• IPhones Are for Lovers
    "What am I going to do with an iPhone?" You don't usually get that reaction these days when someone opens a Christmas present with the Apple logo on it. But my adorably Luddite fiancée is infamously cell-phone averse. Several years ago, I lent her a rudimentary flip phone to take on a trip and stay in contact. I called her, but when she opened the phone she didn't know what to do or that simply opening the phone would activate her end. All I heard was a distant voice yelling at the handset, "I don't know what to press. Steve, ...
  • Eleven-And-A-Half-Hour Santa
    I am a frugal, minimalist sort by nature. Years in grad school living on a "stipend" only reinforced the impulse. And an adult life of freelancing and the uncertainty that business "model" brings only baked the habit in. And so the largesse of holiday gifting always fills me with a bit of dread. "You're cheap, Dad, not frugal," my daughter says, quickly intercepting the ball. "There's a difference." This from the girl who got a MacBook Pro for her high school graduation.
  • My IPhone Needs A Gun, Redux
    "I got hit by a deer." "A deer hit you?" As a parent, you get accustomed to questioning your kids on their passive sentence construction. Deflecting responsibility linguistically is a reflex for them. But a flurry of SMS exchanges later and it turns out that in fact a badly misguided deer had run headlong into the side door of my daughter's two-month-old car as she passed it on a Pennsylvania highway.
  • 'You're Making Me Do What?' The Immediacy Imperative Of Mobile
    If there is a pet peeve of the year in the mobile media and marketing realm, it involves our growing impatience with brands making the consumer jump through hoops for no significant pay-off. The simple act of downloading a branded app that has no apparent function or raison d'etre other than the greater glory of the brand is, in fact, an imposition on the mobile user. Making me key in an SMS code and click through ensuing links just to get the same movie trailer I can see five times an hour on cable? That is a "value add"? Are ...
  • The 'Move It Forward' Awards
    The lists of best apps and mobile campaigns are pouring out in these final weeks of the year. For my part, I have been in this mobile game too long to be much impressed by the shiny objects. I prefer the long-haul perspective that recognizes this is a medium of experimentation and iteration. I am more interested in watching how some brands and mobile categories have advanced in this year of rapid mobile growth. So without further ado and with unctuous presenter banter, here are the mobile things that caught my eye simply because they were moving quickly and they ...
  • Leaning Back To Lean In
    The Apple Airplay trick that was rolled out in iOS 4.2 for iPhone and iPad turned out to be a bit of a tease. Being able to throw a video on your iOS device to the Apple TV has the magic to it Apple loves to show off. But as I discovered quickly in my tests, the trick is shallow and limited. Not only does the user need both an iOS remote device, but he needs an Apple TV to boot. Worse, the feature only works with certain native Apple apps, so third parties are cut out for the time ...
  • Mobile CRM: Just Imagine You Are Talking To Someone Who Doesn't Really Want to Talk
    "What do you want for Christmas?" "To see my daughter every once in a while?" "Sorry -- you know I am working a lot." And what doesn't fit in the weekly flurries of text exchanges with my daughter is that she is also taking very seriously turning 18 and relegating Dad to "as needed" communications for now (I trust). She has discovered what I like to call SMS PRM: Parental Relationship Management via mobile messaging. That tether-like tie a text message allows a modern kid (sorry -- "adult" child) may be maddening to the parent, but it is the very ...
  • Gotta Take This: The FTC Is Calling
    Anyone in the mobile industry who felt that the data privacy issue was focused primarily on Web and targeting practices should guess again. It has been only hours since the Federal Trade Commission issued its report on "Protecting Consumer Privacy in An Era of Rapid Change." But even a cursory glance at its contents suggests that mobile is not only touched by the proposals -- but the Federal Trade Commission's research into mobile media, technology and data collection practices deeply informed some of the overall thrust and urgency of the report. As has been widely reported, the FTC finds that ...
  • Branson's iPad 'Project': Stewardess, Can I Have An Extra Bag Of Nuts?
    There are times when Sir Richard Branson's newly launched Project magazine for iPad feels a lot like what it is, a billionaire playing with his money. From the animated cover, which has actor Jeff Bridges moving slightly with a distorted transmission effect, to article splash pages where the reader has to rub away dirt or a pencil overlay to reveal a full image, the devices often feel trite, gratuitous and well-funded.
  • WherePlay My AirPlay?... And Other Thanksgiving Appetizers
    The iOS 4.2 updates to the iPad and iPhone dropped yesterday as nice little appetizers to savor over Thanksgiving. The quasi-multitasking the update provides for the iPad is welcome if not revelatory. I have been reading early reviews claiming that the update will change the way you use the iPad, but I am not yet seeing that. Folder organization, background media playing and file downloads are the most important additions for my usage patterns. Once more apps support the multitasking feature, we should benefit from background downloads, which make a difference in some of these media apps like magazines.
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