Monthly Archives: July 2008

Strongest brand: Jobs or Apple?

After the decline for Apple Steve Jobs returned to save his former successful computer company. And he did it with music (iPod), newly designed computers (iMac, iBook) and now most recently the mobile market (iPhone). A feared at the same time worshiped CEO and boss over a company that have truly risen from the ashes thanks mostly to one man. At the same time, a man which doesn’t really follow the ever changing digital world of “open-source” mentality. As one of the few big companies ignoring business and industry trends and still practice the old ways. Locked platforms and a almost scary dictatorship over all its development and innovation. Steve Jobs doesn’t care if it can’t be done, get him someone who can! Steve Jobs is Apple, impersonated!

How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

Jobs’ fabled attitude toward parking reflects his approach to business: For him, the regular rules do not apply. Everybody is familiar with Google’s famous catchphrase, “Don’t be evil.” It has become a shorthand mission statement for Silicon Valley, encompassing a variety of ideals that — proponents say — are good for business and good for the world: Embrace open platforms. Trust decisions to the wisdom of crowds. Treat your employees like gods.
It’s ironic, then, that one of the Valley’s most successful companies ignored all of these tenets.
Wired MAGAZINE: 16.04

But this comes with a price… Despite the recent years success for Apple and record profit, the Apple stock have fallen! And the business analysts believe its a result from a maybe-sick Steve. His already beaten cancer, but his last keynote recently people though he looked sick and tired. Steve Job (the Brand) almost seems to be bigger than Apple itself. He is the driving force behind the company’s success, and what would happen if he steps aside? Those who worked with and under him says he can truly be the devil himself, but still they worship him!

I don’t think there are many company’s with a CEO compared to Apple and Steve Jobs. Were the company probably would go under if he left, and his totally irreplaceable. Were the CEO brand is almost as strong as the company’s and its products.

Will Mr Bushnell dominate the online casual game market?

The founder of Atari and creator of the video game industry, Nolan Bushnell haven’t been on the lazy side since he sold (was bough out) the now old company. He was and is an entrepreneur and used the money he made from Atari to build new companies and businesses. Many of those businesses have not focused on videogames. But once again the founder of the game industry is back, and it seems he have more energy (and maybe lust for revenge) than ever before. Now to capture the much hyped casual ad-games space.

As chairman for NeoEdge, he seems to have high visions and expectations for the future of the ad-revenue model of games, particular the casual game segment. Earlier he have commented on the inefficencies of in game advertising in today’s market. It feels like he really mean to change that with the help of NeoEdge and their new ad-technology and business model. In a good (and long) interview over at Gamasutra, he discuss the current problem and how NeoEdges view on the current situation. Also how they intend to work with the casual game portals and networks to make it efficient and profitable for advertiser, game developer, publisher and the portals of course. The portal are often also the publisher, which sometimes brings problem to the market. Nolan touches on many interesting subjects on the state of the game industry of today, but I won’t go into that now, I just recommend you to read the interview.

NeoEdge have made some good headlines recently, when they announced a deal with Yahoo! Games. NeoEdge only provide the system for managing the ad-games through the different channels. In conformity with Google Adwords, a tool for advertisers to use and manage the ad supported games. Their more like a affiliate provider, which seek to distribute the games across the web. NeoEdge business model works both with try-before-you-buy, and totally free ad-supported games. Paying costumers receive extra value, but most players want to play for free. The key is to build momentum and volume. Like Search engine- and affiliate marketing its all about hugh volume with small margins, which together adds up in big revenues! The concept already exist with successful examples everywere. Maybe NeoEdge have the knowledge and technology to make it break into the in-game advertising and casual game segment of the game industry?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1226334950149496325

Corny TV Advertising

I just can’t stop laughing at this TV clip from BBC. What better to really muck the corniness of TV advertisements, then a bitter grumpy British dude? The funny thing is I have the same view about traditional advertising as him, in general. Often commercials and ads in magazines and on town have the purpose to create a image and/or message in the head of the consumers/receivers. Famous big luxurious brands often play on the notion that if you buy their products or just something from that brand you will get the feeling portrayed in the ads. They strive to build a feeling around their products and brands. And many times that feeling is just a fake reality. Marketers and advertising people are good at painting a image of their products and brands with no reality connections. Those people and media are truly masters at “deceiving” regular people.

How actors in the ads act isn’t usually resembling how regular people behave. If you view them from the right perspective they really appear corny as hell!

