One of the most impressive changes the iPhone and other smartphones are making to personal technology is that they are making everyday life easier. It’s even behind Apple’s impressive marketing campaign.
A recent example I noticed this week was the NYC subway app “Exit Strategy,” which was written up on Gizmodo. The app enables you to get easy to understand train directions for getting out of tunnels and transferring, no matter if you are connected to a network or not–a big score for a huge system like New York.
In D.C., we have a similar app from echoditto labs that does not look quite as robust but is definitely as useful. I’ll test them both out next week when I receive my new iPhone 3GS and report back.
While “Free” is a book inspired by the power of Internet, for many it all circles back to old fashioned content.
It’s not hard to see why. With newspapers, magazines and other traditional outlets struggling to continue to exist, journalists and opinion leaders worry about a world where conventional news media disappears. We have seen numerous ideas recently about how to “save” old media, such as one really bad (in my opinion) proposal to ban or inhibit linking.
Anderson said he was “cautiously optimistic” that initiatives like this would not succeed in Washington. But it raises a larger question about technology’s role in content and revenue. If am to understand Anderson’s perspective, we are entering a tremendous time for entrepreneurialism. Musicians, film makers, artists and others can parlay their free online work to lucrative business ventures in the future.
In essence, we are remaking our careers as tech start-ups—high on ideas and passion but profits elusive as we take on new skills and grow. As newspapers falter, perhaps journalists can turn themselves into profitable local news operations of one—with a few new tricks thrown in. Already we’ve seen a few examples of this.
Anderson acknowledges that his “free” economic frame work is not universal, but it’s curious to imagine how it might be applied outside the digital world. Would a handyman be able to implement a free/freemium model?
What do you think?
UPDATE 7/10/09: Looks like the Google D.C. team has posted the video from the talk. Check it out!
Attended today’s conversation with Chris Anderson, editor of Wired, about his newly released book “Free” here at Google’s Washington, D.C. office. Anderson’s book focuses on the concept of an emerging “free” economy. Anderson believes that free is a powerful marketing tool that is only now emerging and will be immensely powerful for companies. Free is the door in which to enter consumers’ hearts, while “freemium,” the related products that are not free, are where companies can charge money, earn profits and subsidize “free” consumers.
One example he pointed to are free online games for children that charge users to enhance their character and enjoy additional features.
I noticed many in the room were capturing their thoughts on Twitter. I think Brian Bailey over at Word Theory did a good job of capturing a few key points. Internews also summed up one of the more lively discussions on the fate of the news media: “New biz model for mainstream media? Pray. Then give most content free, sell the niche content. =Freemium.”
Anderson’s views are incredibily interesting and generate a great deal of contraversy, much of it from those looking to poke holes in his arguments. However, what I found most fascinating was how it engaged the audience and my colleagues. As we walked back to the office, we debated the value of “free” and whether it might truly be a sustainable business model.
Right now, free electronic versions of Anderson’s book are being downloaded around the world. He admitted that his book might not bring him more wealth, even if it were downloaded a million times. But instead he would have fame. And he’d find a way to make money with that.
As a PR person, it makes sense that my first real post on this blog would be about the interesting article in The New York Times this weekend about tech PR. It focuses on Brooke Hammerling, a super connected tech publicist, whose client launched the new Web site Wordnik.
Much of the story focuses on Hammerling, a tech veteran and interesting character, who employed a social media public relations campaign to raise awareness for the site. A big point the reporter wants us to take note of is how the media and PR biz are changing with the growth of social media—and the tech industry is a leading indicator. The article challenges the “traditional” role of media and public relations.
Some business people say that because journalists would rather hear stories directly from the entrepreneurs who are genuinely excited about their companies — rather than from publicists’ faking excitement — the role of publicists becomes less crucial. Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin, a real estate Web site, says he has never hired a P.R. person. “Besides,” he says, “with the real-time Web, there’s no time to vet every message through three layers of spin.”
A few bones to pick from my perspective: I don’t believe it’s efficient or effective for a CEO or anyone integral to the daily operations of a company to spend his or her time pitching media. Successful organizations are built around strong teams with distinct roles. I had a boss once who wanted to show solidarity to a group of us who had the unfortunate job of mailing boxes—in 10 minutes, he got in the way and then somehow cut his hand and started bleeding everywhere. Executives need to build teams that can handle these tasks competently on their own.
I also want to take a moment to knock down the idea that PR people are “faking excitement.” I firmly believe that in order to be successful in PR, you need to find real, authentic enthusiasm in your work. Success grows around passion. If you don’t love what you do, people can tell.
Of the commentary I’ve seen across the Web so far, I think Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has offered the most interesting thoughts. I would like to focus on his larger thesis: Today, more than ever, PR people need to be strong, independent counselors.
Somewhere my college PR prof Bill Sledzik is cheering. I’ll admit, as journalism student, I thought he was full of crap with his talk about PR striving to “get a seat at the table.” Only when I joined the world of newspaper and magazine journalism and then later PR, did I come to appreciate what makes “good” public relations: building consensus and relationships. Professor Sledzik has a great post on the 2-way symmetrical model of PR. It’s what I strive to achieve in my own career.