That the lesson has been lost on mega-home developers is clear. The nation’s average home size is expected to shrink to 2,152 square feet by 2015, after peaking above 2,500 square feet in 2007. And there are fewer Americans living in homes these days too. In 2011, an average of 2.6 people lived in each American home, down sharply from 3.4 people in 1950.
But the big picture is finances, or the lack thereof. In the nearly five years since the recession “ended,” the U.S. economy has been stuck in the slow lane. Entering 2014, many economists predicted growth would top 3% for the first time since 2005. But more now believe that the U.S. economy might be in a semi-permanent funk.
And if we’re not in a funk yet, the Congressional Budget Office believes that could come in four years. That’s when the impact of retiring baby boomers restraining growth will really be felt. The CBO estimates the economy will expand at the same lackluster rate of 3% until 2017, and then decline to an average of 2.2% through 2024.
Then there’s our environmental footprint, which is hindering growth in other ways. That’s why we see a major upside for the “small home trend.” By 2017, there will be a significant market for homes that cost, at the top end, $90,000-$150,000 and that range in size from 600 to 1,000 sq. ft.
“There will be a significant market for homes that range in size from 600 to 1,000 sq. ft.”Michael Tchong, @ubercool
CBS covered the “new mobile home” in its May 18, 2014 Sunday Morning program, which even included a report on a $3 million mobile home recently sold in Malibu. Key stats: 8.5 million mobile homes in the U.S. and 97% are never moved.
Siegal is but one in a growing group of architects and home designers who are sharply attuned to a changing America, including Eugene, Ore.-based architect Nir Pearlson and San Francisco studio nottoscale, the latter specializing in pre-fab homes, another growing trend.
Then there are the emerging media, including Small House Bliss and Tiny House Talk. Lest you think that small homes need to be devoid of nice touches, allow us to dispel that myth with these galleries of small home bliss (click images to view slideshow):
Nir Pearlson’s River Road House
Even Zillow jumped on the trend with an email this week featuring a classic Betteridge subject line: “Could You Live in 84 Square Feet?”; with a link to a story about Dee Williams’ 84-square-foot home.
As Dorothy so aptly put it, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
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This is even more remarkable when you consider there are more than 1,000 marketing technology vendors out there (see graphic above). Despite the abundance of innovative players in the game, my own experience with state-of-the-art marketing tools suggests there’s still a great opportunity to set a newer, better standard.
Unfortunately for those budding entrepreneurs, there is precious little data to suggest how big the digital marketing industry really is. What we do know, however, is that the value of the top 10 digital marketing acquisitions has already topped $13 billion:
The feeding frenzy is largely caused by two fierce market rivals, Oracle and Salesforce.com, which between them are responsible for six out of the top 10 deals. To put this one-upmanship in perspective, despite having already spent more than $4 billion on marketing tech companies, Salesforce.com reported during its last earnings call that its Marketing Cloud generated $81 million in revenue during its fiscal third quarter alone.
Reality: Marketing Spending Is Declining
The bigger picture here is that marketing as a discipline is under intense pressure to produce better results with less money. An inkling of this trend can be found in IDC’s 2012 Tech Marketing Barometer, which discovered that marketing budgets only increased by about 3.5% on average, despite expectations of an 8% increase.
IDC’s conclusion: Marketing budgets are getting tighter and marketers are expected to support larger businesses with relatively fewer resources. This is a worrisome trend, given how America’s corporate profits just reached another all-time high, as analyst Henry Blodgett recently observed.
With CMOs under the gun to produce more with less, they’re investing in new technologies while simultaneously squeezing more ROI from their marketing budgets in a push to cut overhead costs.
The same trend that’s transformed the factory floor—robotics—is poised to reinvent marketing. Thanks to marketing automation software (MAS) or platforms (MAP), marketers can squeeze more efficiency out of the promotional process.
Upside: Market Opportunities
The technology sector is as crowded as ever, but thanks to the confluence of marketing trends, it still pays to be a vendor that can add to the bottom-line. Here are some digital marketing sectors of note:
- Advertising: One indisputable trend is that traditional marketing is giving way to digital marketing. While global ad spending will reach $543 billion in 2014, digital advertising will approach $133 billion this year.
