Introducing Windows 10

Windows 10

Windows 10

This week saw the unveiling of the Windows 10 operating system (OS) by Microsoft. With so many PCs in existence and still a huge number being bought, this is big news. But is Windows 10 any good, and what are the features and keys to its success?

Why change Windows 8? Only 10% of computers are running Windows 8, so adoption has been slow – its emphasis was touch-screen which is a tough-sell for every day PC computing. And with tech in the 21st century, there needs to be excitement around the features and Windows 8 just didn’t capture the attention. This had an impact on development engagement which is crucial to any OS’s success.

What happened to Windows 9? Microsoft’s current operating system is called Windows 8 and the new one is Windows 10, so what happened to Windows 9? Feels like a marketing decision to me, as the company chose 10 ‘to emphasise a shift in focus towards mobile devices and the internet’.

What are the new features? Firstly, Microsoft have announced that the upgrade to 10 is free of charge from Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. This is a smart move and should encourage people to take the plunge, and soften the blow of having to learn a new Windows system.

As I mentioned earlier, new technology without excitement is not going to engage, but the boffins as Microsoft have been busy. The heavily-advertised Cortana personal assistant system will be moving from mobile to PC which I think is very interesting. I don’t think there is any chance of voice replacing typing and clicking (it is so much slower!), but being able to make a quick note or addition to your calendar at the touch of a button is a nice feature.

As well as being able to use the same OS on all devices (PC, tablet, mobile and X-Box), you will be able to play your X-Box games on any other Windows 10 tablet or PC – although there is a large community of gamers who would say why not play a PC game on a PC for a better experience?

But the most exciting feature by far is the HoloLens headset. Wearables are going to be huge this year and moving forward, and HoloLens takes them to the next level. When wearing the headset, the user will see a projected hologram integrating with the world around them. Very exciting!

Any improvements to Internet Explorer? Yes, because Internet Explorer is dead! The much maligned browser is finally being put out of its misery and is being replaced by a browser which at the moment is called Project Spartan. It will have Cortana deeply integrated and has a ‘noting mode’ which allows users to scribble on a web page and send it to a contact. Some would argue that the only way is up from IE, and more Spartan features will be released in due course.

Will it work? This is the (multi) billion dollar question. Will it help to kick-start the fight-back for Windows devices? Well, the initial signs are positive: Microsoft are actively encouraging adoption and have show-cased some pretty exciting features.

The two key questions, however, are can Microsoft deliver on these exciting features and will developers get engaged with Windows 10 – two yes answers will mean Windows 10 will be one to watch in 2015.

Review of 2014

2014 Digital Predictions

2014 Digital Predictions

As 2014 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on what has been a highly eventful year – the world of digital marketing saw significant changes in social media, search marketing and well, everything else!  But what were the biggest stories of 2014?  Here is my take on the key stories from the last 12 months:

January:
The start of the year saw Google announce its position regarding Guest Blogging – despite Matt Cutts quoting that ‘guest blogging is dead’, there was some ambiguity.  Not surprisingly, guest blogging that is focused on the audience rather than an SEO benefit is still favourable – but make sure you do your homework before embarking on this.

February:
Following the IPO in 2012, Facebook has been under some pressure to monetise, and I mean seriously monetise, its model.  In February 2014, it announced its intention to buy WhatsApp for up to $22bn.  The deal only went through a few weeks ago, and it is not clear what Facebook has planned for the mobile messaging service, but it’s likely that Facebook will use this to connect with teens who are less keen on Facebook following friend requests from their parents!

March:
Twitter announced its biggest design change in March and seemed to take some inspiration from Facebook.  With such a notoriously quick-fire model, Twitter seems to struggle for engagement, and putting more emphasis on imagery is presumably a move to drive this up – still unclear whether this will work.

April:
Chinese ecommerce giant and one of China’s best kept secrets, the Alibaba Group, filed registration documents to go public in the US (it became the biggest IPO ever in September).  Already accounting for around 80% of China’s ecommerce, the scale of this business is staggering – ecommerce sites of the US and UK, you have been warned.

May:
In May, it was widely reported that 99% of digital advertising was incorrectly targeted.  This number seems staggeringly high, although looking at the products being advertised to you on a daily basis may shave you agreeing.  One of the benefits of digital advertising is the opportunity to segment effectively – if you are not doing this, or talking to your media partners about this, don’t expect any return from your ad spend.

June:
June was a predictable month – England get knocked out of the World Cup early, Germany win the tournament and the record for the biggest social media event ever was broken by World Cup Brazil 2014.  With a run rate of 619k tweets per minute when the final was being played, and one billion posts / comments / likes on Facebook, the numbers are staggering.  The opportunity for brands who are able to react quickly to live events came into clear focus.

July:
Twitter release their analytics package in July, although it was initially only available to accounts which have run paid campaigns.  There is limited analytics available for all now, and this is long overdue – if Twitter want to drive their revenue, they need to be able to prove that ad spend on their network drives ROI, and for that you need an analytics package.  About time!

August:
The Ice Bucket Challenge was the most widespread social media event of 2014.  It really showed the potential positive power of social media – it was a very simple idea which is easy to execute, everyone can do it (even celebrities got on board as it was for a good cause), you can be nominated and nominate other people.  Not a bad checklist for viral content…

September:
Apple’s biggest launch event of 2014 took place in California in September and saw the much anticipated launch of the iPhones 6 and 6S, as well as the launch of Watch (no, not iWatch) and iOS 8.  While there was predictably fever pitch excitement at the event, I felt a little mixed about the launch – not much excitement around the phones, but looking forward to tracking Apple’s foray into wearables.

