The provocative title of this TEDWomen talk by Johanna Blakley obscures the essence of what she is saying – that with the rise of social media, the focus in advertising is going to shift away from appealing to demographics and instead appeal to the passions of particular groups and tap in to what people want.

If social media is a value exchange, then having good, appealing content is key to that exchange. Laura Scott from Addiction Innovation was particularly clear on this point at their ‘Trust, Transparency and Advocacy’ Social Media Week panel session last Thursday – good content is key in social media.

It’s clear that these things are linked. Though demographics can be effective, intangibles not accounted for by demographics influence our taste, likes and dislikes. The future lies in creating content that speaks to people’s passions.


 


Normal service is slowly resuming, as promised. There’s a few exciting posts in the works on my headphone (and earphones!) work around solutions including headphones from Logitech and Sony Ericsson, the upcoming TiVo v Apple TV v Boxee Brawl of 2011, the HTC Wildfire and some musings on technology that changed my life.

In the meantime, my first post for Girls n Gadgets, on the third generation Flip Ultra HD digital camcorder, is up. You can read it by following the link below:

http://bit.ly/ijv1JL


It has been a busy few weeks at Claire Towers, thanks to an extended Christmas break and a new job. Normal service will resume shortly.

In the meantime, we are working on a new project with Bing. Bing have created a series of videos featuring the Facejacker character Brian Badonde coming to grips with technology. I’m posting my favourite so far, featuring Brian Badonde learning about the internet in an IT class for senior citizens. There are more to come over the next couple of weeks, so keep watching on the Art of Technology YouTube channel.

www.youtube.com/artoftechnologyuk
www.bing.co.uk


After years of languishing as an afterthought in a mobile telecoms industry dominated by their very own Big 4 (Big 3 now, and we all know who I’m talking about – Orange and T-Mobile – now merged, Vodafone and O2), Three have spent 2010 building up their network to make a headfirst charge into the scrum that is first-tier mobile networks.

Three launched the MiFi, a palm-sized pebble of a device, in summer 2010 as a shot across the bow of the Big 3 in the rapidly expanding mobile internet market. The MiFi is a phenomenal mobile internet device, allowing up to 5 devices to be connected to mobile internet via Three’s 3G connection.

Three MiFi

For the naysayers out there, the 3G signal on Three is much improved. Three have spent the better part of 24 months investing heavily in expanding and amplifying 3G coverage across the UK, and are at last in a position to support a device that truly enhances the mobile internet experience, particularly for new tablet users (without the need to buy the device with 3G built in). I was able to simultaneously connect a laptop, wifi only iPad, iPod Touch and Blackberry virtually anywhere and with limited interruption, including a train to Southampton and deep in the West Midlands, where even my Vodafone signal was patchy (however, some areas around Charlotte Street were a bit touch and go, which would fit in with an experience sporadically documented by other mobile bloggers).

With the device leading Three’s mobile internet putsch, Three have continued adding a plethora of devices and plans designed to tackle the dominance of O2, Vodafone and Orange/T-Mobile. After landing desirable smartphones, such as the Blackberry Torch, iPhone, Win7 Phone, Nokia N8 and HTC Desire HD, Three have introduced heavily subsidised iPads (£199 with a mobile internet plan, of course) to their line-up, specifically tackling the offering from Orange and T-Mobile.

Three have an interesting 2011 ahead of them. First, Three have had to overcome substantial wariness of UK consumers, whose swaps to contracts on other networks led to a slump in UK revenues in the first 6 months of 2010. There is some evidence that, wary of Three’s earlier reputation for unreliable network coverage, consumers were unwilling to sign on to long 24 month contracts, which somewhat dinted Three’s ability to cash in on the smartphone boom despite having established the first 3G network in the UK (though Hutchison Whampoa, who own Three, maintain they will break even in 2010). Thus, Three have had to take the position of reassuring the UK consumer that, yes, their network does work well consistently, and take the position that customers (those pesky women who make up 50% of the smartphone market included) choose their contracts based on service, network reliability and availability of first class devices.

However, this position could be an ace up their sleeve. Some of the top tier look to retrench their position by making forays into sponsoring live music, film and other cracking fun stuff and, as Ewan MacLeod over at Mobile Industry Review pointed out back in September, into mobile devices. By concentrating on securing high-quality devices, expanding signal strength and reliability and communicating this, Three seem to be looking to crack in to the top tier by establishing itself to underwhelmed consumers as a credible alternative to the more established and overwhelmed mobile networks.


Sony Ericsson Xperia X10


Cross posted from Girly Geekdom

“Is that an iPhone?” Puzzled looks.
“No, it’s an Xperia – an Android phone from Sony Ericsson.”
“Oh.”
Clearly I have just used a string of baffling words. I may as well have said, “This phone is made by Acme out of Kryptonite particles found on the Moon.”

[NB: Superman fangirls, please feel free to go crazy at me – I am aware that Kryptonite does not come from the Moon. Or does it? I’m confused.]

The real problem, of course, is that Android lacks brand recognition. According to research conducted by Lady Geek with YouGov SixthSense, Android has a real ‘dude problem’. Nobody knows what an Android phone looks like, though there are tons out there, because nobody associates the Android OS with one handset. Sony Ericsson therefore have a problem in differentiating its handset as a real player in the bloodbath that is the current smartphone market.

