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The political power of SMS

The other day, I was re-reading parts of Yes We Did! An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand, specifically the chapter on text messaging and mobile.

The book argues, convincingly, that Obama's social media team was far more astute and sophisticated than its Democrat and Republican rivals. A simple illustration: not only was Obama's personalized short code easy to remember — 62262 — but it spelled his name. It was a nice touch of extra branding that no other Democrat thought to capitalize on.

The descriptions of the SMS campaign and the iPhone app make it abundantly clear how much greater your audience reach is when you make text messaging a key part of your communications plan. To wit: the Obama iPhone app was installed by 95,000 supporters in the month between its launch and the election. At just one rally in South Carolina, meanwhile, several thousand responded via SMS to an appeal for campaign volunteers. And almost 3 million people got the text message from Obama's team announcing Joe Biden as his running mate.

When forced to choose between creating an app first or an SMS campaign, don’t underestimate the simplicity and viral power of text messaging.

Posted in Worth Reading.

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Will donate for dopamine hit

Did you catch the May 2010 issue of Wired magazine? Flip to page 62 (or just go here) to read columnist Scott Brown's take on mobile giving for the 18-to-29 set, aka 'the Millennials' (and to understand my headline).

Here's a taste: “Generation X and the Millennials don't want to go through the trouble of entering a 16-digit credit card number to make a $25 donation.”

For more on mobile giving, check out my previous posts:

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How to restore your desktop icons after a bad app download

Have you ever downloaded a new app to your BlackBerry over the air, only to find out that during the reboot needed to install said app, you lose your access to email, mobile browsing and other icons and features? Or the ones that remain don't function properly?

I have a BlackBerry Bold, and it's happened to me more times than I'd care to admit.

This error usually occurs only for a certain kind of download. Simple downloads that allow you to run the app right away are fine; the ones that require a reboot tend to mess things up. Just restarting your BlackBerry won't restore the missing icons. What you will get are a series of dialogue boxes with “Uncaught exception” error messages.

Should this happen to you, here's what you need to do:

  1. Turn off your BlackBerry by hitting the “Turn Power Off” icon on your desktop. When the dialogue box loads, press the “Full power off” option.
  2. Plug your BlackBerry into its charger, which is plugged into an outlet.
  3. For the remaining steps, ensure that your BlackBerry remains plugged into your charger.
  4. Open the back cover and remove the battery.
  5. Wait 10 seconds.
  6. Reinstall the battery and close the back cover.
  7. Wait for auto reboot to kick in and your BlackBerry to power on.
  8. Confirm that your lost icons and features are back and functioning properly.
  9. Unplug your BlackBerry. You are good to go.

Ironically, before publishing this post I tried a few times to replicate the error. (As anyone experienced with web development knows, replicating errors is key to fixing bugs. But it isn't always easy.) And I couldn't — until I downloaded an app directly from BlackBerry AppWorld. Go figure.

Posted in How To.

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Look out BlackBerry, here comes the KIN

The news today from Microsoft that it has launched not one but two smartphone models targeting women and youth will give Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry smartphone, pause.

This may come as a surprise, since it’s seemingly not well known that a key growth segment for the BlackBerry is youth — the teens and 20-somethings for whom social networking, texting and sharing are just about everything. The BlackBerry’s messaging capability and QWERTY keyboard makes it a prized device for the high school and college crowd that loves to party, flirt and roam — at least the crowd that parties, flirts and roams overseas, where cell phone plans better cater to their particular needs.

During RIM’s Q4 2010 Earnings Conference Call at the end of March, co-CEO Jim Balsillie affirmed as much by saying, “RIM’s success in international markets is being driven by the growing appeal of BlackBerry products to new demographics, particularly the text-centric youth segment who are drawn to BlackBerry smartphones by a number of factors, including the ease of typing on a QWERTY keyboard, the viral effects of BlackBerry Messenger and attractive pricing, particularly as more carriers offer prepaid pricing packages targeted at this market segment… The tremendous success of attracting entry-level smartphone customers to BlackBerry is an important strategic development for RIM…”

But there’s no need to be shorting RIM shares just yet. Microsoft’s mobile efforts have floundered in recent years, and its market share was less than 9% of all smartphone shipments in 2009 (by operating system) compared to RIM’s 21%, as reported by Canalys.

But with the arrival today of the KIN 1 and KIN 2 models, with OS by Microsoft and handset by Sharp, Microsoft is signalling that it still has ambitions to be a player in the mobile space. While there’s a way to go yet, Microsoft has targeted a sweet spot where it thinks it can take significant market share. And from what I’ve seen of the KIN’s user interface, with its image-heavy design and hip Apple-like (at least to the target demographic) drag-and-drop functionality, it might be just cool enough to make the young and hip overlook the fact that it’s a Microsoft product. But then, BlackBerrys aren’t really all that cool, either.

