Scribble Away on Google

Article first published as Scribble Away on Google on Technorati.

Scribble your Search on Google
Scribble your Search on Google

Lately, there are more practical ways for you to input information on your smaller screens, especially when it comes to Google products. Not only has  for Android been recently released, but now you can scribble on your touchscreen for whatever it is you’re looking for on the Google Search Engine.

Google has now enabled a small button on the bottom right corner of your touchscreen for you to scribble block letters or cursive writing. As you go on scribbling, the autocomplete feature will be changing according to what you have written; then you can select the best option or the closest one to what you wrote.

TechCrunch says that “The new feature will work on iOS5+ devices, as well as Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0 tablets.”  Be that as it may, the new handwriting feature will not replace keyboard input. It will only make it easier for you to look for something while you’re holding a cup of coffee or are busy with other activities.

In order for you to use it, you first need to enable the handwriting option on your device’s Google preferences. Once you do, you’ll notice a small button on the bottom right corner, once you click on it, scribble away!

 

Photo Marketing

Every day more and more you can notice small changes across the web. There’s no doubt exponential growth is here to stay and well… grow! It’s been a long time since Kotler’s 4 Ps are no longer the magic formula for marketers. Outbound marketing has been long dead.

Instead, consumers are savvier, hungrier and much more quality demanding. The level of information consumption is beyond doubt at its highest level in history. We’re surrounded by gadgets that filter information for us according to what we want to see — hence the phrase “you see only what the mind wants to see” has more meaning than ever before–.

Especially in the web, we are only pulled in to content that is image or video related. No wonder 9gag has been such a hit! In fact, attention span and the number of unique users increases dramatically when there’s rich (high quality) media involved. An infographic by MDG Advertising proves this detail by detail.

Photo Marketing
Photo Marketing

Personally I observe it’s especially true with social media. Every time media is posted on Facebook or Twitter, fans come flowing in with likes, RTs and sharing. Pinterest is the live example of media curation, ordered in such a way that it has become the third largest social network, just because of rich media!

Facebook noted this trend a while back, ergo coming up with the Timeline which features media in a higher quality. Furthermore, Instagram’s purchase was done in great time to further exploit and feed users’ hunger for images. What kind of marketing will be next? With so many developments, it’s hard to keep up!

Facebook’s App Center, Switzerland of Apps?

Facebook’s user volume presents so much opportunities, that a lot of them, perhaps even the Facebook staff or Zuckerberg himself haven’t discovered yet. One of these opportunities was app development and support. It has been done for quite some time now. However, Facebook had much more potential than that. It has now announced that it will become an App hub. This “App center” will be the app shopping mall to go to.

Fear not, Facebook is not in on it to become the new king and major competition to Apple, Google or any other app store out there. It rather is the place to go to no matter what device you have. Just like in a shopping mall you can find hundreds of different stores and brands, Facebook App Center will offer these options.

Once you enter the site, you can select the device you are handling and will automatically be redirected to its main app center; if you have an iPhone, you’ll be redirected to Apple’s App Store; if you have an Android device, you’ll be redirected to Android Market and so on. Not only is it a handier place to look for the latest trends and your favorite apps, but it is also a better place to compare prices (if any), ratings, quality and just how many people are actually using certain apps or not. It is a more critical, user friendly place in which you can better trust your friends’ judgement instead of the biased opinion of their developers.

Now, if Facebook’s App Center doesn’t charge users a penny extra, what does Facebook gain out of it? Just like regular Facebook apps like Farmville and the like, Facebook credits can come into play. Although this won’t mean an extra cost for users, it will mean a commission cut from manufacturers and developers. Impressive right? What will they think of monetizing next? Stay tuned.

What 1 Billion Represents for Instagram & Facebook

The number “One Billion” means two key things for both Instagram and Facebook. We’ve all seen how in the past days, a company that had no defined Business Model went from zero to a $1 Billion USD worth in under 18 months. This past sentence rises several questions, so let’s take one at a time.

