Posts Tagged ‘Digital World’

The Power of Six in a World of Digital Change

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Power of 6 finalFor the last six years I’ve been examining and commentating on Digital Life Renaissance 2.0, the term that my partner, Steve Benton, and I coined to describe the world as we saw it emerging in late 2008, following our escape from corporate life to become independent analysts, advisors and entrepreneurs.

There’s probably never a good time to start a journey in life like this and, looking back with hindsight, this was probably the worst time we could have chosen! 2008 was the start of the global meltdown and, as a consequence, everyone was narrowing their focus on how to survive over the next 3 months. It didn’t matter whether you were a corporate CEO or employee, uncertainty and fear were a daily reality back then.

One of the most significant theories of networking is that everything is connected and that we’re only ever six connections away from someone or something. I was recently invited to DLD (Digital-Life-Design), an interesting “invite-only” conference in New York. This conference was initiated ten years ago by Yossi Vardi, a legendry Israeli entrepreneur, and managed by Steffi Czerny of the Hubert Burda Media Company; it has become a must-attend preamble to the Davos World Economic Forum. This year, DLD crossed the Atlantic for the first time, offering a high profile speaker and attendee list, and the conference covered an eclectic assortment of digital life topics from economics, monetization, media, brands, music, arts, to Internet of Things, neuroscience and consciousness.

After six years as an independent analyst examining the world of Digital Renaissance, I’ve clocked up well over 20,000 hours of knowledge and expertise in the area; I was therefore amazed to discover at the DLD conference two weeks ago that, as much time as I’ve invested here, I’ve only been skimming the surface of the phenomenal change that’s occurring. This was the first time that I’ve witnessed the real breadth of this change so succinctly exposed and exquisitely showcased as work in rapid progress.

The overwhelming impression that I came away with from the DLD conference is that there is not one aspect of the life that we’re living today that is not, has not or will not be touched by the digital force that’s consuming human thinking. The opportunities and possibilities have never been greater, and the urgency for us to understand and harness this knowledge is paramount.

So what is the “power of six” beyond my six years of learning and the six degrees of separation? “The Power of Six” was the theme of one of the DLD conference sessions that focused on the power of reductionism, to simplify and clarify in times of chaos. It’s the ability, as Hemmingway advised other writers, to “boil it down” and “know what to leave out”; the six word tag line of advertising that captures the essence of an idea. It’s translating this to Twitter where, if you can’t express your idea in a tweet, then you really don’t have an idea. In other words, with such rapid change occurring, it’s vital to simplify in order to help people grasp and understand what’s going on.

The power of six also refers to the persistently interruptive world that we have created with social media, email, messaging and online marketing that consumes our lives. Today, six seconds is often all the time you have to grab someone’s interest, and the six images that convey a broader story and context around those six words could well be critical to your success. The ability of the human brain to interpret and absorb images in order to comprehend the whole is greater than with words alone. Additionally, these images will probably be delivered on a screen of six inches or less, confirming that this really is a digital mobile world.

At the DLD conference, Scott Kurnit, CEO of Keep Holdings, identified that it took thirty seven attempts for him to repeat his message before his company finally embraced mobile, as opposed to relying on digital and web-only mechanisms for change. To me, this is “six to the power of six plus one”. In other words, I believe that persistence is the true key to success, particularly when faced with the evangelical task of converting people to a mobile mindset, and this has become my goal and the prime focus of my company, KeySo Global.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC.

Has Google Seeded the Future of Mobile?

Monday, February 10th, 2014

This past week’s news was dominated by Apple struggling to fulfill Wall Street’s expectations, Samsung’s proposal to reinvent itself as a software company and, the coup de grace, Google selling Motorola to Lenovo. All of these events reveal an industry in transition.

Smartphones, as we know, have transformed the mobile experience for consumers but have hardly changed since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. They have become faster, bigger and have more sensors but they remain square, slim screens that in developed markets cost around $400. In this scenario Samsung and Apple have thrived, sucking out 90% of the industry profitability.

