A South Texas Gift Shop

This last week I’ve been on the road, traveling all over deeeeeep south Texas as part of my job.

Earlier today I pulled into a small off-the-highway gas station to refuel the company car. Nobody was around, so I figured I would go into the store itself and grab a coffee, some water, a protein bar, and maybe an energy drink for the rest of the trip back home.

The store was charming. The staff said “howdy” as I walked in, the floors and tables were spotless, and the snack section didn’t have any dust on the products.

So far, so good!

But as I was walking out, I saw this in the “gift” section.


South Texas Gift Shop 01

South Texas Gift Shop 01


Um…. ok. This is a… cowboy. And he’s… on his back. And he’s… ah… well… he’s…

OK, I have no idea. None. Zero. Clueless Maximus.

The more I looked directly at it, the more disturbing it became. I did see a little tag on his chest and I moved closer to see if it had something to explain the intention of this… pose.

“Add charm and delight to your home with this timeless keepsake. This premium collectible reminds us that imagination is limitless and dreams are forever. Leaving a vibrant reminder that life is what you make of it with the rich imaginative palette of our creative spirits.”


South Texas Gift Shop 02

South Texas Gift Shop 02



But wait. It gets worse. Much, much, much worse.

On a adjacent table in the gift area was this…


South Texas Gift Shop 03

South Texas Gift Shop 03


A horse.

The cowboy. Had. A matching. Horse.

I was laughing for about 20 minutes after I left and was back on the highway. And to this moment, I still have no idea what those… things were designed for.

For the record, I don’t ever want to know.

A reminder on how Facebook made their billions

With the easy-to-scan timeline now in place for every user, and the packaging of the terabytes of freely-provided user data to companies eager to advertise to a wired audience, Facebook is having a grand old time right now.

I think there’s one little problem, though. Once corporations realize they’re just leasing the data on Facebook and not owning the data on Facebook, things will go downhill pretty quickly.

Let me give an example…

Let’s say there’s two competitor pizza chains, Road Runner Pizza and Coyote Pizza. Both pizza chains get to pull relevant user information from Facebook if they choose to advertise with them. Each company will get user’s ages, demographics, locations, weekend activities… everything freely posted by individuals to update their friends and to help corporate America make better targeted ads. Each pizza company will get to post their customized ads in the targeted demographic’s timelines and harvest any trending information that will help their pizza business succeed.

Here’s the boulder-in-the-face moment… let’s say a little ways down the road, Coyote Pizza drops their Facebook advertising for some reason or other.

Coyote Pizza’s data, all of their research, all of their demographic targeting, all of their strategies, all of their previous advertising positions, all of their activities done through and by Facebook, are STILL the property of Facebook.

Data which Facebook can now sell to Roadrunner Pizza since Coyote Pizza is no longer in the game.

Facebook made their billions by selling data. Not by selling physical products. Not by setting up free social meeting places. DATA. That’s their plan, plain and simple. Sell the data to whoever will pay for it. Why should Facebook treat corporate data any different from an individual’s data?

This boulder-in-the-face moment may take a little time to hit companies who are eagerly jumping on the Facebook bandwagon right now with giant $970 million dollar signs in their eyes, but when it does, I expect a serious “you tricked us!” backlash against Facebook.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Facebook will respect corporate information better than they do individual information and keep a balanced campaign for competing companies despite their overlapping demographic interests. Or maybe Facebook will happily take a blank check in trade for a few year’s of a company’s targeted strategies and tactics that another advertiser is interested in.

It should be interesting either way.

10 things RIM can do to survive Apple’s assault on the Playbook

News that Apple is “likely to begin production of 7.85-inch iPads in 3Q12” hit the web today, and it’s seriously bad news for RIM and their recently re-vitalized Playbook tablets. 7″ iPads from Apple? Hey RIM, in case you didn’t see the subtle signs before, today marks an official countdown for you guys. Apple has noticed your little sub-tablet niche and is coming after it. Hard.

So what can RIM do to survive a direct assault from Apple?

1. Like I mentioned before, I think RIM can still make up for lost time by aggressively flooding the market with cheap tablets in the $150-$200 range. Send demo units to teachers, city employees and legal teams. Emphasize the very low cost to get in the door and target companies that can benefit from tablet-based connectivity at a 2-for-1 budget over the iPad.

2. Focus on the growing “I just don’t use my iPad” crowd. There’s a surprising number of iPad owners who just don’t use their iPad because it isn’t what they wanted (or thought it would be). Show the world that the Playbook is what they needed all along. SHOW you can really use office (Word, Excel and Powerpoint) on a Playbook. SHOW how great the web is with a flash enabled browser on a Playbook. SHOW the new OS on the Playbook has everything (Email, Contact List, Embedded Twitter integration, etc). SHOW that the Playbook is available now in a “2.0” form. And SHOW the Playbook is cheaper than most video game systems!

3. Offer a generous unconditional lifetime replacement guarantee. Amazon does this with their Kindle lineup, and as a direct result, people will take their kindle with them to places they would never take their iPad. Think of the sales pitch… “You can spend $200 on a superior product with a lifetime warranty that you can use every day with confidence, or you can spend $400 on a piece of glass with no warranty.”

4. Make the “cloud” part of OS 2.1. Make a system-embedded option where documents, music, etc are all backed up to DROPBOX, or SKYDRIVE or whatever online service a user wants.

5. Get iTunes sync for music and videos. There’s already apps on AppWorld called ItunesSync and ItunesVideoSync that do this. Buy those apps out, integrate the apps into the system, and promote that feature on the Playbook. Make it so that everything in iTunes on a PC (or Mac) can be pulled over to the Playbook with two clicks. Instant ROI / happy customers.

6. Quit the feud with Netflix. Make nice and get them on board. Or go say hello to Amazon! Or Redbox! Get Hollywood on the Playbook’s HD screen and get access to a resource that has a established cross-platform movie and music library. (On a related note, get rid of 7digital. They’re NOT consumer friendly and their web-storefront is outright hostile.)

7. Allow in-app purchases directly to a developer’s website. Advertise online and in tech mags that RIM Playbooks not only allows for any and all in-app purchases, but does NOT take a cut of in-app sales like Apple does. Use this passive monetary incentive to get developers to come around of their own free will.

8. Constantly check the top 20 in the APP store in iTunes and call the developers of those apps. Always make them an offer to come over with a free Playbook to test their apps on. Also go after the Apple developers and the apps that were kicked off Apple’s app store and offer them sanctuary on the Playbook/RIM side.

9. Push multimedia. Buy (or write) a iMovie knockoff and emphasize how easy it is to make movies on the Playbook. Get with HP and buy (or copy) their touchscreen photo editor app. Make the Playbook the tablet/camera/live editing hardware the iPad looks ridiculous trying to be.

10. Allow exploits. Hear me out on this one… if you allow for a Playbook equivalent of Cydia, and let tech-savvy users root the Playbook, you WILL see sales of the Playbook skyrocket. As a by-product of this, support for the Playbook will be more grassroots-based, and the Playbook’s reputation as a “real” tablet will grow exponentially almost overnight.

People love the underdog in a fight. The “we try harder” motto worked for Hertz for a long time, and going against a juggernaut like Apple, in any situation, is definitely a big-time underdog situation.

I think RIM can not only survive, but prosper if they play their cards right. I guess we will all see around 4Q 2012 if that’s true or not.