Online Christmas Shopping for 2014 has been marred by a series of failures in delivery, which has given an unexpected boon to the high street. Date-wise - it is at that time of year for me, when I no longer risk shopping online - even as an Amazon Prime Member. I’ve noted this year with Amazon Prime, that with the inclusive delivery service I am getting diminishing returns. Used to be when Prime first started, I pretty much received everything the day after I ordered, now it’s often 2-3 days after order, with some of the Christmas gifts taking more than a week to arrive. I’m not exactly sure what has happened here, but mostly it’s no more than a 50:50 guarantee of next day delivery for Amazon Prime, which is a significant drop in service for me. A few years ago I had a Christmas gift or two go missing in the post from Amazon, nowadays at least they typically do turn up, but they seem to be taking significantly longer to arrive.
I pop into Central London and Westfield most weekends, and happened to be in town at one of the busiest times of year - the weekend after Black Friday. I’ve often levelled criticism at the not long recently renewed trimmer HMV at 363 Oxford Street, which - with its low ceilings and too many squeezed-in display-stands was a tight fit at the best of times. On the weekend in question, the queues on the ground floor / entry level very pretty much out the door and you were quite unable to navigate through the aisles - one of those moments which makes you run home to shop online.
From the comfort of your lounge chair, there is none of the hustle and bustle which typifies an in-store Christmas shopping experience, you do have the haunting spectre of uncertainty though - both in terms of availability and delivery. Amazon for instance has seen a huge increase in Marketplace products - many of which are now coming from the continent, so that unless you read the fine-print very carefully, you are frequently not aware where the product is coming from, both my brother and I have been caught out by this. I mentioned in an earlier blog post this year, how a significant challenge for high street retailers was the task of consolidating their online and in-store inventories, to give customers a better idea of stock availability. As a prime example of this - for the past couple of weeks nearly all the
Following on from Spain’s recent introduction of a ’Google Tax’ - compelling Google to pay Spanish publishers for any references included within their wholly advertising-free Google News listings, Google has decided to pull that service from its Spanish offerings.
The only thing that Spanish publishers have achieved by these actions is to punish their own consumers and deny themselves revenues by cutting off the most obvious discovery and referral route available to their content. Had they but heeded the lessons from their German counterparts - where similar actions caused web traffic to leading publications to plummet. One of the main instigators in Germany - ’Axel Springer Group’ was quick to backtrack when they realised the obvious and foolish consequences of their actions - hitting them square on their bottom line.
It’s so obvious who’s behind the latest EU motions to attempt to curtail Google activity. Google has every justification in pulling its services from countries which are that short-sighted and are outweighing the benefits of the many for the sake of the financial interests of a few leading industry lobby groups. As I have posted recently, publishers who invested too little and too late in the new technologies cannot rightly be seeking to penalise those who had the good judgement and foresight to see where the market was heading. Will the EU next introduce first-mover-advantage-tax to penalise those pioneering companies - the whole thing smacks of protectionism to me?
Those countries most active against Google and Amazon are the ones who have typically migrated the slowest towards new Internet-enabled technologies - these recent activities are looking more and more like a tax on innovation...
A recent BBC article once again tries to cast aspersions on the creative impact of Lego, as the majority of sales now come from pre-packaged sets with detailed instructions. As any kid will tell you though, you likely only build to the instructions the first time around - before you go off and customise / re-build and even combine sets to create something entirely new and different. You also have all those original bucket brick sets anyway for freestyle building - so you can build whatever you like in any case - all that old fashioned traditional stuff is still there fully intact - you just have lots more choice nowadays.
For the past few years we have treated everyone at our company Christmas dinner with some mini Lego kit or other - usually Lego Technic, and what you learn is at the very least the following:
An Eye for detail - careful consideration that everything goes in exactly the right place
Spatial Awareness - appreciation for engineered structures and their relative placement / integration
Hand-to-Eye Coordination - the ease and deftness with which you assemble your kit - something our CEO Markus in particular excels at
Problem Solving - figuring out what went wrong when final pieces don’t fit - several pieces look very similar but may have very slight variances in depth or colour!
