Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Taylor Swift & Apple – perfect PR stunt?

This week, Taylor Swift posted an odd letter to Apple to her site: “To Apple, Love Taylor

It included such fawning language as

  • … Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries…
  • … because we admire and respect Apple so much…
  • … this incredible company…
  • … I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done…

But, amongst that was the clear message to Apple that not paying artists during the three months free trial period for Apple Music was just not on. Hours later, Apple surrendered.

Continue reading “Taylor Swift & Apple – perfect PR stunt?”

Some bits from WWDC and the best Apple Watch review yet

The big event in tech this week was Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference. In a two hour keynote, the top brass at Apple talked about almost every one of their products (no mention of the iPod or Apple TV – the latter expected by some commentators due to the design of the conference featuring a square with rounded edges, much like the Apple TV device).

Continue reading “Some bits from WWDC and the best Apple Watch review yet”

Instagram’s Hyperlapse and how brands are getting on board

Time-lapse photography has been around for a long time. It’s always been a very manual, time consuming process. Timing systems and software have made the process easier and in recent years we’ve seen more an more moving time-lapse shots, where the camera is mobile. To get that to work, you need a rig to steady the camera while it moves. Not cheap and another layer of difficulty.

Instagram have just gone and launched a free iOS app called ‘Hyperlapse‘, making moving time-lapse photography easy and accessible to anybody who can hold an iPhone. You don’t even need a tripod to hold your phone steady, the app does this for you.  Continue reading “Instagram’s Hyperlapse and how brands are getting on board”

How to choose the right social media platform; Who won the #TubeStrike and this week’s bits and bytes

Been a while since my last update – holidays and life got in the way, but I did finish the London Marathon. It didn’t go to plan, but I managed to cross the line regardless. An absolutely brilliant day with seemingly all of London out to support the runners.

What social media platform should I use?

In what can only be labelled as shameless self-promotion, I wanted to point out a panel discussion I recently took part in about how to navigate the maze of social media platforms and choose the right one for your needs (there’s also a nifty Storify of some of the Tweets from the discussion if you don’t fancy reading the whole summary).

Hosted by @CorpCommsMag and @PreciseTweets at the London Museum, the panel also featured the significant talents of @AlexPearmain, @thebeaverhousen and @steeleworld

Continue reading “How to choose the right social media platform; Who won the #TubeStrike and this week’s bits and bytes”

Apple goes colour/biometric, Twitter IPO/future, Phoneblok and this week’s bits and bytes

#JSFishFinger: We have a winner. The honour and a £25 Sainsbury’s voucher for being @SainsburysPR‘s favourite Fish Finger Sandwich was awarded to @DomSoar for his epic fish and chips with homemade mushy peas on thick buttered white bread with tomato and Tartare sauce. We were impressed with Dom’s successful work in bringing together two classic dishes in a most precise fashion. Tasty.

Colourful plastic cases and fingerprint ID: The new Apple phones are here. Charles Arthur reckons that the 5c will be popular, even if it’s not as cheap as many had hoped. The 5s however is the model that the Apple fan boys will be most interested in. A faster processor, a new camera alongside some new photography functions such as ‘burst mode’ and ‘slow motion video’ will appeal to the Instragramers and Viners out there.

The reaction to the new iPhones on social was rather negative as WeAreSocial were quick to point out.  Mentions of the 5c were mostly negative, with 45% of conversations criticising its design and 36% questioning its price. The 5s in turn was mentioned 66% less than its predecessor the iPhone 5 a year go. The Poke has taken a less scientific way of looking at the social response – they’ve just picked some of the funniest Tweets.

The biggest reaction to the new colourful range of iPhone 5c however went to Nokia, who, while Apple’s event was still running, tweeted an image of their range of colourful Lumia handsets and thanked Apple for paying them such a huge compliment by copying their idea.

Apple’s share also took a hit as investors were unimpressed with Apple’s pricing strategy and the lack of a distribution deal in China.

One feature with the new 5s that does terrify me a little though is ‘Touch ID’, the fingerprint passcode function, where you can teach your new phone up to five fingerprints that will then unlock the phone and even work as a password for purchasing music through iTunes. Apple was quick to confirm that fingerprint data is not stored on any servers and that they will only ever remain on the phone. However, with a phone inherently connected through mobile networks or wifi, I’d think it only a matter of time hackers are stealing your biometric data along with your phone number and any other data stored on your phone.

