Tag Archives: Facebook

Nike and a new catchphrase

Fast Company magazine put recently out its 2013 list of Most Innovative Companies. I take all these type of lists with some healthy skepticism, assuming – until proven otherwise – that there’s about as much shady background lobbying going on than in the Olympic Committee.

(Ed. note: Speaking of which, I doubt that even any Corporate PR department anywhere would dare to top the audacity of the IOC proposal to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics. Cauliflower ears or not, any sports fan with respect to the sports history and the meaning behind the phrases like “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, “Just Do It” or “Impossible is Nothing” simply couldn’t believe their ears this morning)

False positive or not, I read these type of lists with great interest, both for entertainment value and getting ideas how to be populistic, if needed.

I didn’t find it surprising that none of the usual mobile or computing companies made Top 10. Not Google (#11), Not Apple (#13) nor Samsung (#17). Nor did, as Fast Company commented themselves, Facebook and Twitter. ‘Mobile’ and ‘Social’ seem no longer be catchphrases used in the context of innovation.

Amazon made #2. Interestingly, less so because of their digital efforts, but for speeding up the same-day delivery.

#1? Another physical world company. Nike.

For anyone close to sports, the pick itself was not that surprising. What was surprising, however, was how come Fast Company missed the opportunity to coin a catchphrase describing how apparel and footwear companies are using digital features to transform product categories.

Phrases like ‘brick-and-mortar’, ‘cloud’ and ‘big data’ took everyone by the storm. We need something similar.

Being a non-native English speaker, I feel unsure of proposing anything, so I just screenshot the six most used materials of Nike (source: Nike Web site), in case that would be of help.

Nike Top 6 materials

The first instinct was to go for rubber-and-cotton company, but at least the Finnish translation is prone to some unwanted extensions of the meaning (or do I just have odd friends?). Cotton-and-polyester company would kind of work, and definitively cover Adidas too, as they “own” the 1970’s style warmup jackets, but it doesn’t properly cover footwear. Leather sounds a little old fashioned, and impractical, as the material for housing any digital gear.

This was more complicated than I thought. But I trust there’s an answer somewhere.

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Product guy – dream living other people’s lives

shutterstock_95792512 dreaming 600pxDoes Product Guy need to be of the target audience? Can a bald guy sell shampoo? Does the baby food product manager need to wear a bib at breakfast? But on the other hand, should golf companies only hire lousy golfers as product managers to ensure they really know how their hacker customers feel after pulling two identical hooks to the wrong fairway?

Tough ones. No wonder that in the post-Steve Jobs era, there is no clear-cut answer to this eternal question that was perhaps the most asked one, when I collected input for this Product Guy series.

What matters is the passion for the product and the people who use it. That passion can come from within one’s own life, but interestingly, it can equally arise from having the imagination and the curiosity about other people’s lives (note: If this feels too creepy or outer space now, take a breather and read something tangible, like Facebook Graph API documentation)

So when the life is too short to develop a new skill – like a consistent golf swing – Product Guy should focus on trying to understand how it feels for those who have it.

The ultimate stage of dreaming to live other people’s lives is what happened to Jesse Eisenberg. He went to see basketball in London Olympics and was introduced in the TV broadcast as Mark Zuckerberg. And he probably can’t code at all.

For the record, I am so rooting for Ashton Kutcher to be able to pull off the same.


Happened in the previous episodes of Product Guy series:

Stay tuned for the next episode: Product guy – understand your levers


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Generation gap for online user interfaces

flickr_nerd at birthThe next generation always has it so easy. At least in the opinion of the previous generation. No need to work 24/7 just to put food on the table, but just play all day. Gaming consoles, instead of carving your own toys. Color TV and cable and on-demand, instead of the top-down programmed national broadcast. Tree houses with an elevator and a gift shop.

And so on and so forth. You know how it goes. Depending how old you are (I’m 42), you may have started to whine a little yourself. At least, if you have kids. Suddenly, it dawns on you that the kids being glued to the Nintendo or the iPad is not really a proof of your math and hand-eye co-ordination genes being passed down – but simply the privilege of being a first world kid in the post-PC era.

But kids, enjoy while it lasts, one day the destiny of Atari will fall upon your ecosystem!

“Dad, what’s an ecosystem? Our teacher says……” Okay. Time to move on.

At the same time, it is easy to forget how much we ourselves have benefitted from the advances in computing and in mobility during the past five years. Surely, we have our gadgets (like our kids, but Mom and Dad need to have the Maxi, XL or Premium version) but it’s also the advances in the user interfaces have made our daily lives so much easier. Just, for example, think about:

  • Threaded messaging: Needing to jump between Inbox and Sent to feel the flow of all the poetry I’ve been a part of? Wow. Sounds so Dead Poets Society.
  • Notifications: Like, you mean, I need to remember to go to check some messaging folder out if somebody has messages for me? Do I look like The Mentalist to you?
  • Drag-and-drop file attachment: Choose Filet? The only Filet I choose is with pepper sauce
  • Autosave: Save button? I don’t want to save what I just wrote, I want to keep on writing!
  •  (add your own favorites here)

When you get used to all the goodness, you learn bad habits. Yesterday I found out that I almost managed to get all my insurances terminated. I still am not sure what exactly happened but at the context of some change (probably I just clicked “Yes” on something without really thinking what it said) all the correspondence my way, including the invoices and the the re-approval of the automatic payment scheme, from them went into an online folder, the notification settings of which weren’t automatic. So I really had no idea that I even had a folder. Only through the sheer luck of having to claim one ancient cost, I found my way there, finding out that our family was days away from being uninsured and having debt enforcement officers being sent our way.

Now, the IT guys at my insurance company are probably proud of their work. It probably is a major miracle to be able to fully web-ify the ancient legacy systems to even show the right data and be fully integrated with banking and so on, so there might not be much sympathy for the user interface complaints. But they better get used to it – Apple, Google and Facebook have so spoilt us on what the ease of use really means.

I didn’t complain in this post, did I? No. I gave feedback.

Image by Flickr user tyger_lyllie (licensed under Creative Commons)

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