ARA Motorola projectClearly, the future for smartphones lies in the emerging markets where the next 2 to 3 billion devices will be sold and the price point will be closer to $100. So will these two giants still dominate or will Chinese players such as Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad and an army of white label manufacturers take over this space? Is the smartphone/mobile industry about to enter the commoditization phase?

Against this background it was interesting to see that Google is holding on to the Advanced Technology team that is developing the Ara endoskeleton phone design system, which was revealed late last year. Also revealed was a partnership with Phonebloks with the intent of creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to work with the software developers that support Android. The initial offerings will probably not be successful but the following should be taken into consideration:  for the past few years chip manufacturers have been producing ever more capable systems on chip designs, two examples being Qualcomm’s Snapdragon that dominates the smartphone space and Intel’s Edison for the M2M and Internet of Things space. With the advent of 3D manufacturing and ever more capable components, the concept of a spine that acts as a connector may be the catalyst for a fundamental rethink of devices.

Eco-mobIt is no coincidence that ZTE presented a concept design, Eco-Mobius, at CES 2014 that uses a sliding track enabling users to assemble and disassemble screens, core processors, memory, camera and battery; here the concept of “customize your own device” seems to coincide with a growing interest in wearables. The future may well see the fusion of these two trends with fashion styling enabling devices to fit seamlessly into peoples’ lives.

Discussions around the Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and the Internet of Me are all about the future pervasiveness of mobile connectivity across multiple industries as well as the “always on” digital world we live in. These modular architecture concepts that Google and ZTE are experimenting with will help facilitate this. But, more importantly, since Google excels at building ecosystems, if they succeed in creating an ecosystem of hardware developers to fuse with software companies, the future of mobile will see a complete change. Google may well have seeded the future direction of the industry in a way that only a few of us have foreseen.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

2014: The Year of Digital Renaissance?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Digi Renaissance firework 2013As fireworks fill the skies tonight and 2013 comes to a close, it seems a good time to reflect on the current state of the telecoms and ICT industries, and what has changed in the last five years. Having just participated in the 2013 ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok, this gave me the opportunity to assess whether the Digital Renaissance that we at KeySo Global have being predicting has in fact transpired.

In 2009 the world was reeling from 12 months of global financial turbulence and anxiety levels were high. WiMAX was causing angst for U.S. carriers and the iPhone was forcing the rethinking of how Wi-Fi and cellular could effectively inter-operate. Data congestion on overloaded 3G networks designed for voice was reaching critical levels as operators adjusted to the realities of YouTube video upload and downloads. The European markets and technology suppliers were firmly in control of the industry, with Nokia the dominant handset supplier controlling 38% of the 1.1 billion phones sold that year. Apple, on the other hand, was gaining credibility and achieved a respectable 2%. ICT was the main theme of the conference as cellular held center stage with 67% market penetration, having enabled 4.6 billion people globally to have access to personal communication capability. In 2009 the prime discussion, therefore, was around internet connection and the role that mobile could play here.

graphic oneFast forward to the 2013 conference in Asia and the global economy, having experienced five years of unprecedented instability, is still in a volatile state where virtually every treasured economic rulebook has been proven ineffective in controlling a 24/7 interconnected digital world. This has been facilitated in part due to cellular penetration reaching 96% and 6.8 billon people having access to cellular – 3.5 billion of whom are in the Asia Pacific region. More significantly, the number of people now online has increased from 26% to 39%. The single biggest contributor to this has been mobile broadband access which has grown from below 10% in 2009 to 30% penetration this year. This growth is closely tied to smartphone growth as well as the availability of lower cost data packages.  In 2009 smartphonesgraphic 2 accounted for approximately 10% of handset shipments, whereas in the 3rd quarter of 2013 smartphones totaled 250 million units, over 55% of total phone shipments that quarter. The biggest loser in this dramatic shift in emphasis towards smartphones and operating systems has been Nokia, but others such as Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Sharp, Rim, HTC and Motorola have been damaged along the way, to greater or lesser degrees, by the shift to an Android world.

