The Flying Car is Just Around the Corner

Screw you, flying car. You haven’t been invited, and you never will be. Screw you, Fox News. I’ll believe it when I’m riding a terraguia flying car that cost less than $50K. I’ll be riding it with my hover board under my seat, and the animated head of Walt Disney on my lap. 

Sure we'll have flying cars as soon as we invent time machines and hover boards.

Sometimes when you’re trying to be controversial, you end up being right. Around 2001 I kept hearing that “electronic medical records” (EMR) were just “one or two years away.” I’ve since joked that it is indeed “one year away” perpetually (no matter what the year is). I’ve not been significantly wrong yet.

Here are some more pathetically pessimistic statements I’ve made about the future of technology and advertising, but they haven’t failed me yet. If I’m right, please remember that. If I’m wrong, I respectfully which to join the top 87 bad predictions about the future (that have been wrong). Perhaps I shall rank as high as “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” which is attributed to Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office in 1899.

  • Mobile-Marketing: While working at KPMG Consulting more than a decade ago, I was asked to speak about the future of mobile marketing. Naturally I knew almost nothing about the subject but most didn’t. So I did some fast research and made up some decent crap that seemed plausible. Then, to ensure I put my own touch on it, I expressed a contrarian opinion or two. Most over-zealous experts were predicting that we were just years away from mobile ads that gave you real-time promotions based on geographic proximity. The most-viral example was a Starbucks “offer” that summoned a person back if their device’s GPS told the advertising network that the individual passed a store (see parody below). So I cried “nonsense,” and said those wouldn’t be coming for a very long time, and that usage would be minimal. Just a hunch, but I was right. Here we are 11 years later and here’s 8coupon and how many people use these things? >>> Sure mobile marketing is a big deal, but we’re not idiots… we’re going to find ways to ignore intrusive spam and let very select companies and brands into our smart phones. Or, arguably the phones (and their owners) are not really smart, right?

  • What's the matter, Coyote? Did you step onto that TOTALLY fake hole. It's just a piece of black circular velvet, dude.

    Customized Marketing: Yeah, right. The Tom Cruise scene in “Minority Report,” created the character with competing talking voices by ads mentioning his name and specific tastes. I cried “bullshit” because Chief John Anderten (Cruise’s character) clearly hadn’t opted in for so many programs. Furthermore the audio delivery would need to be incredibly precise to target an individual’s ear without spillover. And did I mention that fake hole the Coyote uses with Road Runner is total and complete bogus. I’m so sure. A black circular sheet that creates a whole wherever you place it. Utter bullshit. We barely ever see custom digital ads, which would be incredibly easy to create and deliver. It’s because media buyers are too dumb and lazy (except you, dear reader). >>> We’ll get better at custom marketing, but the vast majority will not be conspicuously targeted. It’s best that the buyer not know the magic we’re using to reach them. It’s creepy.

  • Y2K Will Be Anticlimactic: Having a contrarian opinion about a popular belief makes you more interesting and credible. Like when I did a Y2K interview I decided to take the “nothing bad is going to happen” approach. I had no real facts, but I figured if I was wrong nobody would remember. And if I was right I’d be a genius (which, of course, I am). >>> Most of the warnings of Y2K turned out to be hogwash. One of my sisters packed a “Surviving the Apocalypse” supply of food and water, and still has it. Another called me in tears in the last minutes of 1999.
  • No Flying Cars: When I spoke last fall at my son’s fourth-grade class (about writing and my book) I told them that when they’re adults they will desperately need to write, even if that writing may occur in radically different ways (like using the voice or swiping the fingers in the air). Ways they couldn’t even imagine. Then I told them when I was in fourth grade I predicted flying cars by the age of 2000, and I was wrong. Before I could observe what was coming out of my mouth, I heard my lips say with great ferver, “there will NEVER be flying cars.” >>>> Sure the elite might have magical flying cars, but I don’t see them as a travelling device for the unwashed masses. Too many accidents in the sky, a place that does not very well accommodate such things as red lights, speed bumps, stop signs, and white/yellow paint. Sure could find electronic equivalents, but I’m betting it’s not in any reader’s lifetime.

And now here’s PC Magazine showing the 12 flying cars that led to Terrafugia. Yeah, right. Terrafugia (see commercial example). George Jetson called. He wants his briefcase packed with a flying car back.

"The flying car, something I imagined in fourth grade, will never happen," I said.

What Cisco’s Flip-Flop Means To You

A once $200 portable video camera (Flip Mino HD) for $87. Not too shabby.

Online-video was heavily influenced by the popular Flip cameras because they were easy to use and convert to YouTube. I was somewhat disheartened by Cisco’s decision to buy Flip in March 2009, but hey… what’s $590 million on 2009 sales of more than $36 billion, right? Large tech companies have made stranger acquisitions (IBM/PWC).

