CES 2012 - a quick and dirty review

Every year geeks, tech gurus and captains of gadgetery from around the world converge to attend the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where manufacturers show-off their latest products and services in an attempt to set the standards and create buzz for the coming year.

It's always good to have a look at what made noise at the show to get a little insight into what's coming this year.

I'm a researcher not a tech expert, so if you want a detailed run down of show please visit www.pcmag.com/ces or http://ces.cnet.com/ - however if you are happy with a quick and dirty review, please read on.

  • Smart TV's look like they will soon become the norm: are much like smart phones are today, smart TV's can connect to the net and do pretty much everything in a TV centric way, e.g. download Apps. Google TV is getting some traction, but manufacturers are still yet to find a common platform. Watch out for an Apple Smart TV announcement later in the year. 
  • Implication: Once Smart TV's become mainstream, it's either going to get easier or harder to reach your target audience depending on your current digital marketing capabilities 

  • Tablets are getting really really cheap: it won't be uncommon to be able to pick up a quality tablet for less than $300 in 2012
  • Implication: Once tablets get really cheap, there are going to be millions of these devices sitting on coffee tables, kitchens and probably bathrooms meaning customer facing content (e.g. apps, websites, multi-media, email etc) will need to be tablet, smartphone and PC friendly

  • Ultrabooks to become the standard (and cheaper): these new generation laptops are essentially thinner, lighter, bigger and more powerful than the average laptop, i.e. similar size and weight of a tablet with the power of a PC
  • Implication: Cheaper quality tools for the new mobile generation workforce (and less shoulder strain)
  • Mobile payments to boom: Paypal recorded 4 billion dollars worth of mobile payments in 2011, compare that to only 750 million in 2010 
  • Implication: With more and more consumers willing to make paymetns on their mobile, expect more mobile marketing and sales initiatives (i.e. apps) being developed by either new startups or retailers themselves

We love reading blogs

It's great finding the time to read some of our favourite blogs.

We are loving this post by Influx Insights - read here

It demonstrates two things we are noticing here at the agency

1. Technology is enabling us to interact with brands on whole new levels

2. It's great when companies let the 'crowd' run wild with their IP. 

Appifying your brand

“Research just out by Netherlands research company Distimo shows Ninety-one percent of the top brands (as defined by the Interbrand 2011 best global brands report) now have a presence in major app stores like BlackBerry App World, Google Android Market and of course the Apple App Store for iPhone or iPad.” Read more here 

But it’s not just big businesses “appifying’ their brands. I've also noticed a lot daytime TV talk shows like Ellen and Dr Phil spruiking their apps along with the accompanying infomercials and daytime TV spots.

Pocket Phil anyone?

QR codes are also interesting - I remember seeing this extreme use of QR codes, see below

Overall, marketers are obviously working hard to drive brand engagement through smart phones.

Have you ‘appified’ your brand yet? If so, we would love to hear from you!


Retailers are ditching itsy bitsy paper receipts in favour of email receipts.

Recent reports out of the US identified several major retailers, including Gap and Nordstrom began offering electronic receipts in the earlier part of 2011, following Apple, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters, which already offer the paperless proof-of-purchase, receipt alternative. The trend, according to some, signals the beginning of the end for the paper-receipt model. Thank goodness!

“In five years, up to 60% of retailers will go paperless” Colin Johnson, of Nordstrom predicted.

We at Stancombe predict it may be sooner as retailers such as Target (USA), Best Buy (USA), and Whole Foods (USA) launched trial programs in the past year with more retailers to follow. And, as the penetration of smartphones in Australia is so high (50%+ and climbing), it makes sense that Australian retailers jump on the new technology as well. Qantas is on-board with it. Apple are using it and the cinemas are in the process of making paper tickets obsolete.

The benefits to retailers are numerous: quicker checkout lines (no need to print the receipt at POS), easier receipt management (stored electronically which will be easier for all), and less impact on the environment (always a good thing!), reduced costs (once set up costs are amortised, it will be less expensive than till receipts). Importantly, the e-receipts will allow retailers to collect the email addresses of shoppers. Huge benefits will follow from email collection in the form of retailers being able to offer personalised sales incentives, up-selling opportunities, cross-selling opportunities and retention and reward programs.

So, the shopper cuts down on junk in the wallet but may find it replaced with a crammed in-box. C'est la vie.

Read more here

Doing more with less - the garage is a magical place

I like the idea that money and resources are not always the answer to solve problems. Actually, too much money and resources can stifle creativity and human ingenuity rather than stimulate it.

I think we all love those wonderful business success stories that started from kitchen tables and garages with nothing but lots of energy, hard work and a bit of luck.

This endearing video demonstrates the point quite nicely:

On the big business side of things, this concept of 'doing more with less' also seems to ring true.