In conclusion, we are living in a far more connected world than we were five years ago. However, the extent to which the interconnection of this increasingly complex human digital and physical world is understood is limited and the ripple effects of these technologies on industry structures have only just started to appear. Telecoms and ICT are certainly not immune to these, as we have seen, but within the next five years we will see the boundary industries of automotive, medical, retail, utilities and manufacturing become increasingly subject to the transformative effects of the mobile internet.

Of greater interest will be the unanticipated consequences that will undoubtedly emerge from the mobile internet and Internet of Things blending with big data analytics, and the unavoidable impact this will have on digital life and behaviors. As an increasingly urbanized planet adopts these technologies to facilitate ever smarter cities, the opportunities for ICT to make a difference to societies are colossal – but the question is how to bring the people along with these changes, and instill trust in them that technology will be used for good and that ethical government will prevail? Clearly, the recent Snowden revelations on the NSA and other agencies have given everyone pause for thought.

As we enter 2014, it is clear that the Digital Renaissance is technically well underway but the structural and behavioral implications are only just beginning to emerge and, when they do surface, I suspect that the predominant challenges we face will be societal. In shaping the future of this brave new world we need to engage its citizens, understand their needs and manage the “Faustian bargain” that will be a fine balance between a surveillance state and the right to privacy. None of these challenges are unsurmountable but they are ones that will need careful monitoring, open conversations and perseverance on the part of governments, industry and citizens around the globe.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

The Value of a Global Mobile Mindset

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Over breakfast the other morning with a former Motorola colleague, we reflected on how we had both been part of teams and companies that had created two exponential growth industries:  cellular and, most recently, the mobile internet – both technologies and industries that have drastically changed and still are re-shaping lives, societies and economies today.

Being part of this transformation can’t help but influence and shape you as an individual; to have lived through an era where the rate of growth outstripped supply of components and capacity on a global basis was no trivial experience.

As a result of this, having a “global mobile mindset” has become part of my DNA. I believe that I intuitively think differently, and deliberately look for the inter-connections and the multiplier effects. Boundaries and borders between business, industry and nation states are historic and do not reflect the flows of knowledge and trade that are enabled in a digital mobile world.  I look at how humans interact with systems, things and other people whilst in motion. Nothing that used to be static or fixed remains that way any longer, and the systems and business models that support the current status quo are subject to continuous disruption.  I tend to assess each situation that I encounter with this broad and open minded approach, and pose the question “how can mobility fundamentally change current assumptions or remove existing constraints?”

As part of my consultancy practice, I now apply this honed intuitive capability and process to help traditional companies and industries look at how the mobile internet, as well as the emerging Internet of Things, can create seismic opportunities for growth. I have translated over 30 years of international experience and best practices into an adaptive solution to client needs. However, there are only a handful of companies that are readily open to this approach; the reason being that strategic innovation requires venturing away from familiar ground into uncharted territory – and that requires courage and leadership.

As a manager, do you consider yourself to be a strategic visionary or digital leader of change that intuitively senses the impending shifts in your industry? If so, you are our natural client and we can help. What we bring are unique insights, frameworks and valuable experience that can help you reshape the way you perceive your industry, and an adaptive methodology to accelerate the strategic innovation plan needed to drive your company into the digital age.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Wealthy in a Virtual Nation State

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Having lived and worked outside of England, my home country, for a total of 23 years – in Germany for 8 years and most recently for 15 years in the US – I’ve come to appreciate that the concept of the nation state is a very unique and real phenomenon but that most people don’t understand exactly what it is or how the digital world is forcing it to change.

A nation state is defined as a political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by people sharing a common culture, history and language, and this concept dates right back to the treaty of Munster, Germany in 1648. Today, however, television, the internet and the expansion of mobile communications are forcing increased globalization of culture and language to occur, and as a result the original concept of the nation state is being constantly challenged and, in some cases, eroded.