I was more surprised that Cisco, a B2B network leader, flip-flopped by shutting down Flip this spring. Many applauded the move due to Flip’s pressure from real-time gratification of video-enabled phones and less expensive camera/video hybrids. But I’d argue Flip had a sustainable niche if it continued to innovate and partner, as well as broaden the range of its cameras to include less expensive versions or slightly higher end cameras (with such features as an optional zoom lense or mic inputs).

Flip’s competitive advantage was its ultra simplicity and soup-to-nuts functionality. How many other manufacturers embed IBM and Mac-friendly software that is user-friendly and fairly functional?

I’ll go out on a limb here (with no other information than gut) and speculate that some electronic manufacturer will make an offer on Flip to acquire its brand equity, patents and software. However I imagine Cisco’s pride will make it difficult to allow the transfer. While Cisco has little use for Flip’s remaining assets, cognitive dissonance usually prevents buying something for half a billion and selling it for tens of millions (what I imagine it’s worth).

But let’s get to you. What does this mean to YOU? Right now Flips are hyper affordable, and the best bang-for-the-buck in the space. If you can live with the paranoia of Flip’s inevitable decision to stop servicing them (an irrational concern given the lifecycle of these), they’re a steal. I picked up the Flip Mino HD for $100 at Staples tonight, and it’s only $87 on Amazon. Yes- a Flip Mino HD for $87. Less than a year and a half ago (Sept. 2010) this puppy was debuted at about $200. Jan wanted me to tell you the Flip Mino HD with 8GB ($99) is a better deal. I guess it depends on how much you shoot… I usually clear the camera before it gets close to an hour.

Sure, you might prefer picking up a Canon Powershot A300IS for about the same price, and I couldn’t blame you. Nice camera. Or you could check out this buying guide and find something with better features, and even better audio.

Is the Flip the best in the portable videocamera market? Not anymore. But the reality is that it’s small, pretty darned good, inexpensive, and easy to use. And while we’ll eventually be happy with our Smart Phone videocameras, they’re still not offering great video quality or audio… and they’re a pain in the ass to use to edit and upload. Getting video off the iPhone and onto a computer is a pain in the ass. Plus I often want to operate both at the same time, and I’m not pleased with the iPhone 4 video quality. Furthermore, the iPhone’s slow speed and unpredictability of the “upload to YouTube” feature is weak… it compresses it poorly unless you’re on a wifi or local network.

80% Online-Viewers Stop Watching a Frozen (Rebuff) Video

When a video freezes it’s called a “rebuff,” and it happens 8% of each video stream. And when it does, 80% of viewers stop watching.

That’s according to TubeMogul, who track these things from the players it monitors. Tubemogul also allows publishers to push their content to all the major online-video sharing sites for free.

Are they refreshing and coming back? You wish.

No patience. Keep that in mind when you’re making your video too, because we’re willing to bet a pregnant pause has a similar effect.

This is another reason I can’t believe many of my clients still use Quicktime on their website instead of a flash player or YouTube or blip.tv embed.

Top YouTube Creator Spinning Off New Video-Community Site (working title RenettoTube.com)

Renetto’s new YouTube siteOne of the most popular YouTube creators, “Renetto,” has been discussing a revolution, and aspirations to create a new website for unmet online-video community. The new site, a homage to Paul Robinette’s self absorption, is aptly titled “RenettoTube.” I announced the new site in this video from last weekend (see launch video). Oh- and I created the fake site as a joke that was lost on many.

Renetto recently created a video where he’s reacting to the more than 180 comments appearing on RenettoTube. For the record, my only fake entry was from MrSafety.

So it’s a joke, but based on reality. If Renetto does get a bunch of creators to participate in an online video site “by the people and for the people,” what are the opportunities and risks? I’d like to hear from you, dear reader. I’ll start the process, though…

Opportunities

  • Smaller entity can better meet needs of the smaller subset of YouTube that is primarily participating because of the joy of community.
  • If he attracts a lot of big creators, it will be hard to ignore.
  • The new site could, in theory, keep lean and more focused.

Risks

  • It’s very hard to monetize user-generated content. Renetto will need strong partnerships with online-media buyers, who are still struggling to get their clients to post ads around what they perceive as a risky collection of content.
  • Will viewers migrate? It’s a big challenge to get YouTubers to another site. We saw the mess of LiveVideo’s attempt to develop a YouTube clone, and maybe a little more reluctant to migrate.
  • The battle against YouTube (with air cover from Google) is not trivial. Renetto and his companions will need to differentiate, focus and outsmart the 100 pound gorilla.

Renetto, many know, is an entrepreneur and inventor with good relationships with other creators. So it’s worth watching closely. Stay tuned as more news develops.