  • How did Instagram survive 18 months without a monetized mobile business?
Instagram has had several rounds of funding that have fed the company and its multiple developments. This is the most basic piece of information according to Crunch Base. The company has had a rather small staff, and its product has been rather attractive to investors, SO MUCH that well, Facebook just bought it.
  • Why did Facebook pay $1 Billion dollars for a company that offers an entirely free service with no monetization?
After several valuations, the company has risen its value overtime. But it’s not just about what Instagram is worth alone, but how much Facebook can take advantage of. This price tag is really more about what Facebook can do with Instagram’s product. Although they have clarified that Instagram will remain as an independent app from Facebook, with separate functionality, Facebook is in for a gold mine of data.
To further grow its databases, Facebook can sell better advertisement placements and targeting with an expanded data base. Instagram can provide Facebook with particular tastes of niche users with very peculiar activities.
  • Where is Facebook standing in terms of number of users right now?

Facebook has 901 million users at the moment, with predictions of it reaching 1 billion users before the year ends. The largest social network is still at a growing stage definitely. More numbers, more power to them.

Overall, many have protested about Instagram’s purchase, threatening to close their accounts (or have closed them altogether). Which makes sense given that it’s human nature to reject change. However, Instagram also grew 40% in number of users in a period of 30 days, give or take. In any case, the world still spins, and two great companies now operate under the same umbrella.

Social Media vs Apps, or both?

We are living an era in which traditional media is not trusted nor is it profitable anymore. People don’t read the paper; they scan through their iPads or smartphones. People don’t watch TV, they watch TV shows or movies on multiple, Internet connected screens (although the movie theatre experience is a subject apart). People like to play and interact with their favorite brand, this cannot be done via traditional media.

For not so long now, people were starting to panic when they saw that their traditional marketing strategy was not delivering customers. “Is this company going down? Am I broke” many entrepreneurs might have thought. Those that were not early adopters or innovative minds, were being left behind on print.

It’s different today. Right now, log into your Facebook account, how many brands or companies have you “liked” on that network? How many of those have a Twitter account that you also follow? Even if companies and brands still publicize their product or service via traditional media, they’re using that to inform you that they have an app ready for you to use on your preferred device, or that they have a channel of communication in X social network.

Now, the question is, out of the new and innovative communication channels, who is winning the race: apps or social networks? Let’s break them down one by one.

Apps. They are everywhere. “There’s an app for that” started out as a joke, but now, it’s nothing but the truth. Anything you want to solve, you can do so via an app installed in your smartphone or any other smart device. Heck, my iPhone has apps I barely use but that have saved me from a lot of trouble. For instance, I installed the Flash Light app; yes, a flash light on mi iPhone! Spare time aside, there are plenty of useful interactive apps from famous brands that achieve direct access with their consumers.

Take Nike for example. They transformed the runner’s culture into a whole smart and connected community. You run, it syncs up with your favorite playlist, it tells you how many miles you ran, how many calories you burnt, etc. It changed the whole runners scheme. Sure, billboards and TV commercials are still up now and then, but this direct and customized experience cannot be achieved with traditional media.

Social Media. Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest are the most effective social networks. Let’s skip the ones we’ve already been familiarized with for quite some time now and focus on Pinterest. To be perfectly honest, at the beginning I didn’t give this network any faith. I wrongly thought it would be just like any other social network and their 15 minutes of fame. However, Pinterest has achieved in images what Twitter has in text. This image collection is so simple to use, that Tech Crunch has pronounced it the third most important social network (I believe the first two are obvious) in so little time.

Pinterest is really more about the branding connection it can offer to companies rather than any other strategy, but nowadays branding per se takes a large piece of the strategy pie.

Now, as an entrepreneur or strategist, which do you prefer? Apps or Social Networks? Why not have both?

TEDx Zapopan, Independently Organized

My dedication to watch TED talks started at an Innovation course when I was in college. The main idea behind these talks (even mentioned in their logo) is to share ideas worth spreading. All kinds of speakers with different backgrounds, topics and fields of study have spoken here. Anything from religion, to innovation; from ancient history to modern and advanced technology. The beauty of these talks is that it recognized work done by thousands of people around the globe.