If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to live and work in multiple countries, you cannot help but appreciate that each one has its own national workplace culture.  In a Financial Times article earlier this year about the cultural challenges faced by foreign CEOs, Rob Goffee of the London Business School identified that a key ability is to understand how to adapt without abandoning ones original values:  “the skillful executive balances who they are with where they are”. This has become especially relevant as an increasing number of executives from my home country are relocating to head up US based companies, and a wave of UK start-ups are crossing the Atlantic in search of broader market opportunities.  But just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean that it’s all smooth sailing!

From an early age,  Americans are taught self-advocacy and a strong emphasis is placed on self-belief. We Brits, on the other hand, are known for our self-deprecation (even extending to our sense of humor) and this can be a challenge for us in the US workplace. As Alex Kelleher, founder of Cognitive Match, was recently quoted as saying in an article in the Financial Times: “the market here (in the US) definitely likes the confident, self-assured “winner” approach… and while sometimes self-deprecation can be seen as endearing, it may not be ideal in a competitive environment over here”. I couldn’t agree more! I’ve come to realize that, in an increasingly globalized world, it’s very often the small, subtle cultural nuances that still exist but tend to be overlooked when businesses think about relocating, hiring or partnering overseas.

I was also reminded of an article by Adam Haslett that appeared in the Financial Times in 2010 where he identified that, as a Brit living in the U.S., he had “always felt a pessimist among optimists in the U.S. and as an optimist among pessimists in Britain”. In the past, I myself have experienced a sense of not belonging to any one specific nation, of being almost “mid-Atlantic”. Today, however, with the rapid and widespread growth of digital technologies across geographical boundaries, I now find myself experiencing a new phenomenon of living in a “virtual nation state” where language, cultures and political philosophies merge, and openness of thinking is the currency of success. I feel wealthy; not in financial terms, but because of the breadth of knowledge and the degree of perception and understanding I’ve acquired from experiencing different cultures, both first hand and “virtually”. The enviable challenge that I face is how to share this “global mindset” and enlightened world view with people who can make a difference. Perhaps self-deprecating humor really is the way forward!

Having worked in a variety of geographical areas across the globe, we at KeySo Global have acquired the flexible mindset needed to understand and adapt to the different business cultures that we have been part of. We are eager to share our experiences with you and help you guide your business through the often turbulent waters of overseas expansion. For more information contact us at info@keysoglobal.com.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Digital Awareness – a Critical Component for Success

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

A key pillar of our work at KeySo Global is the belief that digital technology has significantly impacted and changed the digital lives of every one of us, and that systems and business models are consequently having to adapt to meet multiple stakeholders’ expectations.

Business models are dynamic and unique, and are a reflection of historic development, management personalities, economic and business environments, customer and channel requirements as well as resource, assets and technology. As much as humans like stability, no business model stays the same, no matter how perfect it seems at the time.  In their 2001 book entitled “How Digital Is Your Business” Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison compared the brilliance of the Dell business model with competitors like HP, Compaq and, at that time, struggling Apple. Dell spent limited amounts on R&D, leveraged a choice board for consumers to design their own PC, and outsourced manufacturing to Taiwan and distribution logistics to FedEx; this was seen as a virtue at the time when compared with HP, Compaq and Apple. Technology and a successful business model don’t guarantee success if a company doesn’t keep up with consumer need changes or fails to innovate. The focus that Apple placed on user experience changed the game; in recent news we’ve seen how Dell’s business model is now struggling to compete against the growth of smartphones, tablets and cloud services – particularly those of Apple.

Being aware and responding to developments around you is a significant and important part of senior management responsibility. We strongly advocate the interaction with external resources that will bring a different perspective to a business. Utilizing “thought leaders” or tools that allow the current situation to be viewed from a different vantage point can greatly strengthen a company’s thinking and focus. As the saying goes “no single event makes a trend” but the search, listing and assembly of data from multiple sources can enable companies to recognize emerging patterns and opportunities, particularly in complementary industries where competitive shifts in business models could be applicable.

Over the last few weeks I’ve observed in the news a number of noteworthy events that will, I’m sure, impact multiple industries. I’ve listed these below, together with what I believe are the broader implications for business.

