What are people saying about… the iPad, iPhone and iPod?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past week, you’ll know all about the iPad, Apple’s new wunderkit – what it has, what it has not, what it’s for, what it’s not for, and so on.

Fortunately, the term ‘iPad’ is very quick and easy to search for. So, it’s a doddle to monitor. So, that’s what I’ve done.

The same goes for iPhone and iPod, so I thought it would be interesting to see all three lined up against each other. Inevitably the other two models in the Apple i-stable receive attention, so right now, all their figures are up. But this is more of a slow-burner. In a few weeks or months’ time it will be interesting to see how their charts look. Will one product cannibalise another? Will any of them drop off the radar?

Let’s take a look. Click here to see the dashboard, or click the image below.

What are people saying about the iPad, iPhone and iPod? Click image to see dashboard.

What are people saying about the iPad, iPhone and iPod? Click image to see dashboard.

Layout

First off, regarding the layout, well I thought it might be nice to nod to Apple’s design ethos and make it a bit more sophisticated than previous dashboards (all of which you can also see on the Netvibes tabs). This approach also endears you to clients. ;)

I also just concentrated on three sources: Twitter, because everyone tweets nowadays; blogs, because there are some very smart bloggers out there who can offer real insight into Apple strategy; and forums, because they’re often the forgotten social media platform and yet tech forums can offer heated debate, if not often informed opinion.

Twitter Conversations

Twitter buzz is, unsurprisingly, up across the board. There is a quite astonishing sudden spike showing when the iPad was launched (at time of writing – you won’t be able to see it after a week or so as the charts move on). Interestingly the iPhone buzz seemed to drop off quite quickly but also displays a ‘dead cat bounce’, that is, a sudden short spike after the fall. The iPad does too, but the iPod less so. This implies that the iPhone and iPad are seen as more contemporary products, the iPod less so.

The iPad tweets are all about the new kid on the block – what it does, links to reviews and so on. The iPhone tweets seem to mention the iPad and iPod, indicating a middle position in people’s attitudes. The iPod tweets are much more varied, talking about music rather than the product for example, which to me implies people have got over their wonderful new kit and are concentrating on the media instead. It will be interesting to see whether iPad conversations in a year or so will similarly discuss films, music and published media in the same way.

Blog Conversations

We see the same buzz profile as for Twitter – big red spikes, mirrored across all products. This time however the iPod peaked earlier than the iPhone, although it has approximately half the amount of traffic. The iPad trumps them all, with over 20,000 posts at launch.

The blog posts are all mashed up. Everyone seems to be talking about all products, comparing and contrasting. Maybe they will polarise in future.

Forum Conversations

Again, we see a familiar buzz profile, although this time the iPad, iPhone and iPod have a similar number of mentions at their peak. The actual forum posts aren’t that great in terms of quality however – mostly anecdotal and, strangely, Japanese. Maybe time to bring out the English language filter to snip them out.

Strategy

It’s always difficult knowing how to approach Apple. I sometimes wonder what their PR team actually does. I mean, can you imagine? Maybe you spend a few days in the office monitoring the buzz out there – none of which you really had to work to achieve – then go to the pub.

Of course, I don’t believe it’s that simple. But Apple is a strange beast. I’m tempted to say they really shouldn’t do anything with social media because they have such huge amounts of traffic and overwhelmingly positive sentiments. I think that, from a marketing perspective, they have to be careful not to cannibalise across the products. I’m sure they’ve considered this too. Smartarses.

But perhaps this is, as I said at the outset, a slowburner. Maybe this really is an opportunity for companies like Apple to watch what happens across social media, comparing and contrasting how different audiences behave.

For example, I was surprised to find that when looking at Bono’s twitter buzz, not only did it react much more quickly and at higher volume than other platforms – which is to be expected maybe – it was also more protracted buzz. That is, it took longer to die down than blogging or forums. I did not expect that, and I do wonder whether it’s a consistent pattern. I guess we just have to listen and learn.

Proof reading can be fun!

Get your stamp at the ready. Click image for source.

Get your stamp at the ready. Click image for source.

Proof reading is supposed to be a doddle. It’s just making sure everything’s tickety-boo and stamping it with your big red ‘Approved’ stamp. No?

Actually, no. Not really. Not when you’re proofing a 26,000 word document, like I just did today. It’s been a while since I did hard-core proofing and it reminded me that there are most definitely right ways to do it, and wrong ‘uns.

