15th December 09
We’re hopelessly devoted fans of Kraftwerk here at BBH Labs, almost certainly in a way that is slightly backward. Only last week we pledged to listen to nothing but Kraftwerk until the end of 2010 (much to the delight of those sitting near us).
This (below) is an incredible piece of film. It’s from 1973 and shows Ralf & Florian just noodling, in some cases with non-electronic instruments (shock, horror) such as flute. The homemade drum machine looks fairly lo-fi; quite a lot of tinfoil being used there too.
We also stumbled across a couple of other short films in the YouTube crates. First an amusing documentary clip about ‘Autobahn’ from 1975. “Next year Kraftwerk hope to eliminate the keyboards altogether and build jackets with electronic lapels that would be played by touch”.
And then this 10-minute clip from a 1973 French documentary.
Brilliantly evocative films from the birth of electronic music.
Thanks to Paul Matheson for sending the Tanzmusik piece.
14th December 09
Posted in awesomeness
Google Goggles is a new ‘visual search’ app for Android phones. Instead of using words, take a picture of an object with your camera phone: Google then attempt to recognize the object, and return relevant search results. Goggles also provides information about businesses near you by displaying their names directly in the camera preview.
As Google make clear, this is far from perfect yet, but it’s still getting us thinking about how we might use this kind of technology for clients.
Wonder when it will work with social networks? And wonder when it’s out on iPhone?
More detail on Goggles on Google’s site, here.
(Full disclosure: Google is a client of BBH)
30th November 09
Jointly authored by Anjali Ramachandran (Made By Many, London), Chandrashekhar L (BBH India), & Ben Malbon (BBH Labs).
Brands in India are still struggling with advertising on the internet, even as mobile services steadily explore new territory.
Both mobile and the internet comprise what is popularly known as ‘digital’, yet unlike in Western markets such as the UK or the US, the former is much more powerful and prevalent than the latter. The reason for this is primarily the drop in the cost of mobile usage over recent years, versus the increasing cost of broadband usage. As this blogger says:
“What the Indian telcos should do is adopt a model that was instrumental in driving mobile usage in India. Drop the price points so that even the average person (living on Rs. 100 per day), would find Internet usage compelling, useful, and not frustrating. If they were to adopt a mass usage policy and not price their broadband products based on margins, I believe that in 5 years, India could have at least 100 million broadband users (via DSL, cable modem, Mobile 3G, wiMax, etc.).”
The mobile industry in India is witnessing rapid changes, with voice and messaging charges dropping drastically. Tata Docomo started the concept of “pay per second” not too long ago, which was replicated within a fortnight by all other major players like Vodafone, Reliance and Airtel. Less than a week ago, Reliance (the largest CDMA player) introduced the option of choosing between 1 paise per sms (a measly 0.02 cents) or 1 rupee for unlimited SMS per day (2 cents per day).
The interesting paradox is that while basic call and text charges have dropped to unbelievably low prices, GPRS costs have yet to come down. Therefore, the trend suggests that the evolved value-added services (VAS) will definitely grow at a much lower pace, as those costs aren’t coming down as steeply: accessing services on the phone still costs a lot in India, even though phone tariffs are amongst the lowest in the world.
As more and more people in the country jump on the mobile phone bandwagon, from small villages to large metros, innovation is growing apace. Consider, for example, the new business deal between DirecPay, a bank-neutral payment aggregator service from Times of Money (part of the Times Group, India’s largest media conglomerate) and PayMate, a wireless transactions company. The deal will provide an extended mobile payment facility to merchants who sign up, and with the current rate of penetration of the mobile device in the country at 35% (the number of GSM users alone is at 335.5 million currently), it is likely to bring even more consumers into the considered set of e-commerce users, as Avijit Nanda, the President of Times of Money says.
Mobile phones in India are also extremely powerful social and commercial tools. Nokia handsets are the instruments of choice of the majority of the population in the country (the company owns about 65% of the market share).
Where educational iPhone apps are less than 1000 in number (737 in November 2008) and certainly not as popular as gaming and entertainment apps in the Western world, in South Asia, Nokia has understood the market and is investing in Mera Nokia, a tool that provides farmers with useful crop-related information, Nokia Life, which offers agriculture, education and entertainment service apps specifically targeted at the market in smaller urban and rural areas, Nokia Tej, a mobile order management system, and Nokia Point and Find, a context-aware service that recognizes objects through barcodes and GPS. (Nokia has embarked on the last two as part of the Progress Project, in partnership with Lonely Planet). Airtel (another popular Indian mobile operator) and Thomson Reuters also offer services similar to Mera Nokia.