- CRM: You would be hard-pressed to find another marketing segment with a rosier forecast than CRM. This past July, Gartner boosted its forecast predicting that the CRM market would exceed $36 billion by 2017, up from $28 billion in 2014. The reason is simple. CRM is the digital marketer’s address book, and all marketers need to grow their contact list. Yet, as I have already observed, the CRM arena is ripe for truly innovative solutions.
- Marketing automation: Frost & Sullivan reported this February that the marketing automation sector generated revenues of $551 million in 2013 and is poised to reach $1.9 billion in 2020. Their analysis shows that almost half of the market in 2013 was dominated by three competitors: Eloqua, Marketo and Silverpop, with more than 80% of the activity concentrated in the U.S.
- Social marketing: In 2011, IDC reported that social marketing represented just 1.3% of overall marketing spending but was a growing focus for tech companies. That same year, Forrester predicted that spending on enterprise social marketing software would reach $6.4B by 2016. Both of these early predictions are likely to have been more than fulfilled, based on the runaway ad growth at Facebook and Twitter.
Building the Stack
As I mentioned before, there’s a huge opportunity to create a new standard in marketing software. With more than 1,000 companies in 40+ categories populating the “marketing technology landscape” (according to Ion Interactive’s Scott Brinker), one can only assume that marketers are simply too inundated with marketing tools.
Having personally used a host of these tools—including AdRoll, AdEspresso, HootSuite, InfusionSoft, Moz, Qwaya and SproutSocial — it’s clear that marketing vendors need to pay more attention to the user experience.
This has many thinking about a single, integrated solution that encompasses a broad set of marketing tools—or a “stack,” in industry parlance. An all-purpose solution like this would feature an architecture that could accommodate future needs and applications.
One more thing: Advertising technology is narrow-mindedly focused on large enterprises. Yet, as Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan notes, only 3% of mid-market companies have adopted automation software. And, by his reckoning, this segment counts some two million companies that represent roughly $6-8 billion in revenue.
So here are your marching orders: Build an innovative marketing stack, or suite, and target the small to mid-sized business market and you too could sell your company to Oracle or Salesforce.com for hundreds of millions. Talk about stacking the deck in your favor.
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And that’s from a former Windows user. Apple’s fortunes changed with debut of the iPhone, which heralded a new age of seamless synchronization. But the real story is the innovation the Macintosh GUI ushered in, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and the arrival of Yosemite in the Fall.
Here are our picks for the most ubercool Macintosh software:
1Password can create strong passwords, organize them, and insert them in web pages with a handy browser button. Mavericks introduced version 4.0 with greatly improved usability and a slicker interface. An iPhone version costs an extra $18.
Publisher: Agile Bits
Adobe Creative Studio 6
Adobe’s Creative Suite includes four useful applications: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat X Pro. If you’re a designer, you can’t get by without these famous tools. Now that Adobe has gone Creative Cloud, CS6 is your last opportunity to own Adobe tools outright. Don’t miss this opportunity! Only available on Amazon.com and eBay.
Publisher: Adobe Systems
Version: CS6 Design Standard
This latest version of Aperture now shares your iPhoto library for greater simplicity of use. However, Aperture’s tabbed sidebar interface can be daunting.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
AppDelete is a great uninstaller utility that removes applications and any other associated files that reside anywhere on your Mac.
Publisher: Reggie Ashworth
Balsamiq Mockups is a cross-platform rapid software prototyping tool that lets a UX designer quickly create a mockup of software screens. We love its ease of use and the hand-drawn look of its output.
Category: Developer Tools
Bontanicula is a beautiful game that places you in a wonderland of a garden to venture through and explore. Particularly beautiful on Retina MacBook Pros.
Publisher: Amanita Design
Breeze is a window management application that is designed for people who want to quickly split-screen a window, or designers who quickly need to use standard windows sizes for screenshots.
Publisher: Autumn Apps LLC
BusyCal is easier to use than the Mountain Lion or Mavericks calendar because it works just like the Leopard calendar. It also can can be shared easily via iCloud or Google. And it shows weather icons for instant visual updates.
Publisher: BusyCal LLC
Here’s a great solution for backing up and synchronizing files with an external hard disk or other storage device. Econ Technologies should also be lauded for offering perpetually free upgrades.
Publisher: Econ Technologies
Gives Mac users a nice Windows 7 feature: Drag a window until the mouse cursor touches either left or right edges of the screen, and the window “cinches” into place. Each Cinch window takes up half a screen, allowing you to easily compare two windows side-by-side.
