Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Future of Computing

A quick look at what’s retailing in IT stores reveals an interesting trend. The price of entry level computing seems to be dropping. However, this remains untrue for state-of-the-art, truly cutting-edge hardware. Also the revision time between two successive product releases are falling drastically. This is very evident in the graphic card industry, what with Nvidia launching a new card so close on the heels of its nine series cards. The new second generation of graphic cards not only pack a punch, but cost as much as an entry level assembled PC for most Indians.

So has anything changed since the inception of computing in our country? A close look at the online scenario and you will realise that over the years a number of online applications have popped up. What’s more these applications are offered free of cost! This reduces the cost of purchasing legitimate software, as these online versions are equally versatile as compared to popular installable software. The list of such applications is endless and I will not even attempt to start listing these out here, a few notable ones that come to the mind include Google Notes, and Adobe’s Photoshop Express. We see more and more online applications being built that replace desktop software, perhaps this is where the future of computing lies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Click that Celebrity!

It is interesting to note the various degrees of how celebrities tap the internet to brand themselves. At one end of the scale are celebrities who have absolutely no official web presence, closely followed by those who seem to have sites designed by the lowest bidder. On the other end are those that have well planned sites that help build the celebrity as a brand, are informative, and promote various merchandise at the same time.

A few of the well-designed official sites that I came across were that of Nelly Furtado, Maria Sharapova, Avril Lavigne, Emma Watson and Emmy Rossum. Nelly’s site caught my eye because of the design, which was synonymous with the trademark font that she uses on her album covers.

Maria Sharapova is astounding when one takes into consideration the wealth of information and the presentation layout. Sharapova’s site like that of co-tennis player Anna Kournikova has adopted a strong co-branding strategy, with her sponsors products being highlighted time and again. Her site is media rich with a number of photo slideshows, videos, forums etc.

The only person who managed to trump this depth of content was Avril Lavigne who even included content for mobiles, a link to her Myspace account, and a picture of her Weemee. Avril’s site even uses Google to automatically translate the site into ten languages!

For those celebrities who lacked an online presence it is interesting to see the quality work fans and communities have undertaken to highlight the celebrity. True this is not a replacement for the celebrities own site but some of these sites come very close, with stunning designs and rich content. I was suitably impressed by a fansite for Shia LaBeouf of Transformers and Indiana Jones fame, which delivered content succinctly.

What is truly interesting is how certain celebrities have started ‘official’ social networking pages. These profiles are supposedly updated by the celebrities themselves or by their press team. This development is not only interesting from a web development point of view, but interesting from a social perspective as well. Celebrities who do set up such pages come across as open people who like to keep in touch with their fans. Going a step further would be seeing celebrities starting their own video blogs. Alternately, such blogs are integrated into official sites – such as in the case of Anna Kournikova.

The downside to celebrity branding online is sites that masquerade or allude to be official sites, or official sites that are are not done well. One site that was strictly OK was Charlize Theron’s site, which though was pretty clean failed to impress after having considered the competition. The page that was really a let down was the so-called official page of Ms Keira Knightley on My Space. One has to wonder if this indeed is an official page. It's most likely not, with dozens of so called Keria Knightley profiles on MySpace. If it is indeed her official page, Ms Knightley should have a look at Emmy Rossum's site perhaps for inspiration!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Marrying Technology with Creativity

In order to tap the online medium effectively for branding and advertising it is critical to understand what the medium is capable of doing. This means not only having a working knowledge and understanding of the capabilities that the latest web authoring languages and web development software provides, but also use this technical know how to execute focused, interactive messages to customers creatively.

One such technology employed time and again is using system time in screensavers. One of the pioneering brands to do this was Tag Heuer with their screen savers. What’s more, we have even seen a number of innovative banner ads that have captured a viewer’s system time. One of the most memorable of such ads was the FedEx ad, which arranged FedEx boxes in the shape of a digital clock. Recently I came across yet another ad that cleverly synergises this technology with simple yet well executed graphics and copy.

The ad in question was for Rolex and associated the brand with the heritage of Wimbledon. The ad starts with highlighting some of the games greatest moments at Wimbledon and ended with a shot of the face of the watch, which displayed the system time and date with the heading saying – ‘One face has seen it all’. This is a clever use of marrying technology with branding. The placement of the ad also played a critical role in its success as it was found on the Tennis section of Viewers who are truly captivated with this ad can even head over to the Rolex website where they can download screensavers with a number of different Rolex watches showcased, all accurately displaying system time.