Cause-and-Effect - Lego Technic sets are based on sound engineering principles, you genuinely learn how certain engineered structures / components really work
The last few years’ Christmas gifts have not been short of a Lego set or two, and this year looks like they are more prevalent than ever. A quick glance on the John Lewis website this weekend showed near enough every Lego Technic set ’out of stock’. I happen to know that John Lewis prioritise in-store inventory, so I dashed into Oxford Street to get what I needed. In the queue for the tills, pretty much every other person was holding one or more items of Lego. Lego itself
The Affino 7.5 release is an instance where the whole is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. Each new feature rolled out in this release is complimentary to the overall goal of creating the most effective Social CRM on the market today. What makes the release so exciting is that Affino now rewards every effort of the Sales / Marketing and Community teams by giving back much more in terms of insight through the connections between the CRM, messaging campaigns, live sites, ecommerce, social spaces and even the social networks themselves.
We have spent a great deal of time working through each of the key Social CRM screens and many have been iterated a dozen times to get to the point they are in this release. It means that throughout there are nice features such as the instant Account tagging, Contact Notes, Add to Contact List, Follow-up Tasks, and Campaign Reach which provide that extra to make it easy to get things done quickly and efficiently.
We hope you enjoy using the new Affino Social CRM as much as we have in creating it.
The Affino 7.5 release elevates Affino to the top of the Social CRM ladder. We have put Sales, Marketing and Community Management teams at the heart of our thinking when developing the new Social CRM hub. Every activity undertaken and insight gained by a team member can be instantly shared; and any activity by the client or prospect instantly triggers conversion events which can feed into any number of engagement campaigns.
We have spent time analysing what makes a great CRM, great Sales and Marketing Automation, great Messaging apps and have incorporated all the key elements within Affino 7.5. This has meant filling in all the missing areas, extending all the existing ones and creating a new breed of product which can replace any number of CRM / Analysis / Sales and Marketing automation platforms.
The true strength of Affino shines through when you see all of the features working together, delivering maximum performance for every input. There’s much more detail below, and we’re certain that you will appreciate the transformative nature of this release when it comes to engaging with your community and driving business development.
Although the main focus has been on the Social CRM, Promotion and Analysis hubs, there are also great updates on the content side with both new and improved article imports, improved workflow inbox and subtly improved publishing tools. The Ecommerce side gets new shipping label printing and UPS Access Point integration. On the Media side we’ve added a new Media Export which lets you export Images from any Media Library, plus we’ve also improved the Media Inbox and now support the Apple file types including Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
Some of you will be wondering where all the responsive elements are in this release. Rest assured, we’re getting close to the initial public responsive design release for Affino. You will notice sites such as IMRG’s E-retail Benchmarking System running on the new Affino responsive engine. We also have a number of other sites currently under development, and great progress is being made. We’re getting close to the Responsive release and will keep you updated via Affino com as it approaches.
What you will notice when browsing through the Affino Control Centre are the new references
There has been much talk of the Single Customer View these last 18 months - about providing a seamless and uniform experience for customers across all devices, platforms and touchpoints (OmniChannel)- and how it’s an essential part of any successful modern business. The Single Customer View is best illustrated by Netflix - where you initiate your customer journey on one device and then continue on a variety of devices - starting a film on your smartphone on the commute, then continuing on your tablet or laptop when you get home, and finally finishing it off on your big screen TV. For retailers this process can be even more involved, taking in various in-store kiosks and other point-of-sale devices. The key principle throughout though is to provide the customer with the same uniform experience and same recognisable interface - at every point in the customer journey.