Publisher: Irradiated Software
Need a central place to organize your videos? Cinematica is the iTunes for music or iPhoto for photos, only it can search your collection by technical properties like resolution, aspect ratio, frame rate or video codec.
Publisher: Xeric Design Ltd.
Emails, Windows, and, yes, even some sloppy publishers produce files that are filled with funny characters. Use Clean Text to remove unwanted paragraph breaks, tabs, the quote marks in e-mails, etc.
Cobook resides in your Mac menu bar and can be called up any time to search, add or edit entries in your Mac Contacts. Indispensable, but its latest version represents a step down in usablity.
Right now, Apple’s menubar battery status reports a 95% charge left. But coconutBattery tells the truth: 90%. This handy utility also monitors battery health, showing how often the battery was charged and contrasting its current maximum capacity with original capacity.
Edit HTML code simply and quickly with this nice web development tool. Besides HTML, Coda handles CSS, Java, PHP and many other development file types.
Category: Developer Tools
Daylite initially impressed us, but we now recommend Base (see our Mac CRM overview). Daylite is so feature-rich, many features have a steep learning curve. We left Daylite on this list for now for people who need a feature-laden Mac-based CRM program, it is, after all, very cleanly designed.
Publisher: Marketcircle Inc.
Direct Mail is a freemium program that lets you create email messages and send them to lists using either your email account or Direct Mail’s pre-paid e3 delivery service, which starts at $15 per month for up to 500 email recipients.
Publisher: e3 Software
DiskWave is a utility that scans your hard disk to determine what files and folders consume most of your disk space. A necessity for SSD users who want to free up disk space.
Publisher: Aymeric Barthe
Drive Genius reportedly is used by Apple to check storage devices, and can perform a number of functions, including defragging, permission repair and other optimization tasks. What’s worrisome is that Prosoft has not updated its software in a long time.
Publisher: Prosoft Engineering Inc
Dropbox lets you save documents and pictures to the cloud, so you can instantly access them on other computers, your iPhone or your iPad. A must have. A free tier saves from 2GB to 16GB. A Pro plan let’s you store 100GB for $9.99 per month.
eMail Extractor extracts email addresses from text files, which is a great way to build a customer contact list using mailbox data.
eMail Verifier actually connects to your mail server and checks whether an email address exists or not, and disconnects without sending.
Evernote saves notes, images, PDFs or web clippings and lets you access them from any platform. Indispensable for people who do a lot of research, like we do.
Export Address Book
Apple’s Address Book does not let you export contacts by group. Export Address Book does that plus a lot more. Totally worth $4, don’t you agree?
Publisher: Stefan Keller
Need software to transcribe your Sony or Olympus digital voice recordings? Download the freemium ExpressScribe software and you’ll have a good solution.
Publisher: NCH Software
Fantastical has become our go-to calendar program. Sure, we use BusyCal and Calendar too, but Fantastical can be called up from the menu bar when one needs it, and its scheduling intelligence is great. It looks beautiful and there is an iPhone app.
FileMaker Pro is a fully programmable database design tool that can be used to create custom relational databases and deployed on all platforms; Mac, iPhone and iPad. This product listing is maintained in FileMaker.
Want to write a screenplay or Broadway book? FinalDraft lets you approach it the right way, seamlessly formatting your script as you type.
Publisher: Final Draft Inc.
Need to organize and repair your fonts? FontDoctor does this very well.
Publisher: FontGear Inc.
Free Ruler is a floating horizontal and vertical ruler that measures on-screen items in pixels, inches, picas,or centimeters. A must-have for web designers.
As Apple puts it, GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac — complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely redesigned sound library, and virtual session drummers. Now nothing is holding you back from becoming the next Daft Punk.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
Price: Free with new Macs
Here’s a tool for today’s economy. GarageSale is basically an eBay management tool. Use pre-designed templates to make your stuff look good. GarageSale then manages uploading content and seller communication. Slick.
Publisher: iwascoding GmbH
If you use GitHub, and what technocrat doesn’t, you already know about this app.
Version: A New Hope (180)
Category: Developer Tools
Google Chrome has become the most popular browser because it’s frequently updated in the background, lightning fast and easily extensible.
Put the world at your fingertips. Fly to any place around the globe and see maps with 3D buildings and street-view terrains. Mindbendingly fun.
If you produce or attend webinars or online presentations, GoToMeeting is definitely one of the gold standards of the online meeting world. Work with anyone, anywhere, as long as you can afford the monthly $49 fee. A cheaper monthly service is Join.me, which starts at $13/mo.