Recent news events:

  • Online clothes shopping hit 10% of U.S. sales.
  • Macy’s overall sales increased by 11.7% and their online sales increased by 48.9%.
  • H&M and Inditex – European fashion retailers – are reported tochange their in-store clothing range every two weeks.
  • 15% of shopping malls will close in the U.S. over the next five years.
  • Amazon’s fourth-quarter sales were down but their margins increased.
  • Netflix develops streamed original content (House of Cards) targeted at “cord cutters” abandoning cable and satellite TV.
  • Traditional Procter & Gamble partners with crowd sourcing venture capitalists “Circle Up” for new ideas and innovation.
  • BSkyB in the U.K. introduces advertising based on localized demographics and TV program choice.

Digital implications for your business:

  • smartphones and tablets have changed consumer behavior patterns i.e. online couch shopping and mobile price comparison
  • traditional T.V. advertising is losing its effectiveness
  • the digital consumer expects broader and more frequently refreshed product lines
  • digital business models enable diverse competitive offerings
  • traditional business models now embrace crowd sourcing and funding

If they haven’t already done so, these implications and others like them are likely to impact your business model. My message here is that you need to become aware of digital change and be prepared to do something about it. Have you checked to see if neighboring industries and competitors are already responding to the urgent need to adapt? The big question is – are you? Are you ready to take the first steps towards adopting a digital strategy, one that will strengthen your competitive position in today’s digital marketplace?

We at KeySo Global can help. To discuss how you can structure a digital strategy innovation session, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President KeySo Global

Is Higher Education Set to Cross the Digital Frontier?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Change usually only occurs when competing forces conspire to cause it or behaviors are adopted that necessitate it. Higher education and universities are ripe for change but they also have a tendency to resist it. These institutions have a long tradition of establishing prestigious courses and faculties, the cost of which in recent years has become prohibitive for the average student. The traditional model of students receiving instruction from and interacting one-on-one with learned professors has gradually given way to large over-crowded lecture halls, compulsory reading lists and standardized testing, as economics not excellence has shaped university education..

The impact that the digital age is having on everyday life is changing consumer expectations, and consequently challenging the established educational model. The widespread availability of wireless broadband, mobile devices, video lectures and online course material is facilitating the “massive online open course” (MOOC) which is accessible to large and diverse groups of students. The high cost of full-time education and the uncertainty of employment mean that many young people today are looking to work and study in parallel – and MOOC offers the ideal solution. It also supports those who are looking to supplement their existing education and skills and are more interested in gaining knowledge than qualifications.

Tablets and e-readers, according to McGraw-Hill, have the ability to transform not only the textbook and the individual educational experience but also the whole testing process. During a presentation at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, McGraw-Hill described “LearnSmart”, their new adaptive technology program where a student reads a digital textbook on a tablet or e-reader and is asked a series of on-going questions that assess their understanding of what they have read. Subsequently their reading materials are adjusted according to their level of knowledge and understanding.  On this basis, a room full of students or an online group reading a text will all be receiving highly personalized and tailored instruction to help them attain the same required level of understanding. By tracking the results, answers given and also a student’s keyboard strokes it is possible to ascertain and validate their individual performance for the purposes of testing and certification.

The digital and online world is reshaping our cognitive capabilities and, according to some experts, using the Internet to search for information is causing us to “externalize” our memories rather than having to use them to process and store information. While enhancing our logical capabilities, the online world is also hindering our ability to develop the skills of empathy – an emotion that has apparently shown a decline in young people. Empathy is learned over time through social interaction and by reading others’ facial expressions, so if face time is replaced with Facebook time, the implications for enhanced interpersonal skills and moral decision-making could be significant.

One of the advantages of a traditional university education is that it enables young people to interact and develop social skills. In a recent article about Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City,  it was pointed out that an average C-student attending Johns Hopkins University in the early 1960s – which he was – could be transformed into a social and political star through the interactions, experiential learning and networking skills that are an integral part of a four-year residential education. With increased applications for MOOC courses, the new digital educational environment needs to be reconsidered and other options need to be examined. These could include the utilization of enhanced virtual reality conference facilities that enable virtual face-to-face experiences and networking opportunities that supplement real-world social interactions.