The truth is that there are actually three types of ’Single Customer View’, as follows:
Single Customer View for End User: Uniform, seamless customer experience - as described above
Single Customer View for Business Owner: Uniform, seamless overview of All of an individual customer’s activities - the main focus of this article
Single Customer View per Digital Business Discipline: Single, uniform overview of all key customer data-points relating to a specific admin job function - e.g. Marketing or Retail / Commercial Manager
Currently, most businesses rely on a plethora of disparate solutions to provide them with their required functionality. Using as their starting point a CMS, Ecommerce system or even Blogging platform like WordPress. To deliver their complete solution, these companies are overly reliant on 3rd party plugins or bolt-ons which are integrated on top of the core solution. There are significant financial and operational overheads in running a digital business in this manner. A key problem with plugins is that you are never really in control of them - they get updated on their own schedule and your integrations and use thereof frequently breaks therfore. Another major consideration is the data and databases, as when you use disparate systems, you typically need additional processes and resources to streamline the data - and most importantly - streamline the User Account Databases.
Wherever you go on the web today, you are being tracked, it’s simply a fact of being online. A great deal of this tracking is benign and has positive purposes such as presenting you with better content, better networking recommendations, special offers and generally a more personalised experience. But the reality is that a lot of data collected on you is now being sold to 3rd parties to target you in ways that are less appealing.
It’s not just you that’s being tracked, it’s your parents, grand parents and children as well as your colleagues and staff.
The tracking is now also becoming much more pervasive and potent, a look at the Google Dashboard gives you an example of the level of data that a company can have on you.
What can go wrong?
The companies doing the tracking and building up profiles on you may have good intentions today, but that can quickly change as the business evolves, meaning that your data might be shared and used in way you would really prefer it not to. Equally no system is perfectly secure and increasingly data is being compromised and sold on the black data market. Your profile, your family’s and your company’s profiles can then be used in any number of scams.
Benefits of Privacy Tools to the User
Privacy tools such as Ghostery are simple browser plugins and mobile browsers which let you selectively block 3rd party trackers that you don’t trust. Equally you can simply blanket block all of them and then un-block the ones you want to use such as video plugins. It’s been estimated that 10% of traffic is now protected by similar tools.
These privacy tools have a host of benefits beyond simply protecting your priacy with the web as it currently works. This is because the side effect of protecting yourself from being tracked across the web is that a lot of the commercial elements disappear off sites. There’s no point for an ad provider to display an ad if they can’t track if it’s been viewed.
Other key benefits include:
Faster page downloads
Longer battery life
The longer battery life one in particular was a surprise for me as moving to Safari and running Ghostery with all 3rd party cookies default blocked roughly doubles my battery life when browsing.
Those dastardly Eurocrats are now threatening to break up Google, not that they really have any jurisdiction over the make-up of an American Company - but German MEP Andreas Schwab is sponsoring a draft motion for the European Parliament to consider ways to unbundle Google’s principal parts.
For me, this follows hotly on from the ’unbundling’ of Lloyds Bank - another great EU initiative, which bundled me into a bank where I had no say in the process - I was unceremoniously dumped out of Lloyds into TSB, despite long-standing Lloyds VIP Platinum account status (25 years) and vehement protestations from myself.
In fact this is another gauche attempt by the German media barons to punish Google after their pathetic ’Leistungsschutzrecht’ initiative failed - you can read about that in my previous ’Germany vs Google’ post. This time around though, Germany is looking to gain support from France and Spain - whose media barons also bear grudges against Google.
This is all about Google’s dominant position as Search Engine provider really, where Bing is the second placed competitor and looks to be making the most significant recent headway since it started powering Yahoo Search back in 2009. Firefox, just last week, announced that they would be switching to Yahoo Search as their default browser search option (therefore Bing!).
Like most others way back in the early days of the Internet I used to use Yahoo (powered by Inktomi). When Google first arrived with its simple search box layout I thought it overly simple and elected to stay with Yahoo for several months, until I realised that Google provided a far better, more intuitive level of service. Over the years I have tried all the different offerings of Search Engines, but continually return to Google as my first choice of preference. The vast majority of web users really only consider Google and Bing, just like the majority of smartphone users only consider Apple and Samsung even though there are an enormous variety of other competitors available.
