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Friday, July 9, 2010

Cluelessness is catching

I last blogged about three head-scratching examples of a complete lack of awareness about image and reputation -- General Stanley McChrystal, The French national soccer team and BP. Now it would seem that Apple is trying to join this elite group by telling its customers that the iPhone 4's poor reception is due to the way they are holding it. I've never seen a mobile phone with specific gripping instructions. Are we supposed to hold it with just the index finger and thumb as if it were a dirty diaper about to be thrown in the trash? Maybe rubber coated barbecue tongs with do the trick? Once again we see a problem, in this case poor reception, being aggravated by poor communication. Essentially Apple denied there was a problem and implied users should modify the way in which they hold their iPhones. Then they said the way in which they calculated reception strength was wrong. What Apple should have done was acknowledge there was a problem and try to provide some practical and in-expensive remedies. By practical and inexpensive I don't mean the almost $30 iPhone case or the software update for the reception signal. I've heard putting a fat rubber band around the iPhone 4 fixes the problem. Is this true or is it an urban legend? It would be nice for Apple to come clean and weigh in this and other possible practical and low-cost solutions.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LeBron James is Among the Savviest of Content Marketers

Like millions of other Americans and basketball fans around the globe, I'm eager for closure.

NY Knicks? Stay with the Cavs? Join the Bulls in the Windy City? Or perhaps it will be the Heat in Miami?

Oh where, oh where will LeBron James, aka King James, play for the 2010/11 basketball season and the foreseeable future.

Well, unless you have been truly off the grid and vacationing in say, the Peruvian Amazon, then you're aware of James' prime time announcement tonight on ESPN at which point (9 p.m. ET) he will reveal which NBA team he will play for.

While we wait, James can lay claim to being the subject of the most hyped free agency in NBA history.

It's an award that will look handsome enough alongside his many other awards, which include Rookie of the Year, two Most Valuable Player awards and his membership to multiple All-NBA and All-Star teams.

Despite his "King James" status, this king has yet to earn the crown that most NBA players covet above any other -- an NBA Championship.

And it really doesn't matter other than to the purest of NBA fans if he ever wins a championship.  He's King James, crown or no crown, because everyone says so -- fans, TV and radio broadcasters, his team mates, competitors, sports writers, his mom.


So how does he do it?  How does he get us to watch tonight?

Well, perhaps above anything else, LeBron James is a brilliant content marketer.  In the same class as Tiger Woods (at least before Tiger's crash) but perhaps savvier since James has won the world's attention and pocketbooks without winning the big one while Woods has a truckload of of trophies from winning golf's Majors.

In a post today, Joe Pulizzi, a founder of content matching site Junta42, reminds us that we are all media companies -- publishers of content. And whether you like LeBron James or not (I happen to like him though the ego can be a bit tough to take), B2B and B2C companies can learn from how James has built his tremendous brand.

Create great content and tell a story (tonight, LeBron tells his story live to his fans)

Put a line in the sand and say something interesting and thought provoking (as Joe points out, James has never been a media darling).

Use a range of communications channels to converse with your customers.  Find out where your customers are.  And go there (James talks to his fans via Facebook, Twitter, his web site, and on TV a few hours from now).

Closure is just around the corner.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Global Forecast Sunny for the Cloud

Last month a Gartner report said the U.S. share of the worldwide cloud services market was 60 percent in 2009 and will decline slightly to 58 percent in 2010.  While barely noticeable, that two percent reduction may not be a sign of reduced interest in the U.S., but an important indication of global market share dilution as other countries accelerate their interest in the cloud

Signs of global adoption are emerging everywhere.

Two examples within the last week include an announcement that SFR, a leading French telecom operator, partnered with HP to offer cloud based services to their customers. The cloud services platform helps SFR offer IT infrastructure as a service (IaaS) with utility-based pricing to French companies. The HP-SFR partnership is based on the HP offering known as HP Cloud Services Enablement (CSE) portfolio for Communications Service Providers (CSP), which tightly integrates HP software, hardware and services to simplify and speed cloud services deployments. 

And just this morning, an article in the English language publication, Al Bawaba, said that heightened interest among businesses in the region has spurred the creation of a new, dedicated conference -- Cloud Confex -- for Middle East businesses to assess and compare cloud technologies.  Cloud Confex will also provide a vendor showcase and knowledge exchange.  Scheduled speakers include executives and technologists from Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, EMC, HP, LiveRoute, Kamal Osman Jamjoom, Qatar Foundation, Sahara Petrochemicals, Saudi Aramco and The Executive Council, Government of Dubai.

These are just recent examples that illustrate the global emergence of the cloud. Gartner confidently predicts worldwide cloud services revenue will reach $68.3 billion this year --  a 16.6 percent increase from 2009 revenue of $58.6 billion.  

In four years, Gartner estimates global cloud services revenue will more than double to $148.8 billion.  The report cites cumulative growth in Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service and identifies financial services and manufacturing industries as the largest early adopters of cloud services followed by communications, high-tech industries and the public sector.

Geographically, the report indicates the U.S. share of the worldwide cloud services market will see 10 percent dilution over the next four years as other nations move to the cloud, decreasing the U.S. share to 50 percent in 2014.  

While this kind of growth in a troubled global economy is exciting, we wonder if it will accelerate even faster if the industry resolves concerns over security, availability of service and vendor viability and as the use of the cloud shows signs of maturation and build confidence in its capabilities. 

Additional information is available on Gartner's website “Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide and Regions, Industry Sectors, 2009-2014.”