Whatever happens, the shape of education and learning from pre-school through to university and beyond is likely to change dramatically over the next five years as the pace of technological progress continues to accelerate and people adopt it more readily into their lives.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Can Small Innovators Take Center Stage at CES?

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

I’ve just returned from Las Vegas where, as an analyst, I attended the largest International Consumer Electronics Show ever. Having walked not only the 1.92 million square feet, or 37 football fields, of exhibition space but also the 1.6 miles between the Venetian and the LVH Convention Center every day, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be impossible for me to get to see all of the 3,250 exhibitors with their 20,000 new products.

In an exhibition of this size, three very different methods of announcing products and demonstrating innovation have had to evolve. The first approach that flagship brands adopt is to create a “wow factor” for their product reveal to keep it top of mind. Here the product is placed center stage on massive booths, features at the center of elaborate and expensive keynotes, and is the focus of high visibility “invite only” press launches and parties, examples of which have been hitting mainline media all week.

The second method of product announcement is to facilitate one of the many closed door discussions that take place in ritzy hotel suites across Vegas; high ranking company execs are ferried back and forth to meetings by retained limos, and a bizarre and almost ritualistic protocol determines who meets with whom, according to status. Whatever the end result, these movers and shakers have a full dance card for the entire time they are in Vegas and have little or no opportunity to see the third, and in some ways most interesting, type of product exhibition.

Here an ecosystem of small domestic and international manufacturers and innovators prevails. Their products and developments are displayed in the hope that the right buyer, scout, analyst or media representative will serendipitously stumble upon them. These displays are not the fancy booths of the larger players but are instead the pop-ups you find at the Venetian or the periphery stands in the big halls of LVH through which, sore feet allowing, you sometimes wander.

So if innovation is at the heart of CES, as their press release suggests, then maybe a rethink of the conference and exhibition format is needed in order to expose this tertiary ecosystem of small innovators, and enable them to become the powerhouse of growth for tomorrow’s consumer electronics industry.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global   

For additional perspectives on this year’s CES contact me at steve.bell@keysoglobal.com or at 847-478-1633. Visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com

Consumer Electronic Trends to Watch – Live Report from CES in Las Vegas

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Shawn DuBravac,  Chief Economist and Director of Research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) identified in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday four critical trends that will shape the future of the consumer electronics industry.

The Post Smartphone Era

Penetration of smartphones in the U.S. has surpassed the 52% mark but more significantly tablets have doubled their penetration in just 12 months, moving from 22% to 44%. In today’s digital world where multiple devices are commonplace in every household, these effectively act as hubs. They are mechanisms for accessing additional technologies, from door locks to health and fitness applications, and act as “second screens” for controlling security, domestic appliances, cars and TV’s. DuBravac referred to smartphones and tablets as “viewfinders into our digital lives”.

The Age of Algorithms

Prior to 2001 most information captured was analogue. With the continual reduction of cost for processing and sensors, more and more devices now have the capability to collect, communicate and share information digitally. In the U.S. there will be 350 million IP addressable devices sold in 2013 and about 1 billion worldwide. In reality, the cost curve of technology is enabling the “sensorization” of devices. The challenge in the future will be curating the enormous density of data-strings that will be generated as sensors proliferate.  Participating at this year’s CES are a record number of automotive companies, reflecting the growing interest of the industry in the role of sensors and connectivity. The fact that the Google car drove 300k miles last year and that Audi, Lexus, Ford and several others are focusing on this area of technology is an indication of how significant it could become. The Chairman of Continental has said that a driverless commercial solution is possible by 2025. In this age of algorithms, data is the new currency which raises ever more concern about security and privacy.

Contextual Connectivity

In recent years, the mood of the industry was captured by the advent of smart TV’s that could connect to the internet. Now the focus is on using intelligence received from sensors to make the interaction between the smart TV and the consumer more relevant and appropriate. One example is the use of cameras that monitor who is watching a program to ensure that appropriate advertising is screened when children are present; another are glass panes in store windows that display information tailored to the individual who is walking past that store, based on their smartphone details shared via social media, store card check-ins or through NFC payments.