WRONG WAY – just make sure everything’s tickety-boo and stamp it with your big red ‘Approved’ stamp, then skip away singing “Hello birds, hello trees, hello sky.”

RIGHT WAY – as follows:

  1. Agree beforehand on what needs doing. There is a gulf of difference between a copy edit – where you’re more likely than not going to have to disassemble some scrawl and turn it into beautiful filigree curlicued baroque English – and a proof edit. The gulf, in my case, is precisely 2,000 words per hour. That is, I can proof edit at 4K words an hour but copy edit at 2K. So if I get the requirement wrong to start with, I spend twice as long, or earn half as much, or annoy the client. They’re all bad outcomes.
  2. Read the whole thing in one go. That’s right, even a 26K worder. OK, maybe allow yourself a Guinness or two (I did, but it was late last night), but make sure you’ve read it once before you even start to edit it. You get a flavour of the general tone of voice, where the voice changes (which it inevitably will if it’s multi-authored, or even if one person wrote it at different times or under the influence of different prescription drugs), potential problem areas, that sort of thing. Plus you get an idea of what the document’s actually about, which helps.
  3. Leave it. Go and do something else instead. Play with your tortoise, for example.
  4. Come back all refreshed and just get stuck in. You need to make decisions along the way but they’ll basically be along the lines of:
    • Grammar: get rid of howlers, check the finer points of quotation mark usage, change the wording if you think you’re going to get into a slanging match over the apostrophe.
    • Vocab: try and make it simple – for example ‘you will be able to’ is the same as ‘you can’ – but be careful if you’re just proofing because you’re getting close to a copy edit.
    • Tone of voice: is usually copy edit territory but you might need to stitch it together. Put it this way: if you’re the first person bringing together a multi-authored report, you are most definitely not going to be just proofing it. Poo-pah.
  5. Handover from the old document to the new. After your first pass, save it under a new filename, accept all the revisions, and then read it alongside the original. In this way you get to see the revisions that didn’t quite go right – double spaces here, no spaces there etc – and can read two ‘clean’ versions next to each other. In this way you might even decide to reject some of your own changes in preference to the original.
    • Hint: you might want to leave something untouched if someone in the document is making a claim that you don’t feel qualified to alter and you don’t want to ‘sex it up’ at all. Lord knows, I’ve been watching the Iraq inquiry on TV recently and I don’t want to be hauled in front of a select committee (“Why did you change ‘could’ to ‘should’, Mr. Cooper..?” “I don’t know your honour, can I go home now please?”). If in doubt, leave it, but flag it for the client perhaps.
  6. Check the new document. Save it again under a different filename, accept all the revisions again, and read the new document on its own. Yes, that means you’ve now read it four times in total, but it’s necessary: overview, detail, handover, check. You need each one.
  7. Make a note of the funnies. As you’re going along make a note of things you’re unclear of, or that the client needs to double-check. And make sure you tell the client to check the tables of contents, and page/figure/table references because copy edits sometimes muck up the pagination. It’s not your job to do this, but the client will love you for reminding him/her.

Oh, and use revision marks (obviously). If you haven’t, you can use Word’s ‘Compare’ feature. Good luck.

What are people saying about… Imagination Technologies?

I’ve been tinkering with Yahoo Pipes quite a lot recently, and plugging it into Netvibes. The Pipes interface can be flaky but once you get it set up you can reuse Pipes simply by passing parameters to them without ever having to edit them again. And Netvibes is just gorgeous.

I’ve ‘done’ Eurostar when all their trains stopped working, and, in a pique of joi-de-vivre, Bono when he made fatuous claims about filesharing (click the links to see the dashboards). So this time I thought I’d ‘do’ my ex-employer: Imagination Technologies (IMG for short).

When I worked for them – when they rebranded and I sat next to the talented guy who created the logo you now see before you – they were heavily into graphics technology and were just starting to think about audio. Right now in fact I’m listening to my TV channelled through the DigiTheatre I was given as a leaving present, and I use their Sirocco speakers for my music monitoring system in my studio (I wrote the user guides for both – if anyone wants a signed copy let me know).

Since then they’ve pretty much created the DAB markets in the UK and other European countries, led by my ex-colleague Colin Crawford (and they want to get into the US where there isn’t any DAB – tough) but the big news right now is that rumour has it they might have their chips in the new Apple product. We don’t know what that product is going to be exactly, and I honestly don’t know whether IMG have their chips in it or not, but it’s drawing a lot of attention.