October:
Google’s Penguin algorithm refresh caused much panic for digital marketers everywhere – until it actually took place and there wasn’t much to worry about after all.  Penguin is all about cutting down on spammy links, but this update only affected around 1% of English queries.  If you still have a black or even grey hat approach to link building, time is running out (if it hasn’t already).

November:
Facebook announced that it was going to hit brands who have very highly promotional posts – to quote Facebook, they “should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time”.  In a statement (whose ambiguity Google would have been proud of), Facebook mentioned that promotional posts without context would see their reach plummet, but didn’t go as far as defining context!  You will be shocked to know that paid Facebook posts are not affected by this!

December:
Just before the end of 2014, Instagram hit 300m users and surpassed Twitter.  It also beats Twitter in terms of user engagement, a crucial measure for advertisers.  Maybe Facebook’s purchase of the image-sharing network for $1bn was a smart move….?

Phew. quite a year!  What were your highlights of the last 12 months?

2013 Digital Review

2013 in Digital

2013 in Digital

As we are approaching the end of 2013, I thought now would be a good time to review the most significant digital marketing stories of the year.  And what a year it has been, eh?!

Facebook Graph Search is launched:  This relies on people having pretty relaxed privacy settings, as only public info can be shared in search results.  Hmmm….don’t think Google will be losing too much sleep over this yet.

Twitter Vine launched:  Feels like a product with a great fit for the 21st Century – short, visual, lots of feline potential.  I think that in 2014, brands are going to start to see this as an opportunity (there are already some brands and sports teams using it excellently).

Google releases enhanced PPC campaigns:  The best advertising channel in the world just got better.  The level of detail which you can set your ad up with now is fantastic, and it’s tough to think of a business that would not benefit from PPC now and into 2014.

Google hits Interflora…hard:  Following Google algorithm updates, Interflora found itself on the receiving end of a Google penalty.  It sent its product out to bloggers in the hope that they would write about the product and provide a link.  Result – Interflora temporarily disappears.  Expect more updates and penalties in 2014.

Google Glass:  Hipsters of the world unite!  Google Glass is being trialled by a select group of volunteers (and their $1500).  I think it’s too early to tell what impact this is going to have, but with 2014 due to see a rise in 4G coverage, this could be big in 2014.

Facebook hashtags:  As part of Facebook’s plan to encourage its network to interact, the hashtag was released onto Facebook in 2013.  Like Graph Search, this relies on people relaxing their privacy settings, which I think is unlikely right now.

Hummingbird long-tail search:  Google introduces the Hummingbird update, to understand the context which the user is searching with in order to provide more accurate search results.  This encouraged most SEO experts to push the virtues of the long-tail search in response.

Rise of Not Provided:  The same SEO experts were disappointed if not surprised that Google has started to not provide keyword data for SEO keyword referral.  The rise of ‘Not Provided’ was happening throughout 2013, so no shocks – just a hole in the data right now until someone finds a solution!

Facebook loses teens:  Teenagers are switching from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram – after all, what teenager wants to be on a social network where their whole family hang out? This is a key demographic for future growth, so expect Facebook to address this in 2014.

Mobile consumption doubles over last 12 months:  Mobile is becoming more and more important, with consumption doubling over the last 12 months.  This will continue into 2014, with the reduction in smart phone cost and the rise of 4G.

What does 2014 hold?  I’ll let you know on the 20th December, so remember to check back!

Apple iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is here

 iPhone5

Apple announced this week that the iPhone 5 will be available to buy from next Friday.  This follows the slight disappointment of the release of the iPhone 4S which was originally touted as the iPhone 5 back in October 2011. 

So, what is different about the 5 vs the 4S?  Here are the key features that you need to know:

Bigger but smaller – The iPhone 5 is smaller in depth than the chunky 4S and is the same width, but it is longer.  Apple have reflected trends in the market with larger retina screens.  If you are familiar with the 4S, you will know that there are 4 rows of apps per page – the 5 is big enough to have 5 rows of apps per page.

Tinier Sim – If you have an iPhone, you will know about the smaller than usual sim cards.  But the iPhone 5 has an ever smaller sim.  This means that you are going to need a new sim card – most networks have committed to replacing sim cards without charge. 

Connecting People – For the first time in almost a decade the docking connector on the iPhone has changed.  Now called the ‘Lightning’ connector, it promises to be quicker but it does mean that your docking station and other devices will need an adaptor.  Apple have said that they will be selling one for £25, but there will inevitably be cheaper alternatives available very soon. 

The Quickest Yet – The iPhone 5 will be 4G enabled.  This means that it is one of the first phones to be able to take advantage of the planned roll-out of 4G in the UK.  4G service means that your phone will have wireless speed but without having to sign into a wireless network – a big positive and one which will make mobile far more accessible.  Before Christmas 2012, 16 UK cities will receive 4G as part of a trial, so iPhone 5 early adopters will be able to take advantage of this. 

Sounds Good – The iPhone 5 will receive new ear pods, which is good news for anyone who has used the old ear pods – they never stay in your ear!

…And The Price – Here comes the bad news.  The iPhone 5 is not a cheap purchase.  There are 3 versions available, the 16GB at £529, the 32GB at £599 and the 64GB at £699.  Ouch! 

The iPhone 5 will inevitably sell well – when the 4S was released, 4 million were sold in the first 3 days of release.  Also, Apple have seen a slump in sales over the last quarter and some think that this is people holding on for the release of the iPhone 5.  However, the change in physical dimension of the 5 brings it closer to the competition.  Coupled with the ongoing court case between Samsung and Apple, the lines between Apple and the competition are starting to blur, so it will be interesting to see how successful it will be. 

What do you think about the iPhone 5 – excited or not?  Leave a comment and let me know.