Adalberto Flores - Director of Operations Ooyala Mexico

TED started out being specially organized conferences that had tremendous logistics and organization. However, many people around the world felt like they needed such an event to be close to them, to be hosted in their cities and countries. Thus, TED developed TEDx – Independently organized events.

Darius Lau - My Ex classmate and CISCO prize winner

One of my former teachers from college, Daniel Pandza, decided to go forth with this independent license here in Guadalajara (or Zapopan, the neighboring county). At first it seemed to be a longshot project. But like all things innovative, there was disbelief at the start and complete confidence in the end.

Jorge Sánchez - Agencia Espacial Mexicana

Finally, twenty speakers from all of Mexico were gathered under one roof at Tec de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara (my alma mater) to speak about their struggle in life, and how they followed their passion to become who they are now. Every speaker that went by just made the event more and more interesting. It was as if like the passion fever was spreading from one person to the next.

Rodo Padilla - Mexican Sculptor and Designer

The room was filled with an entrepreneurial audience (yours truly included). I met many of my old classmates (it was like a mini reunion after graduation), I met with other entrepreneurs from the area, and even former co-workers. All of them had but one thing in common, passion for what they do.

Patricia García Torres - Steinway Artist

Although the event started at a little past 5pm, I was there earlier to help out with the logistics and get a bit of an inside scoop behind the scenes. One by one, the speakers came in and were redirected to the make up room (yes, believe it or not, they also have their make up privileges). I spoke with a few of them and was amazed at their current projects (many of which were not exactly spoken about during their talks).

And so, the event was a complete success and ended until 10pm. An event that we usually saw in class through the Internet, one that seemed so far away, was finally here and I was part of it. Here are some of the speakers who were present at the conference, and you can watch the entire talk here. Cheers!

Squeezing out your iPhone

A friend of mine recently shared a post with me about the differences between our daily activities back in the 90’s and now. The post was a comic showing several activities like music listening, socializing, sending mail, and other things. Basically, the column on the right kept showing the same drawing for all of those activities, one of a person sitting with their laptops on their desks. It’s true, we can now virtually do most things without having to change position or even leaving the comfort of our homes (offices?).

However, as soon as I finished looking at the comic, I turned to my left and saw my iPhone. How many things have I used this little piece of machinery for? And so I started listing out all of them in my head:

  1. I keep all my social networks there. Thus I interact via my iPhone no matter where I am.
  2. I text message
  3. I use it as a regular phone
  4. I browse the web
  5. I scan documents and send them as attachments via email
  6. I manage three email accounts of mine
  7. I blog (very important)
  8. I play games
  9. I IM with friends, family and coworkers
  10. I use it as a camera

The truth is I could go on with this list forever. It’s not so much the actual gadget anymore, but the apps and the creativity of the people who create them that help the consumer define what they really want to do with their technological tool.

If someone had been worried about the low mobility that having to do everything from a single spot represented, they needn’t be so anymore. Our little phones are now getting empowered more and more every day to behave as super mini computers. If they go wherever we go, then we don’t have to worry about not being  able to complete tasks if we’re away from the mighty computer. The very concept behind the original Wii is now being perpetrated by the smartphone itself. To be technological, you don’t have to be sedentary. On the contrary, technology follows you.

So better yet, you get your entire world in your pocket. Of course, there’s still a long way to go. No matter how practical it may be and from how many so called “emergencies” might the smartphone save you from, the computer screen is still more comfortable to work on. However, it won’t be too long for someone to come up with a practical solution for this. Have you thought about all the things you’ve done with your phone so far? Some of them might be even unbelievable to some of us.

New Metrics, New Social Strata

It has already been described in dozens of books and reviews. Daniel Pink made sure to exercise the disruptive hemisphere of the brain with more than just a single book, and the world has now seen it make a huge difference in our society. Even though we are still under the capitalist model, social strata have begun to morph into more than just financial divisions and capabilities. There is now a new scale: creativity.

Employment may appear to have moved overseas, away from “the developed world”, leaving the West with unemployment rates. What is also true is that it’s not about the numbers, but rather the types of jobs that have remained. More intellectually capable, creativity based and psychological capabilities have remained. So much so, that the # 1 buzz word on LinkedIn profile descriptions is: Creativity.

