows phones. Still a big believer in Mr. Satya’s productivity focus.  But it’s the “buy your way to success” mentality that is the concern. It’s not very Gates-ian.  Bill Gates was a ruthless builder.

Still not sure about this purchase. It’s ballsy. If pushed to make a bet, I’d sadly say nay.

Peace to all.                



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Microsoft has blown billions on the mobile phone business. Yes, billions. The Nokia purchase was smart I thought but never got its head above water. All the problems can be tracked back to marketing.   Marketing is best defined by the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion).  The product, sadly was the first misstep. The handsets could have been differentiated and weren’t. The tiles software is still a good bet, but it could have gone farther to draw in desktop features. Desktop tendrils. The cloud utility and automatic back-up of photos was clunky and poorly executed.  With Price, they should have won the day.  As I wrote in posts years ago, Microsoft could have bought share by giving away low end Windows OS smart phones. Didn’t happen.

Promotion didn’t happen – or if it did I didn’t see an ad.  As for place, they ceded control of handsets to HTC and others (after the Nokia hardware group was trimmed) making it hard to actually find a Windows phone at a Verizon store.

Satya Nadella should be applauded for focusing the company. However, mobile was not a business he should have left. People are carrying two mobile phones around for God’s sake. It may be a growth business…ya think?



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I had three meetings yesterday in the city (NYC) all of which touched upon the on-demand economy. My first was with a strategist leaving full-time employ for a freelance arrangement. Following a merger and reorg, this senior employee was thought to be more valuable as an on-demand or freelance employee. This planner also now has a business card from another agency, as chief planning officer, for use in on-demand situations. My picture, BTW, is on a couple of company websites as a brand strategist (stringer?), but these are just bits in the ether.

we work

My two other meetings were at We Work campuses. We Work offices are “rent ‘em when you need’em” places that provide full office services, on demand. It’s a wonderful business model if not a little “Just Mayo.” The upside of We Work facilities is they tend to be peopled by a younger generation of workers who are good fits for the agile on-demand economy. For start-ups and end-ups, We Work is a great solution. I suspect We Work’s will soon come in flavors and one day account for 40% of NYC rent, but that’s a tale for another day.

Suffice it to say, the on-demand nature of business today is an exciting response to the times. In a deck I did for JWT, Microsoft’s ad agency a few years ago, I called foretold of this phenomenon with a slide on the “Logged and Tagged Workplace.” A place where individual workers become less important and their work product and assets more. Another cool, if unsettling, concept.


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There will be a time in the future when virtual reality glasses will be as common as mobile phones. Perhaps more so. We’ll look back at the failed Google Glass project and whatever first generation of Oculus VR goggles are released and see what we saw when we look back at the AT&T EO and Apple Newton. It won’t be just a virtual reality device, it will offer lots of comms and locational services. These devices will be small, unobtrusive and agile.

How soon will they be here? I’m guessing 2020. Who will devise them? Facebook, Samsung, maybe Sony, and possibly Microsoft. They will probably be free, paid for by advertising. But ads won’t look like they do today, they will more likely be on-demand, Siri-like request and response services.

It’s going to be wild. Count on it.





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I’ve written about the brand diaspora as it relates to Microsoft. Diaspora meaning “the spread or dissemination of something originally confined to a local, homogeneous group, as a language or cultural institution.” It’s a topic about which a very boring branding book could be written.

It will be very interesting to see how Amazon handles branding as it continues to take over the retail world. On Long Island, 52 A&P stores are being sold or closed. Wal-Mart earning have slowed, only being kept positive by international sales. Online commerce accounts for a growing portion of all things purchased and it’s not slowing down. Ask real estate sales people – count the brown paper covered windows in local strip malls.

En masse, retail is changing — and the winner is and will continue to be Amazon. Amazon is getting into the industrial distribution business. Hear that MSC Direct? Hear that Grainger? Do you think Mr. Bezos is not thinking about food distribution logistics? And ways to make locally sourced food products cheaper to purchase and deliver?

The future is not now. But one can see it in blurry focus…and Amazon will def be at its center. Plan ahead defenders.