So, let’s look at the dashboard. Click here to see it, or the graphic below.

IMG dashboard. Click image to see the dashboard.

IMG dashboard. Click image to see the dashboard.

First, the setup. IMG is a quoted stock, so there’s a stock widget in there. I used to work for a company that supplied financial info to the city so I sort of know about MACD and stuff. I’m no financial expert and I’m not going to give any advice, but it does look very, well ‘up’, doesn’t it?

Interestingly, a lot of the Twitter talk is about investment too. In fact, I’ve never seen such a parity between Twitter buzz and financial performance. I’ve often thought a system that shows how buzz relates to financial performance would be very interesting. Apply MACD to buzz and you could be onto something.

Blog posts tend to focus on the Apple news, not just the tablet/slate/screen/’thing’, but also iPhone. Some people are looking ahead to iPhone 4. I think this is a vindication of the expertise out there in the blogosphere. Many people are following the news and they know a lot about this subject matter.

Social videos are often nice to look at for this type of thing, especially during events. So it’s no surprise that IMG had some cool coverage off CES recently. But nothing since. IMG could certainly fill this space with their own videos, or collate other people’s videos into their own channel.

And news? Well, one of the latest items is this: Source confirms ARM design is powering the iSlate. That was four days ago. So why no Tweets about this? That’s definitely a conundrum.

So that’s the IMG dashboard. Strategy? Given the overall landscape here I’d say that they could be doing well to reach out to some of their more informed bloggers and get them on board. After all, bloggers love this stuff. They could also be capitalising on social video more, especially as their mobile products look great. And we haven’t even looked at social photo yet, or podcasts…

It would be great to help them crack the US market. Just think – loads of Americans posting about how great they are. IMG’s take on it is that they’re probably doing fine as it is. But you can always do better. That’s the essence of marketing isn’t it? Do just the right amount of work, no more, no less. Find that marketing sweet spot. IMG have it in spades in the real world, but they could map it effectively into the virtual world too.

I’ve seen the future of social media. And it’s… email

Email your RSS and make someone happy. Click image for source.

Email your RSS and make someone happy. Click image for source.

I’ve been playing around with Posterous recently. It’s stunningly quick and easy. This is in no small part down to the way you use it. You email your posts.

Now, at first I thought this was just a small feature of Posterous. But it’s making more sense to me. When I email something, I’m emailing it ‘to’ someone. That is, it’s not a blog post – which no one will comment on, they never do any more – or a tweet, which is here today gone today (or, more accurately, gone in a fraction of a second). No. I’m in my ‘telling someone something’ frame of mind, because I’ve got all the usual visual cues going on around me – inbox, outbox, drafts etc – that tell me so.

So from a strange psychological perspective, emailing your posts makes good sense for the user. It also works for Posterous too. They don’t need to provide much of a front-end, and certainly no text editor to get your head around. They simply let users get on with what they’re used to, whether it’s GMail, Outlook, Thunderbird – whatever. Nice.

And it got me to thinking about other cool uses of email in social media. I really like the email updates I get from LinkedIn. Without them I’d probably forget about it. But with them, I get an update on what’s going on in my professional network – who’s doing what with whom, and for how much, etc etc.

In the past I’ve poo-pooed Google Alerts, claiming that RSS readers offer much more. Well, yes, they do, but there’s nothing more effective than an alert popping up telling you when something’s come through. Email is more active in this respect. It’s more like an servant than an agent.

Back to Posterous. I’ll freely admit I heard about it when I discovered Steve Rubel was using it. That he’s using something with an email interface doesn’t surprise me because he’s an email ninja and has been using GMail as his intel database for quite some time. Turns out he’s found interesting studies and stats relating to email prominence: firstly, that email newsletters can be much more effective than RSS; and that you can do cool stuff with email such as get weather updates.

Mark Krynsky explains how it’s not all about email either. Posterous can access so many other platforms, it’s almost the post platform for other post platforms, in the same way Friendfeed was an aggregator of aggregators (until Facebook consumed it). So I only have to post something once and it goes wherever I want, to Twitter, blogs etc. I was testing it today and found I could post to many blogs at one time. Definitely something for the blog providers to think about, and I’m sure that if I continued that way I’d get banned.

