A Business Technology Place

Confessions from using Mac Linux Windows Chrome Android iOS

I’ve used them all.confession

Call me an equal opportunity technologist. I’ve given them all a try. From Windows to Linux and everywhere in between. Do I have my have opinions? Absolutely. Do I participate in the “Holy wars” for OS? Yes, on occasion, for entertainment in my life. So I thought it would be fun to write a few confessions about my experience. It’s purely for entertainment. 🙂

Mac OS

  • The ultimate OS right? Yet so many run Windows Parallels and I find that ironic.
  • I inherited a MacBook hand-me-down from daughter. To my frustration, Apple capped the MacOS upgrade level. It also ran super hot around the power cord connector so I had to download a special app for fan control and heat. I found these were common complaints via internet search. In the end, it was not a great experience.
  • Can we just agree on keyboard keys and shortcuts please?
  • Many Mac OS X zealots may not realize that  Mac OS is a Unix based operating system.
  • While viruses aren’t as prevalent on Mac OS. Mac OS is not immune to viruses as some have told me with a smirk.

Windows

  • Oh please Mr. PC tell me why you get slower with age? If your registry is bloated then give me a way to release the blockage please.
  • A breeding ground for viruses. Virus scanners are pricey and taxing to system performance.
  • Windows XP and IE 6. A match made in heaven and a marriage that outlived many attempts to kill it.
  • I have confirmed how long it takes my PC to boot in the morning. I turn it on. Then I go to the break room to put my lunch away and to get a cup of coffee. When I return, it’s ready to go. That’s Windows 7 and a platter based disk. (I’ve seen better with Windows 8 and a SSD.)
  • Windows 8? I get it.

Ubuntu Linux

  • It gave a few of my old PCs new life because it has less hardware requirements than Windows.
  • You can’t beat the price!
  • Software availability isn’t the best. Open Office has the basic features needed for word processing and spreadsheets. But it can lack the advanced features for power users and may not fully read a document prepared in MS Office.
  • Support is plentiful on internet forums. But I’ll admit, you have to be a geek to understand it.

Chrome OS

  • You’re right Google. I mostly just need a browser to complete my computing activities.
  • Google Docs is great. But just wait until someone passes a MS Office document to your non-techy spouse using a ChromeBook.
  • Boot-up time is amazing.
  • It’s really a “cloud” terminal.

Android

  • It works well for me because I’m in the Google ecosystem. Google docs, Gmail, Google contacts, Google+ and Google Voice.
  • Performance tends to lag at times. But I realize it’s tough to make judgements on this. Google doesn’t lock and control the hardware. So many combinations, so many possibilities.
  • Android phones don’t focus on simplicity. Some customizations can be hard to find, like speed dial and email account setup.

iOS

  • It’s not perfect as some make it out to be.
  • My daughter had reception problems from a dorm room in the basement of a building. I asked her to use wifi-calling, but found out it’s not supported yet. I’ve been using that for years on my Android device.
  • The marketing at Apple is the best. I’m not an Apple fan-boy, but their ads have won over an allegiance and created a brand title wave.
  • Let’s be honest, Apple die-hards are a bit snobby.

Infinite Storage

I received an email this week from Google with their latest offer on cloud storage. It’s a good one, targeted at business and group users of the Google Apps platform.

Google Apps, now with infinite space    

We’re excited to announce a new option for Google Apps customers: the full suite of productivity tools plus unlimited* file storage and Vault to protect critical business information. It’s a simple way for teams to share, sync and access all their files from everywhere.

For $10/user/month, upgrade now to Google Apps with unlimited storage and Vault. It also includes other business features to help your organization grow, like 99.9% guaranteed email uptime, 24/7 customer support and the freedom to add as many users as you want. To make the switch, sign in to your Admin console and click Upgrade now. Then click Billing and select Upgrade to Google Apps Unlimited. Please note that downgrading to Google Apps without unlimited storage is not an option at this time.

Wow! “Infinite storage”.  What a title. I can just see the Google marketing team grinning ear-to-ear when they received approval for that offer. It’s not surprising to me though. As space devices have become cheaper, online providers like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have lowered their cloud storage prices and increased the amount of space consumers and businesses get for free.

When I was in college in the early 90s a professor told us that in the future the hardware would be free as a commodity and people would pay for the value in the software.  Computer prices have definitely dropped since then, although not quite to free. But now I see his statement coming true in terms of disk space.

What’s really driving cloud storage is the ability of our electronic devices to share and pull from the same storage. Phone, laptop, tablet, and computer can all pull from the same storage. So cloud storage is really like universal storage. It’s fast, cheap, and easy.  The question is which eco-system will we live in? Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and others are all competing for our attention.  That competition is now bringing us “infinite storage” offers.  Sweet! To infinity and beyond!

