All new Windows Live

Last week we announced the all new Windows Live, updating some existing services and adding new ones. Windows Live is basically split up in 2 free rich web services (such as Hotmail, Skydrive, …) and also free downloadable software called Windows Live Essentials. The software has been in public beta for some weeks now, but last week we announced the full story including the web services part. To be totally clear, the web services will be rolled out soon, but here’s what they’ll look like.

Together with the folks from CommonCraft they made a little movie – in the known style – to explain it all a bit more.

winlivefilm

What it all means? It’s almost there, it looks good and I can finally talk about it :) I’ve been using the full set of services and clients for a while now I find it the best release (this on is called ‘wave 3’ internally) so far. Checking on the blogs after the announcement shows that most bloggers, reviewers, … seem to agree. So that’s even better. Hope you will all like it too, here are some quotes:

”My early reaction is surprisingly positive, and I can’t say that the two earlier Live Waves impressed me. Microsoft had the right concepts, but marginally executed on them. Wave 3 feels different and may follow the old axiom that Microsoft gets things right on the third version. The private beta was very fast—surprisingly so. Response was quicker than running desktop applications in Windows.” Joe Wilcox (Microsoft Watch)

“Microsoft’s software plus services strategy has clearly infiltrated Live.com as well as their approach with Office. Live.com users can now access a variety of online services like mail, calendar, photos, online storage, etc., as well as downloaded services that include a mail client, instant messaging, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, the Toolbar and other services. And now it’s also one big social network. The result is an impressive personal productivity suite that makes me almost wish I wasn’t solely a Mac user.” Michael Arrington (Techcrunch)

“This is Big. Overall, these new services represent a major upgrade to the online part of the Windows Live suite. Microsoft is clearly trying to challenge both Yahoo and Google with its new photo application, while the new profiles and groups tie all the Live services together into a very sophisticated social network.” Frederic Lardinois (ReadWriteWeb)

I hope you all take some time to check out what’s available already and check all of it once it’s out there. With the renewed services, more integrated approach, 25G of free storage, social network partner integration, … I really think it’s worth it.

Personal/corporate identity

Last week at SIME during the first speaker gathering Ola Ahlvarsson (CEO of SIME) thought it was a good idea to introduce Thomas Crampton and myself to each other… he sure was right :) Thanks for that Ola!

We got talking right away (part of which translated in a little video interview – see below) on several things relating blogging, corporate blogging, identities, transparency, … and how difficult it can be to turn small company learnings to good use at corporations, or how US learnings wouldn’t necessarily work in Europe or Asia (where you don’t have one market / one language).

Interestingly enough, the topic seems to surface at other places as well these days, look at this post on MarketingProfs for instance. The video below is part of the conversation I had with Thomas, focusing on identities. Thomas called it “difficulty of blogging for Microsoft”, I see it more as “challenges in corporate social media” or something but that doesn’t sound half as good… and the chat would have been the same anyway so why bother ;)

The reason for this was the notion that corporate blogging projects that get listed this days only seem to relate to initiatives that are set up centrally and less about the ‘accidental spokesperson’. LionelatDell or ComcastCares (aka Frank) or … are real people, real but corporate identities, transparent and honest (I presume) but set up for the company they work for. What if you (like myself) already have that presence and identity, which is personal, but talks about work stuff as well? What if you set up a corporate initiative next to your own, that you own for a long time already? Again, not really problems, but questions/challenges I like to think about… and so does Thomas.

Online advertising in 2009

We’re only a few weeks short from the annual predictions that will pop up in the blogosphere. Which will be the key trends for 2009 in technology, advertising, … etc. One prediction that will stand out in many of these overviews relates to online advertising trends for 2009, at least that’s what I believe. It’s not so hard to foresee this happening though as much discussion around the topic is already going on right now.

dontjump

Gotta love this Careerbuilder ad they used on Silicon Alley Insider btw ;) In another post on Alley Insider they foresee a 10% decline in online advertising next year and slightly more in 2010, comparing today’s situation to the dotcom crash when the market fell up to 25% (see graphs below).

QuarterlyOnlineAdSpend

This year is not over yet though and predictions for 2008 are that yet with the slowing economy, the online advertising market is expected to grow 23%. So even if you believe that advertising will take a hit in 2009 (which I think most agree it will), it’ll be interesting to see if it’s just going to slow down growth (like only 14,5% as eMarketer predicts) or whether it will indeed declines as the Alley Insider and others predict. Also interesting to see is which parts of the advertising industry will be most affected by the slowing economy. Television advertising only grew by 8% in 2008 and a lot of people think that mainly traditional advertising will get a hit (where the biggest budgets are still today) and that some of that money will be diverted to online ad spend.

I believe that is what’s going to happen anyway. Online advertising will still grow in 2009, although it will slow down versus the 2008 or 2007, and the slower economy and lowered budgets will force people to rethink their plans in which digital might finally be looked at as good alternatives. There’s something about bad times that make people more open to embraces changes, so online advertising might suffer less than traditional advertising. Last but not least it’s also worth noting that the online advertising industry is much more mature than it was in 2001-2002. Curious to see what predictions will be once they start coming in December.

