Muji and the touch screen gloves. If the high tech changes your wardrobe…

Technology’s paces, and social ones, are never the same.

17th July 2002, almost ten years ago, Apple launches on the market the second generation of iPod. Between the upgrades, if compared to the previous version, we can find touch-sensitive controls.

With respect to the current touch screen devices, we can’t find meaningful changes, about this topic: during the winter, you have to choose between gloves or control. However, iPod‘s spread wasn’t so “viral”. Certainly, less than today.

Guanti senza punte: funzionali, ma "bruttini" e non idonei ai climi più freddi

During ten years, we have “aspirants-iPod” following (or copying?!?) its example, ready to use touch-sensitive elements, but most of all we have several touch screen device, which have quickly gained significant market shares anywhere they settled. So, the “traditional glove” makes your devices unusable.

As a partial solution, for some, gloves without fingertips. Maybe useful, but unthinkable for those who love to be trendy. Not a good solution for anyone, so. And not so eligible for the coldest mornings.

So, the Japanese company Muji realized that this need of the consumers could be a good business for itself. The idea is pretty simple: touch screen gloves, which embed on the fingertips of forefinger and thumb a conductive material, to permit us to use also a device with capacitive touch screen, sensible to variations in the display’s electrostatic field, due to our fingers (impossible to feel, for it, with common gloves).

I think that one of the most meaningful feature of this product is to be really “for anyone”, economically speaking: only 20 € for a pair, purchasable also online. another example between many, saying us that technology, after our practices, is changing day by day also our clothing. Also with little, but very ingenious, ideas. Futuristic sensors inside our sweaters, or RFIDs that communicate with surrounding environment? Sometimes, working on your fingertips is enough…

Daniele Vincenzoni


Inefficiencies 2.0. When companies play with the social web, without understanding it

Going to the cinema. Is there anything easier? In a few steps, the evening outing is organized.

Step one: choose a movie. Only a few years ago, you had to take a newspaper, to check the cinemas list and, then, you could select a film.

Cinema’s operators then, especially the largest ones, discovered the web site: easy to build and to update, great to use for users/spectators. No more just a timetable, but also plots, news, route infos to reach the cinema, etc.

Today. Someone doesn’t understand the new technologies of the ICT field, and plays with Web 2.0 through the rules of the “old” Internet. Obviously, it happens regardless of the different business sectors.

A few days ago, on Twitter, I found out the profile of one of my favorite cinema in Rome.

It’s great, materially speaking: digital screenings, inside large and comfortable rooms. Everything, into a stunning setting: a pub, a restaurant, a cafè, meadows and a small lake with ducks, goldfishes and turtles, too. Anything, suggests that this enterprise has a good knowledge of the experientiality concept: when you sell a product, customers don’t look only at that one, but also at several other services, which give it an added value. Well: this added value, is very important for the customer loyalty.

Due to this, I expected something more from this Twitter profile.

This Twitter profile infos. We can't find the corporate logo

Since June 2010, only 124 tweets and 53 followers. Few, for a medium corporation, which hosts a large number of viewers every evening.

At first sight, not a good feeling… The first tweet, in fact, says “Ecco il nostro nuovo sito!”, which means “This is our new website!”. Moreover, we can’t find the enterprise’s logo, but just a white bird. Heavy error, in my opinion.

First tweet, first error

So, leaving out the “logo issue”, we have to think about the deep difference between a website and a social network site. A common user couldn’t know this one, maybe, but a corporation must know.

Just an error, also if bad? Could be, I thought. Then, to be sure, I wrote a message to it. Just a simple question: “Good evening. Is the ticket booking for free? Have I to use a credit card? Thanks!”.

My question via Twitter

Of course, I didn’t receive an answer.

So, it’s not a huge problem for a customer. But the enterprise is giving, in this way, a very bad image of itself.

The “social network site” term, of course, means that those sites must be socialrelational and, concretely speaking, it means that you have to answer your followers’ questions.

If you choose to use Twitter, you can’t use it like a traditional medium, although this one is a little mainstream, we could say…

Marketing teaches us that it’s better if you don’t start a service, rather than propose it in a “light version”. In fact, in this case, you don’t have a “half-service”, but an inefficiency.

If a hotel tells you it has an amazing swimming pool and, once there, you can find just a small and dirty bathtub, you can’t be so happy and satisfied. No one likes a half-service. Sometimes, “1.0” is not so different from “2.0”…

Daniele Vincenzoni

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MyTown 2. Geolocation and new business models

Apple App Store, games category. A few days ago, through my iPad 2, I’ve found MyTown 2: free, available for both iPhone and Apple’s tablet, with a wide number of five stars assessments. I started the download.

From the beginning, it seems like another Sim City’s clone. Indeed, I can’t say it is not: a huge empty field, and several buildings to construct on it.

Commercial activities which you can buy are close to you

To create an empire. A military one, or economic maybe, or any other type: the tipical delusions of grandeur, the basis of many videogames. However, there’s something different in MyTown 2, that makes this game experience something unique: the spatio-temporal nexus, that links the virtual world to the real one (or, better, actual). Indeed, under the spatial point of view, through a geolocation system and a database of commercial activities, the app detects your position, and shows you a list of shops close to you. You can build them, so, and they will be part of your own town. Yes: to become the owner of the jewelry under your home, or of the coffee roasting next to it, and so on, could be a little strange, but thanks to this feature you can have a customized (and, most of all, a personal) game, based on your own life. Then, you can log in: if you’re close to your shop, you can do a check in, so you can have an economic bonus. Virtual one, obviously.

The temporal point of view, now. Here, things are simpler. Different moments of the year, a different landscape and different buildings to choose. It’s Christmas time, so you’ll find a lot of tipical decorations. Of course, this time, MyTown doesn’t need API and other software’s contents. No maps and things like this: just a calendar and an update to adjourn the “seasonal” building’s list.

