An Open Letter to Apple Regarding The Company’s Approach to Conversation with Its Peers and Its Community

Dear Apple: We miss you. Once upon a time, back before you got real popular, you used to take part in the public square. You may have been less forthcoming than most, but at least your employees would speak at industry events, have unscripted conversations with journalists, and engage in…

cover5_06.gifDear Apple:

We miss you.

Once upon a time, back before you got real popular, you used to take part in the public square. You may have been less forthcoming than most, but at least your employees would speak at industry events, have unscripted conversations with journalists, and engage in the world a bit here and there.

But over the past few years, things seem to have changed. You pulled out of MacWorld and began hosting your own strictly scripted events. You forbid any of your executives from speaking at any public conferences (save one victory lap with Bill Gates a few years ago). Employees blogging, posting to social networks, or offering academic papers for public comment is actively discouraged. In the words of an employee of your one of your former partners : Apple essentially bans “things that we at companies with an open culture take for granted.”

Your relationship to the press is famously combative, those who do get access start their articles with phrases like “we fanboys are pathetic, I readily confess.” Not exactly the kind of press that pushes boundaries or keeps a company honest. And that makes us honestly nervous – we’ve seen what happens when large American corporations create cultures that worship secrecy and refuse to answer to the press. It’s not pretty. (Possibly to your credit, your CEO does seem to randomly respond to emails , but so far no one at Apple will actually verify his responses. Very clever, that!)

Despite the gorgeous products and services you’ve created, we worry that you’re headed down a road that may lead to your own demise. Apple is no longer the underdog living in the shadow of a Microsoft monopoly. Increasingly, Apple is a dominant player in any number of critical network services and points of control – from mobile devices to media access, payment systems to Internet browsing and advertising platforms. In short, we believe Apple is far too important to continue its role as the Howard Hughes of our industry.

So we’d like to publicly invite you to step into the light, and join us on stage at this year’s Web 2.0 Summit. The theme –“Points of Control”- is quite topical, we believe.

Yes, this invitation is certainly self-serving, but let’s just say we’re in good company when it comes to that particular instinct, and our primary goal is to serve our industry and our conference attendees.

Over the past seven years, Web 2 has become an important platform where the Internet industry has had critical, open exchanges of conversation that move the economy forward. It’s where AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts have faced their critics and countered charges of network discrimination. It’s where senior leaders at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter debated their battle plans around real time and social search. It’s where Newscorp CEO Rupert Murdoch defended his acquisition of the Wall Street Journal, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his approach to user privacy.

In short, Web 2 is a place where the leaders of the most vibrant industry in the world interact with 1,200 or so of their most important partners, critics, and supporters, in a forum that is open to blogging, tweeting, conversation, and debate. This debate informs and enlightens our industry, moving it forward and keeping all parties honest in the process.

Won’t you join us?

We eagerly await your response.

Sincerely,

John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly, Program Chairs and founders, Web 2.0 Summit

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Foursquare – I Wish It Was Better For Me…

I've been using Foursquare for a few months now, and I'm impressed with the service on many levels. But I have to be frank – the most impressive thing about it – at least in this test group of one – is what it *could* be, not what it…

Foursquare.png

I’ve been using Foursquare for a few months now, and I’m impressed with the service on many levels. But I have to be frank – the most impressive thing about it – at least in this test group of one – is what it *could* be, not what it is.

First, the caveats. I use Foursquare, for the most part, on a Blackberry, which means the app is limited by RIM’s hardware and software. This means – as just one example – that when I’m checking in, the process is often fraught with poorly triangulated data (the Blackberry app uses cel towers, not GPS, to determine where you are). In plain English, that means that the app sometimes thinks I’m in Marin when I’m in San Francisco, Mill Valley when I’m in Ross, or fails to properly figure out where I am at all. Not good for a location-based service.

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Brands As Publishers – Part 2

The second installment of Toward A New Understanding of Publishing is up over at the FM Blog. From it: … what does it mean to have a good voice? And how does that relate to publishing? Marketers have always aligned themselves with great voices: publishers whose communities reflect the Brand’s…

The second installment of Toward A New Understanding of Publishing is up over at the FM Blog. From it:

… what does it mean to have a good voice? And how does that relate to publishing?

Marketers have always aligned themselves with great voices: publishers whose communities reflect the Brand’s core values and promise. Some have even taken the next step – they’ve created those communities, extending beyond making a “traditional” media buy. American Express, for example, runs a significant print publishing business that includes Travel+Leisure and Food&Wine. And P&G famously created the soap opera in the early days of television, and today its PGP arm still runs two soaps, as well as the People’s Choice awards.

