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Traffic for transit apps

Idea: traffic for transit apps.

Wouldn’t it be great if the likes of Citymapper could give you not only the route options for how to get from A to B, but which were the least crowded options? I’m sure that’s possible due to counting phone signals etc.

I would love to know “northern line is fastest, but this other option is quiet and only takes 5 more minutes”

The last Mac I’ll ever buy

I’ve just ordered a fully tricked-out iMac 5k. It’s going to be awesome. It’s quite pricey, but it’s a business purchase and I think I’ll get five years out of it. 

But it just dawned on me that it actually may be the last Mac I ever buy. 

By 2020, it’s entirely conceivable that iOS is the dominant Apple platform, and that the notion of an immovable ‘desktop’ or a ‘laptop’ will be redundant given the power of even the most flimsy device. 

It’s also quite believable that power apps such as Photoshop, Lightroom and the like will have come along such that they work perfectly well on the descendents of the iPhone/iPad or have certainly been replaced by apps that do. 

I recently bought an iPad Mini, thinking I could use it for reading and light work. No one is more surprised than me that it’s already become my default daily carry for my consulting business. My Macbook Air and its heavy power supply are left at home.

The comparison that iPad can’t do this or that as well as a pc/Mac is misleading and baggage from a dusty generation. The comparison doesn’t matter. Today’s under 20s won’t care. 

It seems to me that computing will become ever more modular, pervasive and… just simpler. As others have noted, yes PCs are better for things like typing up long reports – but why are you writing those reports at all when everyone can have real-time dashboards on their phone?
So, as it may be the last one I ever buy, I plan to really cherish that new iMac.

Spinning a line

My friend Cliff pointed out this cartoon from the New Yorker.   It’s very funny, but the humour comes from wondering why people buy vinyl when it is more expensive and less convenient than digital formats and streaming. Surely it makes no sense?
For me, this shows the limitations of thinking about marketing propositions in rational terms. People by and large don’t make logical choices and in the case of vinyl, as always, it’s worth thinking harder about what they really are buying. 

They might articulate that they prefer a warm sound, or they appreciate the larger artwork, but I suspect on a deeper level they’re buying into how it makes them feel and how it fits their desired self image. 

Do they long for a taste of their formative years? Or maybe it’s an oasis from an always on digital world. 

Whatever it is, vinyl continues to sell and it’s a reminder that rational thinking and rational messaging can only ever scratch the surface. 

What the hell is digital?

There’s an old zen tale that goes like this:

“..There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Now replace the word ‘water’ with ‘digital’

Businesses continue to think of digital as something separate. Consumers don’t see it like that. To them, it’s just part of their life. It’s all around them and just something that is.

Let’s stop referring to digital marketing. It’s marketing in a digital world.

Mad Men finale (spoilers)

Don’t read this if you’ve not seen the final episode.

I’ve just finished watching the finale and what an unexpected finish. But yet it all makes perfect sense and we’d been given clues all along the way.

Don has spent the final series trying to find love and family life and been rebuffed at every turn. He gets divorced, Sterling Cooper leaves him, his dying wife rejects him and even the daughter of the woman who’s husband’s name he steals is too messed up to be family for him.

In the final episode, he only connects with his inner pain through a stranger’s dream – the tale of how an ordinary man thinks everyone else is having fun and he’s left on the fridge shelf locked away – like an unwanted product.

Don’s can’t find inner peace by chanting Om with the seekers on the clifftop, but he recognises how such moments move other people. His sudden smile is not soulful enlightenment, but for a marketing insight. It literally dawns on him, “Well this would make a great Coke ad”

He has failed at finding true happiness, so he goes back to selling it to other people.

He leaves the retreat, goes back to McCann and makes that Coca-Cola ad.

As Peggy says, he’s gone home.

Apple Watch and remote control eject buttons

We didn’t have tech culture magazines back in the 80s. There were things like Computer Shopper and probably Tandy catalogues, but, with perhaps the exception of nascent video game mags, no-one loved the change of experience that was coming – it was all about hardware and tech specs. God, it was dull.

I distinctly remember reading an article about a new CD player in a solemn hi-fi publication. The reviewer found it hilarious that the remote control had an eject button. He thought it must clearly have been an oversight as what was the point in ejecting a CD from across the room? You had to go to the machine anyway, so who needed such a button?

Of course, all remote controls now have such buttons. No-one needs them, but little, marginal conveniences all add up to a better product experience.

But people don’t like change. It makes them uncomfortable. And it’s much easier to direct that inner discomfort externally with left-brain scoffing about why something won’t work and asking whether people realy need them.

The Apple Watch reminds me of that review. I took delivery of mine this week and I know this is the start of something.

The killer benefit of the Watch is that you spend less time needing to fish your phone out of your pocket, unlocking it and navigating to the app you need.

Now text messages, sports scores, walking directions and more are a simple glance away. Leave the phone in your pocket, your bag or on the kitchen table.

That doesn’t sound like a huge existing problem being solved, but when you experience the simpler, smoother experience, you don’t want to go back.

It’s a bit like having the CD already ejected by the time you’ve walked over to the player.

Charging for services : value v cost

A guy wakes up one Sunday morning to find the kitchen flooded. Water is spurting everywhere and things are getting ruined. 


He tracks down a plumber who arrives to a fraught family scene. ‘Thank god you’re here’, says the dad. 

The plumber surveys the situation, pulls a tool out of his bag and stops the burst immediately. 

‘That’s fantastic’, says the guy, ‘how much do I owe you?’

‘£100’ says the plumber. 

‘£100?’. says the dad. ‘It only took you two minutes!’

‘No’, says the plumber, ‘that took me 25 years’ 

Ogilvy on the unconscious

I totally love (and belive in) this:

Asked about where he gets the big ideas of his campaigns, he replied that “big ideas in all fields come from only one place: the unconscious. Nobody’s ever had a big idea by a process of rational thought.” He described his process of digesting as much research material as possible, followed by “a good dinner and a bottle of claret, and then I got the idea from my unconscious. I won’t say I was totally unconscious after the claret, but I wasn’t at my best — except my unconscious mind was working and sent a telegram to my conscious mind.”

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