Germany in particular, with its very traditional industrial heritage, has been very slow to invest in Internet innovation. In all of Europe, the UK easily leads the pace in innovating clever web technologies and developing smart Internet services - retail and otherwise. No other
Taylor Swift is not the first to remove her entire catalogue from Spotify and nor will she be the last. Following on from her disingenuous pretense at offering better service to UK fans by forcing them to buy her whole pre-release album instead of being able to download individual promo tracks like the rest of the world could do. It’s not a surprise that she’s taken these latest extreme measures, but the reasons she gives are nothing more than record label bulls**t spin - in an attempt to divert attention away from a pretty blatant act of profiteering - which is to say that she removed all her music from Spotify so that the only way her fans could access it legitimately was via fully purchasing / owning the album and thus ensuring higher sales revenues... of course her less fastidious fans can still listen to her back-catalogue via Vevo, YouTube, Dailymotion, and a million other video and mp3 serving websites - the vast majority of which pass on absolutely no revenues to Taylor or her record label.
I myself am a huge music fan, not particularly of Taylor Swift, but I buy on average 2-3 albums worth of music each week - via iTunes, Amazon, Beatport and Juno Download etc., I am also a premium subscriber to Spotify whose services I really love - I still live in hope for proper full-range ’Spotify’ -like services for Films, for TV and for Books. Long have we heard the music industry and particularly certain old-fashioned (backward looking?) echelons within it bemoaning the diminishing fortunes of the industry - compared with its heyday in the 70’s and 80’s - seemingly totally oblivious to ever evolving changes in society and in technology.
Let’s then not forget to review the entire history and evolution of popular music, and how mainstream American radio is still very much influenced by payola-like dynamics - or pay-for-play. Bob Stanley (Saint Etienne + Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop) traced the origins of modern pop back to the 50’s and the start of the 45rpm vinyl records which fuelled the earliest pop charts. Records were initially seen as promotional tools to ensure radio-play in order to get more members of the public to attend concerts. The peak of record-buying was reached in the late 70’s / early 80’s - where the records became an artist’s main source of
Throughout this year I’ve been talking about the key challenges High Street Retailers face with trying to consolidate their online / offline inventories - so that shoppers can be sure of the likelihood of their obtaining what they seek when they venture into town. In numerous posts over the years I have highlighted my disappointment about making the usual weekend pilgrimage into town - only to find that most of what I was after is either not stocked by the particular branch I happen to end up in, or is recently out-of-stock.
I have cited Phonica and Forbidden Planet before - whose inventories are somewhat in sync with their websites, and I can check with some surety before I set off. Neither one has a same-day reservation facility yet, but if I set off early enough, I can usually guarantee a favourable result.
This is also the second time I have secured a new iPhone by reserving one for in-store collection the night before. Admittedly I was compelled to venture a little further afield this time to get my first choice of model (Apple Store at Watford Mall), but the fact that I could reserve and knew that my phone was waiting for me, more than offset the extra miles I needed to go to obtain satisfaction.
As shared previously too, I still vividly recall two particularly vexing examples of poor customer service - both happened on Regent Street - in the pursuit of shoes at Hugo Boss and a jacket from Banana Republic. In the first instance my size was out-of-stock at Regent street, but I had to forcibly cajole the shop assistant to ring each of the other London branches in turn - until we secured a pair at Brentwood. I then had to plead and negotiate to have those shoes conveyed to said branch for easy pick-up the following week. At Banana Republic it was more a case of ’missing stock’ in that the computer said they had 2 in stock at Regent Street, but the assistant could not find either anywhere. I was sent to the Long Acre branch where a similar scenario played out in unusual déjà-vu fashion. I eventually secured said jacket when returning to the Regent Street store later in the day, and finding the mystery jackets now featuring prominently on display.
It is quite a common scenario thought that I venture into town in high spirits and return at the end of the day wholly empty-handed and deflated
Circa 10 minute video interview of Graeme Howe, Joint Managing Director of IMRG by Phil Clark, Director of Fillip Media.
Phil Clark questions Graeme on IMRG’s Member Services, the state of the e-Retailing Industry, and the background to the e-Retail Benchmarking System, its benefits to retailers, and the 9 month collaboration with Affino to develop this new service.
