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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC)

One of my colleagues, and one of our top software developers/architects attended the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developers conference in San Francisco.

This conference is so popular it sold out within 20 minutes of the announcement.

It is the most popular travel destination for anyone interested in technology !

Luckily, Scott Newman is very nimble and he secured a spot to represent National Geographic.

Much of what was discussed at the conference is under a tight Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), so it cannot be discussed here,  but Scott has summarized the highlights from the Monday keynote address which is available in the public domain.

Below are the highlights from Scott:

Apple's 23rd Worldwide Developer Conference was held in San Francisco, California, from June 11-15, 2012. Apple's latest operating system for iPhone and iPad, iOS6, was announced. The 8th major release of the desktop operating system, OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion" was also announced. National Geographic took home an Apple Design Award in the iPhone category for the National Parks Application.

iOS Adoption

iOS 5, the most recent version of the iPad and iPhone operating system, has an 80% adoption rate in 9 months. The latest version of the Android OS, 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" has a 7% adoption rate in the same time period. (VP Scott Forstall referred to it as "Google's Dairy Product")


The latest version of the iOS will be released around September. (It will not be available on iPad 1st-gen devices) Overall, this could be considered a minor incremental release with more "under the hood" changes for developers. While there aren't many visible enhancements for users, they will undoubtedly benefit from the 3rd party app developers who are better equipped to develop very stable applications more quickly than before.

Mountain Lion

Apple's latest desktop operating system, OSX 10.8 "Mountain Lion" is scheduled to be released in July. High-level feature enhancements include better iCloud integration with iOS devices, improvements to the mail client, a notification system to better control pop-up messages, Game Center support for desktop gaming (and compatible with iOS-based Game Center titles), Power Nap (which will let certain background processes run while the computer is asleep), and built-in diction support for all text-input. (Wherever you can type, you can dictate - applications will not have to be rebuilt to support this feature)

Safari Improvements

Safari 6.0 will be released with Mountain Lion and a developer preview is currently available. Performance improvements to the Javascript Engine ("Nitro") were announced, some HTML5 Audio and Video improvements, and an "iCloud Tabs" feature that will allow a user to share open tabs between desktop and iOS devices. (for example, on your iPhone you can view all the tabs you have open on your desktop)

Siri Enhancements for iOS6

Siri, the voice-controlled personal assistant, will be available on the iPad 3rd-generation with iOS6. In addition to enhanced local search reviews from Yelp, users will be able to get sports and movie information via voice search. No developer API for Siri was announced.

Social Media Integration with iOS6

In addition to the built-in Twitter functionality, (released with iOS5) Facebook and Sina Weibo (a Chinese social network) will also have built-in support for sharing. This will make it easier for apps to leverage social sharing without having to add and configure additional software libraries, and users won't have to keep re-entering their credentials when they want to share via these services.

Map Updates for iOS6

Apple has replaced Google maps with their own technologies featuring vector tiles, Yelp integration, and 3D maps. Turn-by-turn route guidance with Siri support is also available. These features are available in iOS6 only. Traffic information is being anonymously "crowd sourced" to help provide realtime traffic data based on the current speeds of devices with the Maps application open. There are 3D maps available for iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd-gen devices with a "flyover" feature that allows rotation and panning in 3D space.

PassBook for iOS6

There is now a built-in application to manage a collection of tickets, cards, passes, and coupons. 3rd party apps can design their own content to go into this application. The content will be available from the lock screen for quick access via time-baed or geofence activation. (for example, your Starbucks card can pop up automatically when you enter a Starbucks location or your train ticket will pop up as the boarding time approaches)

Photo Enhancements for iOS6

You can now share your photo stream with other users. (Via iOS or the web) It is now possible to add photos to email messages in-line. (instead of having to start a new email to send a photo) Photo uploads are now available in Mobile Safari with the <input type="file"> tag. This is great for mobile web applications that want to allow user-submitted content without having to deploy a native application.

Privacy Enhancements for iOS6

Applications will now have to ask for explicit permission to access photos, contacts, calendars, and reminders. (Previously, granting permission for location allowed photo library access) These permissions are individually revokable by the user via the standard settings application.

VIP, Do Not Disturb, and Call Rejection Features in iOS6

A new feature in iOS6 is the ability to designate certain contacts as "VIPs". There is a separate VIP Inbox in the mail client and customizable notifications. Another interesting feature is "Do Not Disturb", which will prevent all incoming calls, messages, notifications, etc. during the hours you specify and/or on-demand via the settings application. Items will still arrive, but no sounds will be emitted and the screen will not light up (a great feature for nighttime) during these periods. There is a customizable whitelist of contacts that can bypass these restrictions and the ability to set a 3-call bypass. (If someone calls 3 times in a row, they can get through). Incoming calls on iOS6 will now display a "reject call" button that will allow you to automatically send a canned response to the caller. (Such as "In Meeting, Will Call Back Later")
FaceTime for iOS

One notable enhancement is that FaceTime video chat will now be available over cellular networks instead of wifi-only.

