Chuang Jien!

(for those of you wondering, Chuang Jien is Chinese for Innovate)

As the second largest country in the world, and the most populated with a potential local market of 1.3 billion (2012 census), China’s technological clout has never been in question.

500 m internet users, 300 m mobile internet users, 900 m mobile subscribers, a mobile internet market of $1.7 b, and a “demo-to-download” speed of less than 3 months.

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Innovating China

China’s biggest strength has become applying concepts to a creative and uniquely Chinese context. They have an eagerness to learn, the audacity to take risks, and the sincerity to admit what works and drop what doesn’t. Facebook and Zynga, for example, are actually learning from the mistakes and successes of Chinese monetization experiments,which span an unprecedented spectrum.

Having invented the printing press, compass, and gun powder, it is no surprise that scientific self-sufficiency is China’s goal. But while their strategy to transform from “serving as the world’s factory” to “becoming pioneers in global innovation” is impressive, their homegrown scientists have too often been labelled blatant technology thieves.

With 40% of Chinese games on Android, and 20% on iOS, clearly copycats, the Chinese define themselves as having an unrivaled imagination in 2nd generation innovation, namely making incremental improvements and adaptations for the Chinese market.

Before we accuse them of stealing our intellectual property, let’s look at many of the Western innovations that we worship: the Palm Pilot vs. the Newton, the iPod vs. the Rio, Facebook vs. MySpace,…

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Reality Bites Back

Reading an ezine is convenient, but reading the latest physical edition of VOGUE is all about pleasure. Purchasing music on iTunes is quick and easy, but spending hours at a Virgin Megastore is close to heavenly. There is something about the digital experience that, no matter how popular or intuitive, still lacks the flair that reality provides.

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There are characteristics of digital experience, however, that leave reality in the dust. Spontaneous discovery, for example, that permits us to get contextual information about the world around us.

As you hold the smartphone’s camera up to a painting in a museum, Augmented Reality should automatically understand what you are looking at and show you all the information about its context: the work of art, the artist, opening hours, the museum shop, etc.

From a report by Fjord and 13th Lab, “it is not about creating a new Internet for reality, it is about connecting the existing one to reality. Just as most Internet properties now have a mobile version of their web page and user interface, we believe they will eventually have a “reality” version of web page adapted to be rendered on top of reality.” To read more about the report, click on the image.

Augmented Reality’s developers, users, and publishers need to remember, however, that it’s not just about gaming…

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Innovative Chaos

Great viral videos on YouTube, or Facebook identities that blur the line between business and personal, lend themselves to memorable marketing. But when the x-factor crosses media channels, and cooperates across the various interfaces, you get that pristine tone usually reserved for crystal glasses.

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Lynx decided to send a handful of fans to a Caribbean island, Lynx Chaos Island, for the party of the year with 20 Lynx girls, return flights, watersports, food & drink…

Giving 14 tickets away via 6 digital treasure hunts, they touched all the behavioral tendencies of their target market (young, competitive, interactive, and, yes, horny).

They used, among others, Twitter, pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Google Maps, Tumblr, fake blogs, an online ninja school, an imaginary pizza takeaway site, lyric searching, Morse code translation, language translation, image-matching, and infuriatingly-competitive HTML5 games.

The result was one of the most popular videos on YouTube (click on the image to see), more than a million interactions, and a hell of a lot of publicity. Oh, and they also generated great content from the trips themselves for future use 😉

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Swooshing Support

Many companies’ social policy involves some kind of dialogue with customers. Many times this can backfire as dissatisfaction with a product or service is always part of that dialogue.

But what happens when a company takes the anti-establishment side of the customer?

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After a dragged-on lockout of the National Hockey League, which produced millions of furious and hockey-starved fans, the NHL tried using social media to calm the masses. “Keep calm and pin on” was the official message to its 81,000 pinterest followers (derived from an World War II British propaganda poster reading “Keep Calm and Carry On”). The mocking was soon to follow, with “Keep calm and eat shit NHL,” or “Keep calm and get the lockout over with!” representative of the 150-plus comments received by mid-morning.

Nike recognized an opportunity and, picking the side of the fans, produced a viral ad that showed its support, with fans using frozen hamburgers instead of pucks. Populist sentiment galore, the YouTube video gained more than half a million views within 2 weeks. Utilizing fans, amateur players and even a few NHLers, Nike’s message? “Hockey is stronger than any league power struggle!” That’s right, JUST DO IT.

Click on the image to watch the video.

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Social Circles

Branding and advertising are critical for any company hoping to develop, maintain, or grow their market. From retailers to service providers, software to bakeries, everyone needs a little help from their friends, and today social networks are key to achieving that. If you don’t have a social strategy, you will not survive this day and age.

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Although still in BETA and buggy as hell, apparently even Google needs to do some self-promotion, and as such has developed “Google-a-day”.

Based on its Google+ platform, the concept involves a type of trivia game that helps you hone your search skills. In the top part you are exposed to timed questions (with hints and tips, of course), and in the bottom part you have a Google search bar to help you find the answers.

Obviously, none of this is worth anything without the social aspect. So Google uses + to evangelize the game (and your skills) to all your circles.

Concept scores 10, execution scores 4. Nice try, but keep trying…

For more, click on the image.

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Touch Me Now

In today’s complex world, time is of the essence and simplicity is king. One touch, swipe, tap or click is the most effort consumers are willing to put into ordering, purchasing or buying anything.

The “just-a-click-away” promise has been around since the invention of the mouse (computer mouse, that is 🙂 ). Reserving a holiday, inviting a friend to an online game, or even transferring packages. But the “one click” still required us to log on to the internet, access the particular web page, and enter an endless amount of information into a digital form before we could actually perform that “one” click.

Not any more…

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Dubai’s Red Tomato Pizza introduced the VIP Fridge Magnet. The magnet was sent to registered loyalty program members, providing them with a true “one-touch” experience.

Using their smartphone’s Bluetooth functionality to connect to the internet, all customers have to do to order a pizza delivery is to press the button on the magnet. Some minutes later their favorite pizza arrives at their doorstep.

Click on the image to see more.

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Crowdsourcing Productivity

Whereas once productivity apps were the domain of prosumers and technology geeks, today’s general public need, use and even demand the tools necessary to simplify and facilitate their life.

Subscribers don’t only utilize these tools, but are the main contributors to their success, feeling proud to participate in their development, content and distribution, with many of these contributions being made dynamically via fully-automated platforms.

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wazeWaze is a driver-generated service, boasting the capability to outsmart traffic using crowdsourced data. In order to unleash its full potential, the platform depends entirely on its subscribers’ participation, using them to build everything from the maps themselves to traffic, hazards and points of interest, continuously real-time routing and rerouting  to get them to their destination in the most optimal way.

The tool is fully dynamic, constantly updating itself as subscribers drive around with the application launched on their device. This passive reporting means that in order  to contribute data to the system all the user has to do is drive.

In July of 2012, Waze announced that it had reached 20 million users and over 3.2 billion miles.  The Waze “community”  is so integral to its success, that almost three quarters of users were initially exposed to the app directly from a friend.

Click on the image to see more.

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