Consumers are ‘mobile’, mobile marketing and services follow

Yesterday I went to listen to the conference where MIP, Politecnico Business School, published the results of the research about Mobile Marketing and Services. The research was based on 200 case studies, involving all the major actors of the supply chain (advertising investors, media buyers, creative agencies, telecom operators’  and service providers) and also a survey focused on marketing directors of medium and big enterprises.

The good things are that mobile is being more pervasive and it’s starting to extend beyond the cell phone to netbooks and gaming consoles. And that over 70% of the Italian mobile users are of age between 25 and 55, so in their full spending power.’  The youngest group, 18 to 25, is just 11%; this seems to contradict the myth that mobile ads are only good to target youngers.’  I’ve also learned that location-based advertising is being held back because of privacy issues. In Italy the fact that Mario Rossi is *now* in Via Carlo Farini, Milano cannot be passed from the mobile operator to the advertiser.’  It seems that this is a grey legal area that lawyers are trying to sort out.

Strangely, Google was not present.’  I didn’t hear the word Google or Adwords connected to the mobile world. But according to the slides presented by Niumidia, 30% of the users that access TIM/Virgilio WAP portals do it to use the search.’  It seemed as if mobile web is a different thing from the desktop web. Are we so far away from having full web experience on mobile handsets that it’s too early to say goodbye to those depressing WAP portals?

I was surprised that for Dada (Vodafone) and Niumidia (TIM), mobile advertising is SMS, MMS/VMS and banners on WAP portals. They still have made no plans for mobile email. I found it strange because ‘smart phones’ are being sold in huge numbers (40M last quarter,’  27% increase since Q2) and when users get a new powerful phone they want to get their email on it.’ Am I missing something?

How Apple will dramatically increase revenues

My architecture professors repeated ad infinitum that an image is worth a thousand words. Following is a pictures that clearly shows how Apple will dramatically increase its revenues in the next year:

MacBook internals (source: iFixIt.com)
MacBook internals (source: iFixIt.com)

It’s not (only) the cool design or the (un)cool software: it’s mainly the reduced (~60%) bill of material you see in the picture (compare it to an older iBook internals). And the 30% reduction in the packaging volume. The latter reduces complexity in costs of acquisition and management of the parts, plus the servicing costs after the sales. The former means 30% saving in the shipping costs.’  Brilliant.’  This is the kind of sustainable competitive advantage that MBA classes teach managers to aim for.’  I’m ready to bet will make Apple’s revenues skyrocket, even without increasing marketshare or total units shipped.

GNU/Linux IS ready for the masses

It just needs a company that can market it as such. I was reading about the new version of Asus EeePC and this sentence hit me:

“the Linux version is suited to users who desire an icon-driven and easy point-and-click interface — well suited for children or users with limited computer experience”

If Asus says so, you have to believe it.

DefectiveByDesign.org: Together we are Fighting DRM

DBD actions

DefectivebyDesign.org posted a list of actions and campaigns activated and run by FSF in the past year. I really like what the strategy they put in place and the results so far. DefectivebyDesign brought the problem with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to a wider audience, reaching also Newsweek. I loved the real-life events, like the raid in Seattle during Microsoft Vista’s launch: brilliant, Peter looked great in his hazmat suit 🙂 The Expert Witness Fund to help families attacked by RIAA to counter their arguments on technical basis, the Play OGG to support OGG format and the new Kindle Swindle, to inform about Amazon’s crippled ebooks.

Plus the international campaign Free Software Free Society designed to inform all organizations, NGOs, coops, civil society about the values of Free Software. I’m glad to see that Legambiente has joined the campaign: almost 5 years ago they were the first to radically switch from Microsoft Windows to cheap and convenient GNU/Linux terminal based workstations. No trash, more useful computers. I remember how traumatic that was but I was happy to help the ~40 employees and volunteers to understand the values of Free Software and now Legambiente is a fully free environment.

So I join Mako and Peter: give yourself a nice present for Christmas become an FSF associate member or make a donation. With the Euro so high anything you donate from Europe will multiply 🙂

Facebook admits mistake and changes policy

The protest of people on Facebook made the difference.’  Mark Zuckerberg wrote on FB’s blog

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.

The policy changed from opt-out to opt-in, no stories will be published without users proactively consenting and there is now the possibility to permanently opt-out. MoveOn.org is happy with the result.

I’m surprised by how long it took for Zuckerberg to speak up and I wonder if he really gets what Beacon has done.’  My impression is that Facebook management doesn’t understand the privacy issue at all.’  They’re young, which helps making mistakes but also helps learning.’  I hope they have learned that Facebook has a big responsibility and won’t repeat such mistake in the future. Personally, I’ll focus my attention on other social networks for a while and put Facebook on the backburner it will take some time before they regain my trust.

On social networks and human interactions

I have received recently half dozen invitations to join social web2.0 services: Roberto pointed me to twitter during a real life chat in Firenze, other invitations came via email to services like Plaxo pulse, Naymz, hi5, Spook and others. Many people are asking to become my friends on Facebook but I don’t remember meeting them and my email archives since 1997 ignore too. I’m starting to feel overwhelmed 🙂

I like experimenting these tools, but I can’t keep up with the pace they start (and die). All of these services ask me to replicate information I have already written down on this blog or on my Linkedin profile. Signing up to all these services would require me to quit my paid activities and spend more time online than offline. At that point Alex Wright on the NYTimes would be right. But I agree with what Dawn Foster wrote about Social Networks, Relationships, and “Friends”:

my online interactions in social networks do not replace physical interactions with real people, they simply provide a way to augment the relationships I have with my friends.

