Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Apple Syndicate--Are iTunes'-iPod's Best Days Ahead Because of Syndication?

Today iPods and iTunes rule the portable audio and video content world. But does Apple's majority reach into the consumer space hinge on syndication technology? I think so...

I was quoted in an 11 February 2006 article in The Salt Lake Tribune written by Bob Mims about the impact FLASH memory will have on companies manufacturing FLASH, and on the result for consumers. He also cited Dan Francisco of Micron, Celeste Crystal of IDC Research, Nam Hyung Kim of iSuppli, and Don Barnetson of Samsung.

Mims (also a blogger), a reporter noted for doing his research while covering "technology, biotech, fraud, profiles" for 'The Trib' posed two questions to me while writing the article.

Understanding that Mr. Mims has word count and column inch restrictions for his stories, yet knowing myself well enough to realize I never say in a paragraph what can be said in a page, I'm sharing with you my entire response to his questions.

First he asked for my "off the cuff reaction to (1) the possibility of higher-capacity chips giving the ability to store 10s of hours of video and hundreds of hours of audio, and being able to burn and or buy movies on flash chips by the end of the year."

To which I replied:

"If Apple maintains cost parity and adds benefits like better battery life, better reliability, and increased durability, NAND flash makes great sense for the iPod installed base looking to upgrade. Since I’m part of that installed base, this appeals to me to be sure.

"Offering consumers legally pre-installed content may just deliver the “revenue hockey stick” Apple (and it’s shareholders) are looking for. They could easily increase market access by making cool stuff available to users who are uncomfortable with the “hook it to a PC, go on-line and use iTunes” content delivery experience. Once these consumers get a taste of this new way to access content, their aversion and pain threshold for the on-line experience may be decreased. Either way it means more revenue for Apple.

"In short, this may be just the next move to secure Apple's market dominance while growing the size of the addressable market at the same time. It's a great strategy."

Second, he asked "how important is it to [iPod users] to stay on the cutting edge of such technology?"

And I said:

"This is a classic Apple question and challenge. Apple currently dominates the market because the iPod user experience is so buttoned up through Apple’s mastery of integration. As the technology building blocks for MP3 players (like NAND flash, displays, interface) improve and the interfaces for these building blocks standardize, the battle for Apple will shift from the technology in the device to the technology that distributes delivers content to the device. Apple (or should I say Jobs) seems to have anticipated this nicely with their content relationships with the recording industry and now the television industry. Content truly is king in this market.

"This is going to remain a really interesting market, and whatever happens the consumers are going to come out on top. What a rush!"

After giving my responses, I had this additional thought: As syndication is a big part of the iTunes delivery system (particularly when you “subscribe” to a podcast) and the iPod experience, I can't help but think this is where eventually hundreds of millions (rather than today's tens of millions) of users will come from, and they'll come subscribing.

The thought reminded me of one of my very first posts where I talked about the evolution of the web from browse to search to subscribe. I think the web evolution we call syndication is really tied to the long-term value proposition for iTunes and the iPod.

What do you think?

Monday, February 20, 2006

When Opposites Attract--Ten Interesting Public Relations Blogs

Public Relations and blogging are an interesting combination that I've written about before... They're going to be living together, so they need to learn to get along. At the request of a PR pro, here's my quick pick list of blogs that can keep you in touch with the combination of the two.

Recently a public relations professional and personal friend asked for my help in providing a "short list" of PR-oriented blogs their firm could use for work with a client developing their blogosphere - PR intersect strategy. I told my friend about the ten I read regularly, and that I think have merit to peruse.

I thought you might be interested in my picks, and in the one sentence summaries I wrote describing each.

1. PR meets the WWW, Constantin Basturea
Very analytical, very wired, very opinionated blogger writing on the PR / WWW intersect. He tends to be almost everywhere there's something about PR.

2. Flackster, Michael O'Connor Clarke
More essay than bloglike, very frequently cited. This is a sort of elitist-bourgeoisie blog, but one to keep your finger on the pulse of (sorry to end with a preposition).

3. Micro Persuasion, Steve Rubel
Stays up on the nexus of technology and public relations, but writes to the PR audience instead of the technology audience. Often updated, highly self-promoting, and he's often quoted in print and broadcast journalism.

4. Blogwrite for CEOs, Debbie Weil
Focuses on CEO blogging and thought leadership. Very worthwhile reading on corporate blog strategy. A personal acquaintance, Debbie's a very bright woman with lots of good stuff to say.

5. PR Squared, Todd Defren
Like Micro Persuasion, only less content, less frequently updated, not so shamelessly self-promoting. Again, this one writes to the PR audience instead of the technology audience.

6. Center for Media and Democracy, Multiple Authors
Kind of the "Greenpeace" for the media... Interesting, often cited.

7. Spinfluencer, Eric Schwartzman
More a "commentary on the news" site, but from a PR perspective. Smart guy.

8. Blog Business Summit, DL Byron, Steve Brobach, Teresa Valdez Klein
Sort of a combination of PR, marketing and syndication. A good one to watch.

9. For Immediate Release, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson
A podcast that does get some interesting content. It takes some time to listen to them, though. I sort of watch their movement up and down in #10 below to determine if I will listen to the latest. When it's good, it's good.

