April, 2007

  • Steve Clayton

    How to feed a killer appetite with RSS



    I only just got around to reading this piece from last week's Guardian by Charles Arthur (thanks for the tip Katie) and I wholeheartedly agree - mobile RSS could be a white knight for the UK mobile operators. The problem is I suspect they'll miss the opportunity (again) by calling it "mobile RSS".

    Apart from the 5 geeks I know probably less than 1% of the population knows what RSS is and therefore when we start seeing it marketed in mobile phone stores and they give it a geek name, most people will just say "huh? whatever...can I have a shiny new phone for free please". What you want them saying is "I'd like to get the website's I like delivered to my phone in easily digestible chunks"...or something like that. Lots of people will like that and likely pay good money for it as Charles asserts but the trick is going to be in the marketing and with all due respect, the mobile companies don't have the best track record here. 3G went down a storm didn't it....ummm, no. High speed mobile Internet is slightly more accessible though and where most of them ended up but even that is less accessible than "Premiership football scores live". That's the Orange data service I use most. While we're on the topic of Orange, anybody else besides me see a big opportunity for Orange to use the icon above to make themselves the default mobile RSS company? Damn...we're back to the geek problem again. Surely some smart marketer can work this out?

    Charles say "Just give us the phones. We know where the blogs are" and though a few of us do, a few others will need leading there but it's not that hard. I mean, just use some marketing nouse to do it and just don't call it mobile RSS.

    [update] - good video from Piers explaining the problem brilliantly!

    Link to How to feed a killer appetite with RSS | Technology | Guardian Unlimited Technology


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  • Steve Clayton

    Mac vs. Vaio


    Ha ha...the Mac Ad parodies continue. This one from Dell.

    Meantime, did I mention I bought a Mac? Maybe not but hey, if you're going to do your competitive research you may aswell do it for real I thought. Plus I do like their hardware and you can now run Vista on them with bootcamp and soon Parallels I hear. Overall, though I love the hardware and some parts of OSX (widgets and spotlight) are incredibly cool, I still prefer my Vaio SZ3. Given a friend bought a Mac last weekend, I had to ask myself why I pick up my Vaio when I head out rather than the 15" Mac Book Pro. Here's why

    • Firstly, I'm a PC guy at the end of the day and whilst some things are intuitive in the Mac, there are several that aren't (for me at least). The whole application installation thing for example freaks me out a bit - sometimes the apps seem to install to my desktop and other times I simply have to drag the icon to the Applications folder.
    • I can't easily get my Mac on the Microsoft corporate network. I probably can but I had a play and it wasn't obvious to me. I'd also miss the PCMCIA smart card reader I can have in my Vaio for RAS.
    • The Mac is heavier. I know an iBook would be a better comparison but I was sold on the backlit keyboard, aluminum build and overall look of the Mac Book Pro. It's a beautiful machine but defo heavy.
    • Blogging is my day job at the moment and it's proving too hard on the Mac. A few people have suggested I check out marsedit which looks very good so off to try that this week. My tools on the PC make it so easy though
    • I can use my PC as a TV very easily. I just plug in my USB TV tuner, fire up Media Centre and I'm there, all with a lovely UI.
    • I can't use my Orange 3G card on the Mac. It's PCMCIA and I wouldn't even know where to start as Orange don't provide OSX drivers.

    I know I'm likely to get some heat from the Apple crowd on this and I look forward to the suggestions. So far though, it's just been too hard to move from the Vaio. It's really quite a brilliant machine and Vista runs very well on it. All drivers are there and though the battery life could be better the stated figures are a bit like the stated figures for mobile phones and MPG - they tend to be based on lab testing rather than real world.

    David has a similar thread going at Business Two Zero as does Tom Raftery who I just offered to help out with all the drivers he needs for Vista.


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  • Steve Clayton

    The Monster Changing Microsoft



    Several months ago I had the good fortune to meet Hugh MacLeod and not long after, the Blue Monster cartoon was born. Joe Wilcox recently observed that I was doing Moonshine Marketing and the real marketers at Microsoft should take note. A few have and I'm being asked more often whether Hugh will draw a cartoon for this campaign or that campaign. It's been an interesting viral ride and Hugh has recently drawn a set of cartoons he's releasing at www.gapingvoid.com that talk to Microsoft's Partner Community and how to be profitable working with Microsoft. The Partner Group is where I work and if you'd have asked me 6 months ago would we be doing something like this, I'd have said "I hope so....but it'll never happen". Things change at Microsoft, sometimes faster than you think possible.

    Kris decided to break the mould and has more details on the campaign on her blog but I thought it would be worth giving some of the back-story on this.

    Blue Monster has raised some eyebrows that's for sure. More importantly though it's started conversations. When I hand out my Blue Monster business card these days (with my Microsoft details on the reverse) people are taken aback....and then they ask what it's all about. Before we know it, we're in a conversation about the work Microsoft does and how it has a positive impact rather than the usual defensive conversation I often find myself in. That never happens when I give out my corporate business card. People accept the card and politely tuck it away in their pack of cards. Just last week I was asked for my Blue Monster card simply because someone wanted a copy of it....like I say, it's been an interesting virus. When was the last time someone wanted to frame a Microsoft "poster" like they have with the lithographs we handed out? Mmm, probably never. I sent it to Steve Ballmer - he liked it. I sent it to Lisa Brummel - she liked it. I've sent it to many of our UK execs and they like it. Plenty of people have reservations about the monster image but that evaporates when they see the irony and the fact that it starts a conversation.

    Okay so Hugh's an A-lister and all that and you may say we're just trying to be cool here and maybe you're right. If you're ever in London though, give me a call and we'll go out for beers with Hugh - we do about every other week or so - and you'll see there is some substance to the conversation. Plus lots of Guinness and red wine :) He's a shrewd observer of business and life and I think his cartoons bring some long overdue humour and humility to Microsoft. Sometimes our stuff is just too direct or sometimes too subtle. With his talent for cartoons he cuts through that and often spots the message we don't or are too close to see.

    Bottom line: it's all about conversations. We need to step outside and view Microsoft from there more often. Hugh's helping us do that by stimulating the conversation. He's got a megaphone in to the digital world that works. It could all go horribly wrong and I could get fired tomorrow. But hey, playing it safe just ain't me. 

    So please join the conversation. I've seen The Blue Monster series of cartoons and I think you'll enjoy them. Hugh will be releasing more over the coming days and weeks :)


  • Steve Clayton

    Great ads


    Great ad!

    Hat tip to Frederik

  • Steve Clayton

    Outlook 2007 update released



    Did anyone else notice this 8.25mb update for Outlook 2007 on Friday? (Friday 13th eek)
    I read about it via ComputerWorld who have quote Jessica Arnold, Outlook PM, saying

    this update should accelerate the download of messages from the Exchange e-mail server and reduce temporary freezes resulting from deleting messages or copying them from one folder to another


    It's already downloaded to my machine and installing as we webspeak. Jessica added:

    The update should also let Outlook 2007 users switch between messages faster and enable faster program startup, she said.

    "I can’t say that this will 100 percent solve the latency issues, but users should see a big improvement,"

    Outlook can be sluggish at times in my experience though I do use large PST files that I spent some time yesterday tidying up for my return from holiday. Hopefully this will further improve my Outlook experience. As Jessica correctly pointed out, sometimes were guilty of using Outlook as the dumping ground for our life's worth of email. Pruning helps so consider that too I'd say.


    Full details on the update are in the Knowledge Base

    Download now!


    Link to Microsoft addresses speed issues in Outlook update

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