05 February 2011

Are We Reaching Saturation In Transformation To Digital Media

There are a number of interesting trends that I follow. At the moment I believe we are starting to see a point of saturation in the adoption of digital media.

One of the stats I saw recently gave me pause for thought. The numbers in my view didn't make a lot of sense.

So I did a bit of poking around. This study is from Strata media. So the numbers for TV seem to be a bit high. Then you realize who owns them. Comcast.

So in my view these numbers are skewed against digital. So I would think that digital is already higher in value.

Perhaps now is the time to consider what happens when the rest of the world bails from the traditional media outlets and piles into digital. In my view this will be a bad thing especially for the smaller guy. Good of course for the Googleplex and the big digital properties such as Facebook.



04 February 2011

Shhhh Don't Tell Anyone But Verizon has run out of iPhones and....

Well the running out was common knowledge. However you might want to think carefully about signing up for the service if you travel outside the country.


2 reasons - first one is that Verizon's main network will be the current version not the new LTE (we all have to wait for iphone 5 for that) which is GSM compatible.

And the other... well - just ask anyone who has an iPhone what its like to travel outside the USA.

The devil's instrument it is....


Airline Dodge the First Bullet

WAY Baaaaaak when the debate over Ancillary Services started. I made a noise about the issue of Ancillaries actually costing the Government money.

It seems that at least someone was listening to the old Professor.

However it seems that the IRS ruled first that these services are not part of the ticket which set the scene for a government money grab. Well the airlines have dodged the first bullet.

Sen. Max Baucus one of the senators from the Great State of Montana says FAA bill won't include bag-fee tax. The Government Accountability Office said that a tax on baggage fees charged by airlines could raise roughly $240 million each year for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. The Senator is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he said that he will not propose such a tax as part of a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dont expect this situation to last that long. I am sure that there are many States who are looking at this from a revenue perspective. With the DoT now in the process of finding ways to monitor the ancillaries - we can be assured that as soon as they figure this out - they will indeed then work out a way to tax it.


With thanks to ChukyPita for the great image

The sure things in life are death and taxes.

02 February 2011

So You Think Social Media Is Important?

According to a study released in January 2011 from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, those who try Social Media - seem to like it and now the importance has spread mainstream with the following chart as provided by eMarketer.

Well it would seem you are in good company.

What still bothers me a little is that while we move from eCommerce to F-Commerce or is it SM-Commerce - in my view we are moving towards more and more near or actual real time commerce.

Great - BUT.... will the back end systems (which is my specialty) keep up? The truth is out there somewhere - but the legacy systems model of contract based agreements as opposed to real time technologies will come under a lot of pressure. The ability of cache to be real and accurate with trust - becomes a lot harder.

I have opined before that the demands of Social Media based commerce and individualized results is a recipe for disaster for legacy systems. This seems to get confirmed at every turn. Last year - at the OTA meeting in Seattle - the CTO for Pegasus demonstrated how search is driving more and more transactions but not driving more sales or profit. Indeed the corollary is true. The harder the user searches to get better pricing the lower the yield and the greater the cost of the transaction.

Anyone still stuck in the legacy world - (are you listening GDSs) - and not paying attention to this issue is either guilty of monopolistic or ostrich behaviour. Possibly both.

The emergence of next generation FIND vs explicit search demands better back end infrastructure.

And yes - the emerging companies get this. Those who are sticking to the old model. Your time is up. Time for you to get out of the way... and close the door on the way out.


With special thanks to the Dr Who Tardis money box. http://gadgetsin.com/uploads/2010/09/doctor_who_tardis_money_bank_2.jpg

Happy Year Of The Rabbit

Best to all of you.

Happy New Year!

Exploiting "Like" Is A Slippery Slope.

Call me old fashioned - but when I like something, it should have meaning and be relevant and something that represents a real attribute.

In today's somewhat hedonistic environment where subtlety and nuance have been replaced by quantity over quality and arbitrary measurements of both - the word LIKE has become a victim to over use in the same way that - well - Windows has.

Until now I didn't pay attention to things like (meaning similar to) the "Like" button on Facebook. To me the misuse was abundantly clear. People are sitting there clicking the "Like" button like chimpanzees in the zoo. Click the button and you get something. The Pavlovian response becomes a normal conditioned response rather than a meaningful expression of human emotion.

However the use of the "Like" button has become part of the mechanism of relevance. Another component of the "Gaming" of the system of search that reduces our human ability to express ourselves in ways that - shall we say define our humanism. IE what differentiates us from a machine.

Don't believe me?

On December 15th 2010,amongst many Bing announcements that day - the Search Division of Microsoft announced even deeper integration of Facebook data into Bing’s search results and rankings. Up to this point Bing had integrated “liked” content from Facebook into its search results in a distinct content areas. The change was that now it was using the "Like" as a general criteria for ranking. Further the only viable Google Search alternative now openly states that your friends’ Facebook activity will be “influencing ranking on Bing and will lead to personalized search rankings.”

As several analysts point out the basic risk here is that social media “gaming” will lead to clutter in Bing’s search results. Not only that (clutter) but also all the bots and scripts - malicious or benign - will now skew results. While this is supposed to be just an opt-in feature and disconnecting your Facebook account with Bing turns off the addition of “likes” in your Bing search results - we all know that the default situation is to leave it turned on and results will again be skewed permanently. Or at least until the geniuses in Redmond try another feature to out Google Google or simply because they were bored that day and had nothing else to do now that stock clock watching has ceased to have any meaning on the Campus astride the 520 Freeway.

Not to be outdone - the droids from the Googleplex confirmed that they too were happily using Facebook, Twitter and other social media services to influence their rankings.

Thanks to Professor Paul for pointing out perhaps the drivers for this. It took me a little while to cotton on - but after looking at the latest financials from Google it starts to make sense. Google is seeing basic search as a declining share of their gross revenues. With about as much ad revenue sucked from the traditional media as has already converted - social media and social "ad dollars" are where the growth action is. (Chart courtesy of eMarketer).

To me this is all very scary. I see that the human levels of emotion - ranging from love to hate are being turned into machine comprehensible elements. Thus in turn making machines more easily capable to replicate human activity. Let's face it the machine already has an advantage. In this phase of human development unlike any other development before it - we do not have the power to harness the result. Consider previous developments: Fire, speed etc. in each of those cases the human intellect was able to master the power unleashed and contain it. This time the actual power unleashed is synthetic intellect. Dumbed down into forms that the machine can demonstrate its superiority we are now at the disadvantage of the machine who has infinite memory and ordering capability. Reducing our humanism to facsimiles of differentiated components such as love and hate, heart and soul if you will then synthesizing these factors into the "wisdom" of the crowd reduces our ability to display the uniqueness of our true ourselves.

And if nothing else it means we will now be guaranteed to lose in Jeopardy and Alex Trebak will not be needed either. Click on the link to see the wired story on how IBM's SuperComputer Watson will compete against two of the winning-est contestants of the American Game Show.

And this is why it makes me sad (human emotion) and just a little scared.

Er. cheers?

The Bright Spot In the US Economy - TRAVEL!!!

Gary Locke (who used to be the Gosvenor of the Great State of Washington (where I live) was yesterday touting the benefits of Travel and Tourism to the US Economy.

At a meeting of the Commerce Department's Travel and Tourism Advisory Board today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a 47 percent surge in the travel and tourism trade surplus in 2010; the surplus now exceeds $28 billion. The United States welcomed more than 55 million international visitors during the first 11 months of 2010, 11.4 million more visitors than the year before. While international visitation increased 10 percent, international visitor spending increased 11 percent to $122.7 billion. The travel and tourism industry employs nearly 8 million people across the United States.

While the airlines have been cutting back to the extent that only 500K people work for US airlines with a smattering of other foreign carriers - that makes Airlines total employment about 6% of the total.

Even adding back in the GDS staffers - it doesn't do a heck of a lot for the market. But the burgeoning IT businesses will bring some entrepreneurship to the market. Provided of course that this is not stifled by some insane notions of transparency.


01 February 2011

And The Bad Boy Winner - By a Hair?

American Airlines

The vote tally was as follows:

In who is the bad boy in the Orbitz dispute:

AA 55%
Expedia 16%
Orbitz 16%
Travelport 50%

The audience has spoken.

Check out my latest poll. Bundled vs Unbundled... not your typical options


31 January 2011

ANZ's 5000 Quid Boat Anchors aka Skycouches

Air New Zealand has been pretty aggressive in the Social Media space. They have also been a very innovative airline. Their Skycouch idea (or should it be Sky Chaise?) product has been much promoted.

But the Professor was less than enthused when I first saw some pictures of it. And nothing that has been written has made me any more enthusiastic about the concept. Exactly one year ago today (Jan 31st 2010) I wrote a less than complimentary review of the product.

Now the pricing for the product has been revealed. There are some gasps and shock on the pricing. None other than Business Traveller (yes 2 Ls) the UK magazine and advocate for the premium frequent flyer has just written a review of the price.


It seems that the pricing is rather more than even the most optimistic player was expecting. Remember that in 2009 NZ was offering a RTW fare for less than 500 pounds.

As one comment opined - they are going to be lightly used and then gone the way of Airline Ash Trays.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this person may just be right. What is somewhat sad is that the other innovation the Premium Economy product is pretty good and better than many a business class product.

As this picture shows - the real problem. Here is an attractive person trying out the new seat with her feet dangling in the aisle. Well those of us who regularly fly know that is a huge No No. The seat is just not going to be that comfy.

But now let's think. Will NZ start offering premium service to those who buy these seats?

I can just hear the boarding announcements.

"Ladies and Gentlemen (with a slight Kiwi Twang) Welcome to NZ1 we will be boarding the flight today by priority.

We would like to invite our passengers seated in the Business Premier Cabin first,

We would like to invite our Koru club members next.

Our Star Alliance partners - sorry but all the variations are so many that just look at your card and as long as its any type other than silver or does not have a colour in it then you can board next. Please go to the door marked 'Special'

Next if you are on United's Code Share flight and you thought you were getting that extra 5 inches of leg room - you can now board. WAIT FOR IT.... WHERE ARE YOU GOING SIR - I HAVEN'T TOLD YOU WHICH DOOR YET....Anyone who has a Star Alliance card of any type including those of you who bought Premier Status on United for more than $1300 - you can join the door marked "Bovine Use Only".

I would now like to invite those travelling with certified children under the age of 5 to now board.

Any of you over 65 or just need a little extra time waddling down the jetway - your turn.

Now those of you who paid WAY too much for the Poofy seats aka the Sky Counches. You may board while I try to keep a straight face. And don't expect any metal on your meal tray. And yes you too can join through the door marked Bovine. Right about now it should be a bit tight and smelling nicely ripe in there.

Finally anyone left? No? Good now we can go"


Hold The Presses - Fox News Moves Egypt

Fox News that well known arbiter of public taste and of course knowledge has decided to elevate its role in the world and is now redrawing world maps.

Here is the latest image of the middle east.

Thanks Mr Murdoch for increasing my understanding of the world geo-politics. Thanks to Professor Kevin for providing this valuable insight


Here They Come - Fuel Surcharges

We have been expecting this for some time.

So far there has been no formal effort. However most airlines via ATPCo have in place YQ/YR surcharges. These have been edging up as the price of oil rises.

Now JetBlue has become first of the US pack to formally raise the surcharge.

Rest assured - they will not be the last


30 January 2011

Brits are now largely online lookers and increasingly bookers.

Not such good news for Travel agents as a study from YouGov and Memonic found only 15% of British travellers now use travel agents to research their holidays yet 2/3rd of online Brits (67%) are now using the Internet to research, source and plan their holidays both in the UK and abroad. ABTA’s numbers show that Brits love their holidays. But the downturn has forced more staycation type activity. The average Brit took 3.2 holidays; two in the UK and 1.2 abroad! Despite the Coop who is running ads advising you to come to the Travel Agent and not waste time online – the punters are clearly not paying attention. The research found that 74% of online Brits that research holidays online are spending anywhere from at least two hours upwards researching each holiday online, with 20% spending 8 or more hours.

However old habits die hard – and nearly 50% actually printed their results and 33% used bookmarks. The use of paper is interesting as one of the primary tools of years gone by was Teletext which did not permit printing.
From the same study here are some interesting facts.
• 21% write down the information, while 29% copy and paste into a ‘Word’ document
• When sorting through information they collate, 34% print everything relevant out, while just under a third (31%) review their hand written notes
• 30% share information by hard copy; 60% share the information in person,
• Almost half (47%) of all GB adults online are interested in a tool which would save web content, make notes as they do their research and organise their holiday research. (sounds like the iPad could become a value proposition)
Of course Memonic has a vested interest in this research. As their spokesman stated: With 48% of online holiday researchers printing details rather than collating information on-line in one place no wonder we are seeing so much time being spent on a simple task. In contrast, Memonic is a free web based note-taking software offering web users the ability to capture information onto an online notebook to share with family and friends with no printer in sight and all details are available online on the slopes or at the airport via your mobile devices or Smartphone!”
Or better other regular tools. But still the information shows the need for info containers of easy use.