If the market offers a completely different set of challenges, the only way to counter them is to understand how to leverage the instrument that is clearly succeeding. We imagine something along the lines of the Blyk model would work well here: where advertisers subsidize the cost of mobile usage via targeted advertisements. It may even be possible to build a two-tiered offering like Spotify has for it’s Premium and regular (free) offerings. What Hugo Barra, a Product Manager at Google says is particularly resonant in this respect:
“People will not want to pay for services that they can get for free, and the services will be free because there is a massive opportunity for advertisers to come onto the mobile platform. This is still untapped. Thanks to the proliferation of location information, specific advertising, and I mean non-intrusive advertising can easily come onto the mobile.”
Another opportunity that can be tapped into is the growth of social networks in the country. India is now only behind the US in Twitter usage, and it is 5th in the world in Facebook usage. An interesting model would be to explore a hybrid that combines the extensive usage of mobiles and social networking.
The big players are already realizing the opportunities for promoting social networking services. For instance, Aircel Telecom launched the biggest advertising burst in the telecom category (before Tata Docomo) by showcasing Facebook on mobile while Airtel has launched a campaign of 4 TVCs promoting the use of Twitter. Here is some of the creative from those two campaigns:
According to a 2009 Trendspotting report, online ad spend is only 3% of the total ad spend in India, compared to 8-20% in developed markets. But advertisers are evolving in their use of the online medium by going beyond banner and keyword advertising to creating campaigns that leverage social networks and connectivity, while the use of the mobile phone for advertising is still very rudimentary (mostly used for text-based promotional offers). The increasing use of the internet and especially social networks on the mobile would automatically mean that the online advertising approach gets extended to the small mobile screen as well: 63 million Indians already access internet on mobile as compared to 45 million on the PC (Source: IRS and TRAI estimates).
What’s fascinating – and perhaps instructive – for those involved with making sense of all this in Western markets such as Europe and North America, is how telcos and marketers in India seem to simply be jumping over some of the phases and issues the typical North American marketer might face. Despite the fact that in many ways the technologies at their disposal are less sophisticated than in Western markets, they seem further ahead in terms of mobile utility, mobile commerce & micro-payments, and in many cases more adventurous as far as advertiser-funded mobile platforms are concerned.
We have much to learn.
17th November 09
Posted in Uncategorized
The third year of this annual, US-based report, the 2009 edition makes a bit of a departure, with the emphasis squarely on brands and the degree to which digital brand experiences shape & drive purchase. It’s received a mix of high praise and some criticism. We’ve found the report itself and the reactions to it thought-provoking stuff, so caught up with Garrick who kindly agreed to mull over a few questions with us. Here’s a run-through of what particularly caught our attention.
16th November 09
This is so brilliantly simple, and hints at a very interesting emerging platform both for conventional storytelling (in this case, reading with kids) but also for new opportunities where print meets interactivity anywhere.
This is a mock-up, clearly, but @Schatz & I been trying to work out what technology would allow the iPhone (say) to know when the page was turned; this would ensure a more immersive & richer experience.
Two thoughts come to mind:
One, use headphones controls to hack some kind of next page function from the next track control.
Two, shake and turn (bit random with kids in charge)
Any other ideas?
More details here: http://www.mobileart.jp/phonebook.html
Thanks to Alex Rainert – @arainert – for the original link on his excellent blog: http://www.everydayux.com/
13th November 09
This is a good summary of some of the key shifts in music retail (although US-only data).
But what’s also really interesting is that it’s coming from a financial services company: mint.com
mint.com’s service – already brilliant on the web, and on a very strong iPhone app, now seems to be extending into data visualization and cultural commentary.
6th November 09
Posted in creativity
We’re full of respect for the way co-Chairs of the ANDYs, Michael Lebowitz and Ty Montague are shaking things up with their “Elect The Jury” platform for the election of 2010 ANDYs judges. Involving the industry in collaboratively determining who should judge what is ‘great work’ is a more democratic and more interesting way to put together a broad-ranging panel of top notch creative people. It’s also an opportunity for the industry to create a jury that doesn’t just judge and reward the past, but in some way tries to sketch out a vision of where this thing we loosely call ‘creativity’ is going.
I’ve caught up with both Ty and Michael over the last few days to ask them how it’s going, what they’re learning, and what’s next (though what follows is my view, not theirs, necessarily).