10. The PR List, Constantin Basturea
This is a good general list to watch from week to week to see who is moving up and down in the PR portion of the blogosphere.

I’d be interested in your picks, and your observations about these sites. Agree or disagree? Comment away.

Friday, February 03, 2006

'The Art of the Blog'--Stats for Guy Kawasaki's Syndication Foray

Sure, it helps to be famous; but from zero to number 284 on Technorati in a month and change? Wow.

It seems I wasn't the only person taking blog stock on Wednesday of this week. Marketing guru Guy Kawasaki also shared the numbers for his blogging effort entitled Let the Good Times Roll.

These are some very interesting numbers. Highlights include:

- 42 posts


- 304 trackbacks

- 268,060 unique visitors (according to StatCounter)

- 211,947 first-time visitors

- 56,113 repeat visitors

- 479 sites maintain 2,843 links to the blog (according to Technorati)

- 4,231 people get the blog via feeds (according to Feedburner)

- 428 people get the blog through email (according to Feedblitz)

- Traffic to www.guykawasaki.com increased from about 400 page views/day to 800-1,200 page views/day

- Sales rank for Kawasaki's latest book (The Art of the Start) on Amazon were between #1,500 and #2,000 prior to the start of his blog

- Sales rank for Kawasaki's latest book (The Art of the Start) on Amazon is now between #500 and #750 after the start of his blog

The post also contains a breakdown of links clicked on. I'll not cite all of those numbers here; however, a very significant result is found in the following excerpt:

"7,140 people clicked through on the blog entry about the charts of Karl Hartig. Incidentally, he told me that his weekly visitor count increased from 231 visits/week to 38,946 visits/week. " (emphasis added)

Simply stated: wow. Congratulations, Guy!

So, what are the takeaways here?

1. Celebrity clearly helps ramp syndication efforts.

2. Existing brands realize rapid results from syndication marketing.

3. Products in later stages of their life cycle (arguably decline) may be pushed back up the curve through syndication awareness.

[Pundit's Update: In an e-mail to me this morning, Guy said:

"When you said this:

3. Products in later stages of their life cycle (arguably decline) may be pushed back up the curve through syndication awareness.

Were you referring to me or to my books?! :-)

I loved that! This is one of the many reasons why people read and respond to this guy!]

4. Links from successful syndication content drive significant web traffic increases for those fortunate enough to be referred.

There's lots for marketers to chew up by thinking through the numbers and their meaning.

So, take a look, do some thinking, and Let the Good Times Roll!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Orange You Glad It's Global?--The Non-Language Dependent Feed Icon

It's no secret syndication is a global phenomenon... Sadly, the iconography has been mired in English-only implementations--like my blog's logo for example. Well, no longer...

In December of last year, both Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion and Debbie Weil's BlogWrite for CEOs mentioned the impending adoption of a 'globalized' RSS icon with its origins stemming from the folks at Firefox.

I reviewed Steve's post one or two days after getting my own logo completed, and lamented my need to re-do my new logo to accommodate the new art. This has been one of those catch-up items I finally got to last night.

While it may be old news (the new icon), I found the post on the Microsoft Team RSS Blog about their decision to use the 'standardized' icon a very interesting read, and absent of global dominance rhetoric.

Now, back to the logo doctor for a 'version two dot oh' of The RSS Pundit logo that emphasizes the global look...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'State of the Blog Address'--The RSS Pundit's First 120 Days

If you're skeptical about syndication as a communications medium, consider these statistics from my first 'State of the Blog' address...

My fellow readers, thank you for joining me for the first of what I hope to be many 'State of the Blog' addresses.

Today I celebrate the amazing growth of this thing called The RSS Pundit.

I type here an amazed man. Having just passed the 120 day milestone in this effort/experiment, I happily report to you the readers The RSS Pundit is healthy (in spite of a very rough January) and growing, and a success by every measure I conceived before beginning the effort.

As of 31 January 2006, the global readership already spans 16 countries, including the United States of America. The top five countries being the USA (79%), the United Kingdom (7%), Canada (4%), the Philippines and Taiwan (each with 1%), and 11 other nations (8%).

In the United States, the readership is found in 33 of 50 states, with the top six states (a three-way tie for slot number four) being California (14%), Utah (9%), New York (8%), Texas (7%), Massachusetts (7%), Washington (7%), and the remaining 27 states (48%).

And all of this has occurred in only four months and with just short of 40 posts...

As one who has worked in the high technology sector for almost 20 years in a variety of capacities including product management, public relations, product marketing, business development and sales, I must say I have never enjoyed any success on this scale in this short of time on an operating budget of zero. All I have done is write about what I think, and about what others think for four months, and my 'voice' is now heard on every continent except Antarctica.

Would you count a four month public relations effort with these results a success? If you are intellectually honest, I believe you must answer 'yes.'

Would you count a four month marketing effort with these results a success? If you are intellectually honest, I believe you must answer 'yes.'

Would you count a four month sales channel development effort with these numbers a success? If you are intellectually honest, I believe you must answer 'yes.'

They say "numbers don't lie." And while they don't tell the entire story, they do paint a very encouraging picture for me in this journey called The RSS Pundit.

Thank you for doing your part by reading and sharing your ideas and your voice. I continue to learn and grow in the experience.

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