Category: The Science of Marketing

Musings on interdisciplinary scientific research, trends and findings that affect (and, in some cases, effect) the way we market goods, services and opportunities.

30 Dec 2010

The Santa Strategy

I finally found a use for my graduate degree in Game Theory!

Courtesy of New Scientist Magazine, Graham Lawton.  Magazine Issue 2792, 25 December 2010, pages 58-59.  I should probably put some legal disclaimer here, since I am just using copy and paste.  I think everyone should get a subscription to their magazine.  Please don’t sue.

Win big at the office party with game theory as your guide

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27 Dec 2010

CES is like the 12th day of Christmas!

As I write this, there are 9 days 17 hours 48 minutes and 23 seconds remaining until the start of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

My 6-year-old son, Cooper, had a similar approach to Christmas – asking me every 20 minutes how much longer until Santa was coming to visit (I finally got smart and downloaded an iPad application so he could check for himself).  Anyway, the point is that for me, CES is like Christmas morning – here’s my proof:

Cooper:  Waking up and running to find out if Santa came to the house!

Me: Waking up in Vegas and running to the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Cooper: Presents under the tree.

Me: The latest in consumer electronics – especially emerging technologies.

Cooper: Family coming to visit.

Me: Keynote speeches.

Cooper: Playing with all the new toys.

Me: Playing with all the new toys.

Cooper: The pageantry of Christmas – music and holiday specials.

Me: The pageantry of the booths – music and women in bikinis draped over a Bentley (which is somehow supposed to show off speakers).

Cooper: The feeling of goodwill among people (not exactly his words, but his sentiment).

Me: The feeling of goodwill that vendors pretend to have in order to sell you stuff.

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23 Dec 2010

Introducing, "The Thompson Postulate"

I am thrilled to announce that my theorem has been confirmed via proof by induction and proof by rippling at the University of Edinburgh.  Per the long-standing tradition in mathematics that the author of a new theorem has the authority to name it, I have recorded my theorem as “The Thompson Postulate.”

Thank you, thank you.  It is a great honor and I promise that although I now join the ranks of other great minds like, Gauss, Fermat and Pythagoras, I won’t let it go to my head.

Me at the office

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23 Dec 2010

Introducing, “The Thompson Postulate”

I am thrilled to announce that my theorem has been confirmed via proof by induction and proof by rippling at the University of Edinburgh.  Per the long-standing tradition in mathematics that the author of a new theorem has the authority to name it, I have recorded my theorem as “The Thompson Postulate.”

Thank you, thank you.  It is a great honor and I promise that although I now join the ranks of other great minds like, Gauss, Fermat and Pythagoras, I won’t let it go to my head.

Me at the office

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21 Dec 2010

Speaking of TV troubles . . .

According to Jonathan Soble of the Financial Times, Sony has warned that its television business will probably lose money again this year, in spite of surging sales volume and the introduction of premium features such as 3D and Internet connectivity.  The Japanese consumer electronics group’s failure to turn a profit on what had long been one of its best-known products highlights its loss of manufacturing competitiveness to South Korean and Taiwanese rivals.

Under Sir Howard Stringer, Chief Executive, Sony has closed four of its eight TV factories and out-sourced production to lower-cost Asian suppliers, but the resulting cost savings have been offset by plunging prices for mainstay liquid-crystal display sets.  Sony’s television business has been in the red since 2003-04 though executives routinely predict its imminent return to profitability.

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17 Dec 2010

Man, do I hate being right all the time . . .

At the risk of sounding like James Cameron, I am not talking about myself – I am quoting Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

I will, however, take credit for correctly predicting a slow start to 3D TVs.  According to Chris Nuttall reporting in the Financial Times, big-screen 3D TVs are not the hottest items this holiday season.  You may have seen in various publications that Best Buy reported this week that slow sales of 3D TVs had contributed to disappointing quarter results.  “We do not agree . . . that 3D TV and [Internet-connected TVs] are the next great things,” said analysts at Wedbush Morgan Securities, citing a lack of 3D content for TVs.  “We remain pessimistic that 3D TV will be widely adopted by any but the most hard-core gamers.”

Ouch.

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14 Dec 2010

Forget Wi-Fi, welcome to Wi-Gig

A new type of antenna that makes use of plasma consisting of only electrons could revolutionize high-speed wireless communications.