QR codes are dumb codes.

Jeb Cashin - GravatarBob and others I’ve worked with know I don’t like QR codes (for marketing anyway.) They may not always remember why I don’t like them. QR codes are a re-tooling of an ancient technology (2D bar codes) that were re-born to fail by the very trend they attempted to build on: smart phones. And they don’t really solve a problem for the user, rather they create a problem of having to get a QR code reader.

They are also ugly blotches to incorporate into design.

Barcodes (whether 1 dimensional or 2 dimensional) are “machine readable” codes that are designed to be read very quickly by very dumb machines. QR codes are a marketing fad that serve no other purpose other than to use them.

Smart phones are not dumb. They are smart enough to recognize faces, text, and objects. Try out Google Goggles if you haven’t. I had one recognize Dwight Shrute’s head on a mug! Smart phones don’t need dumb print blotches.

I just redeemed an iTunes card using a feature I had not seen before: “Use your camera.” I clicked on it, held the card up to the camera, and was surprised by what happened. I thought it was going to read the barcode on the back. Instead, it found the human-readable text and read that.

iTunes uses camera to read $10 gift card code.

Two things to note:

1. Not directly related, but note how the camera view is backwards, which is a default for some reason with computers and phones. I think this mirror view is just more comfortable because things move the way we have been trained (with hand held mirrors.)

2. But the iTunes reader quickly found and boxed in the human-readable text code (not bar code), interpreted it, and displayed it back to me with a reinforcing message. It was almost instantaneous. And it was friendly enough to show me the code frontwards (not backwards like the actual shot.)

That’s smart cod(ing).

Getting beyond customer loyalty. Customer apostles.

Marketers love loyal customers.
They are the customers that return to the brand without further considerations or market research. They are repeat customers and may develop a deeper relationship with brand associates which will keep them loyal.

I was thinking about brand loyalists in the context of social media sharing last week because of how easy it is now to share information digitally with our connections. Similar to my thoughts on how the news media has been transformed by social media, the same concept also applies to all businesses.

The idea is that the customer becomes a brand advocate to the extent that they also become a brand marketer. Before the internet, the reach of the customer was their immediate group of friends and family.  It was limited. With the internet and tools like Twitter, Facebook, Stumbled upon, Google+, etc. consumers now have a reach that extends to hundreds or thousands of individuals.

But there’s a class of customers more powerful than loyalists.
I looked at my MBA class notes on customer types and found the term “brand apostle”.  A brand apostle is the upper sub-segment of brand loyalists.  The apostles bring other people to the business and refer to the brand in whatever communication tools they use.  It’s the brand apostles that are messengers and advocates of the brand.

For the brand apostle, the connection to the brand is something that becomes second nature. Today a prime example are the brand apostles for  Apple.  I work with a few of them. They constantly talk about how great their devices are and how they believe they are superior and worth the price premium over a PC. (The mind tricks don’t work on me. I use Linux). Another good example was the Saturn the automobile brand from GM.  Do you remember the community of customers they built? They held events for the customers to attend and everyone drove their Saturn to it.

Marketing has always been about connections. Historically it’s the connection between the brand the customer. But today’s marketing is as much about shared messages as connections. It’s about getting customers and prospects to act as the marketing advocates for immediate and broad reach.  It no longer take a Superbowl ad to get a Superbowl reach.

Ideas to make brand apostles:

  • Open-up customer reviews for your products and services in the online catalog. What better place is there for prospective customers to be influenced for a purchase decision than when they are looking at the product in your catalog? This isn’t a new technology or merchandising technique, and many retailers already do it. It’s just an easy place and context relevant for brand apostles to leave their mark.
  • Educate your employees. A great product is only half the equation in getting repeat customers. The experience with the employees is the other half. When employees understand this and their stake in creating brand apostles they’ll feel more involved and likely to contribute. I realize employee interaction with customers and employee attitudes are much more complex than this. But the point is the employee needs to be a brand apostle to grow other apostles.
  • Do something the customer isn’t expecting. As I write this post I’m sitting at my local car maintenance shop Christian Brother Automotive. It’s a franchised business, but I’ve been bringing my vehicle here for years because I value the service and straight-talk about the maintenance needed. I remember my first visit when they told me that they do not charge for inspection of the vehicle. They only charge for worked performed. Coming from the dealership model where I was use to paying $70 for “inspections” this was a pleasant surprise.  In subsequent trips they’ve found burned out bulbs and just changed them for me. It’s little things like this that have made me an apostle for their local business.


If you have stories or ideas about brand apostles I’d love to hear from you.