Nike’s timely exit from wearables

fuel band

Nike have exited the wearables market at the perfect time. In launching the Fuel Band, they helped establish a category and set consumer expectations for fitness wearables hardware and software experiences. Oh and they learnt along the way how to plug it in most efficiently into stickiest part of the Nike ecosystem, the data.

“Just last week, Nike announced the launch of its San Francisco-based Fuel Lab. The testing space, born from its accelerator program, will join Nike’s slew of other innovation-branded R&D havens where companies will be able to design hardware products that incorporate the company’s proprietary point-based workout metric, NikeFuel.

Essentially, it will be a incubator for FuelBand successors, as long as they plug in to Nike+, for which Nike is publicly releasing an API this fall.”

Their focus on APIs through public developer programs and exclusive incubators will foster the right level of ecosystem innovation at the hardware level and have it accrue to their core competency – their sports products. Now that manufacturing and prototyping costs have reached a startup friendly level (hello 3D printing), gone is the need to have bucket loads of cash to get a product off the ground. Nike is sensibly dispersing that risk to the ecosystem and focusing on its core products. Bravo.

Tracking users location and the laws of value exchange

Fortune published a pragmatic piece on location based tracking and how users will or won’t accept this type of interaction retailer or brand.

Part of the problem with iBeacon and its brethren is the word “tracking.” No one would answer “yes” to the question, “Do you like having your every move tracked whenever you enter a store?” And yet, that’s what happens to us as we browse the web every day. Marketers, publishers, and e-commerce sites use cookies to follow us around the web and serve us ads based on our browsing histories. Cookies have always been a point of contention with privacy wonks, but Internet users are generally okay with it.

Which word the industry ends up using to describe “tracking” is completely irrelevant. What is most important and indicative of iBeacon’s (and its brethren) maturity is when marketers actually figure out the right level of value exchange by which a consumer is willing to participate in a location specific interaction.

Spam me with crap and I will uninstall you. Shower me with value and I will be yours forever*.

*Forever in the internet world is actually next week, or at least until the next time you screw up and de-value our digital relationship.

Will there be spammers? Yes. Will there be an uproar from consumers? Yes. Will consumers eventually get over it as marketers figure out how to best leverage the technology and find the appropriate value exchange? Yes.

This pattern reminds me of Facebook Connect’s early days when users rioted when they had to sign into apps like Spotify using their Facebook account due to privacy concerns. Fast forward a few years and now this behavior is the norm. People understood the value in signing in with Facebook – it saved them time and enriched their interactions with their Facebook friends.

Top 3 experiences at SxSW 2014

  1. Game of Thones – “Ascend the Wall”

    Quite simply, stunning. A great use of Oculus Rift, wind machine and rumble floor. As someone who doesn’t like heights, I was surprised I survived (emotionally). Game of Thrones fans will love the way this connects them to the show / brand / location in a new way, beyond just watching from the couch. The exhibit goes on tour soon throughout the US – I recommend checking it out.

    Actress Maisie Williams of

  2. Samsung’s Galaxy Vine Studio

    With the rising popularity of Vine, Samsung cleverly played off the availability of the Vine app on Android by creating a small studio where “Vine Artists” created fun vine videos for visitors and their friends. The results were pretty cool and the process of creating the videos was appealing too – good win for their hardware and app store.

    Capture

  3. Lightwave at Pepsi

    I’m a a big fan of large, digital / physical installations. Pepsi commissioned a piece, in collaboration with Lightwave that visitors interact with via their brain waves (yup!). Their whole Art meets Data meme is spot on too – as millennial artists begin to gain cultural relevance, they will begin to create experiences that leverage technology more and more: non-interactive mediums will no longer be compelling enough for future generations.

Bezos waiting for Windows at the race of the bottom

I  like Paul Thurrott’s piece on Windows and the race to the bottom. It reflects Microsoft’s impatience to win in tablets and flip flopping between strategies that are long term (Windows 8 and addressing the high end market) and short term (price reduction). They have tried to compete with Apple and have come away licking their wounds and now are preparing for a battle at the low end. The reality is that Apple wins with it’s compelling devices and lock-in to valuable first & third party apps and services (iTunes, Spotify etc.), where it is super hard to compete without compelling market share and therefore monetization for publishers. Instead, they are now going to dip their toe into the low-end market, where Jeff Bezos and the Amazonians are waiting to wrestle them in the mud. Where margins are thin, Amazon will win – they are relentless in their pursuit of stickiness to their own services (Kindle, Amazon Instant Video, MP3, LoveFilm, Book store, Prime, etc.) where they make the most margin.

Oh and by the way, they have a pretty nice little shop front to sell their devices too.

Changing corporate culture

Much has been written about the changes afoot at Microsoft. The reorganization of the company, inclusive of the CEO change, will be the subject of business case studies and MBA courseware well into the future. With that backdrop, I found McKinsey & Company’s interview of Alan Mulally from November 2013 fascinating reading. Mulally is of course one of the supposed “final candidates”, (yesterday’s news about Mulally not withstanding), for the CEO position at Microsoft and his transformation of Ford is widely documented. With Microsoft having restructured from divisions to functional units, the first job any incoming CEO presumably is to instill a culture that reflects the new organization. This begs the question; how does Mulally view changes like this?

McKinsey: You’re widely credited with reshaping the culture at Ford. What’s different now?
Alan Mulally: At the heart of our culture is the One Ford plan, which is essentially our vision for the organization and its mission. And at the heart of the One Ford plan is the phrase “One Team.” Those are more than just words. We really expect our colleagues to model certain behaviors. People here really are committed to the enterprise and to each other. They are working for more than themselves. We are a global company, so we really have to stay focused on the work. There are so many people around the world involved in our daily operations that it has to be about more than a single person—it truly has to be about the business. Some prefer to work in a different way. Ultimately, they will either adopt the Ford culture, or they will leave.

