Yeah Dad, But They’re From Akron…

In my adolescent years, a fan favorite amongst my friends was the series of “Vacation” movies with Chevy Chase for all of the subtle , sophomoric one-liners, laced with double-entendre. Being from the Akron area made the European Vacation movie especially fun – if you can write to me and tell me about the scene I quote in the title above, I have a special prize (HINT: the prize is an invite that starts with a “G” and ends in “+”).

What does Where we are from, say about Who we are?

For centuries, the difference between friend and foe was often as simple as geographic boundaries. There was no thought given to the trials and tribulations, aspirations and dreams, or the wants and desires of “the others” only the belief that they must be conquered. Sad to say, many of today’s leading consumer brands still feel this way. These brands have been extremely succesful at conquering the U.S. and maybe a few other “mature” markets, but when it comes to global expansion, they are learning that a one-size fits all approach will not work.

Will “What plays in Peoria“, play in Singapore?

The motivations and aspirations of the consumer sector vary greatly from region to region, and again from country to country, and yet again when comparing urban and rural consumers within a single country. We all know this is true and inherently understand it by being a part of it – in the U.S. that means red states, blue states, and even “green” states, but diving deeper exposes distinct groups even within the states, counties, cities, and even neighborhoods. So how do you know how various population groups will respond to your call-to-action? It seems obvious to most of us the differences between New Jersey, Manhattan, and Long Island – but given the close geographic proximity to each other this could be difficult for a non-American (or non-East Coaster) to understand that the three groups of consumers in these areas couldn’t be more different. The same could be said for a wider geography – say we compared the attitudes and aspirations of consumers in the major metropolitan areas of New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston – talk about three different worlds; and this doesn’t account for the Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, or much less anyone not in the hustle bustle of the northeast. A product launch in NYC will (and should) look very different than one in Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, or L.A. And what about the population segments in the suburbs of those cities – surely you can see how complex and challenging it is to identify the right consumer audience in a country where you’ve never lived.

Don’t forget – I have Google+ invites for those that tell me about the scene I quote in the title above…


Living in a Windowless Home (almost)…

No, this is not my house.

Have you ever imagined living in a Windowless home? I have always had windows in my house, in my office and even my pocket. By now you may have guessed that I am not referring to the framed glass that allows light into our lives. I am referring to the much-maligned operating system marketed by Microsoft since the 1980s.

Professionally, I have worked with versions ranging from 3.0 to Vista, on PCs, Servers, and Mobile devices in every imaginable use case. I have owned a Windows PC, well, since there have been Windows PCs. I used to joke with my wife that there were only 2 remnants of my single life – that damn dog and the Dell desktop PC that had run faithfully, almost uninterrupted, for nearly 10 years.

Sure, I upgraded the disk drive, added RAM, and had to regularly herd the dust bunnies from its deepest regions – but that’s like changing oil and brake pads on your car. This past week, that dusty, loud, vibrating PC has been put out to pasture. Before the tree-huggers out there lynch me for not properly recycling, I have to tell you that I took the time to reformat the machine, and reload with Windows XP (with service packs) and Office Pro 2003, before donating the machine to a coworker for his kids to hammer on it.

How did this come to be? I guess it all started with a 1st Generation iPod Nano, although I never really got on the iPod train since I was a heavy user of Windows Mobile and had my “thousand songs in your pocket” that way. I only used the Nano at the gym and when cutting the grass or anywhere else I didn’t want to risk losing or breaking my phone. When I last changed jobs, Blackberry was the corporate standard so I made the switch, and my wife got an iPhone 3G in the transaction (it involved a carrier change to AT&T from Verizon, but thats another story). My wife was very happy with her device, but still felt no urge to go “all in”. That is, until the iPhone 4. Once my company deemed the iPhone 4 secure enough, my wife and I went out and made the trade up. This opened up the flood gates, and now our home boasts a total of two iPhone 4s, an iPad2, and lastly, our new MacBook Pro. We are now living in a Windowless Home – almost – I still have a laptop from work running windows.

Now that I am at this point, I feel the duty to warn others that despite what the media says, life without Windows is not all its cracked up to be. Maybe its 25 years of Windows, but the OS X user interface is not very intuitive, and I am still struggling without an easy way to right click on the MacBook touch pad. Be prepared for file format issues, driver issues if you choose to retain your Windows peripherals, and just wait until you try to keep a terabyte of music and pictures on 2 iPhones/Apple IDs, an iPad, and a MacBook synchronized. I assume iCloud fixes this?

I will say that I seem to spend less time on the MacBook (vs the Windows PC), but I reckon that is because of my iPhone and iPad. Warming up a baby bottle? Pay the American Express bill with 3 clicks on an app. Notice a cool landscape scene that doesn’t look so cool in the picture you just snapped? Just add the “1977” filter with the instagram app – instant high quality and artistic photography. I think of it as the same dominance Microsoft garnered when there was an army of developers creating “apps” back when they were called applications. Overall, “computing” seems to be fading from my everyday life, blending in almost unnoticed. But, I will say that the den is now a guest room with the arrival of my daughter this past month, meaning I no longer have to “go get on the computer”, and besides, with a 3 week old, who has the time anyway?

If this is Steve Jobs vision, kudos. Although, as a former tech guy, I almost miss tinkering around. Jailbreak anyone?

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