I was staggered to learn that Nokia’s research and development budget of 5.9 billion euros ($7.7 billion), including 3 billion euros for devices and services, is the largest in the industry. The company spent almost six times as much as Apple on R&D last year. (source: http://www.bloomberg.com)

It's incredible that a company once so dominant in the mobile phone market, could be blind sided by a computer company with relatively no mobile phone experience. But you have to remember that Apple has a culture of doing more with less. In his rogue days, Steve Jobs built the Macintosh almost in secret without the full support and resources of Apple.

With Apple now leading the way and Android based smart phones set to overtake Nokia in the next few years, Nokia's new CEO Stephan Elop definitely has his work cut out for him.

Maybe Nokia can learn something from this man and his garage?

Show me the perks!

Customer loyalty points/cards are starting to migrate to the mobile phone. But watch out!

There is more going on than just transfering loyalty cards / points onto the mobile...

For example, www.foursquare.com turns customer loyalty into a game. It's an app that customers can download on their smart phones that uses the GPS function to let businesses know when they have visited one of their stores. The more times they visit, the more loyalty points they get and more rewards they can 'unlock'. If they visit more times than anyone else in a month, a customer can become the 'Major' of that business and unlock even further rewards.

It's an example that shows how businesses can go beyond loyalty card stamps & points. The exisiting mobile technology is there for business to use and drive not just loyalty, but also customer engagement.

Also, it's a win win situation. The customer gets rewarded (and entertained) for being a good customer and the business gets a direct link to their customers via their most personal and intimate item...the mobile phone.

Watch out for the following players:

Read more here

P.S. This post is an update of the original

What can you love?


Interesting report of a man who has 'married' his Nintendo DS 'girlfriend'.

As we continue to move to a post-physical world some are embracing the possibilities, and with few rules or boundaries it really is a brave new world, where many of the old rules simply don't apply.

Girlfriend always late for something? Program a fix. Don't like his nose or one of his shirts? Program a fix. Want to have a virtual affair? Program .... you get the idea.

William Gibson (Nuromancer), Arthur C Clarke (Last Theorem) and other sci-fi writers have explored the idea of virtual love and ultimately experiencing the full gamut of human emotions - virtually. Though all before the technology was able to deliver in any meaningful way.

As the technology becomes able to make it real enough to experience - and humans have always been able to 'imagine' something slightly better than their reality (clearly some more than others) - so the road to leaving your physical body, potentially living forever, becomes ever so slighty more attainable. Virtual friends and pets (from facebook to Nintendo DS Catz) are increasingly prevelant and will continue to be higher spec'ed, so enabling greater and greater simulation of reality and ability to tailor them to what you want.

Who wants someone real with all their flaws when you can have someone perfect - for you?


Here is an interesting (and amusing) article that asks designers, curators and authors to comment on the styles and items that have defined the past ten years, example: celebrities, the Prius, 'it' bags and the iPod

Below are my favorites comments:

, Artistic director, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
The Prius. iPods. Style jams
The Prius is the car of the decade. It’s unlovely in lots of ways, but it has become an icon of aspiration. And then the iPod and social networking. Something that spools from these is that we don’t really have style subcultures anymore. Instead we have a playlist culture, where you’re allowed to mash up everything around you in a sort of pick’n’mix. Someone like the slightly gothy, rocky designer Rick Owens will have his moment of mainstream high-street influence at the same time as high-concept design from Viktor & Rolf, the slightly nerdy chic of Kanye West, and, say, day-glo. You have this simultaneous jam.

LOUISE WILSON, Professor of fashion, Central Saint Martins
Tracks and Ts. It-bags
If you looked down from Mars what you’d see would be hordes and hordes of people, all wearing a version of combat trousers and a T-shirt. As if they were off to war, or a sports track.

Because of the incredible rise of the high street, style became utterly democratised: individuality seeped away and people of every class all wore a version of the same thing, whether it was from Gap or a big label. Hence the importance of the It-bag: when everybody is equally dressed down, a bag is the only way to proclaim a high-fashion badge. Everything else was about repetition and looking backwards, from the Sienna Miller Sixties boho moment to the current Eighties revival. Happier times…

The mobile world keeps on moving

It’s always the way. As soon as we buy into the latest and greatest technology, it becomes tired and outdated before you’ve worked out how to use all of the different features. I still love my iPhone, but already I’m gazing longingly at some of the “Swiss Army knife” phones in this Observer article.

Good to know that global recession isn’t putting the brakes on innovation – if anything, it’s promoting it, with consumers demanding more from the technology they fork out for. The proliferation of new and exciting applications and functions will undoubtedly be of interest to telcos looking for new ways to interact with their customers, but I particularly like the last paragraph: the “wow” of the new is great, but there’s always room for innovation to simply get the basics right…