Also, if your password is compromised – you can change it. But what happens when your fingerprint is compromised? You can’t change that so easily. Boing Boing looks at this paradox of using biometric data for authentication and why it may not be as safe as we like to think it is.

And what the hell does the S and the C stand for anyway? Speed and colour? Or Same and Cheap?

Anyway – what I’m really excited about is iOS 7, the new operating system that launches next week!

Twitter IPO and new features for verified accounts: Twitter has also been busy this week, announcing their long-awaited IPO with a tweet – how else?

Secondary sales of Twitter stock have valued the company at upwards of about $10 billion (that’s 10 Instagrams, fyi), so one thing that is certain is that it will create much excitement over the next few months and a number of millionaires when it finally happens.

That tweet came almost immediately after the IPO tweet, as Twitter moved to announce a new feature for verified accounts (the ones with the blue tick). The new feature will allow the Justin Biebers of the world to filter their interactions: they can chose to see all their @mentions, just the ones from other verified accounts, or those that Twitter deems relevant. The move is meant to encourage Twitter’s most popular users to stay active on the platform – although they might end up just speaking to each other rather than their fans (which in Bieber’s case would be fine by me).

Where will it all go? Well, The New Yorker looks at what Twitter could look like in the future:

  • Twitter will continue its transition from tech to media company
  • What’s coming next is a more graphically intense platform that is led by mobile
  • They will likely match the new iOS 7 operating system with a cleaner look – for example, the menu buttons for home, connect, discover and your profile will disappear in favour of an UI that ancourages users to swipe left and right

Phoneblok: As we all know though, a phone really only lasts a couple of years before it breaks or becomes obsolete. @davehakkens argues that even though it’s often just one part that fails, we throw the whole thing away since it’s nigh on impossible to repair or upgrade. Just thinking of my visits to the Apple Store and I realise that I’ve never actually walked out of there with a repaired or upgraded phone. I’ve always walked out with a brand new handset.

Hakkens has come up with the brilliant concept of the Phoneblok – a fully customisable phone that is made up of little blocks that all fit together – almost like Lego. A quite brilliant idea, the idea is in a conceptual stage at the moment, but going by the support it is getting, I think this might become reality sooner rather than later.

On the Internet, everyone has a friend: A great piece in The Atlantic by @emmaogreen about how the Internet isn’t a place where everyone shouts at each other. Rather, it’s a collection of lots of small places where people are chatting among themselves about topics that they are interested in.

“In other words, anyone can find other people who share her interests, no matter how obscure those interests are. These communities might provide entertainment, but they also provide a place for groups to coordinate and rally offline action. This is especially important because of the low cost of entry – people no longer have to have a printing press and/or a powerful company on their side to find allies and make their voices heard in a public sphere.”

Moving on nicely from what people talk about on the Internet to some research from Ipsos about why people share things on social media. Quite simply, to share interesting (61%), important (43%) and funny things (43%).

Instagram catching up with Twitter: The Hipster’s favourite photo sharing platform has just cracked the 150 million active users mark, bringing it ever closer to the 200 million active Twitter users. What better way to celebrate this milestone that to follow Sainsbury’s on Instagram?

Videos of the week: Guinness have come up with a rather clever way of showing the true meaning of friendship and loyalty – and what it means to share a pint with friends

Extra shows us the cheesiest gum commercial ever

And an ode to Lidl (via @Treebd)

And finally: Happy 15th birthday Google. Here are 15 things about Google you probably didn’t know.

Android KitKat, trolling BA, fish finger fun and this week’s bits and bytes

KitKat Android: The clever bods over at Google have launched an update to their Android mobile operating system. And as with previous versions (Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean), the new OS is named after a desert: KitKat 4.4.

The entire campaign is a no holds barred parody of Apple – not in itself a new idea, Samsung have done it in the past and Nokia have even parodied the spat between Samsung and Apple – but with this one you can really see that they’ve committed completely to not only shooting their ad in the same style…

… but the copy and product descriptions on the über-slick site built to showcase the future of confectionery is a pitch-perfect piss-take of Apple’s tone of voice and dictionary.

My favourite features of the new KitKat:

  • Works perfectly in portrait or landscape for a panoramic taste experience
  • Maximum breakability is guaranteed due to the refined praline software, crisp waferware and its unique chocolate unibody
  • It comes in 2 mega-bites, 4 mega-bites or a chunky-bite option

and, my favourite

  • Compatible with all liquid accessories

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 21.54.39

How much does this kind of a perfect partnership cost?