The traditional model has passed away. Perhaps people still mourn the “good old days”, but this does not mean that it is the beginning of the end (or the total end for that matter); this means that the metamorphosis of the mind has finally begun to take place.

New things can be born out of this new structure. Even metrics have changed. A year ago, tech conoceurs would not have even guessed what TPS meant. It means “Tweets per Second”, and it is a record now held by a Japanese film with a total of 25,088 TPS.

A networked society, as described on the previous post, is now capable of going beyond the physical reality into an informed, educated, creative, holistic environment. So I ask, why if there are a zillion more possibilities with these new models, are people still mourning for the good old days? Don’t look back, rather look forward and see what you are missing.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

As we were finishing up on some details at the office the other day, I turned around and asked my partner, “Do you think technology is causing a greater gap between developing and developed countries?” His answer after thinking about it for a few seconds was that it was closing the gap rather than making it bigger.

Then recently, quite a cultural mishap occurred while at Latin America’s largest book fair. You may have read about it by now and the thousands of jokes that derived from the incident. But the true point in this situation (at least for me) was not the fact that a public figure was embarrassed and perhaps even humiliated in front of millions of people. The true point is that he was mocked by people that are just as guilty as he is: lack of lifelong readership background.

Makes me wonder, that even if we do have modern gadgets like the Kindle that will carry thousands of book titles for us instead of pounds of physical books, we are still not motivated to get involved with culture or education. Developed countries still read in average 30 books per person, per year. A recent study even said that 1 in every 10 Icelanders, there’s a published author. In other words, developed countries not only get involved with culture, but actually produce it.

Technology is being distributed all over the world. Even Latin America has sky rocketing numbers on smartphone usage. So what are people using smartphones for (or other gadgets for that matter)? Technology might be a great tool to simplify tasks and get better results, but in the end, that’s just it: a tool. A tool cannot do the job itself. A tool cannot think; a tool cannot set goals and pursue objectives.

So to answer my own question, yes, technology will help (and is helping in some cases) to close the gap between developing and developed countries. People aren’t. Words of change and action can be spat out over and over again, but it takes people to do it in the end. People, make yourselves proud.

The World as Seen from Multiple Screens

Have you ever sat down and thought about how evolution speeds up as time goes by? Think about it, the dark ages lasted for centuries, then each era seemed to be shorter. In the last hundred years we’ve had more progress than anything before that. It was only fifty years ago that there was a big cube in the living room, broadcasting the same content to millions of families at a time, without people having any control over what they watched. Even marketing seemed pragmatic and programmatic. Just watch Mad Men on HBO… how marketing has changed since the 60’s.

Now look at us. TVs are no longer giant, heavy cubes; they’re flat panels hanging from stylish walls most likely to be hooked to different devices or smaller screens. Plug in a digital camera, a PC, a smartphone and now even a tablet. And even when all of the above can be taken everywhere with you, the interesting part is not only being connected 100% of the time, but rather that you have customized content no matter if you are out for a jog, at the office, at your leisure or plain out bored.

Personally, as time passes by, I find myself to be surrounded by more and more gadgets. In my “engadgeted” world I can practically do anything with a decent Internet signal. What’s more, each little piece of machinery offers a different experience that cannot be equaled by any other.

This said, what would happen if all of a sudden all of our gadgets were taken away from us? History tells us that we’re perfectly capable of surviving such “catastrophe”, but how would we cope with hole left in us all? Would panic surround us? Would we remember quickly enough how to do things analogically? I recall this video  not long ago in which several old gadgets were shown to seven-year-olds just to see if they recognized them or at least knew what they were for. The items included a walkman, a vinyl record player, a tape recorder and an old computer. Not a single participant knew what they were for.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vvqM8YCp-s]

Let’s just hope progress keeps constant and we enjoy our present and our future. In any case, just remember how to read a book in regular pages, how to write by hand and how to walk to the nearest pizza place and get it back home. Can’t harm us, right?