"Since 2009 e-retailing has achieved double digit growth every year, this year we are forecasting a growth of just over 14%"
"Our e-Retail Sales Index now collects over 44 KPIs"
"A retailer might think they are doing extremely well, but how does that compare to their competitors"
"Affino, one of IMRG’s supply members, came up with the idea of sampling, and suddenly the lightbulb went on"
"We needed the dashboard to work across all platforms, wherever that retailer was located..."
We at Affino are very proud to share the culmination of a 9 month collaboration with IMRG. The fruits of our labours have brought forth a truly smart, automated web-enabled service for retailers, powered by our own Affino Social Commerce Platform. The full details are set out in the following recently minted press release:
The first of its kind, this automated system allows online retailers to measure their performance against a quorum of similar retailers (for example, young fast fashion retailers) on a daily basis (the day after the data has been submitted) from a PC, tablet or smartphone.
Offering instant access to business critical KPIs such as average basket value, unique visitors, checkout abandonment and conversion rates on a unique personalised dashboard, the IMRG e-Retail Benchmarking System makes it easy for online retailers to measure up to 12 months’ user behaviour, traffic and overall performance and then make a comparison against the rest of the e-retail market. Benchmarks can be filtered to suit the company and each KPI is displayed as an interactive and user-friendly graph.
With over 1,000 retail members, IMRG feel they are well-placed to launch the e-Retail Benchmarking System as an addition to the series of monthly and quarterly Indexes (e-Retail, m-Retail, Quarterly Benchmarking and Delivery) for the e-retail industry. Having handled data securely for over 14 years, IMRG has ensured that all information provided by online retailers who join the IMRG e-Retail Benchmarking System is completely anonymous and totally secure.
Graeme Howe, Managing Director of IMRG, comments: “IMRG have been providing the e-Retail Industry with benchmarking information for over 14 years and this new system represents a significant leap in the service we can provide to our retail members. Retailers will be
Staggered releasing is back in the news again following Taylor Swift’s decision to withhold the second promo track from her new ’1989’ album from UK fans only. The single ’Out of the Woods’ was made available for individual download on iTunes, unless of course you happened to live in the UK. As a UK citizen, the only way to get hold of said track was then to pre-order the whole new album.
Taylor Swift then added insult to injury by claiming that this was an effort to create ’a better experience for you, the fans’. Seriously? The UK fans alone singled out for a special experience!? One which was enforced in limiting fashion by the record company. This is obvious and blatant profiteering and anything but a ’service’ to the fans.
I still fail to see the appeal in ’pre-ordering’ digital content, you usually don’t get any tangible benefit, bar the occasional taster single. There are a number of tracks on iTunes which are ’Album Only’, meaning that you need to download every single track just to get your hands on the one you want. A case in point is Taylor Swift as per above, and another example is Annie Mac’s new ’Presents’ compilation, whose standout track is ’Rhymes’ by Hannah Wants and Chris Lorenzo. I already have the majority of tracks on the album, but to get my hands on this single, I am forced to buy a very large number of tracks for a second time!
The upshot of all of this is that most people will seek alternate means of getting their hands on new material from their favourite artists. In trying to control or limit access in any way, artists and record labels are undoubtedly encouraging piracy. For this very same reason, International artists like Beyoncé and Madonna know to release their output simultaneously to all territories, as a fan is still a fan regardless of their geographic origin, and they will want to get their hands on the new material immediately. If for some reason the album or single is not available in that region by legitimate means, the fans will use illicit means to gain access to what they want. Trying to withhold materials in any way, simply results in less revenues for the record label and the artist. Why anyone still engages in this policy is far beyond my level of comprehension -
One of the trickiest questions I get asked regularly is - "What exactly does your company do?". This is not for reasons of difficulty in explaining everything that we do, rather the difficulty of summarising what we do into a sufficiently short format. When I was in Iceland on vacation in September I had the additional challenge of trying to accurately translate some of those technical terms and concepts into everyday vernacular. I decided then and there that I would compose as concise an article as possible to act as a crib-sheet for anyone needing to explain or understand our modus operandi.
