There’s a fascinating piece on TechCrunch, live notes from a Google event where CEO Eric Schmidt gave CIOs a look at some new cloud technologies and then took questions from the floor.   

For me, the Q&A threw up two areas of real interest. Number one is the open admission that Google is becoming a competitor to many of its partner companies. How do you manage that sort of relationship? Schmidt talks about the upcoming Chrome operating system and how it will realise the vision of cloud-based computing, removing the need for expensive hardware and bringing down the cost of device ownership. How do you square that vision with the device manufacturers that Google is working with? They’re locked in a constant battle of technical one-upmanship on specs yet Google is talking about a future where less is more. Surely there’s trouble ahead?

Secondly, this piece clearly shows that Google is on a collision course with Apple. We know the relationship has already soured with Schmidt quitting his place on the Apple board, but with him describing Google as an “information company” and talking upfront about the importance of applications, Google seems to have moved on from the world of search and is now on a mission to bring portable, connected, affordable and engaging computing to everyone and anyone that wants it – and that is surely where Apple wants to be as well. There’s a good piece on the ensuing ‘war’ between the two giants on Electricpig.

All told, I find it hard not to like Schmidt and the vision he paints for Google. There’s a simplicity about the company that stretches from the single search box at Google.com right the way through the products and services and into Schmidt’s vision for a more simplified way of connecting and communicating. The question is, do Google’s current crop of partners feel the same?

@paulwooding1973

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Last week, an all too familiar story: Marisa, from the Barcelona office, had her husband come home from work with lousy news.  Due to an out of town workshop (on a Saturday!!) she would have to reschedule a well-planned dinner at St. Pau located seaside near Barcelona.  Normally Marisa is pretty flexible with these things but this was special – in 2008 St. Pau was awarded three Michelin Stars!

So, as Valentine´s Day approaches we wondered how many people are facing similar situations and how they plan to compensate their loved ones for their absence, especially those attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona from the 14-18 of February. Over 50,000 delegates and visitors are anticipated to attend this year’s conference and exhibition, which means many postponed celebrations and cancelled dinners – although hopefully not at three Michelin Star restaurants.

To keep with the technology themed Mobile World Congress we sent out a survey to find out just how people would use technology to compensate their loved ones in the event of their absence on Valentine´s Day. 

It turns out that women more often turn to one-to-one communications and men prefer to ‘broadcast’ their affections.  According to the survey, 59% more women than men would use Skype with video service or equivalent to call their partner and  67% more women than men would send a personal video message via email while out of town.  Male respondents to the survey invariably preferred the one-to-many approach with 70% more men than women proposing to dedicate a Twitter post to their other half.

The survey also produced some interesting country differences, with Spanish respondents demonstrating the highest levels of ingenuity with the use of newer technology; 50% of Spanish respondents would probably or certainly use Skype with video or equivalent to communicate their sentiments if absent on Saint Valentine’s Day compared to a global average of 29%, while over a third of Spaniards would send a personalised video from their mobile phone (compared to a global average of just 13%). 

The least romantic nation in technology terms is Ireland!  According to the survey, 67% of Irish respondents wouldn’t even send a text message to their partner if absent during Saint Valentine’s Day, against a global average of 42%.

It is clear that technology is embedded in our lives and according to our survey can play a key role in keeping your significant other satisfied in the event of an absence.  So, do you think that texting isn’t very romantic, but it is the thought that counts?  Have you or your significant other ever used technology in a creative way to show how much you care?  How would you use technology to communicate your absence on Valentine’s Day?

"Steve Jobs has announced he is to pursue a career as an artist. His work will be exhibited by Green Park tube""

Did you hear?  It seems Apple is planning to launch a shiny new toy.  Perhaps an easier question is “have you not heard?” You’d have to have returned from a month-long trek through the hills of Kathmandu to not be aware of this revelation.  Every news site is hyping it so much you’d think Apple has conceived a new way of slicing bread.  But the thing is – we haven’t heard it from the horse’s mouth yet.

If you’ve been busy finding yourself in Kathmandu you might also have missed our own news – Edelman launched the 2010 Trust Barometer yesterday.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

As we trustworthy types do, we were chatting about the research yesterday and Steve Jobs cropped up in conversation.  As he does.  So to catch you all up – once again Technology is the most trusted industry according to our research.  Well done us.  And we’ve moved from a shareholder to a stakeholder world  where transparency has grown in importance.

The findings also show that it’s no longer all about the CEO.  Its lowly people like you and me that people want to hear from (you do, don’t you?).  The trust is no longer linked to the job description. (Though as an obsequious aside – it is still worth listening to the likes of Robert Phillips and Richard Edelman.  Not only are they interesting to listen to, they also help pay my bills).  But you get what I mean, companies have to look beyond the bucks and the board room when asking for a consumer’s trust.

So compare this to Apple.  Jobs is the messiah for many, a heroic entrepreneur for our time.  But his health issues last year further underlined the important of not putting the whole company’s eggs in a CEO’s basket.  Transparency is usually linked to openness in corporate dialogue.  Compare this to the Tablet, which is so shrouded in secrecy they’ve probably developed an invisibility cloak especially for it.  Following the fanfare of this evening’s press conference I’m sure the Apple spokespeople will return to their imagination lab in the bowels of a volcano somewhere to a chorus of “No Comment”.  So in a conventional sense there is very little transparency.   However – there will be an awful lot of #iSlate conversations.

So what does this all mean?  Well the Naked Pheasant himself put it nicely when he said that the “trust is with the art not the artist.” The product is the king, not the person.  That’s where the consumer trust lies.  Mr Pheasant continues “how many times have you seen a friend showing off an iPhone in the pub?”  The Boss Bird has a point and attached to the great product is some great conversational marketing – the iStore adverts are a good example.  It’s a great approach to promotion and one that is too often ignored: ensure the product is blisteringly brilliant – and the rest will follow.   If you build it they will come.

There is one flaw in this approach as far as I can see.  What if they mess it up?  How loyal is the consumer trust in Apple?  Maybe Jobs is just too achingly smart to let this happen and the iSlate/ Tablet/ eReader will meet all of its expectations.  Maybe it will revolutionise how consumers absorb content.  It might even revive the print industry, to boot.  But what if it doesn’t?  What if the once glorious conversations and exchanges in the pub turn into “jeez do you remember when Apple had it all then they fucked it up with that big iPhone that turned into a toaster?”

When the conversation is around the art and not the artist, you are only as good as your last painting.

@LukeMackay