“This is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, told the BBC. “The idea was to do something fun and unexpected.”

You’ll be able to buy special packs of KitKat Four-Finger and KitKat Chunky multipacks at Sainsbury’s.

Man buys promoted Tweet to troll British Airways: I’ve been flying regularly all my life and I’m lucky to say that I’ve never had my luggage go missing (writing this, I realise that my next trip is bound to be a disaster). I have however had many a ‘mare with Airline customer service. I’ve tweeted to complain but that tends to result in silence, stock responses or requests to call customer service numbers.

This week, British Airways passenger @HVSVN bought a promoted tweet after the airline had lost his baggage and hadn’t responded to his tweets for seven hours. After some rather snarky, nasty messages – borderline tolling, basically – the first ever promoted customer complaint made its way into the Twitter history books. Also, BA finally responded…

It doesn’t get better.

@HVSVN bought the tweet in the New York City and UK markets Monday night using Twitter’s self-serve ad platform. While he at first didn’t confirm the cost in media interviews, he has since tweeted the final cost and reach of the promoted tweet: 76,000 impressions for $1,000. Time has a bit more info on how @HVSVN went about targeting the tweets to make sure that it reached all the existing followers of British Airways.

Was it worth it?

That’s sooo 2006: The Guardian published their Media 100 list this week, a ranking of the most powerful people in the UK’s media landscape today.

Who came in at No.1?

I did.

Well, technically, so did you. All of us really.

An unbelievably unoriginal idea – after all, I’d already made it onto the cover of Time magazine as Person of the Year way back in 2006.

Source: Time Magazine

Communicating CR: With people demanding greater transparency, authenticity and accountability from companies than ever before, @SimonMainwaring writes that brands are increasingly taking three steps to respond:

  1. Sharing their purpose, core values and mission
  2. Moving sustainability marketing to corporate communications to tell the story of the good work companies are doing in ways that build their business
  3. Working with customers to fulfill the brand’s mission because they understand that “the future of profit is purpose, authentically executed”

New Yahoo logo: Yahoo updated their logo this week, after 30 days of changing the logo on their homepage to a different version. The familiar purple colour and famous exclamation mark remain – the later has been rotated to the right by exactly 9 degrees, which according to Marissa Mayer adds a bit of “whimsy”.

Source: Marissa’s Tumblr

I’m no typography expert so I don’t know if this is a good or a bad logo. But if you’re into that sort of thing, you should definitely give Mayer’s post about the relaunch a go where she ‘geeks’ about all the wee features and ideas behind the new logo. Quite frankly, I would never have picked up on any of them. I’m sure that a hell of a lot of work went into it and I think it looks good. But is it going to make Yahoo relevant to today’s web audience? For Flickr’s sake, I hope so…

Way To Safety: Mobile apps have become a part of life for many people. They help us organise our lives, check our email, find our way around town, figure out when the next tube is due, post updates to our friends, hurl birds at naughty piggies. Increasingly, augmented reality and layers of data are added to make apps even more powerful and helpful – possibly even to a such a degree that they could literally save your life.

Way To Safety is an app currently in development that  would help civilians steer clear of gunfire in urban warfare environments:

“Within 30 seconds after a shot is fired, the application will determine the source location of the shooter, the direction he was aiming at, the type and caliber of the weapon used and the number of bullets fired. This data will be sent to the nearby residents for free and we will also send it to the army, paramedics, press.” 

Terrifying and brilliant at the very same time (HT to Simon French for this one).

Fish finger sarnie challenge: Sainsbury’s new ad featuring by Sainsbury’s Fish Fingers kicked off a bit of a discussion on Twitter this week. Turns out that not everyone would stack the fish fingers like we did!

So, we decided to open it up to the weird and wonderful people of Twitter and asked them to show us how they make a fish finger sandwich. Our favourite photo, video or Vine stands to win a £25 Sainsbury’s voucher.

There’s already some good efforts coming through, some even made without any bread or fish fingers. We’ve had saucy combos, little umbrellas and even the inclusion of cheese, bacon and onions.

So if you fancy a go at the classic fish finger sandwich, tweet a photo or video with #JSFishFinger and you could be in the running for a £25 Sainsbury’s voucher.

