Shop and Save With Your Mobile Phone

December 18, 2009
Using the Shop Savvy iPhone App

Using the Shop Savvy iPhone App

A quick follow up to a previous post on how mobile phones are empowering shoppers this holiday season.   The New York Times has an article today about how mobile applications like Shop Savvy and Price Grabber are allowing consumers to quickly compare prices, and receive recommendations or reviews from their friends (via text or Twitter message).

While still in their early stages, these applications are providing the first round of real-world testing that will condition consumers to compare, and move retailers even further into the world of digital commerce.


EC1 assists Glide Memorial

December 16, 2009

Engine Company 1 is proud to assist the Glide Foundation in their efforts to help San Francisco residents.  This year, as in years past, we worked with the Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani to promote their message of support.

Since 1969, Glide has become one of San Francisco’s largest and most comprehensive providers of innovative services for poor and marginalized people through the programs that serve both individuals and the community.

A Big Leap Forward in Consumer Empowerment

November 25, 2009

ShopSavvy Application

Wow!  Winner of Google’s “Android Developer Challenge” the ShopSaavy application allows smartphone users to employ the camera in their hand-held device to scan a bar code to find the best prices for online and local items.  This screen shot was captured at Starbuck’s (where else would we be?) for one of their music products.  The possibilities are endless—especially once the “review” section is populated with meaningful contributions from friends, family and other credible sources.  Paying too much for that bottle of wine, DVD, or sweater?  Find out with this free download.

How Many Friends On Facebook?

March 10, 2009

1233850636_wallpaper-brainHow many connections do you have on Facebook or LinkedIn?

How many do you actually keep up with?  Five?  Ten?

It may not be your time management skills that prevent you from keeping up with more of your connections. It may be your brain.

A recent article in The Economist examined the number of meaningful interactions / relationships that an individual can have on a social networking sites based on our brain’s ability to maintain relationships.

A digest version of the article is below.  What is perhaps most interesting is how each click or keystroke on a social networking site can be aggregated and examined to deliver a larger understanding of how people interact.

The real value of Facebook or LinkedIn may not be in the audience they  deliver to advertisers, but in the insights they provide regarding that audience.  Could social networking sites become the next focus group?

“Several years ago, … Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist … concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar suggested that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 148. Rounded to 150, this has become famous as “the Dunbar number”.

The rise of online social networks, with their troves of data, might shed some light on these matters. So The Economist asked Cameron Marlow, the “in-house sociologist” at Facebook, to crunch some numbers. Dr Marlow found that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120, consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, and that women tend to have somewhat more than men. But the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500, so the hypothesis cannot yet be regarded as proven.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

Put differently, people who are members of online social networks are not so much “networking” as they are “broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,” says Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a polling organisation. Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.”

the complete article is available here.

U2 Lands on Letterman

February 13, 2009


We’ll file this post under “innovative use of media” (which is nothing new for U2).  The band has announced that it will appear on CBS’s The Late Show for an entire week to promote the release of its new album.

Given the consistent slide of music sales in the US—a 45 percent decline in the number of albums sold since 2000 (src: it’s not surprising that bands and labels are looking for innovative ways to promote their products (Radiohead’s “name-your-own-price Internet release,” the proposed Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger, guest judges and audience members on “American Idol,” etc.).

What’s interesting about these types of arrangements is that they mirror a more broad marketing strategy—integrating a product into the world of the audience (the old “integrate vs. interrupt” approach).  Whether it’s getting a single track included on EA’s “Madden NFL” or licensing your music for commercial use as Moby and Sting have done, it’s apparent that the old play book is being updated for the digital age (regardless of the product being promoted).

The new paradigm seeks to obtain respect from the audience, and looks for ways to align a product with an interest, whether the forum be on Facebook or “Friends.”

Did You Know ??

February 10, 2009

A very interesting piece from a SONY-BMG conference that uses statistical data to explore how the world around us is changing every minute—and what the long-term implications will be.  If nothing else, it underscores the need for long-term thinking and planning (personally and professionally).

From the video’s creator Karl Fisch (the director of technology at a high school in Colorado):

…I still passionately believe that we need to reexamine formal education as it’s currently being experienced by our students and that we owe it to our children to do everything we can to improve. If the presentation draws even a few folks into asking questions and getting involved in the conversations either locally or globally, then I’ll consider it a success.

Seen an alternative version of the video here

Read the rest of this entry »

Puma Pounces

February 4, 2009

Puma CityPuma has launched a new retail concept store called “Puma City.”  It consists of 24 steel shipping containers that stack on top of each other to create an 11,000-sq.-ft retail space and lounge area.  It was build to support Puma’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race and will tour the globe (next stop–Boston,  April 2009).

Smart, innovative, well-designed, and modern.  Great attributes to have associated with your brand.  Puma has found a way to make its brand, products, and retail experience appear to be both exclusive and conveniently located.  Additional photos can be found here.