The shortform elevator pitch is as follows:
"Affino is a London-based multinational Social Commerce Specialist with its own in-house-developed Affino Social Commerce Platform. Affino works with companies and organisations to evolve business plans in order to create successful automated digital businesses, which are powered by the Affino Social Commerce Engine. Affino Social Commerce covers key industries, ranging from Retail to Publishing / Media, Professional Communities and Performing Arts."
There are 3 key aspects to Affino
The core to every successful business is the high calibre of individuals who make up that business, and how well they work together. Although small in number, Team Affino is composed of some of the very best creative-problem-solving and hard-working talent found anywhere in the world. All team members are expert in their own area - whether Systems Architecture, Applications and Software Development, Project Management, Design and Branding, Technology and Operations.
We have a unique process for drawing out the very best from everyone involved. The process is highly collaborative, and is centered on two or more partners gaining a full understanding of each other’s goals and challenges. Broadly speaking, there are three stages to the process:
Digital Business Audit - a deep and broad-ranging on-site organisational audit - consisting of a series of structured discovery conversations with leading stakeholders - with a view to investigating the current standing of a company, and evaluating its ability to capitalise on its full digital potential.
Transformation Plan - evolving from the Audit, the Transformation Plan sets out what a business or organisation needs to do to
Two years ago I wrote an article about how GEMA, the German performance rights organisation had targeted Google’sYouTube video platform in terms of how it dealt with the public posting of music videos not personally sanctioned by GEMA. GEMA’s contention was that the 24 hour take-down rule was insufficient, and that Google / YouTube should be made to pay penalties for illegally displaying those videos at all, as it was gaining advertising royalties while those videos were played back by members of the public. The end result of that action has been that YouTube in Germany is now a total shadow of its former self, with hardly any native music videos displaying at all.
YouTube is, and always has been, one of my very best music discovery resources, so GEMA really does not understand the impact of its actions which have at the very least negatively impacted on its members. I’ve lost count of the number of artists I have discovered and grown to like via YouTube - leading to my direct purchasing of their albums and singles on iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Juno and Phonica. While other mainland European countries - the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Scandinavia are still regularly producing international hits, it has been a long time since anything significant has come out of Germany. GEMA plainly does not understand YouTube’s place in the promotional cycle of music - and how much importance international artists place on the gaining of 1 million plus views on promo videos primarily via YouTube. Psy’s global hit ’Gangnam Style’ and Ylvis’s ’The Fox’ are unlikely to have happened without YouTube playing a significant part - in fact YouTube is responsible for the careers of many of pop’s current crop of young(-ish) performers - Justin Bieber included. Younger generations of Germans are more than slightly frustrated and upset by GEMA’s stance, whose net effect has been to enormously devalue the impact and worth of the German music industry.
The most recent chapter in this ongoing story concerns German publishing association / agency VG Media which launched a case against Google for its inclusion of snippets of VG’s members’ copyrighted text, as well as copyrighted images in the form of thumbnails used to punctuate search results under ’Google News’. VG Media
One of the examples I best remember from my Marketing degree was the concept of Indirect Competition. An excellent example of this is flowers vs wine vs chocolates. When accepting a dinner invitation, it’s considered the height of good taste to bring a house gift with you when you attend. A florist may consider his most likely competitor the flower shop around the corner, but dinner guests are just as likely to bring either chocolates or wine - depending on the gender or personal preferences of the host/s. Thus products, goods and services from within the same sector or related sectors are likely vying for the same customers - who make decisions based on various contemporaneous factors, as well as availability, appeal and cost.
I wrote a recent piece which included a line or two on how publishers need to understand that many of them are competing within the entertainment industry - someone who potentially buys a book has the option to stay in and watch television, go to the movies, buy and listen to an album or play a console / tablet / smartphone game. All these alternatives are vying both for your spending power and your time. Which means your high street book store is in competition with Netflix, the local cinema, HMV, iTunes and Game. The book retailer needs to attract attention and pocket / birthday money away from these mediums - especially always-to-hand mobile phone apps. Most publishers have done relatively little to sex up their own book launches or try to make their retail environments - digital and otherwise sufficiently dynamic and exciting for those types of audiences.