Here’s @SainsburysPR‘s humble entry (with huge thanks to @a_little_wine and @TillieSeymour):

Video of the week: LG uses their ultra-realistic TVs to scare the wits out of poor job applicants. Brutal really – after all, they’re all leaving that room no closer to a job.

And finally: What Bale Earns

Marmite Neglect, fake fans, the return of Bebo and this week’s bits and bytes

Marmite – you either love it, or you hate it: In keeping with the traditional response that this horrible, vile substance elicits – this new ad for Marmite showing Marmite welfare officers visiting houses to save jars of Marmite from neglect and find them a new home has had everyone talking.

Within a day of the ad airing, the Advertising Standards Authority received 250 complaints from viewers. Can’t say if these are 250 very bored/sad people with no sense of humour what so ever – or a very eager PR team writing mock complaints.

Case in point: a comment on the Guardian article about the many hundreds of complaints: “Exactly. 250 people need to get a life. I mean how dull and meaningless is your life when you get so annoyed you make the effort to complain about yeast?” (HT @stangreenan)

Anyway – on Thursday, after the complaint count reached 330, Unilever announced that it would donate £18,000 to the RSPCA as an apology to animal rights activists for spoofing the important work they do. Still, the ASA is looking into it and will announce next week if it is to launch a formal investigation.

I don’t know if the ASA’s involvement was planned or genuine. I would argue however that it has definitely worked in Marmite’s favour. Due to the the threat of the ad being banned, it’s been widely featured in the media and it was the talk of Twitter.

Source: Marmite

There are a few more elements to the campaign that haven’t been so readily discussed:

  • a promoted Tweet is encouraging people to head to the microsite/Marmite Facebook app and either donate their own jar or nominate possible foster families
  • a real-life Marmite Neglect team is touring the land, visiting people’s homes to see if there are any jars to be saved from neglect
  • along with the TV ad, there’s also a series of snapshots of kitchen cupboards, with long-neglected Marmite jars poking out from between the more popular cupboard staples
  • and on Marmite’s Youtube channel, there is an interview with a Trainee Marmite Rescue Officer who talks about the tools of the Marmite saving trade

Iceberg rescues Titanic: Huge news this week as out of nowhere, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surprised the worlds’ media by agreeing to buy the Washington Post for $250 million (to remind you, Instagram and Tumblr were recently acquired for $1 billion each).

Amongst the many breathless headlines, I thought Salon said it best with theirs: The iceberg just rescued the Titanic – and the rest of the piece is chock full of great info as well.

Meanwhile, @AllThingsIC pulled together a great post looking at how the news of the sale was communicated to WaPo staffers, including an all staff email that starts with ‘You’ll have heard the news’. While you can argue about the timing of the timings of the internal comms – ideally you’d want people inside the business to find out before the media – Bezos’ letter is a fantastic example of communicating change internally.

Fake fans: You may have caught the great piece on C4 Dispatches called “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans“ about how some companies artificially inflate social media likes, fans and followers by buying them.

The doco shows how you’d go about building a fake community – one fake account at a time. Why any brand would invest money in this kind of approach instead of concentrating on listening to your customers, understanding and delivering against their needs, I do not know.

As @girllostincity puts it: “there are no short-cuts in building an audience. There is no ‘easy way’ to getting people to “like” you. It is a dangerous idea to think that by cheating people into thinking you’re popular (by recruiting fake people) that this will somehow transform into authentic popularity somewhere down the line.”

In response to the piece, @georgiahalston looks at how you should interpret the value of your social media following and – guess what! – the focus should be on quality (engagement, sentiment, sincerity of the audience) rather than quantity (likes, fans, followers, views). Over on Londoncalling, CEO of Kred @AndrewGrill provides thoughts on whether social media is in crisis.

Bebo’s back: I was at Aol when it acquired the social network Bebo. Aol didn’t really do much with it, it was sold to another Internet company who also didn’t really do much with it and finally it was sold to the original founder of Bebo, Michael Birch. Birch has just released a brilliant – and very NSFW – clip that harks back to the glory days when Bebo was the centre of the web (for you younger kids, this was after MySpace and waaay before Facebook) and arguably the single biggest repository of illustrated cock and balls ever. Yes. You read that correctly.

Shocking PR win for Apple: Fake iPhone chargers have been known to electrocute people, sometimes leading to victims falling into a coma or death. Apple have recognised that this issue could lead to considerable brand damage – not to mention questions about why their chargers are so danged expensive that there is a market for fakes in the first place, and, you know, dead people – and have announced a USB power adapter takeback program.

