UK Tech PR » iPad The blogging home of Hill & Knowlton's UK Technology practice. We write about technology and how to shape conversations about technology in the market. Fri, 12 Mar 2010 12:41:17 +0000 en hourly 1 Videocalls: a visible future? Thu, 04 Mar 2010 18:16:42 +0000 Chris Smith

In 1994, the Simpsons ran an episode entitled ‘Lisa’s Wedding’, set in 2010. This clip highlights their understanding of the future.

However, now we are actually in 2010, the general sentiment is that videophones are ‘so’ late 1990’s.

Given any form of conversation is all about two way interactions, it is perhaps a technological anomaly that videophones have somewhat failed to capture the world’s imagination.

Unfortunately, video calling had a couple of things working against it. Firstly, in order to remain in shot, the need to walk around with your phone held directly in front of your face is a look that for some reason, never caught on. Secondly, once the pointlessness of video calling someone without a camera  was realised and the technology was made widely available, mobile phone operators pushed video call tariffs high enough to induce a mild dose of vertigo. But thirdly (and what proved the death knell) was the fact that most people, actually, didn’t want to see who they were talking to. “That’s called real life” they said, “and we’ll keep that and telecommunications separate, thank you very much”.

The result of course, is that videocalls never really happened. As a result, in the last 18 months, handset manufacturers such as HTC have been ditching front-facing cameras e because, “Nobody uses them.”

This established landscape is now dramatically shifting. 2010, as the Simpsons predicted with Nostradamus style accuracy, is already shaping up to be the year that the world starts to get to grips with video and voice technology becoming a cohesive package.

This week, has seen a number of television manufacturers announce the integration of Skype video call technology into their sets, meaning before long, living rooms around the world will be fully equipped in high-end video conferencing technology (and you’ll get to chat to your mum in widescreen – weird).

What is even weirder however, is the number one web 2.0 explosion of 2010 so far. Foursquare? Nope. Chatroulette; the site which randomly pairs you with another webcam-enabled user whenever you click ‘next’. It provides full voice and video communication, with complete strangers. And despite being only four months old, it already draws in 500,000 unique monthly users and is growing exponentially.

Clearly, the complete lack of demand for voice and video is over. Only last month, we saw a significant backlash against the iPads lack of camera, followed by a huge ongoing rumour-mill when information became apparent that maybe it did after all. But where and when has this change in attitude come about?

That is not so clear, but perhaps one of the biggest influences is the support of young people, who are more used to the video-centric world of today, and can’t even remember the days of rotary phone dials. All in all, whilst it certainly won’t be the case that video calls will revolutionise mobile telecoms anytime soon, it is somewhat inevitable that they will perhaps now, slowly but surely, start becoming more and more important.

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The iPad, The Guardian and the “legacy print business” Wed, 03 Feb 2010 14:47:38 +0000 James Farquharson Brand Republic recently published an article in which the Guardian’s editor  referred to his paper product as, “…the legacy print business.” This comment, published in the same week as the launch of the iPad, throws out a clear signal on the future of the media in the UK. Given ongoing financial losses within their print divisions, it is almost inevitable that one or more of our national newspapers will follow a host of trade magazines to go fully digital in the next year or two. When that happens, what will be the impact on communication teams?

If you’re really determined, the iPad could be used as a traditional computer. However, its underlying design purpose is to enable consumption of media. We’re going to watch TV and movies, play games, read magazines and news, as well as interact with Facebook friends on the iPad and other slate devices arriving soon.

Like the iPod and the music industry before it, the technology is going to wag the media house dog so hard it will have to change, a change made more acceptable to it by the financial state of the paper-based news industry. Providers will design their content specifically for these devices. The merger of categories such as TV, magazines and social media will accelerate. We won’t even be asked ‘turn the page’ of eZines, as a nod to history.

Throughout this, the fundamentals of media relations will stay the same; know your client, know the media and put the two together.

However, in the all digital era, communications teams will have to greatly expand the number of information resources and individuals they know well and be able to deliver near instant insight, in variety of digital formats, to communicate their business’s point of view.

To do this well, communications professionals will have to be indivisable from the businesses they represent and able to provide images (no longer required at 300dpi, thank goodness), video, soundbites and written commentary at the click of a mouse. If not, the mechanics of digital media means they will be left behind.

These are all changes that have been developing since digitisation began. However, with the digital future of our media all but upon us and the launch of these new consumer technologies, communications practices will need to fully modernise, very quickly to be effective.

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