Looking more widely, I was doing research recently for a non-profit organisation and found this: fundraising via email is more effective than through social networks. With (hopefully) their blessing (I’ve given them a link after all), here’s an excerpt I find fascinating:

… we found this interesting and profound story about the nonprofit group “Save Darfur.” This organization had grown to be one of the largest Facebook Causes, with over 1 million members. But it took Save Darfur over a year to raise about $28,000 from those Facebook Cause “friends,” — and almost two years to raise their current total of $78,000. Contrast that with a single email campaign that Save Darfur did in June of 2007 – with the help of M+R Strategic Services – to about a million of their email supporters. In only 10 days, Save Darfur raised more than $415,000 through an email series.

Wow.

Of course, there are still many reasons social media is good. The Facebook example above isn’t a continuous study, that is, we don’t know what sort of momentum it continues to pick up which a one-off email campaign would not. It’s also clear that a well-run campaign of whatever kind will beat a badly run campaign no matter what platform you choose.

There are also still limits to what you can do with email. For example, I find it frustrating that I can’t use my WordPress categories in a Posterous post, but perhaps I’ll find that out sometime.

In the final analysis perhaps Posterous’s greatest selling point is the visibility: I’m looking at my most recent posts, admittedly just bits and bobs grabbed from the web that are probably popular anyway (because a video of a man falling over is basically funny), and I’m seeing the number of views at 50, 60, 70+. When I compare that with the number of views my blog posts get, it’s a no-brainer: Posterous posts get more views.

The trick here will obviously lie in convincing clients to use it. They’re just about ready to blog, and whereas Posterous is still blogging, it’s ‘new’. Clients, on the whole, don’t like ‘new’. And maybe the high viewing rates are just because Posterous is the new kid on the block anyway.

But email. Think about it. Email. It’s the unsung hero of digital. With a good system you can really target people, and get great stats such as who opened the email, who forwarded it, who replied, and so on. You simply cannot get this from RSS – in fact, you can’t even tell who subscribed, just how many.

I’ve often dreamed of having the perfect interface to the web, such as just talking and watching the words come out (bye bye SpinVox), or plugging a USB cable direct into my forehead (hello Doctor Who). Email isn’t perfect, but it’s what we know. And whereas it cannot replace social media, maybe it’s the best gateway to it. It was there all along and we never realised it.

POST EDIT: I just realised, with a wry smile, that I actually posted this from WordPress! Doh!

links for 2010-01-22

Can the cloud protect us?

A button for everything. Click image for source.

A button for everything. Click image for source.

I just received an email from a friend of mine who’s lost all his iPhone data. That’s over 2,000 contacts he’s built up over the past few years in PR.

To say it’s a disaster is an understatement. But I guess it’s a lesson to us all: data has no value unless it’s backed up. I learned that while working in tech environments, since when I’ve become something of a backup fiend.

Nevertheless, it’s still easy to screw things up. I once backed up ‘the wrong way’, that is, copied all my old stuff over all my new. You can’t undo that, because the files are all overwritten. I lost work, but fortunately nothing critical.

I also once deleted my backups to clear some space, only to find I’d deleted the current work instead, and that none of it was in the Recycle bin for some reason. Now that was a real panic – nasty sinking feeling in stomach, raised breathing rate, dry lips. Fortunately I managed to download an undelete utility and get it all back.

But the problem remains with PDAs that while it’s convenient to have everything in one funky little package, it’s a nightmare when you lose it. Because you don’t just lose contacts. You can lose data, music, videos – a large part of your life in fact over the past few years. At Christmas I had a friend who thought he’d lost his camera from the previous night. Not a problem, you’d think, until you realised that he was a quantity surveyor and had a lot of photographs on it that he needed for work.

He was lucky: he found the camera. And again, he should have backed up. And again again, it just occurred to me that he shouldn’t really have been using it at a party anyway!

All this losing of data has made me think. Perhaps cloud computing is the way forward. Instead of storing all your contacts locally on a device that it seems is specifically designed to be mislaid, why not store them remotely? As well as your media? So there are ‘cold spots’ where you can’t access a mobile signal now (including my house in Bucks since Christmas for some reason), but apparently you can get a mobile signal on the top of Everest, so one day you’ll be able to get one pretty much anywhere.

So let’s hear it for cloud computing. One day, we’ll be able to forget about backing up and avoid the terrible implications of forgetting to back up – or, to misquote the BBC, make the unmissable, missable.