May 07

Apple iTunes Plus still missing international purchases

Apple Launches iTunes Plus

Apple’s iTunes launch of DRM-free purchases has bee rightly heralded as a happy jingle. However, Apple still misses the mark and a golden opportunity with international purchases.

As the holder of a US-based iTunes account, I can visit, but not purchase from, the iTunes store in France. I understand that, with different prices and agreements across the ocean, Apple wants to prevent cross-country arbitrage, but it’s beyond me why I can’t buy a tune from iTunes France when it’s not offered at all in the US.

Apple, give us an “Export” option! Make money in the process.

May 07

"Whoadmitsyou.com" Social Virus

Link to Msn Messenger status detector. We will tell you who blocked your msn account

Google Cache:

This questionable service – finding out who has blocked and deleted you in MSN is either:

  1. a social VIRUS, preying on your deepest wish to find out who doesn’t like you
  2. a phishing scam,
  3. a hacking exploit into MSN
  4. a reverse My Space – to find out “who doesn’t like me”
  5. all of the above.

Don’t trust it!

May 07

Microsoft Announcing Windows Live Mail

Link to Windows Live Mail: Announcing the Upcoming Windows Live Mail!

Microsoft has cleaned up its free mail client approach and is merging the best of Outlook Express, Windows Mail and the Windows Live Mail Desktop.

and: no ads! (at least no banner ads)

Mar 07

Target Stores & The Migros School of Retailing

Link to Target : About Target : Our Focus on Design

I must credit my wife for first mentioning this to me: the new Target Stores, and their focus on customer experience, take direct inspiration from the Swiss chain Migros, particularly in the area of store design and product merchandising.

 The telling clue was the recent announcement that Target is carrying Migros’ house- brand chocolate, Frey (in stores only). Once I picked up a large shipment of Frey chocolate, I felt right at home in the newly remodeled Redmond Target store, and starting humming Migros’ jingle. That’s when the revelation hit: Target is collaborating with Migros, and not just in the chocolate aisle.

The most obvious parallel is the color scheme, and it’s relentless application throughout the store: for Target it’s red/white, and for Migros orange/white. But there’s also a very Swiss sense of order and organization, and a consistency in visual merchandising that US stores rarely adopt on that scale (just visit your local department store). The brand selection is another giveaway: Target is carefully mixing mid-scale brand names with upscale house brands.

Next time I’m in Switzerland, I’ll check whether Migros is learning anything from Target. In the meantime, Migros could use some of Target’s advice on Web design…

Oct 06

Live from User Experience 2006 – Don Norman

Don Norman’s address yesterday redeemed a slow day. He delivered an entertaining list of challenges along the lines of his pre-released chapter on “Cautions Cars & Cantankerous Kitchens”. In typical college professor style, he offered more questions than answers, but he won the crowd over.

Oct 06

Looking forward to Unbox International

Amazon’s Unbox offering is a step in the right direction: offering border-free tv show / movie rental, world-wide. I can’t wait to watch (and pay for) downloads of the orginal “Vidocq” and “Les Brigades du Tigre

Oct 06

50% attainment on Google Prediction

In December of last year, I predicted a unified approach to RSS subscriptions for Google. Although that hasn’t happened yet, the underlying issue of a lack of focus has been acknowledged by Google.

Aug 06

Windows Live Mail Desktop: First Impressions

This new mail client, based on Outlook Express, delivers more simplicity than its descriptive but uninspiring name (will the next Excel be called “Windows Live Spreadsheet Desktop”?)

At first sight, the program seems completely new, with a UI inspired by Vista and those soft, rounded edges… In reality, the foundation is clearly Outlook Express, as any visit to the options or the menus will show. Support for IMAP is improved (goodbye, “Purge”), although still wobbly (slow interaction with subfolders). Spellcheck is inline, and ads are back, something that Outlook Express lost long ago.

The UI is promising, but there’s a lack of visual contrast between the four vertical panes (shortcuts, list of messages, preview and ads), and between the different accounts in the shortcuts.

Hotmail/Livemail support is similar to Outlook Express – solid, but without support for the newer features in Hotmail, such as junk management.

Gmail support is claimed, but this relies on Gmail’s POP support. Nothing impressive there (the program started downloading two years worth of Gmail messages, which was not my intention.)

It appears that this client can import messages from PST, but not access a PST folder in the way that Outlook can

Mar 06

Goodbye Outlook Express, Hello Live Mail Desktop

If anyone was wondering why the next version of Office for the home won’t include Outlook – here’s why. Microsoft is brewing a new desktop mail client called Live Mail Desktop.

Now if it natively and quickly handles PST archives, I’m leaving Outlook!

Jan 06

Live from shop.org FirstLook 2006 – morning

What happens when e-commerce retailers ponder the future of e-commerce?
Mostly, they long for next Christmas and hope to solve for last
year’s problems. Shop.org is a great
and solid trade organization with a unique access to the e-tailers
numbers, and has produced some fine research on e-commerce.

Today’s opening session was a yawner session reflecting on 2005’s
predictions, how they were fulfilled (or not), and what 2006 has in
store. J Gill was probably the most insightful contributor to the
conversation. The analysts kepty to safe generalizations, the Amazon
panelist wasn’t even sharing information that could be found in a 10-K,
and the QVC contribution was solid.

Sleeping through the Home Depot Direct presentation, whilst tempting, was impossible. Harvey Seegers, the Keynote speaker, made a substantial HR pitch for his business. He showed a great command of his business. Why did
his presentation have to be so cheesy and loud? He did confirm that he’s hiring…, and mused about Home Depot Direct might think about auto parts… (because they go in the garage).

Just before lunch, the richness of the content improved with short addresses from Travelocity,  Overstock.com, and CVS.com. The three speakers were equally good and complementary. Travelocity’s CMO gave the bird’s eye view of online marketing and loyalty, Overstock focused on metrics, conversion, and more metrics, and CVS.com outlined the typical problems experienced by established brick and mortar companies.