Initially, the benefits of such moves were clear: profitable properties (a new revenue source), good lists to mine for direct response conversion (marketing efficiency), and a high quality environment in which to market your Brand (well-lit Brand environments).

However, not many brands want to be in the magazine or television business – even when they weren’t in decline, as they are now. There are plenty of significant operating realities that simply do not scale in those mediums, if they ever did. The impetus to creating Brand Publishing offline was strategically correct, but its true value proposition – one all Brands can and must embrace – will be found online.

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Why I Like Working With Marketers

Cross posted from the FM Blog: …For today’s Signal topic, I’d like to talk about marketing as a portal to understanding your business. Now, before you roll your eyes and click away, stick with me for a minute. If you’re reading this post, chances are you are in business. And…

Cross posted from the FM Blog:

…For today’s Signal topic, I’d like to talk about marketing as a portal to understanding your business.

Now, before you roll your eyes and click away, stick with me for a minute. If you’re reading this post, chances are you are in business. And chances are also pretty good that business is media or marketing, because that’s the focus of Signal, after all.

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Toward a New Understanding of Publishing (Part 1)

This weekend I finished a the first draft of a new series on publishing, not unlike the three part series I wrote more than three years ago on conversational media. I've posted the draft over on the FM blog, as it's been FM that has inspired my thinking on these…

This weekend I finished a the first draft of a new series on publishing, not unlike the three part series I wrote more than three years ago on conversational media. I’ve posted the draft over on the FM blog, as it’s been FM that has inspired my thinking on these topics. From the post:

Ask most media professionals to define “publishing” and they’ll most likely resort to something akin to the standard dictionary entry: “The business of issuing printed matter.”

By that definition, publishing ain’t much of a growth business.

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You Say Debacle, I Say Debatable…

My daily Signal is up over at FM, in which I break down the Nestle dust up. From it:   Musing on the recent Nestle Facebook “debacle” (which I do not believe is, or needs to be proclaimed a debacle), Joshua-Michéle concludes: If Nestle neither wishes to change or defend itself…

nestle logo US.pngMy daily Signal is up over at FM, in which I break down the Nestle dust up. From it:  

Musing on the recent Nestle Facebook “debacle” (which I do not believe is, or needs to be proclaimed a debacle), Joshua-Michéle concludes: If Nestle neither wishes to change or defend itself on the merits – then they shouldn’t be operating in social media.

Well, yes and no. Yes, in that the sheer beauty of social media is that it forces questions to the fore, and thus forces companies to respond to those questions. But no, it’s not OK, as a strategy, to “not be operating in social media.” I sense, perhaps, that Joshua-Michéle was making the same point in a roundabout way.

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The 2010 Web2 Summit Theme: Points of Control

Each year at the Web 2 Summit, Tim and I try to focus our program on an overarching theme that we believe best sums up the year ahead. This is never easy to do – the event is still eight months away. But this year I feel better than I…

web22010.pngEach year at the Web 2 Summit, Tim and I try to focus our program on an overarching theme that we believe best sums up the year ahead. This is never easy to do – the event is still eight months away. But this year I feel better than I ever have about our focus, because it’s a return to our roots, as it were.

If you know my work, you know I’m fascinated by the interplay between the entrepreneurial culture of our industry and the giants who have emerged from within it – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, to name a few – as well as those who have joined it from other industries – Comcast, GE, and Newscorp come to mind.

For 2010, Web 2 will focus on the chess game in which all of these companies are now engaged, a battle to gain the upper hand in crucial “points of control” across the Internet Economy. The idea sprang from Tim’s “War for the Web” post last Fall, but we’re taking that riff and broadening it, identifying chokepoints on an increasingly crowded chessboard.    

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Thursday Signal – Repeat After Me: Apps Are (Currently) Myopic (Or…We’ve Seen This Movie Before…)

I'm not claiming to be deeply informed about the app marketplace, which Google stirred up today (and, to my mind, the market could use a few more spoons). But I do use apps. At least, I use enough of them to feel like a nearly typical member of the…

Screen shot 2010-03-10 at 8.26.08 PM.png

I’m not claiming to be deeply informed about the app marketplace, which Google stirred up today (and, to my mind, the market could use a few more spoons). But I do use apps. At least, I use enough of them to feel like a nearly typical member of the species (as compared to a few of my peers, who are so deeply involved in AppWorld that they have – just maybe – lost a bit of perspective.)  

So, here’s my beef with AppWorld. In short, it reminds me of computing back in about 1987. Yeah, 24 years ago, back when I was a cub reporter for MacWeek, I covered the burgeoning world of Apple and Apple developers. And trust me, I’m getting a pretty strong sense of deja vu. I guess being old counts for something.