Bonus – 10 Ways Digital can help you thrive in a recession (David Armano)

2nd Edition: Age of Conversation

Some 18 months ago I was part of a project called the “Age of Conversation” and today I’m happy to announce that the second edition of the “Age of Conversation” is a fact. Instead of 100 authors there are over 200 contributors this time (not me anymore) and it’s themed around “Why don’t they get it”. Other than that, all proceeds still go to charity so to encourage you to by the hardcopy this time, John Moore lined up the ‘Money Quotes’ in one little presentation.

Meet the connected consumer

Last week Razorfish released their 2008 Consumer Experience Report which had (according to the report) a simple mission:

“To gain a better understanding of how technology affects today’s digital consumer experience and explore the emerging trends that will shape those experiences for years to come.”

I’ve been reading the report during my flight back home from Los Angeles and found it very much worth the time. Although I do prefer research that isn’t just US focused, I can recommend this to everyone so make sure you download it and check it out (PDF). More results are to be expected on Razorfish’s Digital Design Blog according to this post.

twInfluence

A tweet from Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) got me curious about a site called twInfluence.com two weeks ago. Anything that has to do with the measurement of online influence interests me, so this was no different. Just like most other services that measure/calculate some form of influence, this one also got it’s own ranking etc figured out, but it was how they got to it that interested me most.

Ever since I’ve started writing about measuring influence, I’ve highlighted there’s too much focus on quantity versus quality. Take the Technorati “authority” for instance, that’s basically just a number of incoming links. Or talking about Twitter and the obsession that many in Twitterville seem to have with the number of followers, or even less relevant: the number of tweets sent out. Never noticed how many times Scoble will refer to the amount of likes he has added on Friendfeed?

It’s not just about quantity at all, but also about the quality of the network, in the case of twitter that translates into the quality of your followers. twInfluence is interesting because it’s the first service that I know that takes exactly that into account. Even if you have only 1 follower, if that is someone with several thousands of followers that is clearly better than the case where you would have a few dozens of followers yourself but all with only few followers themselves:

“First and Second Order Networks: From the perspective of graph theory, a Twitterer’s followers would be considered their first-order network, and their "followers count" the same as their "degree". "Degree" is a simple form of centrality measurement that equates to "prestige" or "popularitiy"; different types of centrality can measure connectivity, authority, and control in a network. The following diagram demonstrates the different "neighborhoods" in a network. The Twitterer is the primary node (shown in red); its first-order neighbors (shown in green) surround it, and its second-order neighbors (shown in blue) surround the outside.”

Another interesting metric twInfluence calculates – what they call efficiency – is the amount of followers you have versus how many people you are following yourself. The site also analyzes velocity (how quickly you’ve gained quality followers) and social capital (how many high-influence people follow you).

twinfluence

Hopefully they’ll also find a way to take out duplications in measuring reach, and there are some opportunities as well to find out about locally relevant influence, but overall this is a very interesting exercise so kudos to the folks behind twInfluence.

A friend’s birthday

It seems to be quite appropriate that the 2nd anniversary of the Blue Monster coincides with Steve Clayton’s birthday as Steve has been crucial  in getting the Blue Monster where it is today. Hugh Macleod has a nice little write-up about the Blue Monster history, well worth reading. For me this story started at a similar time that I got to know both Hugh (we met for the first time at LeWeb 2 years ago) and Steve and that’s how I got affected by our little blue friend. It was good getting to know all three of them.

In his post Hugh refers to what David Armano had to say about the Blue Monster, something he wrote after he and I met at MIX08 in Vegas:

“What’s to be learned? Blue Monster shows us that no matter how big or small the company that the world is a bigger place. And external influences can become internal influences. And it teaches us that if we are interested in the evolution of corporate culture, that symbols are important. If we don’t find our own—someone will find them for us.”

bluemonster Even more, the Blue Monster became an example of how companies can embrace social media. It has become an example of how a company (or anybody for that matter) can benefit from letting go of control. Just read through Rohit Bhargava’s “Personality Not Included” for instance, or the more recent “Crowd Surfing” from David Brain.

Hell no, the Blue Monster is not dead – it’s alive and kicking, not only within the spirit of many Microsoft employees but also outsiders are starting to see change. And did you read Hugh’s 7th point? Well the Blue Monster is going to Paris… but more on that soon ;) For now, it’s just happy birthday.

Web2.0 Expo Berlin

I’ve just left Berlin where I attended O’Reilly’s Web2.0 Expo. I quite enjoyed the event, but I must admit (especially on the first day) the networking was what made it good, more so than the content. I missed a general theme, a story that tied up all the presentations together, something that became painfully clear during the keynotes on Wednesday. First two VC’s (Martin and Saul both did a great job) then opensource hardware (Arduino), Drupal.org redesign, Nabaztag,… what’s the link? Why are these presentation wrapped into one keynote? Having this experience right after a cancelled session (speaker didn’t turn up) and right before a talk that was basically a product pitch in disguise you can understand having mixed feelings of the conference. What made the day was connecting with people like Ronna Porter, Luis Suarez and others as well as meeting some old friends again. I did enjoy Stowe Boyd’s talk on ‘Better Media Plumbing for the Social Web’ and Lee Bryant’s presentation – note to self: check out Russell Davies’ “patina”.