Apple TV 

Despite persistent rumors leading up to the conference, nothing was publicly announced related to the Apple TV.

Apple Design Award

National Geographic won an Apple Design Award in the iPhone category for the National Parks application.

Retina Macbook Pro

The first high-density display (Retina) Macbook Pro was announced. The 15" screen packs a 2880x1800 pixels. USB 3 and Thunderbolt are both supported. (and the USB port is universal, there is no separate port for USB3)

Public Note: The information above was discussed during the Monday keynote address and is not covered by NDA. No Apple confidential material is discussed above.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

IBM CMO+CIO Leadership Exchange

My colleague and I, Amy Maniatis, Chief Marketing Officer at National Geographic, had the pleasure of attending IBM's, by invitation, Leadership Exchange for CMO's and CIO's. 

It was an enlightening and inspirational few days mixing with colleagues from companies in numerous industries, but all facing similar challenges.  It highlighted the importance of CMO's and CIO/CTO's partnering closely in today's fast paced and fast changing environments.

Below is our report on the experience: 

 Hello Marketing & Tech teams! 

 Stavros and I had the opportunity to “step back” for the past day and ½ at IBM”s first ever CMO + CIO conference in NYC and it gave us an opportunity to take a 30K foot view at what we’re doing relevant to other large brands, get feedback from a formidable group of other CMO’s & CIO’s and hear from the most senior leadership at IBM about the future of “big data.” 

 Overall the conference confirmed that what we’re doing together on our brand and membership is RIGHT ON, (and if we’re wrong we’re in very good company with other enduring brands like Amex, Kaiser, Gap, Verizon, Aetna. 

 We both left yesterday feeling excited and charged about our strategic direction, and although we did not hear anything HUGELY new, the value in our time spent with this group was in the consistency with which CMO’s and CIO’s expressed their mandate across multiple industries. We left with strengthened resolve that what we are doing is right and is urgent. 

 Here are our notes, happy to share or discuss further. 

 • Staggering facts: 1 trillion connected devices in 3 years, today over 8X the world’s libraries are uploaded daily 

 • Customer Centricity: We’re all trying to move from a product centric to customer centric view - but we’re challenged by either management, culture, legacy or all three. We heard from companies as old or older than us, and they are all trying to do the same thing (Aetna, 160 yeas, CitiBank 200+ years, Amex, IBM 100 years) Terry Jones, founder of Kayak asserted customers expect a “1 to 1 relationship in EVERY industry.” He had a phone booth installed at Kayak that listened in on the customer service calls … his employee mandate was that employees had to spend a little time in the phone booth each day. 

 • Marketing and technology on frontline of revolutionary change

We’re at the beginning of a new “cognitive computing era” in technology and IBM describes this as the beginning of a 3rd (30 year) era preceeded by “mechanical computing era” (40’s 50’s 60’s) , then “programmable computing era” (70’s, 80’s & 90’s). This means the CIO & CMO’s objectives merge and they share spheres of accountability. Marketing systems are enterprise systems. In this era of data-driven marketing and digitally empowered customers, the CMO and CIO can no longer perform on separate stages. 

 • URGENCY “Once in a generation, change is happening and there will be winners and losers” Kenneth Chenault, CEO, AMEX. Ken explains that once customers see what they can have, they’ll want it everywhere… we have 12 to 36 months to create this change. We need to construct and/or transform the infrastructure to facilitate this change. Start with a Proof of Concept (POC). Get the foundation in and consider business models. Great companies see the need for change and attack it. It’s harder for companies that need to “recreate” rather than “create” and for us, staying true to brand & mission is imperative. Amex & Nat Geo similarities are a little uncanny as Ken explains the need to ignore the “form factor” (for them the card) and to focus on Membership and Services. 

 • 3 key “takeaway’s “ from Ginni Rometty (IBM CEO) 
    - Whole new level of marketing optimization 
    - Need to develop systems of engagement– orchestrating   
    - BE AUTHENTIC – need to very clear and true to our purpose 

The conference was incredibly well run, using technology to foster an interactive dialog throughout the sessions. Both Stavros and I were given an ipad at registration pre-loaded with apps to facilitate the sessions and upon leaving, IBM generously gifted these to attendees. 

 We'd like to use these ipads as a reward for 2 members of our teams who you think model our NG values best. More to come on that! 

 Thank you all for affording us both the time out of the office to engage with an incredible group of industry peers! 

Best, Amy & Stavros

Ginni Rometty (IBM's CEO)