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Tomorrow Apple is announcing a lower cost iPhone along with its latest version of the new iPhone – what will that be the 6?  (Were he around, Steve Jobs would have killed the number thing.)  Anyway, as mentioned last week and long before, I think the Nokia/Microsoft strategy will be to cover the planet with Windows-based smarties and the way to do that will be, though a nice phone at a low, low price. Sold at cost (or a hair below), these Windows phone 8 Nokia hardware devices will be cheaper than two rounds of drinks with your signif. at a NYC hotel bar. Before tip.  I’m thinking US$49.  That’s my price point and I’m sticking to it.

Messrs. Ballmer and friends will create a Costco-priced, beautiful smart phone and price it in a way that the ROW (rest of world) will be hard pressed to ignore. It will offer the cool tiles interface, a good camera and enough design panache to bump iPhone and Androids growth aside for a while.

Rather than pay taxes or sit on the billions in the bank, MSFT is going to be bold and give people without smarties an affordably priced piece of hardware (and software) — effectively buying market share.  It will lose then make them billions. It’s a nuh-uh brainer.  (Go Geno and the Jets.)

And, of course, peace!

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As smart phone penetration increases (we are at 61% according to Nielsen), marketers and software developers are working hard to pierce the skins of those devices and turn them into selling machines. And cash registers. As someone who works in the business of selling and who proudly claims to be “always on” when it comes to consumer behavior, I am decidedly “off”  when it comes to intrusive sales pitches. I don’t like telemarketers. I cringe at the approach of door-to-door sales people. And long paper coupons on sales receipts revive my inner tree hugger.  

Using geo-tracking and store Wi-Fi many retailers are able to track our smarties, bounce to the database and enhance (their word not mine) our shopping experience.  Enhance meaning increase the ring or ticket value. Help me find something I really want and need and that’s great. Spa-zam me, not great.

There are going to be a number of ham-handed uses of this retail technology over the next few years. And it will taint the good practice. If it feels as if our privacy is being compromised, if it feels like an intrusion, it is a poor application. My recommendations to retailers is to let customers opt-in to these new services. The work real hard on the app and the delivery.  Make shoppers want to turn on the app. Make the apps killer and endemic to the store brand and everyone will want to participate.  That’s activation. Peace.    


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You’ve heard it said before “Boston is s young city.” Demographically that is.  Lots of college kids, lots of city stuff – it’s a big draw for Millennials and younger adults.   The New York Times is selling off the Boston Globe.  The New York Times, after taking a major shot in the chops, has pulled its financials together under the guise of the old marketing saw “focus,” and been selling a  number of non-core properties – was let loose a while ago.

Here’s the thing, The New York Times is a brilliant newspaper and news property. One of a kind. The Boston Globe is also quite good.  But the captains of industry in Boston are reading the Times. The problem with the newspaper business is kids aren’t reading paper papers. Walk around Boston and count how many upward mobes are carrying newspapers. They have smarties and iPads but no paper.

The NY Times has to see this and plan a generation ahead – and it know this.  The NYT is in the news business, not the paper business – and it knows this. The company can take all the Mexican bailout money it wants to right the ship but the future is the future and it’s coming. Knowing and doing are two different things. Don’t follow the new financial statements, look out the window.

Selling the Boston Globe may fund innovation but this news property needs to demonstrate it is looking and planning beyond the dashboard. Peace.


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