This will allow customers to bring their fake chargers to Apple and in receive an official Apple charger for half the price. Very, very clever stuff. Not only does it make them come off as the good guys, they’re driving sales on the back of it.

Tesco Watford: Hat’s off to the chaps at Tesco and Google Maps for producing this great walk through of the newly renovated Watford Extra. Pretty, sure, but I prefer a supermarket that understands the value of values.

Videos of the week: The Premier League is coming to US broadcaster NBC and they’ve produced a great little clip of Spurs and their new American manager’s first few days in the job

Messi wears a suit fitted with hundreds of LEDs to create some pretty trippy stuff in Adidas’ new ad for their space aged boots

You’ll watch what others tweet: Tweets about TV shows make people tune in to those TV shows, according to new data from Nielsen.

The new Facebook: If you’re super keen to try out the new Graph Search function on Facebook, all you need to do is change your language to ‘English US’.

And finally: Why it’s important to be able to tell the difference between airlines and airlanes.

Digital Corporate Affairs – weekly bits and bytes

Poynter has pulled together the best and worst media errors, corrections and apologies of 2013. From CNN’s and Fox News’ epic failure to correctly interpret the US Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision (guess who actually corrected the mistake and who just went with it) to some cracking examples from closer to home, including the apology of the year from The Sun and their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster – this is an absolute must read.

Ever since Google published their first Zeitgeist summary, there is no better way to have a quick look back at the year and see how we searched in 2012 (especially as this year’s clip is put to the wonderful track “All I Want” by Kodaline).

Not to be outdone, Twitter have pulled together their own little look back at the year 2012 in Tweets. They’ve even partnered with Vizify to allow you to create your own personalised look back at your year on Twitter. Turns out I swear about Arsenal. A lot.

Twitter however did not include my favourite tweet of 2012 (and quite possibly of all time). Robbed.

The guys at Buzzfeed have done a great job of pulling together the best print ads of 2012 and the best commercials of 2012.

A quick pitstop in the present with an entirely marvellous clip featuring a somewhat angry German dude (Martin Oetting, MD of Word of Mouth agency trnd) in conversation with a rude French Fox. Bear with me on this one: the point that word-of-mouth marketing is all about putting the customer on stage, rather than your brand of product is an interesting one and worth thinking about. Tune in from around the 9 minute mark if you want to skip the build up.

But what about next year?

David Armano, Managing Director at Edelman Digital, has again compiled his traditional look into the future at the top 6 social/digital trends for 2013. Most interesting personally, I find the co-dependency of social and mobile (Armano calls it ‘Smobile’): A smobile Web means your customers, co-workers and colleagues expect their digital experiences will be optimized for mobile/social sharing and as a result spend less time tethered to a PC or television.

And finally: it’s time to break up with the native iOS6 maps app (you won’t able to delete it, but you can now install the free Google Maps app).

My toughts on Apple’s iPad

It is safe to say that there was no way that Steve Jobs could live up to the hype that had built up to the launch of Apple's tablet device. So it is no surprise that the reception has been critical: sofa computer, ladycomputer, netbook without a keyboard, etc have been some of the kinder descriptions. Others ask if there really is a need for a device that fits between a laptop and a smart phone? To echo the thoughts of Stephen Fry (or at least my take on his thoughts), the iPhone received a similar reaction when it was first launched.

At that time I remember thinking to myself – why would I ever want/need to check my mail from my phone? Or surf the web? I owned a crappy handset that had a tiny screen and a crap browser. It was a pain in the ass! And now Apple launches this incredibly sexy looking phone with just one button. Yet I still could not imagine using the iPhone to check my mail, surf the web, etc.

Until I walked into a Carphone Warehouse store in London and touched it.

Within five minutes I understood why I had to have one. It suddenly made sense. Words such as intuitive, sleek, awesome, powerful, beautiful, useful were just some I used afterwards when describing the experience to friends, telling them (and myself) why the iPhone makes sense. Not long after, I bought my first iPhone. Today (and much to the annoyance of my girlfriend) it is with me all the time. Email, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, news, maps, music, apps… all accessible on the go. It has changed completely not only how I consume media and experience the world around me.

I have a feeling that it will be the same when I touch the iPad for the first time. And I am excited to see how it will change my personal habits.

What are your thoughts on the iPad?

Check out the iPad Keynote and Video on Apple's official site.

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