Publisher: Citrix Online LLC
Category: Online Meeting
Create invoices and estimates using a customized design. Automatically attaches a PDF invoice to email for quick sending. Great for consultants.
Publisher: Stefan Fürst
iBooks lets you read books published in Apple’s book store. While it’s nicely done, there is not as much to choose from as on Amazon.com.
iBooks Author lets you create sophisticated e-books with video, photo gallery widgets and more. Download your free copy now.
Do you need to design a favicon for your website? Then you must use Icon Slate, which is an easy-to-use tool that generates favicons, including Retina versions.
Publisher: Jeremy Marchand
Category: Developer Tools
We’ve been happy campers since we began using iDraw a few months ago. iDraw is the first truly viable alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This vector design and illustration program reads both Illustrator and Photoshop files and can export in a host of formats. If you frequently need to create buttons or logos for websites, iDraw should be your first choice. And, best of all, it’s Retina compatible.
Publisher: Indeeo Inc.
iMovie lets you edit camcorder and iPhone movies and organizes them for easy browsing and watching. Totally Apple, totally ubercool.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
iPhoto grabs photos from your digicam, organizes them by event or import date, retouches photos and sends them to your friend’s inbox.
If you code, you know how often you have to compare two pieces of code to see the differences. Kaleidoscope makes this easy and sports a beautiful interface too. Unfortunately, Black Pixel decided to nearly double its price to $70. Not totally ubercool but worth it if you compare files a lot.
Publisher: Black Pixel
Category: Developer Tools
Keynote was the program that made us switch back to the Mac. It’s that good. Outstanding ease of use and power makes PowerPoint fans green with envy. We’re still using the old Keynote 09, because we’re not totally convinved that 6.0 is yet good enough, it was the first Keynote version that actually caused us to lose a file due to corruption.
Kindle for Mac
Want to read Kindle books on your MacBook? No problem with the free Kindle for Mac app makes, which can now be downloaded from the App Store.
Do you dislike having to plow through your application folder or endlessly scrolling the toolbar with 72 app icons that, after a while, all start looking alike? LaunchBar lets you hit Command-Spacebar and enter one or two letters to quickly summon an application.The only thing not to like about Launchbar is that it’s bit expensive for what it does.
Publisher: Objective Development Software GmbH
What can I add about Apple’s built-in email program that you don’t already know? It’s flexible and fast and, with a few exceptions, it does just about everything well. We live in it.
Publisher: Apple Inc.
MailSteward archives huge volumes of email by storing them in a database that offers sophisticated searches plus the ability to extract mail addresses. Unfortunately, Publog.com is one of those companies that offers paid upgrades every year with a negligible increase in functionality. We’re sticking with our 9.2 version.
This Macintosh application is a companion program to the Mint website. It brings the same beautiful graphics to the desktop but adds another nicety: a menu icon that tells you when a bank transaction has occurred. Great tool for organizing your financial life.
Publisher: Intuit Inc.
Need to rename a large set of files, like for instance add a file’s pixel dimensions and/or file size to the file name? Name Mangler will do this chore. It can also remove characters from file names starting at a certain position, or add suffixes and prefixes to file names. It will “dumb down” file names for Windows, trim white space, convert AM to am, and add a time-stamp to file names.
Publisher: Many Tricks
Numbers is the Excel of the Mac. It offers much of its power, but some might think that’s not enough. Now that Apple has finally upgraded the suite, a new Numbers has appeared that has fewer features than its predecessor. Still we like its new skin a lot and will transition over.
Price: $19.99 (Free with new Macs)
OmniOutliner is our favorite tool for creating to-do lists, data lists, or any task that requires outlining. The good news is that The Omni Group is betatesting version 4, which has a much cleaner interface.
Publisher: The Omni Group
How about a versatile utility with a nice interface that handles system maintenance tasks and is shareware? That is OnyX, and it’s only available on the Mac. We don’t know if it’s compatible with Mavericks…will let you know.
Publisher: Titanium Software
Need a free tool that can open Microsoft Office documents? Look no further, OpenOffice is your master key for access to word processing documents spreadsheets, and presentations.