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iPhone 3G lands in Sweden

Finally, after month and months of waiting (soon a year since the initial release of iPhone in the US), the new version with 3G is the first iPhone to be released in Sweden. That is trough retailers and stores. Those of us who didn’t have the patience to wait had to buy ours imported and unlocked. But now its available “legally”.

The Swedish news sites have reported a whole bit around this. And the stores selling the phone, were opened the night between Thursday and Friday for people waiting in line outside to buy it. Even today during lunch people still stood in line to buy their iPhone3G.

Heres two pictures I took when I was out for lunch. From two different stores in Stockholm. One even had security guards! Never though I would see people waiting in line for a phone. Not in Sweden at least.

Iphone release sweden

Iphone release sweden

2 weeks vacation!

Finally! Now I have 2 weeks of vacation ahead of me. Feels great. Can’t remember the last time I had such a long leave all together. The only thing I have planed is a trip to Gotland, to visit some friend, maybe my old workplace, Gotlands Tourist Association. Besides that Im just gonna enjoy the summer!

Just hope I get some sun… :)

I also hope to take some time and write a few blog posts. Now that E3 will start soon.

Please, take it easy with Flash!

There are endless things in the web which spawns moment of vexation for me. And for other people too. Annoying ads & banners, non-logical site structure and when sound clips begins to play in the background without the option to stop or mute. If your working with Search Engine Opimazation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), like me, one of the badguys sites often choose to use is Flash. Also for the web experience it can be a pain in the ass.

Flash ErrorDuring my university time me and my fellow classmates not only worked with Flash, but also liked the new technology. It opened up possebilites for “cooler” websites with better graphics and other nice features. One of our courses were focused on Usability, and we here learned to think more about the visitor, how to build a logical structured web hierarchy and use standard HTML texts and links. We students didn’t appreciate the usability philosophy. “It didn’t mentioned or favoured new cool technology and web designs!”.  What did I really know back then?

Yes, Flash can be cool and enhance the web experience, in some cases… Now to one of the most annyoing things online… Flash applications which make my browser crash and force me to shut down all of my browser windows. Especially when the Flash object is a Ad, beside the news I was about to read!!! Which tie in with my annoyance for Ads all together. Regular Ads, and especially Flash Ads slow down the loading time. For people with slow connection this can be a problem.

Not only the load time is affected. From a SEO standpoint Flash cause problems as well. The search engines can’t index flash files, so if a site is totally done in Flash, there will be problems if they want to appear in Google for example. But it looks like the companies behind the technology (first Micromedia and now Adobe) are working to fix the problem, to enable Flash files/sites to be indexed.

Still, nothing wrong with Flash. It made it easier to view videos, play games and other great features. But Don’t fill a site intented for say simple news reporting with so much Flash elements I destroys the user experience.

Google have launched Lively (Beta)

The worlds biggest search engine Google is a steady money printing machine. Their search engine have, through no marketing or advertising, become so big it even gave birth to the phrase “Google it”. They simply developed a damn good product with the intention to help people find the information they are searching for and “Do not be Evil!” mentality. Their famous for attracting the some of the smartest developers, and encourage employers to use 1/5 of their working time to develop new ideas.  Some of those ideas have become real products under the Google umbrella, like Google News and Gmail.

Google LivelyAnd now Google have launched their very own virtual world, Lively! As this high technology giant begin to explore virtual world (vw) medium, one can wonder, will they succeed were the today most popular VW, Second Life have failed? Through media Second Life surely seemed to be the future and next step for marketing, PR and private & corporate communication. A new platform for making business. Still the successful breakthrough never came. Instead companies invested time and money into a quite deserted or limited world. The same problems which occur for some investments in other social networkds, when companies lack the knowledge of the medium. You have to work in the right order, like when you work with SEO to increase your web traffic. Some people or compaines just focus on a few things, usually in the wrong order:

This is setting up the cart and the horse in the right order. The horse is the content that drives the cart – the links. People usually put the cart (the links), before the horse (the content).

Sage Lewis, Search Engine Watch

The same principle must be applied on the business model of virtual worlds. As with every other web portal, to be an attractive marketing platform for partners and companies, you must have an audience. Big loads of visitors and traffic!!! You don’t advertise or build inside a virtual world, and then wait for the users to come. It like marketing a product that haven’t been built yet!