And, now, a scent of social: your virtual town, is not only connected to the real world, but also to several MyTowns built by other users. Visit them, create franchisings, get in touch with thousands of other passionates. This is possible due to Apple Game Center, a social gaming network.

But, isn’t there something strange? Why an application like this, pretty complex, should be downloadable for free, and in a complete version?

Usually, when app like this are for free, they have limited functions, or annoying ads that takes a meaningful part of your display. This is not that case.

Anyway, nobody does anything for nothing, and it’s tough to find mere charity on the App Store. Booyah, Inc., MyTown 2’s producer, is not an exception.

The Californian company practice, in fact, a business model which, personally, I think it’s very very intelligent and interesting. You can sell an app on the online store, earning not more than 10 € (games with higher prices, also if very well made, could be out of business, if compared with other game softwares on the App Store), just once, clearly.

Otherwise, you can donate it, considering it as the beginning of a value chain that the user is going to compose on his own, with the items that the producer will make available, sometimes for a fee.

And now, the software producer can have his return on investment. You build a simple house, or a common building: virtual money, that you earn during the game, are enough. Do you want a villa with swimming pool, the Eiffel Tower, or maybe a skyscraper with King Kong on the top? Fine: in this case, you can’t use virtual coins, but “real” ones, and you have to give it to Booyah, via electronic transaction, of course. In this way, the producer will not have an immediate economic return (the download price), pursuant to a range of incomes, that it is going to have through time.

Possible objection: it’s not sure that the user would like to invest real money in a virtual city. Absolutely true.

However, it’s equally true that, doubtless, the number of downloads made by users for an app a fee (if its price is 79 ¢, but also if it’s 10 €), would be extremely lower if compared to a free app’s one.

And moreover, think about a very important point: the software quality. A producer could present an app like amazing, but maybe, when you try it, you find out that it’s not so funny and interesting to use. Once you pay for the download, you know that you can’t do anything. Instead, if an app is for free, the producer can have a higher income (of course, like we said before, a freeware probably will have a greater spread and, so, also earning a few euros per user, it’s possible to gain very much), but only if the app is really well made. It’s obvious: if I don’t like a videogame, also if it’s for free, I’ll not spend on it anything, even if a cent. And vice versa: many users could be happy to spend a few euros to improve its game experience.

Then, in my opinion, this business model could become a game with no losers, where customers win – because first, they can try the app, and then, they can choose if spend some money – but software producers too – because they can obtain a very higher ROI.

What’s the meaning of this story? Easy to say: if the quality wins, everybody win.

Daniele Vincenzoni

My Town 2

The Fancy. Express yourself through your likings.

Usually, a passionate of social networks looks for latest news about this topic by the web. Today, however, we have a more comfortable alternative to the web searchrestricted, or probably just more selective. It depends on the different points of view.

So, during these days, I’m looking for new social network sites through an interesting back door: the SN apps.

A few days ago, exploring the Apple App Store by my iPad, social network category (of course…!), I discovered The Fancy, a new SNS where the representation of yourself is more important than in others. It’s not based on a tough logic: you can find items that you like, and which maybe you own, inside a database of objects proposed by other users. By the way, you can also suggest additional things, adding a picture, a description and other infos about them. Each item is categorized under its category (men’s, gadgets, home, etc.).

ScreenShot The Fancy

Until now, it doesn’t seem so “social”.

But after a few minutes, browsing a little bit, you can find some features known thanks to other SNS. For example, we could have followers – and we may follow people, of course – like in Twitter: if a user has tastes similar to ours, we can follow him, and he can became an opinion leader for us, about clothing, technology and many other stuff.

Going ahead, we can find a foursquare‘s main feature: the badges. If you add five objects to the men’s category, you’ll become a “men’s style intern“; one hundred fifty for the “senior men’s stylist” badge.

Moreover, we have the rank-system: the more consents you’ll reach, according to the products which you say to like by the “fancy it” button (the equivalent of the Facebook‘s “like“), the highest will be your ranking.

Mixing these well known features, we have a very original mash-up: simply, enjoyable and, maybe, “compulsive” if used without moderation…

In my opinion, there are so much opportunities about the e-commerce field, related to this social network site. Right now, anything is very indirect: who suggests an item, can propose a site where you can buy it, inside the infos area.

However, it’s so obvious that it’s possible to create a better mechanism. E.g., a system of monetary transaction (online, of course) could be implemented in the website. Using it, you could buy items which you like directly inside The Fancy.

But most of all, we have to think about a possible marriage between this SNS and a geolocalization system. Why? Easy to explain: The Fancy knows our tastes, and he also knows where we are in the world in an exact moment. So, it’s possible to imagine huge chances about this pair of elements: for example, I’m close to a luxury clothing shop and, inside my Fancy’s items list, I’ve got several expensive clothes. My mobile device, due to these informations, will tell me about this shopping opportunity.

Personally, I deeply think that The Fancy is going to have an inverse process if compared to foursquare, but probably they will reach a similar result. About the first one, we begin with likings, glimpsing enormous occasions about the geolocalization topic; on the other hand, there is an opposite route. Again, The Fancy starts with items, and then he will arrive to shops (I like several ethnic foods, then it’s probable that I would like to know about the presence, within a few meters, of an ethnic restaurant); foursquare, vice versa (I’ve done a check-in inside an ethnic restaurant, so it’s easy to deduce that I would like to be notified when I’m close to an ethnic shop, expecially restaurants).

So, looking forward, I strongly believe that The Fancy has enormous potentialities. Am I too optimist?!? Wait a little bit, and we will know soon…!

Daniele Vincenzoni