Android has been extremely successful in reaching geeky boys with its freer and more customisable user experience, but at the expense of reaching the masses. A direct result is the aforementioned typical conversation I would have with someone while wielding the Xperia X10 – recognition that it is a smartphone, but confusion because it is not an iPhone (though not obviously so). I suspect a few of these people (mainly women) come away with the impression that the Xperia is the equivalent of the Hermes Birkin bag replicas you see everywhere from River Island and M&S to DKNY. A real shame, because these handsets, the Xperia X10 included, are fantastic and do not exist purely to give the iPhone a bit of needed competition – though this is rapidly becoming the story of the smartphone wars.

Rant over. On to the handset itself.

For the unfamiliar, the Android operating system is Google’s “free” (obviously not free, according to Microsoft) mobile operating system. Similar to the iPhone OS, the Android OS utilises apps for a user-customised experience, as well as allowing smartphone handset manufacturers such as Sony Ericsson to put their stamp on the phone. The difference between handset makers largely comes in how they choose to customise the user experience and the hardware.

Sony Ericsson have exerted a little more control over the user experience of the Xperia than some other Android manufacturers. The icons and look of the interface are aesthetically pleasing, especially in comparison to some other Android handsets, such as the HTC Tattoo. The interface is also easy to use, while every gesture results in a sleek and seamless reaction from the phone – except when Timescape is updating.

And it’s always updating.

Timescape is a great feature in theory, collating text messages, emails, tweets and Facebook statuses (depending on your preferences) into a one-stop social timeline. However, the super-bright screen, multitasking applications and the software itself take up an incredible amount of power. Timescape proves a step to far on occasion and creates unnecessary lag.

This is not a phone for the clumsy. While I can see my lovely PR contacts cringing as I type this (hi, Yasir!), this is not a handset that holds together when you drop it. While nothing major happened (I REPEAT, YASIR: NOTHING MAJOR HAPPENED), it was a little difficult at times when you run into your bedroom door because you’re marvelling at your Clueless closet in the MyCloset app (warning: you will need a PhD to operate this app, preferably in quantum physics) and the phone drops out of your hand. A drop on a table was enough to lose the back of the phone and the battery.

That being said, the 8 megapixel camera is actually better than my own clunky digital camera and anything involving media was handled swiftly and intuitively on this phone. Bonus points for NOT cutting out midway through music tracks. You would think I wouldn’t have to ask a smartphone for this, but some Android handsets (again, the Tattoo, as well as the HTC Legend) seem to struggle with the concept of having a music player onboard.

The enormous, bright and perfectly touch sensitive screen is among the best on Android handsets. I found it incredibly easy to transcribe messages and type out commands – no clumsy finger punching for me. My upgrade wishlist for this handset would, of course, include a Swype keyboard.

Currently, the Xperia X10 runs Android 1.6, which feels comically outdated. Sony Ericsson has reassured the world that an upgrade to 2.0 was forthcoming sometime in Q3, but we are now in Q4 with no 2.0 in sight. Generally, the more involvement the manufacturer has with the OS interface, the longer the update. A swift update, however, would make it one of the best Android handsets on the market.

Overall, the Xperia X10 is lovely to use, intuitive and a great Android model, though the missing Android 2.0 upgrade, build issues and occasional lags somewhat lets it down for its £549 price tag. Buck up, boys – and girls, I hope.


Is Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour regime made mostly out of Vaseline? (Image courtesy of Thom Dyke http://www.flickr.com/thomdyke)

Welcome to a new segment in Tech is the New Pink – Is this Vaseline? In this mostly self-explanatory segment, we look at some premium beauty products and other stuff and ask – is this mostly made of Vaseline?

Today – Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Skin Protectant (shown here with the Eight Hour Daily Moisturiser and Lip Balm).

Is this miracle product made mostly out of Vaseline? Survey says: YES. Effective, but largely because of the high petrolatum content, I suspect. Unsurprisingly, the ingredient list is not available on the website, so I have conveniently transcribed below.

Image courtesy of Thom Dyke’s Flickr feed – www.flickr.com/thomdyke

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Skin Protectant: Petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil/paraffinum liquidum, bht, salicylic acid, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, vegetable oil, zea mays (corn) oil, parfum/fragrance, citral, citronellol, geraniol, limonene, linalool, propylparaben, iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492).


If I could attach my BlackBerry to my hand, I would. (via electricpig.com)


“I think we should go out for a day and leave our phones at home. No electronics. Let’s go somewhere without our electronics, somewhere we don’t know.”

My jaw dropped in shock. Onlookers clearly thought my boyfriend suggested we move to the moon. To me, it’s not that far removed.

“What gave you that idea? No, absolutely not. No way,” I spluttered indignantly.

“What is so wrong with not being networked for a day? Why do we need to be plugged in 24 hours a day? Why do we need gadgets to communicate?” He seemed genuinely hurt that I thought this was such an awful idea. I was genuinely perplexed as to why he thought this was such a good idea.

“It’s not about that!” And it really wasn’t. My smartphone has become my one-stop lifeline. It’s not just a phone to me. I could get lost in a cardboard box of my own making. Thank god for smartphones and GPS. Goodbye A to Z. Then there is the giant location-based competition that is Foursquare, a greatly attractive incentive to the ultra-competitive (*cough* me *cough*). Music, e-readers, video, Twitter, email email email. What? HOW could you expect me to live without this for even a day? Do you know me at all?

My boyfriend may have had a point. The electronic onslaught may be a revolution, but like all revolutions, it comes with its own unique problems – the loss of personal space and time, the need to be constantly entertained and constantly available, a crutch for our own foibles, like my atrocious sense of direction – I take the point. But maybe we accept this as a price to pay for being connected. Is it not about creating your own way of living in a digital world?

In the meantime, I am sure the Smartphoneless Day Out (and it is a matter of ‘less’) is coming soon. I wait in fear, clutching my BlackBerry for dear life. I will not surrender.