Publisher: Apache Software Foundation
Pacifist is a shareware application with a suggested donation that opens Mac OS X .pkg package files, .dmg disk images, and .zip, .tar, .tar.gz and .xar archives and allows you to extract individual files and folders. This is useful if an application installed by the operating system becomes damaged and needs to be reinstalled without the hassle of reinstalling all of Mac OS X.
Publisher: Charles Soft
Pages is the Microsoft Word of the Mac. Like Numbers, Pages has outstanding layout capabilities, as exemplified by its built-in templates. Well worth $20 or getting it free with every new Mac you help sell. Was updated to a 2013 version. See our review of Numbers.
Price: $19.99 (free with new Macs)
Need to manipulate data? Like join two fields or clean up a database marred by sloppy data entry? Panorama Sheets parses your data fast by doing all its work in RAM. If you don’t need to manipulate more than a few hundred records, you can keep using the demo version, since Panorama Sheets works for free on small databases.
Publisher: ProVUE Development
Paparazzi captures screenshots of websites but goes beyond the call of duty by grabbing the entire page, as far as the eye cannot see. However, this program is going to be dropped in favor of Awesome Screenshot.
Publisher: Nate Weaver
Grab recipes from the web using its built-in browser, then manage all your recipes on the Mac and sync recipe and shopping list to your iPhone. Paprika is the best recipe manager out there today.
Publisher: Hindsight Labs LLC
Run Windows apps on your Mac in a separate window. Drag and drop text between Mac and Windows applications, all feats made possible by Parallels. The progress in the field of virtualization is remarkable. Parallels 8.0 is so much easier to use than previous versions. We are planning to update to 9.0 soon.
Publisher: Parallels IP Holdings GmbH
Need Photoshop but don’t want to pay Adobe any more money? Pixelmator does what you absolutely need: resizing, retouching, layering and more. We have totally fallen in love with the latest version Pixelmator 3.2. Its ease of use, clean interface and very attractive price make Pixelmator a very viable alternative to Photoshop.
Publisher: Pixelmator Team Ltd.
Pixillion has replaced Batch Image Resizer for us, so now you know what it does. NCH Software also offers a free license for personal use only.
Publisher: NCH Software
Presentation Prompter turns your Mac into a teleprompter, offering full control over display preferences, including scrolling speed and character size.
Publisher: NextForce Software
We created the weekly publication, MacWEEK, using Quark. It would not have been possible to publish a 50,000-circulation weekly in 1987 on the Mac without it. Enough said.
Here’s one case where a Windows program still outshines the Mac. But if you want to balance your checkbook the Mac way, Quicken Essentials is good enough.
For those who need to create screenshots of websites on a regular basis, Safari is the only way to go. Chrome has no setting to get rid of its toolbar, which explains why all advertising screenshots are taken in Safari.
Scrivener is perhaps the most amazing writing organizer and thought outliner. Designed for book authors, Scrivener lets you organize your writing and thoughts by folder or sub-folder. It can even attach a document to a document. We have started moving all of our writing — whether for book, site, collateral or anything else — into Scrivener. Highly recommended for anyone who does any writing, from business plans or brochures to novels.
Publisher: Literature & Latte
Between Macaw and Sketch you should now be able to handle any web design task thrown at you. Sketch is getting rave reviews from all over the web and for good reason. It is the most powerful interface and icon design tool we have ever used. Highly recommended.
Publisher: Bohemian Coding
Category: Developer Tools
Since its launch in August 2003, Skype has reshaped the chat and internet calling market. The Mac version, while radically different from its Windows counterpart, is pretty nifty.
I have yet to find a simple text editor that does what Smultron does, which is quick-and-dirty CSS or text editing. I really like its search and replace facility. It also has a great uppercase to lowercase to title case, etc. feature. Glad to see that Smultron is now compatible with Mavericks.
Publisher: Peter Borg Apps AB
Category: Developer Tools
Snapz Pro X
Mac designers create a lot of user manuals, so taking great screenshots is key. Snapz Pro X works the same way as Apple’s Grab but offers more options, like saving directly to a PNG or PSD file.
Publisher: Ambrosia Software Inc.
Sol Basics Solitaire
If you’re addicted to Solitaire, specifically Spider Solitaire, you will like Sol Basics. For 10 bucks, you get Sol Basics Solitaire, Spider, Free Cell and Klondike.
