Archive for May, 2006|Monthly archive page
Demonstrating yet again that everything can be upgraded, London's Harrods recently opened a luxury convenience store across the street from its famous Food Halls.
Dubbed Harrods 102, the new store brings luxury and convenience together in a one-stop concept. Besides selling groceries and wine, Harrods 102 also houses a Yo! Sushi bar, a Krispy Kreme stand, florist, pharmacist, dry cleaning service, and oxygen bar.
“These additional retail and service offers put Harrods closer to their customers’ everyday needs and delivers a new emotional relationship,” says Stephen Cribbett of Landini Associates, which designed both the store and its brand identity. (Landini also developed redroomdvd, which is to Blockbuster what Harrods 102 is to 7-Eleven.)
Adding to the convenience, Harrods 102 features a concierge service that will hand-deliver goods to local residents. Open from 7 am to 11 pm, the shop's cool, modern interior combines dark timber, stainless steel and natural stone, and is drawing droves of well-heeled shoppers. We wouldn't be surprised if Harrods opened
102 stores in other UK cities, and there's little doubt that time-starved urban consumers across the world would welcome similar retail combinations of food, well-being and convenience.
From Springwise.com »
Nathan Bales represents a troubling trend for cellular phone carriers. The Kansas City-area countertop installer recently traded in a number of feature-laden phones for a stripped-down model. He said he didn't like using them to surf the internet, rarely took pictures with them and couldn't stand scrolling through seemingly endless menus to get the functions to work.
"I want a phone that is tough and easy to use," said Bales, 30. "I don't want to listen to music with it. I'm not a cyber-savvy guy."
An interesting story about consumer revolt to bad design and lack of simplicity.
Read the AP story here (courtesy of Wired News)
Retailers are realizing that they are now part of an Experience Economy and the competition today requires them to move beyond products and services and offer their customers differentiating and entertaining experiences. Yahoo Tech has launched a series called "Hook Me Up" in which everyday people solicite a story about why they need a new electronics setup. Winners stories are produced for a weekly on-line show similar to those that you might see on HGTV or TLC.
Now Yahoo is joining in in a big way with the launch of "Amazon Fishbowl" hosted by comedian, Bill Maher. The 30-minute program will also feature live performances from musicians and is scheduled to launch June 1. United Parcel Service is sponsoring the show, which will stream live for 12 Thursday nights during the summer.
The purpose of the show is to interest shoppers in buying more books, CDs and DVDs
Check out the preview here: Amazon Fishbowl
Here’s another patent application from Apple that has become public, this one filed on November 24, 2004, outlining a “music synchronization arrangement” for a “computing device.” It’s designed to let the iPod pick out music that plays at the same tempo that your feet hit the ground when exercising, measured by a built-in accelerometer. It also lets you adjust the tempo of the music, and lets you group various songs according to their tempo or “other attributes.”
We already know Apple is keenly interested in exercise and iPods, judging from its recent announcement of its partnership with Nike, where magic shoes talk to the iPod, measuring distance and recording performance. Steve Jobs, in his characteristically upbeat manner, mentioned that it’s “90% accurate out-of-the-box, which is huge.” We’re thinking it would be even huge-er if this turned out to be an “iPod SportPhone” with a GPS device inside that was 100% accurate, a music player, and a cellphone—all in one sleek elegant revolutionary Apple-fied package.
iPod Sport coming from Apple soon? [Unwired View]
Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.
In a new Wired story, Jeff Howe explains how Generation C(content) is having a huge impact on "Stock Image" companies and what the market leader in that area is doing about it.
Here is the link: Wired: 'The Rise of Crowdsourcing"
From Seth Godin's Blog:
That's how much the typical family in the US spends on telecommunications. It's certainly one of the highest discretionary items in a typical budget, and it's particularly surprising given that long distance is a fraction of what it used to be.
So, David Troup points us to Helio, a phone/toy for teenagers and those that think like them (the phone, with built in music and video capability, and fully integrated with MySpace, is primarily sold at record stores, at least in NY). I give them credit for tapping into a desire that consumers are already voting for with their dollars. Is it a killer app for geezers like me? Nope. And that may be exactly why it works.
What's more valuable to consumers: their cellphones or the data stored on them? Services like MightyBackup, Verizon's Backup Assistant and Sprint's Wireless Backup offer cellphone users peace of mind by wirelessly backing up phone data.
FusionOne, a developer of premium mobile services, created MightyBackup, a wireless services that provides simple, automatic data backup and restoration. Automatic backups ensure phone book lists are constantly protected, and if a phone is replaced, stolen, lost or damaged, MightyBackup simply sends the user's contact list to a new phone. No hardware or pc connection needed – it all works through the phone's connection to the network, with data stored in a central database.
Verizon's Backup Assistant is powered by FusionOne, and Sprint recently launched Wireless Backup, which synchronizes a phone's contact list with a copy on Sprint’s servers. All services are offered at around USD 2 per month. In Brazil, Vivo offers the same service under the name Vivo Agenda. (Note that these services don't work for all phone models.)
Considering how many consumers use their cellphones as their primary address books, offering them a secure, automatic and wireless way to prevent data loss is a sure winner. This might not be a unique idea, but it plays to an underserved market: it's a service every cellphone user needs and wants, but one that isn't readily available everywhere.
While most cell phones tout an abundance of bells and whistles, two companies are focusing on the substantial market for simpler phones.
Founded by Arlene Harris, a telecoms veteran, and her husband Martin Cooper, who helped develop the first portable cell phone for Motorola in 1973, GreatCall is a new wireless company that will target baby boomers and their parents. While the network isn't yet operational, GreatCall's Jitterbug, a combination of handset and service provider, will soon start shipping phones. Manufactured by Samsung, the phones have big buttons, a bright screen, easy to read text, and loud and clear sound. One version (Jitterbug OneTouch) is simplified even further, its number keys replaced by three emergency buttons: one for 911, a second for Jitterbug's operator, and a third for a personalized direct dial number.