The first thing to note, and to celebrate, is that as an experiment, it’s clearly already been a success.
They’ve pissed some people off; always a sign that you’re doing something right.
They’ve curated a brilliant list of some truly phenomenal people across an extensive spread of creative industries, art and culture; this seems pioneering.
They’ve provided a platform for debate about the role of technology in creativity, the role (or not) of big ideas, and the role and value (or not) of awards shows; about time that happened.
But we also need to look at what’s happened as a result . . . where we’ve ended up, with less than 10 days to go.
We’ve ended up with a fairly conventional – dare I say it, expected – list of the top 25 jurors. It is a list that glitters with talent, experience and in many cases, legends. It has some unconventional entries, which is great (Shepard Fairey, Marc Jacobs). It has some super worthy judges who might not normally find their way on to the shortlist (Vivian Rosenthal of Tronic). But the remainder of the shortlist seems to be the ECDs from the top large agencies, mostly in the the US.
Below ‘the cut’ (at least currently – voting doesn’t end for a few days yet) are some phenomenal people who both define and in many ways embody an emerging sense of what creativity is, or perhaps even more, might become. I’ll list a few of my personal heroes here. These are people who excite me when they talk about ideas. These are people I’d collectively describe as hacking creativity, media, interactive art, or culture. They are at the forefront of trying to mutate formats, channels or content into new forms. They are not all in creative departments, but they are in some way creative people.
Kevin Slavin of area / code; John Winsor, latterly of CPB, now of Victors & Spoils; Faris Yakob of McCann NY; Noah Brier of Barbarian; Benjamin Palmer of Barbarian; Mike Monello of Campfire; Yugo Nakamura of Yugop; Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody”; Hashem Bajwa of Droga.
Let’s be blunt about something. They are possibly not the people to go to for craft skills in art direction, film or typography (to name but three); craft skills that are still critically important in so many ways to creating magically good content. But they are the kinds of people who might create new crafts altogether. And that’s why they’re interesting &, I’d argue, relevant.
I believe that alongside the Legends of Creativity who already populate the ANDYs shortlist (many of whom are also clearly completely at home blending technology with creativity), we need more people like this judging and guiding creativity.
So here’s my suggestion.
Let’s try and persuade Michael and Ty to take the great list of creative talent they’ve carefully curated and stage a *Second Round* of their experiment. Before they have to finally appoint the jury.
Let’s try and persuade them to create empty categories. To take the entire 150+ curated list and ask the people in the industry to help allocate judges to categories. Once judges are in categories, then people can vote up their favorites so that we end up with a crowdsourced final list who go on to to be jury members.
And this time people can only vote once for their top 5. Just like real politics.
We might end up with a broader definition of creativity, and some helpful pointers to the future.
What do you think?
6th November 09
(Posted by Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York)
We spend a lot of time thinking about how now you can do things when you step away from the confines of your desk — tweeting in the supermarket, replying to email on the escalator. But what about when you are sitting in one of those comfy sofa’s or ergonomic Steel Case chairs? How does mobility come into play when you are in a fixed location?
I recently started using Apple’s Magic Mouse and have found myself leaning back in my chair and just using the touch functions to navigate. It’s an oddly liberating feeling to move your hand and mouse away from the desk and still be in control.
I have also spent the week with the Motorola Droid and by far my favorite feature is the dock that sits on my bedside table. I am no longer fumbling for my iPhone to check the weather in the morning to decide what to wear before I get up. I can now retreat back under the covers for a few extra minutes of sleep as, right there in my peripheral view, I can see that it’s “56 degrees and cloudy”.
And, right now I am sitting with my headphones on as I write this, but I would much prefer to be untethered and have a sound laser wrap the sound around my space rather than having a device wrapped around my head–allowing me to move slightly to hear the conversation rather than removing an object from my body.
Mobile phones have untethered us from objects plugged into walls and wires so we can run jump and call at the same time, but we do live and work in a society where people sit in single locations for large amounts of time. I like to think of the new technology as a way to enable 7.1 Dolby Surround… for everything. Surround screens, surround data, surround interaction.
Micro mobility requires design for all our senses and subtle changes in the environment, rather than distinct I/O control giving people a new type of freedom in the locations they spend most of their time.
If you could unhook or liberate one thing that is sitting close to you right now, what would it be?
21st October 09
I first came across this last year, and found it to be one of the best written and most insightful papers of the year.
At first glance this year’s presentation, posted yesterday (20th Oct) looks equally essential reading. See what you think.