Stowe

The second day was better though. It started with some good keynotes: John Lilly from Mozilla did a really good job, the same for Luis Suarez on his experiment around giving up work email (9 months already!) but also Patrick McDevitt from TeleAtlas gave an interesting talk about updating maps in collaboration from the community. After the break I went to see JP Rangaswami who also gave a great presentation around the next level of “unified communications”. I had run into Tom Raftery and JP the night before when I went out for dinner with Andie Nordgren and became a fan right away :) The day ended with a panel discussion around ‘gender issues in web2.0 careers’ by Suw Charman-Anderson, Stephanie Booth, Janet Parkinson and Lloyd Davies and a presentation from Nate Elliott (Forrester) who presented a brand new research they’ve done around ‘The Future of Influence’. Very good to end the day especially knowing it was ‘only’ a replacement for yet another cancelled session, I will do a separate post about that presentation later.

Overall I think there’s still a decent amount of improvements that I think the Expo needs to think of for next year, but it was definitely worth going for me. Next week I’ll be at PDC (Los Angeles) which is one of our own events that I’m really looking forward to, then we’re in Stockholm for SIME (feat. Hans Rosling, Joi Ito, Dave Sifry, …). After that it’s time for the Creativity World Forum in Antwerp (feat. John Cleese, Chris Anderson, Steve Wozniak, Dan Heath, …) and early December we’re off to LeWeb in Paris which features way more people than you can imagine :). Let me know in case you’re around at one of these events.

FYI – all Web2.0 Expo presentations can be found here. I haven’t seen a link for video (yet).

Personality matters

PersonalityNotIncluded Last April in NY during the Blogger Social, we all received a bunch of goodies, most of it small promotional items, but also some marketing related books. One of those books was ‘Personality not included’ from Rohit Bhargava, also present at the event. We had a little chat about the book, which was pretty interesting for many reasons but one thing Rohit said made me more curious about reading it than anything else and that was part of a chapter talking about Microsoft and The Blue Monster. So I started reading on the plane back already, it just took me a while to write down my thoughts.

In the introduction Rohit already makes it very clear what this is about:

“Personality matters. Being faceless doesn’t work anymore. The theory of PNI is that personality is the answer. Personality is the key element behind your brand and what it stands for, and the story that your products tell to your customers.”

Rohit defines personality then as:

“The unique, authentic, and talkable soul of your brand that people can get passionate about”

Chapter 2, that talks about The Blue Monster, interested me for two reasons. One, it’s The Blue Monster (see earlier posts) and two because it talks about ‘The Accidental Spokesperson’. The reason why that interested me more has to do with the revealing of corporations who get social media, lists you can find all over the place these days. Microsoft who used to be mentioned a lot in the beginning as a company who ‘gets it’ is hardly ever in those lists. Why? Because they look at corporate blogs, corporate twitter accounts etc. And we don’t have that – at least not like a CEO blog or something. But there are some hundreds of Softies on Twitter, a few thousands that blog and those are not to be ignored – the chapter shows it well.

Last point I wanted to highlight is something about transparency. Rohit says ’transparency is overrated’ and talks a bit about transparency and authenticity. I pretty much agree with his point and it reminded me of something David Weinberger said during the Euroblog event in Brussels, about how transparency and authenticity are too often used in the wrong meaning, or even terminologies that are sometimes mistaken for one and other. Now David was a lot more articulate about this than I am here now, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Rohit is a smart guy, he writes one of the better marketing blogs you can find and is a great person to discuss with about the changes in consumer engagement. And that reflects on his book, you can see the personality. The one thing I didn’t like (much like Jennifer) is the ‘Guides and Tools’ section of the book, which is too much repetition for me re the first part. That said, good book, go check it out.

When did we start trusting strangers?

“When did we start trusting strangers” is a new research from Universal McCann done in September of this year and is part of their Wave global digital research program. The research/survey was done in 29 countries involving 17.000 internet users.

“It explores how the web and in-particular social media have made it incredibly easy to source and share personal opinions. This has created a revolution in where we source information and what we trust that has massive impacts for the role of professional media and marketing communications.“

I strongly recommend that you take a look at the presentation as it holds some pretty valuable and recent information on consumer behavior and commercial influence. You can find the presentation below, there’s one thing I wanted to highlight specifically though. At a certain point the research talks about superinfluencers:

“In a world of mass influence – some people rise above the average. These are the individuals that influence regardless of category. This is why we call them superinfluencers – they go beyond the average.”

Now that is nothing new, but then they look at these superinfluencers motivations to recommend products or services to their peers (indexed against all respondents) and then you get this:

superinfluencers

You’ll notice that these motivations are pretty similar to all respondents when you look at good or bad personal experiences or when it involves high quality brands, but that they are a lot more driven than the rest of the population by values such as celebrity endorsement/usage, fashionable brands or in case brands are unknown amongst their social group. Now I found that pretty interesting.

Anyway, as said, interesting research and good presentation so go check it out below: