iPhone: After the Honeymoon

Yes I was one of the first ones to get an iPhone. On June 29th at 7:30pm I went to Northbrook Court located on the North Shore of Chicago, and much to my surprise found a very short line. Before 8:00 I walked out of the Apple store with an iPhone. Oh so excited, I raced home and activated it.It’s now 4 months later. Enough time has passed to step back and see if it was worth it. By the way, I was a little ticked that Jobs reduced the price, but I wasn’t the guy who made the T-shirts saying, “I paid Steve Jobs $200 to beta test the iPhone.Well I have to say that I have been pretty happy with the iPhone. It’s true that the network is slow, so I am always trying to ride along on wireless networks during the day. And when you find one, it is extremely fast. But for me the real value is being able to synch with my Mac desktop at home. Calendar, contacts, e-mail, photos and music all exchange seamlessly. The Safari web browser is full function and the pinch, close-up feature allows you to actually read a web page.Apple has released three updates to the software to fix some bugs and add more features. I know there has been lots of grumbling from those who hacked the phone, only to have things broken by Apple when they allowed the latest update to load. But there are many official applications now available from the Apple site, so most users will be able to satisify their customizing urge.Here’s my report card after using it very heavily for 4 months.Phone: A, E-mail: A, Photos: A+, Music: A, Camera: C, Calendar: B, Safari: A, Maps: A, Interface: A+, Edge Network Speed: C-Here’s a photo I snapped with my iPhone while cruising on Lake Michigan a couple of weeks ago.


The Collapse of Time

A friend told me about a web site called wolfgangsvault.com. It’s an incredible place where you can explore the roots of rock music as envisioned by the crusading promoter Bill Graham. He loved music and music loved him. Over the decades he recorded and preserved hundreds of classic rock live performances. The site has done an amazing job of organizing the music as well as the memorabilia to browse, listen and buy.

My oldest son is extremely keen on music. He especially enjoys the classic rock groups from the sixties and seventies. Sometimes we sit around and talk about music and I tell him about the concerts I attended in my youth. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Genesis are forever lodged in my psyche. Finding this site was truly amazing. We can both listen to Zep live from Filmore West recorded in 1969, or the Floyd from the same venue in 1970.

Suddenly the past converges on today with the click of my mouse. I am able to be a little closer to my son and he to me, by listening to a vibe recorded nearly 40 years ago. Fewer things are lost, more is understood, the future is changed.

 Bill Graham


More Thoughts on Social Computing

I have had some time to think a little more deeply about the Forrester Consumer Forum experience. Everyone was looking for ways to leverage social computing, seemingly already convinced that it would deliver high value to their businesses. So valuable in fact that I heard people say it was “the next wave” or “there’s no stopping it.” I heard it said many times that it is the consumer taking control of brands and messges and products. But consumes don’t have to answer to a P&L or present in front of a board of directors quarterly. That gives them much more freedom to say and do what moves them. Perhaps that’s where the power lies; in the freedom. Corporate America has the really big master to answer to in profit. Consumers (let’s stop the clinical speak, it’s people) want to be moved emotionally, want be treated with respect, and want stuff to work with ease.

Halfway through the forum I began to make a fundamental shift in my mind away from thinking that people have taken control and towards the concept that they are merely becoming active participants. People want to particiapte. No big insight there.

Henry Jenkins, Co-director, MIT Comparative Media Studies Program spoke on the last day and helped clarify this. Unshackled from corporate ties, he said that the conversation should be, “going from technical discussions to humanistic discussions.” That “convergence is about culture, not technology.” And he encouraged companies to hire and use humanities experts to help them figure out what to do. Imagine positing that in your next senior management committee meeting. But that kind of provocative thinking gave the audience a genuine, original thought on how to tackle this problem that didn’t come from classic business methodology. I believe it will be very helpful to follow his thinking on this topic as it evolves. We can all do that at his site here.

Josh Bernoff, a VP at Forrester, presented a practical strategy for how companies can leverage the coming groundswell for success. He reinforced the foundation set by Christine Li (also a Forrester VP) in the opening salvo, Your Customers are Revolting ;-). Josh took a straightforward and disciplined approach with; know your objectives, set metrics and measure results. He also said that, “connecting with the groundswell will change the way your company runs.” The subtext was that if you can lead your company in this new area of social computing, your personal stock will rise within the organization.

A Brave New World (for me)

I attended the Forrester Research Consumer Forum here in Chicago over the last two days. The entire event was a study in social computing. It made me feel a bit inadequate because I didn’t have a facebook profile, nor had I started a blog. I have written customer reviews and played the role as a critic on the web, but that is more passive participation. With the launch of this blog, I am officially in the game.