3 Examples of Why 2015 is Not the Year of Wearables, but maybe an important beginning.

MICA, MICA Opening Ceremony, Intel, wearable technology

MICA from Opening Ceremony and Intel

The Fitbit is old news and does what it does; which is not a whole lot to warrant its lack of style appeal and being so obvious on the users wrist. Product companies are having a hard time figuring it out. Wearables need to provide something greater; a true service. Call me crazy, but a wristwatch extension of your smartphone seems a little obnoxious. So 2014 is almost over and we are no where near seeing this trend happen successfully.

1. People don’t wear watches to just tell time. Many folks use a smartphone while a nice watch is style accessory, or a status investment.

2. Google glass is unattractive, bearing no connection to style, despite Vogue‘s and Diane Von Furstenberg’s assertions way back in 2013. It is not terribly expensive but it is an eyesore ;-)

3. Jewelry firsts such as Opening Ceremony’s MICA, My Intelligent Communications Accessory, is a mystery in its full potential until December. It contains Intel Edison technology, it is made of exotic animal skin (IMHO not very fashion forward), gold, precious stones, and has an underside touchscreen that displays texts, allowing you to respond using pre-programmed quick replies, Google calendar alerts, Facebook alerts, Yelp local searches, TomTom powered tool that tells you how long it’ll take to get to your next appointment from where you are currently, remote tracking and locking. But why have those things if you can use your smartphone? For formal events at which you need to make sure you can be reached by the babysitter and holding your iPhone is gauche? While a 2 year data plan is included, will the chunky bracelet still be fashionable? Will the technology still be viable. My guess on both accounts is no. It should be around $495 when launched. Don’t forget that Opening Ceremony is the epitome of downtown cool. This is a cool bracelet with connections of the celebrity kind as well. Here is Rashida Jones acting as a busy female entrepreneur, obviously the target customer.

All of these products are cool. It is wrong to think that I am being negative as these are very important parts of the technological evolution. Without getting these products out there, seeing the reaction, and researching how they are being used makers have very little way of knowing what to do next. It is awesome that companies with money are doing the leg work. That means that the future of wearable technology is pretty bright.

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The Failed Savior of the Magazine

WOM_App

The great hope, the savior of magazines, the evolution of content distribution is a failure!

Why? Simply put it is a magazine on an iPad. Seriously. That is it. Why would you want that when you can have it in print? Do you want video? Nope. Those are usually free on the internet. You don’t want to go through the hassle of browsing through the iTunes newsstand. It sux. It may be more convenient than purposely going to a brick and mortar newsstand but magazines are most commonly impulse buys in checkout lines. People don’t consistently go out to buy magazines. If they have a favorite then they subscribe. How can you sell a magazine through the iTunes newsstand? You really can’t. A strong brand needs to already exist. Folks go looking for a particular title there. Some iPad only magazines may have made it through to the masses, such as TRVL and The Magazine but they are rare and not performing well compared to other major magazine publishers’ titles.

There needs to be a more direct method. iPad magazines also shouldn’t be magazines. You find that folks buy mags on their iPads to help clutter. That’s IT!

Some key things must changed; the experience and the Apple Newsstand. The experience was great once but only allows for short term entertainment. At the end of 2013, tablet readership was just 3.3 percent of total circulation. Many in the industry had expected the tablet editions to be outselling the print counterparts by then. Oops.

What needs to happen? Tablet magazines should exist. While the circ may be small, it is still significant, especially compared to the cost of production. But if a magazine is only producing a PDF replica for the tablets, they should create something for mobile too. There is a lot to be had for a clear reading experience on the phone. New magazines shouldn’t bother with what is already the standard magazine on the tablet. They should create an app for their brand. Something that interacts, something that updates, something that calls the user back. Right now folks don’t open up more than 2 apps on a regular basis. The business model is there. It will need to be modified for the product of course, but it exists.

Magazines are conduits to branded lifestyles, in most cases. For example, if you are a vegetarian lifestyle magazine publisher, create an app that contains an Yelp like search for local vendors, in app shopping from various vendors, and updating info. This app can use a subscription and advertising model like the NYTs app. And of course, it contains the content from the issue, but it is simplified, HTML based, and is searchable. This app would live in the App Store and would likely fall into the productivity, entertainment, or lifestyle categories. No more magazines on the tablet. No more Newsstand.

I am among the professionals that thought that tablet magazines were going to be more successful.
We should have been able to see that we were approaching this wrong. Did we learn nothing from the web?

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