Mobility is clearly becoming the future of, well, everything, and dramatically increasing the ability of mobile devices to receive and transmit information would only continue to drive innovation and adoption.  Here’s just one example – I am big Howard Stern fan, he’s the reason I have Sirius radio.  He just renewed his contract, but during his negotiations (at least what he revealed on air), he was giving his vision of the future which mostly involved soft SIM cards that would enable people to listen to digital transmissions via wireless networks.  Stern signed a new contract with Sirius (thankfully), but I wonder if part of the reason is that his vision of the future of radio just isn’t ready.  The truth is that there simply isn’t enough bandwidth to go around right now (see previous discussions).  Without enough bandwidth, very few companies want to roll the dice on creating consumer electronics that rely on bandwidth – so innovation is stifled.

But, what if there was super fast wireless?  If devices weren’t limited by connectivity, then it is easy to imagine all the things that could suddenly be connected and made mobile: true mobile TV; true video chat (conference style), etc.  No pun intended, but the sky is the limit, and a new antenna that enables Wi-Gig may be the answer.

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11 Dec 2010

When emerging becomes mainstream.

If everything old is new again, then when does stuff new become old?  I was looking at global growth rates for emerging technologies, but some of the elements included in the calculations didn’t seem (to me) to be emerging anymore.

According to International Data Corporation, worldwide IT spending will increase 6% to $1.6 trillion in 2011.  This increase will likely be in relation to mobile computing, cloud services and social networking.  Spending surges in these areas should frame a new market and open up a plethora of industry-specific solutions.  “In 2011, we expect to see these transformative technologies make the critical transition from early adopter status to early mainstream adoption,” said Frank Gens, IDC senior vice president and chief analyst.

“As a result, we’ll see the IT industry revolving more and more around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant platform, characterized by mobility, cloud-based application and service delivery, and value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics,” Gens said.

Part of the problem is that I am an industry insider – so these things aren’t really new to me, but it does make me think that no matter what the industry, the world is still driven by consumer awareness (saturation).  Something may have 85% adoption among a certain group, but if the population size of that group is small – it’s still small overall.  In technology, however, it can’t just be about adoption – it has to be about awareness as well.

It seems to break down into this – is emerging technology about awareness or adoption?  Then, what % of what defined population has to (be aware or adopt) before the emerging technology is mainstream?

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08 Dec 2010

It's beginning to sound a lot like the holidays . . .

I was at Lowe’s with my son (who is 6) and we stopped to look at the holiday displays.  They had trees, lights, ornaments, yard displays and more – pretty much everything you would need to decorate a town for the holidays.  We checked out a few of the displays and, since I am a push-over when it comes to my son, we got some shiny ornaments for the house.  Anyway, as we’re shopping in a different part of the store, he starts singing a holiday song (incorrectly).  I gave him the right words and asked him where he learned the song.  He said it playing in the holiday aisle.

I wasn’t shocked that music was playing at the display – I was shocked that I hadn’t even heard it.  Hard-of-hearing jokes aside, we wandered back that way, and sure enough, holiday music was playing in that section.  It was subtle and very clear – not coming over the in-store system, which was playing different music (that I did hear).  I tracked down a small display with directional speakers and a digital media player.  Very nicely hidden / directed / developed.

That got me wondering if my son had been influenced in his purchase decision – or had I been influenced by the music – or is anyone influenced at all?

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08 Dec 2010

It’s beginning to sound a lot like the holidays . . .

I was at Lowe’s with my son (who is 6) and we stopped to look at the holiday displays.  They had trees, lights, ornaments, yard displays and more – pretty much everything you would need to decorate a town for the holidays.  We checked out a few of the displays and, since I am a push-over when it comes to my son, we got some shiny ornaments for the house.  Anyway, as we’re shopping in a different part of the store, he starts singing a holiday song (incorrectly).  I gave him the right words and asked him where he learned the song.  He said it playing in the holiday aisle.

I wasn’t shocked that music was playing at the display – I was shocked that I hadn’t even heard it.  Hard-of-hearing jokes aside, we wandered back that way, and sure enough, holiday music was playing in that section.  It was subtle and very clear – not coming over the in-store system, which was playing different music (that I did hear).  I tracked down a small display with directional speakers and a digital media player.  Very nicely hidden / directed / developed.

That got me wondering if my son had been influenced in his purchase decision – or had I been influenced by the music – or is anyone influenced at all?

(more…)