A little closer to home, we have the indirect competition between traditional magazine publishers and online blogs, vlogs and clickbaiting publishing sensations like Mashable and Buzzfeed. I must admit that I rarely read magazines these days. I used to regularly read What Hi-Fi, Stuff, T3, Wallpaper and Monocle, DJ and Mixmag - as well as the occasional FHM and GQ. Nowadays I only really buy magazines at airports - the Internet provides me with my daily / hourly / minute-by-minute fix, and I can find highly targeted and on-point resources which totally fit my personal preferences.
A recent article in ’The Media Briefing’ outlined how digital newsstands such as Apple’s are now very much in decline. Accessing a magazine in PDF-
Last week saw the launch of the new Selfridges website, part of a £40 million investment over the next 5 years. I must say that I quite like the improved product pages - which are really snappy and contain near enough of the right details and features - I like the layout of the page too, although feature-wise overall it’s not quite up to my ideal customer user experience, as per what I posted earlier this year in my ’The Ideal Fashion Ecommerce Template’ article.
The previous Selfridges site was a little laggy and unfocused, while the new one is agile and crisp. Interesting to see that they have not gone with a fully responsive design framework, but are relying on adaptive for mobile screen resolutions. Shopping basket is maintained well across devices - a miniature facsimile of the famous yellow bag with a number indicator within it - works well in both formats.
I would have preferred to have seen ’how many in stock’ details, and some indication on number of days for standard delivery. Also, the Size Guide is one of those next to useless generic ones - it needs to at least say whether fit is Skinny, Regular or Generous, and also ideally what size model is wearing to give proper indication of sizing - actually model sizing is often included in main Product Details. I would recommend a mannequin you could click on for major size options and where key dimensions are displayed against the mannequin. In the overall details, there is also nothing about care instructions though - which is a big miss for me. When you buy online you don’t get to check the labels and feel the texture and finish of the fabrics - so a digital retailer needs to proved all the pertinent details which you need to make an informed decision.
Size, number and colour selectors etc. are slick, and I like the way they have included the ’Add to Wishlist’ element, although the tool tip is missing for perfect usability on that icon.
£40 million over 5 years (£8 million p.a.) is a huge investment though, and I’m not sure Selfridges needs to be investing at quite that level, or whether the ROI is fully justifiable on a singular digital business. Of course a significant part of the moneys will go to the logistics and fulfilment services, and there is still ample scope for improvement to the
Before I get into the details of my 10 cents worth on this, I need to categorically state that yes! I am an iPhone 6 Plus owner myself. Having just recently returned from two weeks in Iceland, I was a little behind the curve on reserving my phone, and had to travel to Watford to secure the model I was after - this last Tuesday in fact.
By happenstance, on the same day I acquired said phone, ’Bendgate’ was just starting to rear its ugly head, and this is before the ’bricking’ issue of the iOS 8.0.1 update release, which Apple hastily recalled without further explanation or excuse.
I have to say that I really like the phone, but more of that later... the thing is, I’ve never really understood this obsession with being the thinnest, particularly with phones - more understandable for laptops and desktops. Weight is an important consideration, as is feel and practical usage - wafer-thinness, is certainly not conducive to the best touchy feely experience - I really don’t think the phones need to be any thinner. In fact, I could stand a couple of additional millimetres if this made for a better battery life.
From an engineering / structural standpoint, making something thin and long means it has inherently added flex, and more propensity to buckle - particularly for a non-elastic metal like aluminium, which is relatively brittle compared to most carbon steel alloys. Airplanes / airplane wings are made from thin aluminium, but they have ribs, braces, membranes and struts to give them added strength and rigidity. Apple could also have utilised more advanced lamination techniques to increase the strength of the phone chassis without adding too much weight or thickness.
