Back to the Future

BTTHEfuturecell phone slideBack in 1998 I worked at Duracell on rechargeables. I was what they called an HPC – High Powered Chick. I allowed them to call me a chick only then. The rechargeables I worked on were cell phone batteries. Didn’t know they made them? Yes I know, and part of the reason that division closed later in 1998. Duracell was trying to be the Number 3 company for replacement batteries. They were thinking ahead to a time when cell phones, or mobile (oh how many meetings were there to determine cell or mobile??) phones were going to be an everyday part of most peoples lives.  The same way that replacement alkaline batteries are for our electronic devices.  Cell phones could cost upwards of $700 then, not a small investment  .Most people didn’t have one in 1998. Motorola and Qualcomm were the leaders in the U.S. with their StarTac and Faser phone a la Star Trek – the thinnest flip phone to use CDMA their digital frequency we take for granted today. Sprint was the leading telecom to utilize the digital frequency and the two companies made great partners and a great product. You couldn’t upgrade to get a new free phone for a two year contract then.

Hmm? Forward to 2015.
Guess what, after years of upgrading to a new phone for free or very little in investment, usually under $100 depending on the phone you choose, we have to buy them! If not buy them then lease them for a year or two. Lease? What?
iPhone or Samsung, or Sharp (Yes, Sharp), LG or T-Mobile to AT&T to Sprint. Get the time machine I want to go back!

I want to go back to five years ago and see what made the mobile phone industry rewind to another time.  Yes, you can still get a phone that will text too for under $40 to buy and a similarly low monthly fee. But, if you want a SmartPhone, basically a hand held computer in another form, then you must pay upwards of $200 for the phone and a high monthly price.

And, all those games, promotions we see now, Europe and Asia had those gimmicks back in the late 90’s. Their landlines are not as good as ours, so citizens embraced mobile over there, long before we had the notion.  I used to have to examine all the offerings and relate it to how American’s would be interested and write analysis of it and present ideas at meetings.  At the time, I thought, only teenagers are going to be interested in games and other promotions. What adult is going to spend their day on gaming on a mobile phone? Oh, how we have changed as a nation because of our little hand held devices.  Be kind, rewind.

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Back To School

It’s September and all thoughts move to going back to school.  Even though you may not have kids in school, or college, the change of weather and advertising bring your mind to this time of change.  Going back to school for some may mean picking up some new courses or taking a class on something that you’ve wanted to learn for a while.  For others it may mean new job opportunities, such as substitute teaching.  I’ve already been called a couple of times for this – teachers get sick too.

It could also be signing up and, or finishing, that extension course, or new Webinar you’ve heard about and hadn’t had time to do over the summer with all the beach going, riding bikes, kayaking, ho-hum.  I’m back on the saddle for another social communications conference this week focusing on the mobile front.  Having a new Android phone makes the idea of mobile social communications all the more interesting. Of course you’ve got the mobile Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and apps du jour!  So many apps, you need an app to tell you what apps you should have.  Everything from music and games, to encyclopedias, organic gardening, GREEN galore,  distress alerts, various messaging options, and those incoming advertisers!  One thing I didn’t think of having to deal with on the new phone!  So, surely I will update all on the conference in a few days.  Maybe they can even help me use my new phone better!  You are never too old to learn something new.

Web Communities for Everyone

Web communities have been popping up everywhere for sometime now.  Medical community web pages have become quite popular and helpful to many people across the globe.  Whatever malady you have, no doubt there is a web community for you to share problems, concerns, joys, inventions and best practices.  You could say that the Intranet was the first web community of sorts.  It was exclusive to employees of a specific company.  Web communities are exclusive in that they focus on a specific profession, topic, illness, or hobby and you usually need an ID and password to sign in as well.  More than ten years ago AOL started chat rooms with almost every hobby, interest, etc.  I do remember trying them out and chatting and sharing ideas and information.  #Prodigy was the first professional oriented internet service carrier. Doesn’t exist today – sorry to see it go the way of the dinosaurs.  Doctors were one of the first “groups” to sign up for it. It was expensive by today’s standards and kind of clunky to navigate. With the medical community being one of the first groups to acclimate to Prodigy and then other business professions that soon followed  it gave it a stodgy appeal, not a lot of fun, and expensive.  Than AOL came along and was all fun and friendly in its appeal and relatively cheap.  I actually had a co-op job at Prodigy my senior year in college.  What did I know about the internet? Not much.  I sat in a room and my official title was “Quality Control”. How geeky!  I know.  But to balance it all I was an intern on the #TODAY Show – a very different community for another blog at another time.

We’ve come a long way is my point.  Today whether you are a CPA, belong to a professional association, work in medicine, pharma, or organic farming, there is a web community for you to share with your fellow community members.  If you have an interest in learning more about #influenza, #endometriosis, #clean-tech, light cooking, getting published, social media opps, tribal music, #astrology or #astronomy, you can find a web community for you.

From a public relations perspective it means more channels for communicating your message, service, or product.  Interactive forums are the most effective as opposed to just putting it up there and letting it be.  Like most things, in order to grow your web community you must help it grow, by  adding various dimensions other than updating content daily or weekly.  Getting members to share ideas, create forum days where there are designated topics that get discussed or highlighted by webinars is one of the more popular methods. In other words you have to help it grow.  What will we be blogging about ten years from now?  Will web communities have gone the way of the dinosaurs and web chat?  Will you access friends and communities via your interactive smart watch ?  Only time will tell.

What was IN is now OUT

Several years back I did a project with MasterCard.  They needed help with both internal and external communications.  I was their gal.  Sarbanes Oxley was causing a lot of strife and legal fees.  Intranets were being actively used for insider information (in a good way) telling stories of fellow employees, and what’s happening around the globe with others in the company.  Also, if someone wanted to sell something or carpool, the intranet was the place.  Now not so.  Why go in when you can go out?  Yammer has replaced the intranet for company employees to sign in, sign up, post a comment, sale, or need.  This is part of the social media craze and the old brick and mortars, and healthcare and large pharma’s are joining in.  AstraZeneca stated at a Social Media conference recently that they use Yammer. Why hire someone, or more, to manage, update and communicate through an intranet when you can use a similarly constructed site from the outside for free?  At first glance there doesn’t seem a need. But, with the site suited for multi-company purposes the issues of privacy and security will come up and this utility will be reviewed from time to time like Facebook does.

Want to know where someone is and you don’t want to pay for a private detective or GPS tracking device?  Foursquare! You  can login and post to their favorite sites, people, where they are dining, driving, or trying to get to.  Anyone remember Fandango?  That was one of the first mobile apps for searching movies, events, and other happenings.  Now for mostly movies you can access online but it’s content on mobile apps was available several years back in the dot-com boom years.  Many other companies apps, ideas, companies don’t exist now.  They didn’t survive the technology transfers and frankly many had poor management whether they were well backed or not.  I believe many of the social media phenomena are rearrangements of previous technology/communication ideas that were either too big at that time, too progressive, or not far-reaching enough during their time.  But, some online starters are still around – Purple Tie, Fresh Express? On line dry cleaning and pick-up and grocery delivery.  Stop and Shop has Peapod.com which will do many people well, as for Purple Tie, still only available in California – and of course it touts itself GREEN  🙂