Changing the Flow of the Story

The prevalence of “second screens” indicates that we are becoming digital omnivores who consume secondary information while watching a primary screen or previews prior to selecting a program. With household penetration of tablets and smartphones hitting 1.4 per household in the U.S. in 2012 (compared with 2.9 TV’s per household), the second screen is a real phenomenon.  In fact sales of small screen TV’s have declined 20 to 30% in the last 3 years. The concept that engagement starts on the second screen means that the paradigms for use-case scenarios are rapidly changing and need to be understood by the content providers, networks and advertisers. The story may not start on the big screen but when it reaches it the challenge is to maintain engagement and interaction on the second screen. Interestingly, sales of jumbo screen TV’s for main living spaces are on the increase in the U.S.

What becomes evident from these trends is that consumers’ rapid adoption of technology into their digital lives is changing their expectations and forcing business models to adapt accordingly. It appears that, even in the consumer industries, many large companies are being slow to respond and the bulk of innovative ideas and add-on products are being generated by hybrid start-ups.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

www.keysoglobal.com

Say “Cheese” and Celebrate the Evolution of Mobile Photography

Friday, December 21st, 2012

With holiday parties in full swing and greeting cards arriving daily, it’s difficult not to see how they have both been impacted by the instant simplicity of taking a snap and sharing it with the world via social media, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Flickr or one of the many other digital photo printing and sharing services.

Pulling out our phones, snapping a photo and posting it for all our friends to see has become such  a normal part of our daily lives that it’s tough  to believe that it was only 10 years ago that the first commercial mobile camera phone came into existence. The first picture, however, was sent as early as 1997 when Philippe Kahn utilized the Motorola StarTAC with an add-on Casio camera and shared a picture of his daughter’s birth with 2,000 people.

The first integrated system with a mechanism for uploading photographs and delivering them to the internet was deployed in Japan by J-Phone, now owned by SoftBank. In 2002 the European operators of GSM systems also deployed mobile cameras along with the multimedia system, MMS, for uploading and downloading pictures. The MMS system was a development beyond what was already in place – SMS – for texts which had been around since 1992.

The progress of development was unbelievably fast. Already in 2003 more cell phones with cameras were sold than stand-alone digital cameras and by 2006 half of the world’s mobile phones incorporated a camera. Nokia was one of the first companies to introduce a mobile phone with integrated camera, and at Mobile World Congress this year Nokia introduced their N808 phone which has an amazing 40 megapixel camera capability.

The photography industry has been severely disrupted by our everyday use of mobile camera phones as they have radically changed the way that we utilize digital photography. Kodak, a name synonymous with pictures, has exited the industry and this week sold its portfolio of digital photography patents to a consortium of buyers that include both Google and Apple. Smartphones and iPhones contributed to the nearly 228 billion MMS messages sent in 2012, with another 5.8 billion over-the-top messages sent via WhatsApp and other such services. How boring would Facebook be without the 219 billion photos that are live on the system today? Back in 2010 it was estimated that 2.5 billion photos were being uploaded per month to Facebook. Currently Facebook has 600 million mobile users, many of them uploading photos daily to this site, not to mention the plethora of Twitter and Google Plus users who are also adding scores of daily photo updates for the world to see.

This week has also seen the other side of this issue emerge as Instagram (owned by Facebook) had to bow to public outrage and revoke its decision to change its terms and conditions that would have allowed advertisers free access to members’ pictures with no compensation. The issues of privacy, ownership, copyright and commercial interest are not yet clear in this digital world.

The mobile phone incorporated camera has sparked not only a picture revolution but also other significant developments, including the utilization of bar codes and QR codes for product identification, comparison shopping and bargain hunting during the busiest retail times of the year. It is no wonder that in today’s connected digital world the camera phone has become such an essential part of our lives, enabling us to capture those special everyday moments and sharing them instantaneously with the global community. Say “cheese”!

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global