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I posted yesterday about Verizon’s purchase of AOL and how it begged the need for a “single user identifier” to maximize ad revenue across devices. A mobile phone number is an individual identifier, but it doesn’t integrate cleanly with that individual’s IP address or cable TV account number. I wrote a futures piece for Microsoft a few years ago in which I talked about the “Logged and Tagged Society.” Well, consumers are certainly tagged, but their log-ins are all screwed up. An analog for this is electronic medical records in the healthcare world. Also all screwed up. In the future each person will have a single user identifier and when that comes about, the ad platform people will have more context for smart sales than ever before.

An article in the NYT today quoted Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth (note to self, follow him on Twitter) saying “Are ads even relevant now? Do they even make sense on mobile? If all information is indexable and searchable, then what purpose does an ad serve?” He’s partly correct. But with a single user identifier in a logged and tagged society, ad serving will be more contextual and so much more powerful. Sadly, the nerds will take over and the creative people will be pushed aside to a degree. Creative selling is still a fundie of marketing and may take a hit in this mobile ad served/cookied era. But is will be back. We are not droids.


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Or keep it in the cloud. That’s the big technology question of the 21st century. That’s the big bet. As a brand planner who likes to operate “beyond the dashboard,” I love looking into behavior, purchase patterns and technology advances trying to come up with macro commercial trends.

Nokia decided it was not good at small handheld devices (after killing it for decades) and sold its device business to Microsoft. This, at a time when Apple was creating continents of wealth in handhelds. Microsoft paid $7.2B for the (shitty) Nokia phone business. (Como se speaker problems with Lumias?) And now, Nokia with its big iron phone and internet switch business intact is looking to purchase Alcatel/Lucent. This is Nokia’s raising its hand in favor of cloud vs. devices.

It wasn’t that long ago when computers were big. Phones got smaller. Comms devices of every stripe shrunk into wearables. And now chips, screens, software and apps are getting so good and “thin” that funationality and decisions are moving into the network (cloud) and in our future “tons” of devices will move into the landfill. Literally.

The Apple Watch people are breathing this stuff daily. I’ll bet Apple’s very best engineers are deployed against all this miniaturization. And all that intelligence has to move somewhere. Apple might be smart to start thinking about the switch (software) business too. That’s my bet.

Ain’t this fun? Peace.


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People as Brands.

I am not a brand. Kim Kardashian is not a brand. People are not brands yet we hear this type of cheese every day in our culture. (Maybe Kim is, Microsoft Word spell checks her last name.)  Brands can be managed. They can be accountable. Even bespoke brands. But people? People can’t be managed. Too many moving parts. Oh and while we’re at it, you can befriend a person, you can’t be a friend with a brand.

Okay back to work. Peace!


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Couple of things.

There is a new tech writer gaining momentum. His name is Farhad Manjoo and he writes the “State Of The Art” column in The New York Times. Read him, you will get smarter.  Since the half-funny, very good tech analyst David Poque left the confines of the Times for Yahoo, I’ve been seeking a Walter Mossberg-like writer at the Times. Mr. Manjoo may be it. He’s bold, thoughtful, not averse to homework and understands the tech user. Great writers are prescient when it comes to trends and usability, so let’s see if he can keep it up.

His column today was about Amazon. And that’s the second thing. Everybody knows Jeff Bezos is a tech top dog. Amazon’s journey has been fun to watch. Unlike Microsoft, whose cash cow(s) allowed it to buy and launch a number of public duds, Mr. Bezos has launched a luncheonette’s worth of products with varying degrees of success. From books to retail to devises to video and shipping, Amazon touches more consumers in more ways than most brands. Add to that Mr. Bezos move into publishing and one can assume the data he retrieves and the behaviors he notes are preparation for other very interesting plays. But unlike Microsoft, Amazon doesn’t get dinged in the press and among tech elites. 

The difference between Amazon and Microsoft is that Microsoft pizzled away money on new endeavors but always kept a huge bank — Amazon on the other hand continues to lack any meaningful profit.

As a brand planner, Amazon confounds me. As a consumer and business dude I really like them. For a first-to-market company, they do a lot of second-to-market things.

Messrs. Manjoo and Bezos are players. And both are going to be exciting to watch. Peace.


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