Operators are an important element of Jitterbug's services. Besides looking up numbers or placing calls for customers, operators can program a phone's contact list over the network. Each customer is also provided with an individual webpage that can be used to edit the phone list, or set service options, which means that children or grandchildren can help their less technically adept relatives configure their phones. Jitterbug's pricing has yet to be set, but plans will be available from USD 10 per month.
Last year, Vodafone launched a somewhat similar service in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Vodafone Simply combines no-frills phones with uncomplicated price plans. Though certainly easier to use than most phones, Vodafone's attempt can't rival Jitterbug's extra services and meticulous design.
Jitterbug is an inspiring example for entrepreneurs who'd like to develop products or services for older consumers. Who will do the same for other industries? How about combining computers, software and broadband service into one easy package?
Using small-dose financing, Microsoft's FlexGo is attempting to make computers available to more consumers in developing countries.
Customers will pay approximately half the price of a computer upfront. Usage is paid by the hour, and after a few hundred hours of use, the user will own the pc outright. Like prepaid cell phones, consumers buy prepaid cards with a code that gives them access to the pc for a certain amount of time.
Microsoft is primarily targeting consumers who already use computers at work or school, but can't afford to buy their own. Compared to conventional monthly payment plans, pay-as-you-go financing is far more flexible, and allows consumers to scale down their computer use if money is tight. Which is a familiar concept for prepaid phones (74% of mobile phones in emerging markets are prepaid), but new for the computer industry.
For more examples of micro-selling to emerging markets, check out trendwatching.com's sachet marketing.
In 2003, manufacturers shipped a record 73.7 million appliances to distribution centers and retail outlets, up 8.4% over 2002, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). In each of the past three years, AHAM has logged increases of at least 4.2% in shipments that include the six major household appliances: dishwashers, freezers, ranges, refrigerators, washers and dryers. For 2005, the association predicted growth of slightly less than 2%.
The LG Tromm SteamWasher (US$1500; shipping Q2) relies on steam to remove wrinkles and odors from clothing without using water or detergent. The steam cycle reduces dry cleaning trips and makes ironing boards virtually obsolete. It can even be used to refresh clothes between washes.
U.S. consumers bought more than US$5 billion in cooking appliances in 2004, not counting sales directly to builders, reports Stevenson Co. That’s up from US$4.9 billion in 2003. Sales growth is being driven by “kitchen jewelry” — stylish, luxury appliances products with expensive finishes. While high-end goods are estimated account for less than 10% of the U.S. appliance market, sales are picking up, says Home Furnishings News.
“Super prime” appliance sales, like a Wolf dual-fuel range that can set you back as much as US$10,000, have grown by more than 30% annually for the past few years, reports Home Furnishings News.
While upscale appliance sales are also driven by Food Network TV shows and the entrée of companies like GE and Kenmore into the high-end market, consumers are ironically just too busy to cook. Last year, 50% of dinner meals were made using stove tops. down from 58% in 1994, according to The NPD Group.
freddy&ma is a great example of how the web can be used to bring manufacturers and customers back together again, so that mass marketed offerings for many can become tailored — even bespoke — objects for one.
While I'm not one to jump on the "in the future we'll all print out products at home" bandwagon, I do believe that we'll see the freddy&ma approach of "let me choose and then build it for me" take hold in other industries. In a way, what Mini has done with the process of tailoring a car is a first, web-enabled step toward this world. I hope to see the day when I can use the web to order custom bodywork for a Ferrari coupe from an authentic carrozzeria panel beater working with a hammer and tree stump, sipping lambrusco while he pounds out the web-enabled fenders of my dreams… of course, the car will probably be made of carbon fiber and constructed in a clean room, but the other reality is just so romantic.
In September 05 PSFK talked about the future impact of stereolithography:
One day we'll have a 3D printer in our homes that can 'print' items like chairs and lamps made from composite material, or so Janne Kyttanen of rapid prototyping firm Freedom of Creation believes. People will download a CAD type design from the web, customize it and then print it!
Now we see a development where 3D printing is already having an impact on our lives. A company in London called Prior 2 Lever has created a bespoke soccer boot called “The Assassin” using the method. The shoe is created by scanning the foot to get exact measurements and then printed off into a real 3D shoe. The PR lady told us:
"The technology used to make the sole is called Laser Sintering, one of a group of relatively new technologies in use since about 20 years in the highly technological field of "rapid prototyping" (RP). These technologies are increasingly referred to as "rapid manufacturing" or "3-d digital printing" and render new possibilities for creating a product directly from CAD data.
"RP technologies can enable the design freedom to create virtually any type of form, without the geometrical limitations imposed by moulding, as well as enabling the possibility of creating single-component parts that with moulding might need to be created in various components and then fitted together."
The shoes are being created for Premiership Soccer Players right now.
US retailer Macy's plans to install 180 iPod vending machines nationwide by fall – to tempt impulse buys.United Press International – NewsTrack – Macy's to add iPod vending machines
Business 2.0 does a good job imagining what wireless life might evolve to with the development of WiMax wireless systems:
Put simply, we're on the cusp of a dramatic transformation that will extend far beyond the mere ability to download e-mail, photos, and webpages more quickly. Plentiful wireless bandwidth, coupled with more sophisticated mobile devices, will usher in a new generation of wireless tools and services.
There are good examples of the companies that are pushing things forward. Phones that get you into concerts, tell co-workers not to call now – or even display which friends are at a show. The next phase of the mobile revolution is about to begin.
Read the article here: Business 2.0