About that UI, here’s a peek:

Posted in Mobile.

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iPad reviews reviewed (a roundup)

Sooner or later the most hyped consumer product of 2010 will come to Canada. Now, the fanboys and girls will have already bought their iPad. And good for them, too, since the loonie is sitting at par at time of writing. But for the rest of us who may want time to reflect and a second opinion to consider before forking over more than $500 — yes, more — for the pleasure of being in with the in crowd, I’ve rounded up some of the more thoughtful and/or provocative reviews I’ve read for easy reference. You’ll thank me later…

    iPad reviews for consumers

  1. Apple iPad (PCmag.com)
  2. This is as thorough a review of the iPad you’re going to get, so you might as well start here.

    Choice quote:
    “Is the iPad a perfect product? No. And the omissions will give the anti-Apple crowd plenty of ammo. Why do I need this extra device that’s not a full-fledged laptop? Where’s the camera? What about Flash? Um, how about multitasking? These are all valid complaints, but one thing I can say about most Apple products, and certainly the iPad: There may be things it doesn’t do, but what it does do, it does remarkably well.”

  3. Normal Human Being™ reviews the iPad (The Register)
  4. And she’s not all that impressed.

    “After covering Apple products and various chippery for over 20 years, my [Normal Human Being] status is highly questionable. While I’m certainly capable of conjuring an in-depth review of most any electronic whizbangery, my observations are filtered … My conclusions may be either chowderheaded or keen, but they’re certainly not those of an NHB. So I did what any red-blooded American male might do: I asked my wife for help.”

  5. Wi-Fi issues dominate iPad user complaints (Computerworld)
  6. A crowd-sourced view of common iPad flaws.

    “Although users have also reported problems with recharging their iPads from Windows-based PCs or synchronizing the tablet with other computers, Wi-Fi issues have garnered the most complaints, as tallied by the message counts on multiple support forum threads.”

  7. Apple iPad Review: Laptop Killer? Pretty Close (WSJ/All Things Digital)
  8. A lot of ‘ifs’ from respected technology columnist Walt Mossberg.

    “My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time. But it all depends on how you use your computer.”

  9. iPad is Here and it Delivers (Slashgear)
  10. “Like Goldilocks, I’ve found something for my computing needs that’s just right in places where laptops and phones wouldn’t work. While it’s a different model of computing than most of us are used to, I expect the device to resonate well with both sophisticated and novice users.”

  11. 8 Things That Suck About the iPad (Gizmodo)
  12. More like 7, since Number 6 can’t last.

    “A lot of people at Gizmodo are psyched about the iPad. Not me! My god, am I underwhelmed by it. It has some absolutely backbreaking failures that will make buying one the last thing I would want to do.”

  13. Looking at the iPad From Two Angles (New York Times)
  14. One reviewer, two reviews: A review for techies (big deal) and one for everyone else (it’s good, sort of). While it may seem wishy-washy, he does have a point.

    “And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.”

    iPad reviews for creators

  15. Is iPad a game-changer? (Scripting News)
  16. Dave Winer is most definitely a creator, what you’d call a super user. While he appreciates the iPad’s many strengths, those strengths are still outnumbered by its weaknesses.

    “Like everyone else who got one, I am trying to figure out how to make it my own. I keep hitting frustrating limits.”

  17. iPad danger: app v. web, consumer v. creator (Buzzmachine)
  18. Media critic Jeff Jarvis argues that most of us online are now creators, starting with those of us who merely leave a comment at the end of an article or blog post. The iPad willfully ignores that development.

    “The iPad is retrograde. It tries to turn us back into an audience again.”

    Strategy etc.

  19. Why the iPad will flop (Seeking Alpha)
  20. Because it fills a non-existent need.

    “Tablet computers didn’t flop when HP (HPQ) was making them because HP lacked vision or creativity; they flopped because tablets were a bad idea. They’re not as useful as a laptop, and they’re not mobile enough or cheap enough to replace a smartphone — and of course, they can’t make phone calls.”

  21. Apple’s Strategic iParadox (Harvard Business Review)
  22. For strategy geeks and lovers of Apple (the company).

    “But while it liberates people to enjoy services, the iPad chains people to ‘product.’”

  23. Beyond the iPad (Doc Searls Weblog)
  24. Doc offers up a slightly more forward-thinking and philosophical approach, as usual.

    “The first versions of unique hardware designs tend to be imperfect and get old fast. Such was the case with the first iPods and iPhones, and will surely be the case with the first iPads as well. The ones being introduced next week will seem antique one year from now.”

Posted in Reviews.

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