Thursday, January 31, 2013

Alicia Keys Becomes Official Creative Director for BlackBerry «Inside BlackBerry - The Official BlackBerry Blog

With Blackberry's recent announcement of Alicia Keys as Global Creative Director, some people seem to be concerned that a similar stratagem taken on by Polaroid with regard to Lady Gaga some years ago, which didn't seem to help that ailing company turn around.

Maybe they're right, but I see some key differences. Unlike Gaga,  Alicia Cook, Lellow, or as she's more famously know, Alicia Keys is not a rising star. She's a star. She's set into the sky. She's the winner of fourteen Grammy awards, and has been a leading force in moving R&B and Soul into the mainstream music genres of the 21st century without watering it down.

This is exactly the type of talent that Blackberry could use. Like R&B in the beginning of this century the advent of the iPhone and the Android devices which followed it knocked them down, but not out. Working with artists that have both widespread appeal and yet are still known for their extremely unique properties (i.e. Alicia Key's pop-soul, Neil Gaiman's brand of science-fantasy storytelling, Robert Rodriguez's nouveau western approach to his signature works) allows Blackberry to appeal to both the generation of 30-something geeks who have completely invaded the mainstream of pop-culture (just try to avoid a commercial comic-book based film these days) and the organizations which employ them... the corporations which have remained tried and true to the Blackberry handsets as their preferred tools of mobile corporate communication.

Will having these stars working with the devices cause someone to choose a Blackberry over another device? I'm not sure. In fact, I somewhat doubt it. What I am sure of is that if Blackberry leans on this talent for the purposes of determining where they plan to move their products in the future, they'll be in a far better position in the next five years than they have been during the last half-decade. True innovation is what these individuals have to offer and innovation is exactly what Blackberry needs.

Via [Alicia Keys Becomes Official Creative Director for BlackBerry «Inside BlackBerry - The Official BlackBerry Blog]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Google's Zamboni Game

If you haven't already played it check out for their Zamboni doodle. Rather than just replacing their logo with an iconic image referencing Zamboni's life and works, Google's created a full video game out of it which will allow users to manipulate a virtual Zamboni machine with their their desktop computer's arrow keys or mouse.

The game starts with a skater dashing around what was a perfectly groomed ice-rink. Immediately after they depart, we see the user's Zamboni machine appear. The challenge is to clear up all of the ice without running out of fuel, which can be picked up from red canisters along the way. The computer the presents you with ice-hockey players and the challenge becomes more intense.

No doubt Google's zapped away precious hours of hump-day productivity from American employers with this new doodle but, despite how awesome, fun and frankly amazing it is that the web page is supporting a whole gamine experience, I find that Google coil have done better.

Google Doodles are perfect examples of shareable bits of content. With Google+ being so dear to the search engine's long-term strategy, it would make sense for me to at least be able to use an in-game button to share the Doodle with my chosen friend circles.

To take it one step further, Google should allow users to track and maintain scores with the Doodle game by tying it to my Google Log-in. Then my circles would be able to see how we'll I've done. They'd be able to congratulate me or challenge me and more than starting a game network on their social sites, Google would be using magnetic content to draw people into a conversation on their Plus social media network. Engaging people in this way is something Google's been working at for some time with mixed results but the key is sitting right here, in the Doodle-- Interactivity.

When tied to the Doodles, which are a fascinating footnote to Google's general culture, Google's got a great way to grow more usage.

But wait-- there's more. why not start pinning these Doodles to a tab on the Plus pages or Google Play store? Such action would keep the conversation going. By placing this fun functionality firmly in their store Google would be giving users a reason to peruse their for-pay software, which both Advertisers and Google Play developers would appreciate.

And finally, how about doing all of the above AND developing the Doodle games with support for the Chrome and/or Safari browsers of my mobile devices? Make it easy to get me involved-- no engrossed.

Obviously, a Google Doodle game isn't going to change the entire revenue stream of the company or start a massive change in Plus usage... but earned media growth doesn't always need to come from acts that involve disruptive, game-changing, killer home run software. Incremental growth is also appreciated. Especially because if any company understands that different strategies are going to garner different audiences, it's Google.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Django Unchained (2012) - Mini Review.

Lincoln is a high drama feel good movie about ending the evil of slavery. Django, similarly, is a drama about the evil of slavery, but it's in this Western format-- the American tradition genre of revenge and so, like Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, becomes a feel-good film by taking a moment of history rife with behavior that his contemporaries would universally refer to as culturally despicable, and giving it expression not by creating an epic, but by creating a minor work, focused on a few intimately portrayed characters and filled visceral, stylistic violence which betrays the director's hatred of the cultural institution in which the plot is set.

The long and short of it? You can't help but wince and you can't help but clap.