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Category Archives: Business Models

Could Fitbit smartwatch take over iPhone territory?

Though I will never wear an activity tracker. I’ve been very curious about the smart wristband / ‘wearables’ business. Especially the territory Fitbit has been moving into.

Sure, most people will be awed by Fitbit’s ‘SpO2’ sensor, for instance. But despite the clinical USP (to keep tabs of ones oxygenated blood), there are some features that blur the lines between an activity tracker and a smart watch; a wearable that can make contact-less payments via NFC, minus a phone.

There’s also the music feature. A smart watch that could store music could be a game changer. With Bluetooth and WiFi (and GPS) who knows what territory it might lead this ‘wearable’ into? Will it motivate some to leave their phone behind? Would that mess with the iPhone eco-system?

The other reason I’m curious about this wearable is, I plan to use Fitbit as an example in an upcoming class. It’s a class about the Internet, and the connectivity it provides. And the hardware and software that run on the infrastructure students take so much for granted. Following up on last week’s look at Virtual Reality, nothing like bringing up the much-hyped Internet of Things.

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Aaron’s take on “How to humanize digital marketplaces.”

As many of you know, my son, Aaron often writes on matters pertaining to markets, the economy, and alternative currencies.

I found this topic on ‘humanizing digital marketplaces‘ very relevant to lifestyles we now take for granted, ‘shopping’ for airfares, taxis, books, and even knowledge –all of it online. The article is at Medium.com. If you read it (it is a long read!) I’d be interested to know what you think. He will too.

How to Humanize Digital Marketplaces

 

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‘Customers Not Cargo’ act thanks to United Airlines

You’ve heard of ‘cattle class‘ – the seating area most of us are herded into?

After last week’s horrible incident in which a doctor was dragged, bloodied and asked to get off a United Airlines flight, congresswoman Jan Schakowsky plans to introduce legislation “that would end the practice of involuntarily ‘bumping’ passengers from oversold aircrafts once and for all.” Likewise in the senate, Chris Van Hollen is introducing a similar ‘Customers Not Cargo’ bill.

The gist of it is that an airline which oversells a flight for business reasons has to come up with a business solution (not a law-enforcement one) to make sure the flight is emptied of the excess passengers who paid for that spot, anyway.

Now I’m not sure we need to have laws to ensure businesses treat customers with respect. But if you’re like me having been adequately bruised, and given the cattle prod, you’d agree they had this coming. Especially the folks who wax about the ‘friendly skies.’ (The Leo Burnett-inspired slogan dates back to 1965, and was brought back in 2013.)

Note the ad on the right. About embarking at Chicago. As the 1960s headline promised, the airline would later ‘catch’ Dr. Dao not far from the gate at Chicago O’Hare. The body copy goes further to suggest being friendly is catching. Hmmm)

Bonus Reading: Read the business evolved between United’s and Continental Airlines merger Wired Magazine

 

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Will ‘Little Free Libraries’ do what eReaders didn’t?

Many years ago, in a neighbour’s store-room down Hildon Place, a few of us stacked our books together and called it a library. When the idea caught, we began issuing hand-made library cards. There was no organization to support us, but there was no shortage of kind old aunts who fed the librarians and patrons well.

So naturally I’ve been fascinated by the ‘Little Free Library‘ movement that’s been cropping up outside homes. The library (as you can see here) looks like a large bird house with a door and a plaque.

But will a little box on the curb spur a new interest in reading? We were hyperventilating with optimism when eReaders took the world by storm almost a decade ago.

A little library with no overdue fines looks quaint, but unlike digital trends, these decidedly analog ‘platforms’ (they are raised boxes, aren’t they?) have the potential to build conversations, and bring communities closer. There are some 40,000 Little Free libraries, to date, according to the website’s FAQs.

Starting one is as simple. Owners are asked to register one’s Library making it searchable online. Borrowers are urged to contribute a book for every book borrowed.

Some young people have launched their LFLs with aplomb, having constructed it out of scrap wood or from an old bookshelf. I could see this trend become almost a hobby, as young readers discover that there is more than one way to enjoy a good book.

  • If you like the idea, follow Little Free Library on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary
 

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Whatever happened to music lyrics? Are good songwriters going extinct?

Tell me if you’ve felt this way – that the words of many recent songs are beyond awful.

We’ve got some oddly eclectic music going on at our home, so I do hear a wide range – from Adele and Chris Stapleton to Merle Haggard and Sting. But in so much of the other current music (and I know this sounds like a dad talking!), they are passably listenable, until you actually hear the words. You’d think a bunch of blindfolded monkeys were given word processors and the results were set to music. And while I’m at it,

I know there are folks who think, for instance that Adele’s lyrics are very old. Such as that refrain “I must’ve called a thousand times.” But she does tell compelling stories (River Lea, for instance, which has been the subject of literature before), and those stories never grow old, accentuated by the quality of the voice.

There’s a good article on the music industry on the business model of making us like bad music: How The Music Industry Is Brainwashing You to Like Bad Pop Songs. Basically it’s that ‘Stockholm Effect’ combined with virtually bribing radio stations to play terrible music until they infect our brains.

But to get back to the main point of this: Is the music industrial music complex ignoring good songwriters just to churn out radio hit after radio hit? Isn’t it odd that while there is so much of emerging musical talent via TV talent shows, songwriting talent seems to be going down the slopes.

Mr. Paul Simon, where are you when we need you most?

 
 

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If children ‘published’ books, would there be a market?

Today, ‘to publish’ means something else entirely.  It used to be tied to the notion of a ‘publication’ – which often meant material that got edited, bound and distributed by certain entities.

So should children publish books? 

I want put this question to those of you professional communicators, and also in education:

  • Should the definition of children’s books also include children-to-children books?
  • Could book stores get into the business of encouraging children to become storytellers, designers and illustrators?

Sure, there is a good self-publishing model out there at places such as Blurb, Lulu, etc. But (a) It is hardly affordable for most children (b) The POD model presupposes the content is already ready to go to press.

  • Are there places (such as ‘Maker Spaces’) for kids to polish their craft, and go all the way to putting a book on a shelf?

Many will say that the market is not significant enough to give it serious thought. But is that good enough reason to not consider it?

I pose this question because of a suggestion raised by one of my 3rd grade classes today. They wanted to know if they could publish their work in a book form. I was shocked at the question. This after all, was from 9 and 10 year olds!

I have pat answers for questions like this. Such as: “It depends what kind of readers you are thinking about” – an opening to a discussion about eBooks, online publishing, Wikis and such.

But this is a serious question that should not be confined to school-made solutions. Any suggestions?

 

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Suddenly Apple’s no longer the simpler interface

I used to be a die-hard Mac user. I owned Macs in the late eighties, and reluctantly moved to Windows.

But every time I have to deal with an Apple device, I wonder why things are so complicated, dorky in fact. The menu options are invariably labeled in ways that don’t resemble the action we want to take.

I tried to help a friend the other day transfer a video to an external drive, and oh the run-around his iPad gave us. No simple drag-and-drop worked – this from a company that practically invented drag-and-drop. We finally exported the file to Dropbox, logged into another PC (a Windows model), and downloaded the video to a thumb drive that was instantly recognizable on the computer.

Sitting beside each other, the iPad and the old Windows laptop looked like a Tesla next to a Toyota Tercel. But the latter got the job done.

I don’t use iPhones, and never owned a Mac since 1995. I’m happy with my plebeian tablet and non-IOS phone.

 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Business Models, Technology

 

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