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Announcing The Fifth Annual CM Summit: Theme and Initial Lineup

(cross posted from FM blog ) I’m very excited to announce the theme and line-up for our fifth CM Summit, to be held in New York June 7-8 (it's the kickoff conference to New York's annual Internet Week). We’ve got a lot to talk about this year – our theme…

summit-arrow-color-2.png(cross posted from FM blog )

I’m very excited to announce the theme and line-up for our fifth CM Summit, to be held in New York June 7-8 (it’s the kickoff conference to New York’s annual Internet Week).

We’ve got a lot to talk about this year – our theme is “Marketing in Real Time.”

2009 was the year the web went real time. Twitter grew five fold and became a major online player, tens of millions of us learned how to live out loud in public. Facebook responded by changing its approach to user data, making its more than 400 million user profiles publicly searchable. And Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo began integrating Facebook and Twitter’s real time signals into their search offerings, creating an ever-circulating ecosystem of conversation across the web.

2009 was also the year the web went mobile and local. The “broadband of mobile” – 3G – became ubiquitous. As Apple’s iPhone consolidated its grip on the smart phone market, Google and its partners introduced the open-platform Android, Palm introduced its Pre and Pixi, Verizon its map, and AT&T responded in force, kicking off what is sure to be a multi-year, multi-party marketing war. “There’s an app for that” became a cultural catchphrase, and even Intel prepared to become a player in the new app economy, driven by the rise of a new class of devices, including netbooks. By year’s end, Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker had predicted that the mobile web will far exceed the current web in scope and opportunity.

Mobile, local, real time, social – in its second decade, the web has matured and taken a central position in our culture, one that no longer relegates the Internet to role of “other.” The web is now a part of every aspect of our lives, and as marketers, we must integrate this fact into our strategy and our execution. That means rethinking what we’ve grown accustomed to calling “traditional media” and imagining new ways to blend offline and online. It means developing the skills and practices of a publisher, and taking a platform-based approach to connecting with customers. And it means rethinking some of our “best practices” – including measurement, research, and the agency-client relationship.

So what can we learn from the past year as we enter a decade where the real time web will become ubiquitous? What worked, what failed, and why? What platforms have emerged as steady new partners? What startups are lurking in Silicon Valley’s wings, poised to once again change the game and offer new channels of communication with our customers?

At the CM Summit you’ll hear cross-platform case studies from senior marketers at brands like Starbucks, AT&T, Adobe, Paramount, and many more. You’ll meet the leaders of platform companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. And as always, you’ll discover the next wave of disruptors – companies like Foursquare, Boxee, and AdMob.

Here is the initial 2010 speaker lineup – expect more announcements in the coming weeks. Register now (while the early bird price is still in effect!), and I look forward to seeing you in New York!

Omar Hamoui – Founder & CEO AdMob

Ann Lewnes – SVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications Adobe

Chris Schembri – VP Media Services AT&T

Henry Blodget – EIC The Business Insider

Avner Ronen – CEO boxee

Ken Wirt – VP, Consumer Marketing Cisco

Deanna Brown – President and COO Federated Media

Dennis Crowley – Co-founder foursquare

Rob Norman – CEO Group M North America

Bradley Horowitz – VP, Product Marketing Google

Susan Wojcicki – VP, Product Management Google

Dennis Woodside – VP, Americas Operations Google

Arianna Huffington – Co-founder & Editor-in-chief Huffington Post

Joel Lunenfeld – CEO Moxie Interactive

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. – Chairman The New York Times Company

Amy Powell – SVP, Interactive Marketing Paramount Pictures

Bob Lord – CEO Razorfish

Chris Bruzzo – VP- Brand, Content& Online Starbucks Coffee Company

Dick Costolo – COO Twitter

Hilary Schneider – Executive Vice President Yahoo

The CM Summit thanks its sponsors:

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Database of Intentions Chart – Version 2, Updated for Commerce

There are many, many signals in the Database of Intentions, as my readers have pointed out, but the one I feel compelled to add to the chart I created Friday is the Commerce signal. This signal emerged before search, really, and has remained a constant, though honestly it has yet…

There are many, many signals in the Database of Intentions, as my readers have pointed out, but the one I feel compelled to add to the chart I created Friday is the Commerce signal. This signal emerged before search, really, and has remained a constant, though honestly it has yet to become a signal that others can truly leverage into an open ecosystem (unlike the signal of search, or status update, or the social graph). I expect that to change, and shortly. So here you go, an updated version of the chart, for the record. I expect this chart may well evolve into a pretty complicated ecosystem in its own right, over time….

  DBoI v 2 3.07.10.png

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