Virtual Worlds can be considered a extension of todays social networks. The next level of Facebook or Myspace, but in a 3D world. Here the options and possibility for interactions between players increase, and also accompanied with more complexity. One part is how the players/users can create their own stuff in the VWs. This opportunity is great, but will it really interest the average user to create their own virtual things? I’m sceptical when we talk about the average user. The most important thing for a social platform, like virtual worlds, is simplicity for the users to communicate! I believe thats the main reason people spend so much time and energy into different social networks. The success for advertising in social networks doesn’t seem to be the number 1 priority. For some companies the potentials certainly there, if they find the right networks/sites with the right audience. But I havn’t seen or read of any really successful examples.

After the big hype around Second Life and how virtual worlds were the future and next step for shopping, socializing and business (both Business2Business and Business2Consumer), the afterclap were another story. Many big companies invested much hope and money in building offices and other things in Second Life, media wrote tons of this new world. Still the userbase explosion never came. Today people and companies are more uncertain in investing time and. Still, the investments in virtual worlds doesn’t seems to decrease, not for venture capital firms. A new report show just for Q1 and Q2 of 2008, the full worth of investment in virtual worlds amounts to 354 million dollar. The knowledge and understanding for virtual worlds may have increased dramatically in recent years, which could contribute to a more careful approach towards VWs.

It will be interesting to see if Googles Lively will succeed. With the business mindes and online knowledge over at Google the possibilities are endless. Google started with a great product, then they implemented advertising. If they use this strategy here, it could work. First audience, then (maybe, if necessary) ads.

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Swedish developer sign deal with Universal Studios

Stillfront LogoThe Swedish-Uppsala based game developer Stillfront have signed a deal with Universal Film Studio to create a Fan Immersion Game (FIG) for the new big movie Wanted. A webbased game were fans can join and play with and against eachother, for Free. The gamesite, www.wantedthegame.com, is up and running and if becomes a success only time will tell.

I didn’t quite understand what Fan Immersion Game meant, and had some difficulties finding a good explanation. This was the best one I could find:

Fan Immersion Games (FIGs) are casual, massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) that are free to play yet also include opportunities for players to buy advantages and premium accounts using microtransactions payable via sms messages and credit cards. These games deliver high fan engagement through their story-driven design and community elements.

Newsdesk

I remember playing similar games many many years ago. Web based role-playing games were we could battle each other. It consumed many school-computer hours for us ;). I’m sure these types of games have evolved since I played them last. And its fun to see the movie studios trying a new approach when they use the game medium to market a new big budget movie. They could just have made a another mid to big budget movie-game with a high risk of releasing a shitty game. Through this new model I think they have more space and freedom to elaborate the concept and try new creative things otherwise considered to risky.

Another aspect is the success factor. The games will have a strong connection with the movie, and create somewhat of a bridge for the audience between the two mediums. For the game to be a success, it will be much dependable on the success of the movie. This, however doesn’t have to be the outcome. We have many examples of successful movie-games dispite the failure in the movie box-office. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay from Uppsala (again) based Starbreeze is one of those cases. But with online community based games, the foundation for success is to attract a good and loyal user and fanbase. And have such a good game so players still plays long after the movie have come and gone.

I think its great with a new fresh developer, especially Swedish!, who got this deal and opportunity to work with a “new” genre in the growing game industry. New ways of doing business, and connecting it better to other entertainment areas.

Another guy who believe the video game industry, and especially the more multiplayer oriented games have to adapt to the ever changing market is David Perry. He joins the philosophy of Chris Anderson, were content and products in the digital online space basically will be Free in the future. David Perry refers to the asian game market, were the microtransaction model is the leading one. He mention the upcoming Dice (yeay, Sweden again! :) ) developed Battlefield Heroes, with the Play4Free, Web advertising/Microtransaction model at its core. With a big IP name like Battlefield, it surely raise the odds for a successful launch of this business model in the west. The same can be said for the future Stillfront games. To see if the western market is ready or mature for changes.

Once again, I’m looking forward to see the result and how it all turns out. It would be nice to see the western game industry evolve.

Blog generate energy and self development?

Can blogs contribute to generate new inner mental energy? Yesterday I finished reading a book on the subject of personal economy, self images and the flows of money and inner energy. The book contained a lots of excersices and many good ideas which, naturally let my little brain to started to spin.

How does my inner energy flow? What are my biggest energy revenue and spending? After some thoughs I realised my biggest (small) energy revenue comes from the little things. One of those is writting and posting good thoughtfull blog posts. The creative feeling I get when a idea sprots in my head and the evolve as I write. And to finally push the “Publish” button, I just get a relaxed feeling of accomplishment.