For me it’s also a matter of following conversations as they were described in the Cluetrain Manifesto:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Noticing Facebook privacy issues, I still wonder if I should keep considering FB as a legitimate place for conversations or quit (it is possible, although difficult). And when did we start using our real names online? I remember the old days when we all had nicknames and everybody was careful revealing his real identity. What made us change our mind?

Calabria: gli ultimi sono ultimi

La campagna della Regione CalabriaLa Regione Calabria ha prodotto 6 manifesti con foto di giovani calabresi cui si sovrappongono degli slogan vuoti, di cui fatico a cogliere il senso. Esempio: Terroni? Sì siamo calabresi. Oppure I peggiori? Sì, siamo calabresi. E altri versi simili visibili qui. Proprio non capisco. Qual’è il messaggio? Cosa ci si aspetta che percepisca il pubblico da quelle domande? Io non ho visto nessun messaggio costruttivo o positivo, per cui ho cercato un po’.’  Pare che aldilà  di generare polemica non ci sia null’altro. Siamo di fronte ad uno splendido esempio di sperpero di denaro pubblico. L’agenzia di Oliviero Toscani avrà  la sua bella dose di pubblicità , ma ai calabresi cosa resta? Un’immagine di sfigati.

Quello che davvero mi fa davvero infuriare come meridionale (per fortuna non sono calabrese: sarei molto più offeso e amareggiato) è lo slogan scritto sopra il logo della Regione: gli ultimi saranno i primi. Ma vogliamo finirla? Gli ultimi sono ultimi e tali resteranno finché non si daranno da fare. Quei cartelloni sembrano dire: siamo sporchi, malavitosi, incivili, ultimi in tutto, ma non ce ne freghiamo perché nostro sarà  il regno dei cieli. La Regione Calabria genera polemica mescolando un po’ di buonismo, del cristianismo e, giacché c’erano un tocco di comunismo e semplice populismo.’  Perdonate il fantozzismo, ma mi pare proprio una cagata pazzesca.

Facebook: with great power comes great responsibility

I have been playing with Facebook lately to check its potential. Everything started when William Ward invited me there in a moment when I was vulnerable (it was before I started the MBA: a few weeks later and I would have gently declined the invitation). In the last weeks I enlarged my network, joined Politecnico network, started fiddling with the MIP group with my colleague Francesco del Vecchio. I advertised the conference about Open Source as business model in the Politecnico network and I got a taste of Facebook’s potential: 220 subscriptions from Facebook. A success. The room was full all the time, with many students. (5 subscriptions came from FB, see Eugenio’s comment). FSF is also experimenting with it as a mean to raise funds and draw attention to the cause.

Is Facebook too good to be true? I was less excited when banners about impotence started to show up close to my profile. What? Then I read on yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about a more serious privacy issue: Facebook’s knowledge of what you do online extends beyond the Facebook.com domain. In other words, if you buy a Christmas present for your friend, (s)he will see it on the News Feed … so long surprise. David Weinberger explains very well why Facebook’s defaults are wrong.

It’s bad to see things that are so useful and fun being damaged by such unfair practices. Companies must all learn the lesson that with with great power comes great responsibility. Being fair to the users is not an option. Meanwhile I’m joining the MoveOn protest and reinforced AdBlock rules to stop all banners from *.ads.facebook.com/*.

More on perception and Free/Libre Software and marketing

While some on FSFE discussion mailing list debate whether the term ‘open source’ is good or not, the world out there is running fast adopting the THING (whatever you prefer to call it) and considering its adoption. Matt reports about Actuate 07 Open Source Survey Whitepaper which has interesting data about perception of FLOSS (page 9):

The main perceived benefit of open source software is that there are no licence costs (56%). The second tier of main perceived benefits are flexibility (48.4%) and access to source code (47.1%). These are followed by vendor independence (38.7%), not being locked into Microsoft (38.7%), being built on open platforms (35.3%), standards-based technology (32.5%) and scalability (30.5%).

Cost is still #1 reason for adoption and high risk is still #1 reason for non-adoption. The Free Sw communities have been communicating other values besides cost for many years now, some of which are visible in the survey (vendor independence, freedom from lock-in, open standards) but these rank lower.

The Open Source Initiative, with all the weaknesses of its mission, has the merit of having taken the lead and implemented successfully a clear marketing strategy. FSF made the right strategical choice opposing OSI’s approach. FSFE had the right approach too, with a softer position (not two movements, but one movement with different terms) and the idea of the GNU Business Network. Unfortunately, GBN didn’t receive enough attention and FSFE was distracted by other issues. In the end, the results of FSFE marketing aren’t as good as those of OSI, according to the surveys.

Isn’t it time to implement a new marketing strategy for software freedom? There is a clear window of opportunity now, but it’s not going to be there forever.