Apple is of course new to the large phone form factor, and it sounds like insufficient stress testing has been done on these production models - of the type that Ikea does:
constantly to test wear and tear / longevity of its many furnishings. Product launch cycles are relatively short these days, and I can easily understand how something like this may have been missed in general population testing. My phone is in a lovely Apple leather case which gives it further protection, but I will not be putting it to any stress tests myself. I have an aversion to tight jeans (as I’ve noted previously), and rarely carry my phone in ...
I have just returned from a two week vacation in Iceland, and was fortunate enough to join in a sightseeing fly-by of the current Bárðarbunga / Holuhraun eruption. The above picture (not related to my fly-by) is courtesy of Paolo Sicoli and captures the essential magic of Iceland, in this instance two of nature’s most wonderful phenomena - volcanic eruption with the added sparkle of the northern lights.
Flight NY 1808 was a special scheduled daytime flight by national inland airline Air Iceland - departing from the actual Reykjavík Airport (not to be confused with Keflavík which is the seat of the International airport). Flight-time was near enough 2 hours - with 45 minutes of journey time each way, and 30 minutes sightseeing of the actual eruption and neighbouring areas. There were 25 of us in the Fokker 50 - window seats only, and including volcanologist Steindór who was our guide.
The flight coincided with the best weather of my vacation - clear blue skies, at least from Hofsjökull onwards - one of only 3 rain-free days during my stay. For most of the approach flight the airplane remained above the cloudline, but as we neared Vatnajökull - Europe’s largest ice cap, and the location of the source of the eruption, we moved lower to get a good view of the surrounding landscape.
The first thing you see is the steaming lava field of Holuhraun, now nearing 40kmsq, then a molten river of lava, followed by the 3 current active spouts of the eruption, the original spout (which would make 4) is no longer active. The precursor to the eruption was a series of earthquakes starting August 16th - more than 1,000 per day - most with an epicentre in a channel between the Bárðarbunga caldera and the Dyngjujökull part of Vatnajökull. (see inset map below)
The eruption started at 00:02 on the 29th August when a fissure opened up roughly 5km north of Dyngjujökull - circa half-way between Dyngjujökull and the currently inactive Askja caldera which contains a most wonderfully green-hued lagoon. The root volcano system is Bárðarbunga - the caldera of which is gradually subsiding and which lies some 30km to the southwest of the erupting fissure.
You can view the 3 shots I took in the below sequence (after the map references). The best video
No real chassis improvements - same but different antenna, same fragile glass sandwich
I also wrote back in 2010, a prescient article called ’Mobile Commerce - The New Currency’ all about the kind of Apple Pay functionality (NFC) which was announced in yesterday’s Keynote address.(Albeit now with the even more clever fingerprint Touch ID solution Apple has engineered.)
My first ever iPhone was the 3S - 32GB version (finally delivering on all my then expectations / requirements). I was delighted that 2011’s 4S doubled the memory to 64GB, since I find I always use all the memory I am given. For a very long time now, I have been waiting for 3 things really - a larger form factor, 128GB memory and NFC.
The iPhone sixes, finally have all the functionality I needed, after introducing 2 very iterative series 5s, which I always felt had an overly fragile and mis-engineered glass chassis (because of ongoing signal / antennae issues).
When I saw the first pictures of the iPhone sixes, I was not immediately taken in by the design, but the more time I spend with it, the more I like it. I also decided very quickly that the beautiful curvature of the glass really only works to perfection with the black front facia of the Space Grey edition.
Like I said previously, I was exstatic to finally be getting 128GB, so there was no question I would be getting one. It was just a matter of whether to go for the 4.7" version or or the 5.5" phablet.
In comparing the specs, the infinitely superior playback time is what really swung the vote. Also, when I work, I almost always work in split-screen mode whether on laptop or on desktop - seeing that the 6 Plus had clever layout variations for landscape mode was another thing that pushed me towards the larger model. In typical fashion I have measuered the phone against most of the coat pockets I will carry it in, and the circa 16 x 8 x 0.7 cm dimensions are large for sure, but can perfectly easily be accommodated.
Android fans will rightly of course say that there are far better spec’d Android phones already in the markeplace and due imminently, and they’re right. Samsung, Sony and the like