Another interesting topic the book rasied was related to new ways to increase the money revenue. They talked of how we usually have to invest much time and energy in the beginning, and have good patience. The result or reward is often harvested long after the investment. And therefor people who want to make a change have to expect to “sacrifice” (invest) their spare time, only to harvest the result after a while. I began to analys my own spare time, and realised I invest much time finding and reading news of the topics I’m interested in and I wanna work with. And there it hit me, my blog is sort of my investment in my self and my future. Not only did the blog became a great place to store my thoughs, ideas, interesting news and a great channel for me to market myself. But most importantly I can use it for my own inner development. To have a place were I can start working with my ideas and develop them. Take a idea, shape, evolve, store and share it with other. Afterwards I realise how much the blog has contributed to my own knowledge evolution. To retur to old posts and view how I though of things and stuff. Not to mention how I evolve writting in English (I hope). Sure, starting to blog created stress to constantly produce new better post. But thats part of the development. The pressure to write a better post than the one before, to outdo my self and be better than myself. I never had that in my system, but it came with the birth of this blog. And for that Im grateful.

So yes, I have had great results from blogging, even if it brings pressure. But to win you have to bet, and usually, the higher the risk the better retun on investment!

Digital Distribution to spawn new micro-publishers?

Will the big game publishers have full control over the future of game, or is this the tipping point and smaller more community-based publishers will gain more grounds and power on the “battlefield”?
Over at Gamesindustry.biz, in a interview with Chris Satchell the general manager for Microsofts Xbox 360s XNA Game Studio and the subscription-based XNA Creator’s Club, Chris talk of how the expanded digital distribution trend for games will help nuture smaller publishers. Then the system owner (Microsoft in this case) opens their platform for everyone to develop, they support and encurages a important development step for the console market. The XNA Creators Club still have to review the games before they can be released officially on the XNA platform. With the tools in place and a strong social develop community, this can lead to the birth of many community based smaller publishers.

Digital Distribution

One good aspect of this is how this can counter rising cost of bigger game productions, resulting in less endangerment from the bigger publishers. Big publishers operate the same way as bigger corporations, usually with interests for the shareholder as primary focus. Profit comes first, creativity second. But with the complexity of game development, I thing those to often collide, which in turn slow down the evolution of the industry. Not to say it isn’t evolving, and Chris put this very well:

The games may still be creative, many are, but the problem is that because of the cost, it is hard to have lots of completely new concepts or IP in a portfolio.

That is not to say that large publishers don’t create new concepts, they do, but I believe it would benefit the industry and our medium if we could get more new ideas started. In the long run I think this is essential to keep our medium growing and continuing to be relevant to a broader set of people.” – Chris Satchell

The potential to start “micro-community publisher” is all here! The same way Apple open up their before locked iPhone platform for everyone to develop new applications/games to sell and distribute freely, not only can smaller groups expand Microsofts Xbox Live service with content. Its necessary for the evolution of the overal business model of console games. A whole new testing ground for game developers and publishers to try out ideas and concept with great feedback.

In recent years it seems the fusion of game publishers have increased greater than before. Vivendi(with Blizzard) – Activision, and the on going EA – Take2 deal, which I’m not sure the end result of yet. This is probably just natural reaction to the expansion of the industry as a whole and the increase of development costs. The game industry is moving in the same direction as movie and music, a few big actors basically controlling the industry plane. If we’re not already there! While the movie biz is still focused on the big players, music have evolved to some extent thanks to the internet with sites like MySpace for smaller artists and bands to reach new audience and build a fanbase themself. And then we have the game industry… and according to Christopher Kline (technical director at 2K Boston) the game industry are currently dividing into two paths. Ether you develop big budget triple A titles, or the cheaper more casual trail. The middle segment, games with a budget of around 3-6 milion dollars (by todays standard) will face bigger challanges in the competetive harshen game market. Even as game developers and publishers look for new ways to profit and/or create and drive new revenue sources, its a hard struggle for the gamers time, attention, wallet and energy. Even if video game over and over again surpass the year before in terms of growth, and have (somewhat…) “proven” to be recession-proof, this expansion will boost the competition and hopefully help the industry to evolve and develop even more. WIth smarter business models and more ways for even the smallest developer to break through, we will see the dawn of a more creative mature interactive entertainment medium than before.

Maybe one should start a smaller publisher focused on small gamedevelopment and distribution? :)