Given the well-documented company DNA, this kind of approach might be exactly what the doctor ordered. This is why many believe that someone from outside the company is best suited for the role, even in a caretaker / temporary position, so that they can instill the culture that fits the functional structure and then stand aside to let the product visionary take over the reigns.

Disclaimer: Whilst I work at Microsoft, I have no insight into the CEO selection process. Of course, opinions stated on this blog are my own and discussed purely from an interest in macro business strategy and trends.

Unity support for Windows 8

image

Big news for game publishers today from the Unite conference, Unity announced support for Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8.

“Our mission at Unity has always been to provide solutions for developers to effortlessly bring their work to as many different platforms as possible,” said David Helgason, CEO of Unity Technologies, “The Unity community has been asking for access to Windows Phones and have been eagerly anticipating the release of Windows 8. We’re happy to announce that we will support both.”

[Article from Develop Online]

Good stuff!

We’ve also published some guidance for designing games on Windows 8, check out our “Designing great games for Windows” article to get a head start creating your next blockbuster!

Modeling User Satisfaction for in-flight wifi

I’m a frequent flier. When in-flight wifi first emerged about 18 months ago on airlines like Alaska and Delta, I was in heaven. I could be productive and stay in touch with colleagues, partners and friends whilst in the air. Fast forward to present day and the experience is unreliable, slow and almost impossible to use. I often just disconnect and ignore that it’s even available.

It got me thinking, at what point does the service level of in-flight wifi drop to levels where it degrades customer satisfaction, to the point where it almost makes more sense to not offer the service in the first place. I’d love to see that model.

Adobe: Omniture support for Windows 8 coming soon

Good news for app publishers given that measurement is so important, especially on new platforms where developers & designers are beginning to master the UX Guidelines.

Since the pub­lic announce­ment of Microsoft’s Sur­face tablet, my inbox has been flooded with ques­tions on when our Win­dows 8 app mea­sure­ment library will be avail­able.  I’m hop­ing this post will address those ques­tions and serve as a place for peo­ple to ask ques­tions or comment

Our Win­dows 8 library will be posted to devel​oper​.omni​ture​.com when it is ready and will be avail­able as a pub­lic beta until the pro­duc­tion release of Win­dows 8.  Cur­rent plan is to post the beta ver­sion by the end of July.  I’ll add the link to it in this blog post when it’s ready.  The library at gen­eral avail­abil­ity will be com­pat­i­ble with the full ver­sion of Win­dows 8 as well as the RT ver­sion for ARM devices.

Full blog post here.

Being emotional about London

image

I couldn’t help get a bit teary eyed on my flight from Austin to San Francisco today. United (whom I don’t fly with often, but enjoyed their service) and their Hemispheres magazine had a lovely piece on London, positioned as a city steeped in history, culture, art… yes I’m still talking about London, dear reader.

The thing that really got me was the history part. Having been in the USA for nearly four years, and living life at a frenetic pace, I’ve come to appreciate the history, the slower pace of European life amongst other things. The following paragraph filled me with a lot of pride and passion for London, it almost made me want to be back there, drinking a warm, dark beer and complaining about the cost of the Olympics. Oh, England, I miss you sometimes.

WITH THE OLYMPIC GAMES starting up later this month, the world’s eyes will turn to London. That is, if they ever turned away to begin with. The biggest city in Europe and the former capital of a vast empire, London offers in equal measure cutting-edge culture and a history so pervasive it’s almost impossible to comprehend.

Founded by the Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, London (née Londinium) endured plagues, invasions, wars, fires and other forms of upheaval and unpleasantness on its journey to become the capital of England, the center of the British Empire and, more recently, a global trendsetter in literature, music and fashion.

Today the city is vibrant, a financial powerhouse even amid an economically shaken European Union — but from the stately parks of Kensington to the bohemian haunts of the East End, the wide and low megalopolis affectionately known as “The Smoke” has lost none of the inimitable contrasts that have long defined it. It remains, as ever, London.

I feel obliged to admit that once I arrived in San Francisco, I upgraded my rental car to a real American muscle car… a Corvette, and nearly killed myself on the way to my hotel.

Windows 8 UX Fundamentals–Free Virtual Training

Metro style apps are the focal point of the user experience on Windows 8 Release Preview, and great Metro style apps share an important set of traits that provide a consistent, elegant, and compelling user experience.

With the first apps in the Windows Store, it’s exciting to see the designers begin to push the boundaries of the Metro design language on Windows 8. There’s plenty of innovation and beautiful apps to come, and if you want to learn how to get started, this free virtual training is perfect for you.

On 14th June from 9am to 5.30pm PST, the Windows User Experience Team will be presenting sessions on how to design great apps that leverage the full extent of the platform and adhere to UX guidelines. After this training, you will understand the tenants of a great app, how to think about information architecture, best practices for designing flexible layouts, touch, how to leverage contracts in the platform, and much more.

14th June, 9am-5.30pm PST – Event Agenda

  • Metro style design
  • Commanding, Information Architecture & Navigation
  • Designing for Touch, Mouse & Keyboard
  • Animations
  • Designing for view states
  • Designing apps with adaptive layouts
  • Using Contracts
  • Connected and Alive
  • Anatomy of an App: Case Study

Register today, you’ll be able to login to the event when we publish the event URL later this week. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!