No new fast food tricks?

I went to McTroggles on the weekend for the first time in over a year.

I wasn’t sure what they’d have but I was quite surprised to see that the menu really hasn’t changed in quite some time. Sticking syrup in a bun seems to be the last big ‘innovation’.

Come to think of it, I haven’t really seen anything new in fast food TV commercials either.

Has innovation in the fast food industry come to a stand still?

Xbox 360 Elitist Zebra

So it’s official – if you want the upcoming Xbox 360 Elite edition for its HDMI port and included 120GB drive, not only does it only come in black (along with the included wireless black controller, hard drive and headset) as I was saying before (forcing you to pick between having a black console with white everything else or buying new black stuff), but you can’t get a black version of the Quick Charge Kit twin battery charger (very useful), Wireless Network Adapter, Wireless Headset, Universal Media Remote or Live Vision camera, which means you can’t buy an all-black set of kit even if you wanted to.

Also, while you can buy a 120GB hard drive from your existing white Xbox 360 which includes a data transfer kit for sucking stuff from your current 20GB drive, the Elite doesn’t come with a transfer kit since there appears to be a DRM issue that can prevent files stored through one 360, but usable on other after copying.

So Elitism does come with a price – the potential for epileptic seizures when walking passed your zebra coloured xbox gear and having to redownload content again IF the DRM will let you (for now anyway).

Xbox 360 coloured sheep

Today I feel like a marketing sheep but I will resist the urge.

Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Elite apparently has HDMI and a 120GB hard drive…

… and comes in Black and Silver… cool… I’d like one just for the HDMI (there’s some ghosting on the component output with my 1080p display, compared to the lovely solid digital output from my PS3 on HDMI) and use the old one as a media center extender now that my HP extender doesn’t have an upgrade to work with Vista !#$#

… oh wait: my controllers, and battery charger and camera are all white.

Bugger.

I guess they aren’t trying to appeal to the colour-co-ordinated enthusiast – way to go J Allard!

So I either have to put up with white controllers with a black & silver unit or be a total sheep and buy new controllers to match, right after I sucker up and buy a Gillette Fusion Phantom (‘cos I haven’t collected that colour yet) – yeah right.

Check back to see what happens…

The last newspaper you’ll ever read…

…unless it needs to go in for repairs.

I’m going at this from a different angle than Robert Scoble.

As much as I’m a gadget and software nut, I recognise that there are still millions of people reading a news paper today, as even more tabloidish as they are on a Sunday.

My angle is about form-factor and consumer device adoption rather than recognising journalism through blogging, etc.

Electronic ink will come along and have a profound effect on the world. One day you (if you read newspapers in paper form today) will acquire a newspaper; it will feel like a newspaper (and you can have the sheet size you want) but it will be the last one you buy (more or less). Its contents will be replaced when the daily newspaper would normally be published. If you don’t have a computer, you’ll do this at the newsagent for a few pennies. It may need also have pages since one sheet or folder out may be enough if you can electronically flick through the pages.

When this happens, it will be adopted by the masses, because it will be an easy substitute and cost far less than a yearly paper subscription. Once the transition has occured then we’ll see the convergence of form-factor between newspaper and PDA like we have today between computer and phone.

I think this, more than the source of the news (which doesn’t necessarily concern the individual newspaper reader today), will affect journalism in a democratising way. This will largely be because the user will be in control of content but in a way that feels familiar.

Later models will animate (perhaps showing video and even maybe sound), have colour and possibly be interactive (at which point you can watch the text book go the same way).

Add wifi/wimax/’wifad’, along with wearable computing and you have a realistic view of the future on what you can expect to see people doing on the train/bus/car(!) within a decade.

So newspapers are not dead, but their form-factor and delivery will almost certainly change.

Retail zombies

When was the last time you went for a browsing in a large furniture outlet? Did you make it passed the greeter? Did you end up with a new living room set? If like me, you dodge the greeter you’re probably familiar with that feeling of the sales people slowly homing in on you… it’s unnerving – like a game of PacMan especially in those larger stores which are like mazes. At they don’t feed on captured prey in packs.

What really grinds my gears (as Peter Griffin would say) is that in most of these situations you’ve barely taken a step inside the building when the crouching tiger pounches and you’re not ready, but when you have real questions there’s no-one to be seen (they have moved to other prey) or they can’t answer the important questions like “OK so what is the call out time on that warranty service you wont shut up about?”.

I was going to called this “retail vultures” (getting people signed up on credit or extended warranties aka “profitable insurance”) but “zombies” better reflects the pace of the encroaching movement.

I happened to walk through a used car lot this week and was greeted with “Hello, are you aware of our sales this week?”. Now of course this is a no-win baited question – the trick is to give them a completely different line that will throw them off long enough so you can run away, or to ask a question that you know will not get an answer but at least requires consultation.

Of course the point is that these tactics and scripted conversations work on the majority of people and result in real sales, but I think I may invest in a t-shirt that says “Yes I’m already being helped” 🙂 I know these are nice people doing what they do well. In other cases they are following marketing orders and I hate to see it extending to undeserving retail checkout people turned into robots with lines like “Do you have a predisposition-spending-more-because-we-said-you-are-loyal card… No? Would you like one?”. Worse than that is the “Will you be using your more-money-for-share-holders loyalty/points/credit card today?” – a presumptuous and potentially insulting question.

How long can you cruise around your local whatever store without being incercepted?

Slow release product marketing

Do you suppose that every year or so someone at Gillette thinks “Actually, the best a man can get now includes one more blade – we never thought of that before”? Probably not. But I wonder how long they can keep adding blades – OK, I admit to having a Power Fusion razor with the 5+1 blades.

So yesterday I heard the recently released Rogers (Canada) commercial again saying that their Home Phone service (which they say is not VOIP but I’m sure it technically is – they try to differentiate it because it’s locked down so home-brewers need not apply for the most part), now has free calls between anywhere in Canada if both ends are on the service. Wow – image that, free in-network VOIP calls – how generous… after how long now? OK, so they maybe wanted a certain critical mass of adopters for their service. I’ve been having free VOIP calls for years and I don’t have to pay any fixed rental for it. Rogers is getting my money for a cable connection, so why should I pay to just send data over it? Cue the marketing script response…

This is what I call slow release product marketing. All the potential is practically/probably already in there, but for economic and/or investment-recouping and/or profit milking purposes, you just don’t get the benefit of it, and most people are oblivious enough to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.