Publisher: Smallware LLC
We have two password keepers in this list. That’s because SplashID does a better job of organizing, while 1Password is better at inserting. Both could be far easier to use. UPDATE: Splash has taken a lot of heat for its latest update, which forces people to hand over their password to enable its new cloud synch feature. We do not recommend upgrading either the desktop app or the iPhone app until we can find an alternative. Unfortunately, Mavericks’ built-in password solution is not great either.
Suitcase Fusion 5.0
The bane of dealing with a lot of fonts is that the one you need is not always available. Suitcase Fusion makes it easy to manage a huge font library by turning fonts on and off when needed. Not cheap but definitely worth it.
Here is another program that we wished we had acquired earlier. Text Expander saves so much time typing repetitive things like URLs and return addresses, simply amazing. It even handles embedded terms that require further input when you type. Highly recommended.
Publisher: SmileOnMyMac LLC
Things is a well-executed to-do list manager and was one of the first apps that allowed users to synch between Mac and its iPhone app ($10), perfect for list checkers. What we really like about Things is that it has a Helper app that lets you add tasks from any program (as long as Things is running).
Publisher: Cultured Code GmbH
Category: Task Management
While Time Machine is a great backup solution, it has one annoying habit; it backs up all the time, slowing down your Mac. TimeMachineEditor solves that.
Publisher: Time Software
What we used to do with Mountain Tweaks, we now get done with TinkerTool, and that’s showing invisible files, hiding the title bar in QuickTime and sundry other customization tasks.
Publisher: Time Software
Would you like to surf the new Silk Road 2? The TorBrowser is a secure web browser that allows you to access web sites completely incognito. Take that NSA!
Publisher: Tor Project
We’ve been experiencing transfer difficulties with our previous recommended software, ForkLift, which the company could not explain. So, we’re testing Transmit and find it fast and reliable. Transmit installs a menubar item that makes accessing sites easy. Like ForkLift Transmit could use an user interface redesign to improve simplicity.
Publisher: Panic Inc.
TuneUp will parse your iTunes music library and find song duplicates, cover art and correct information, including artist, track name, album name, etc. While it is not Retina-optimized — particularly galling given its $50 price — it does work well.
Publisher: TuneUp Media Inc.
TurboTax Home Business
Intuit makes great tax preparation software. While you can choose between filing taxes online or the software version, the software offers more features.
Heard the bad news? After taking Facebook out of Tweetdeck, Twitter has announced the end of the road for TweetDeck, a very popular preferred Twitter client. So get it while you still can. Perhaps we will make the older version available here, so you can still download what was once the best social media client.
Category: Social Media
Some online repositories like compressing files in a weird format called rar. UnRarX lets you expand these rare rar archives.
Publisher: Alexander Roshal
VLC Media Player
VLC lets you watch videos encoded in formats QuickTime player cannot handle, including MKV, WMC and AVI. As CNET puts it: If you want a player that can be totally customized and configured to suit — and is not only updated frequently but also regularly offers new features and options created by a huge community of programmers and users — the answer is VLC Media Player.
One area where the Mac suffers in comparison to the PC is bookmark management. Webbla organizes bookmarks the way iTunes does, either visually or as lists.
Publisher: Celmaro Ltd.
White List will parse your Apple Mail folders and provide stats on email addresses you have communicated with and ranks them in order of number of emails sent. An invaluable tool for making sure your email lists contain the people you correspond with frequently.
Publisher: Patrick Stein
There are many utilities that claim to be able to download videos from YouTube, but most don’t work very well. Even iLivid, which we recommended last, stopped working. Wondershare AllMyTube downloads the highest resolution videos available from YouTube, and even Vimeo. A welcome tool for presenters.
Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate
Despite the fact that Macs are hugely popular among video pros, you rarely find good info on the best video converter utility. Search no more, we think Wondershare is it.
Writer Pro is a professional writing tool that introduces syntax analysis plus a simple workflow. Syntax Control scans English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish text, and highlights your adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, or conjunctions.
Publisher: Information Architects Inc.
If you need to write without distractions, WriteRoom is a full-screen writing environment that eliminates clutter. WriteRoom even lets you mimic those word processors of yore. Fun!
Publisher: Hogbay Software
Xee is an image browser that lets you turn any folder into a slide show. It will open any format Preview can open, plus a few esoteric ones, like PCX.
Publisher: Dag Agren
XMind is a brainstorming and mind-mapping software program that lets you diagram website structures or org charts. It’s priced using the freemium model, so no arguments here.
Publisher: XMind Ltd.
Note Regarding Pricing
- Price – All prices are list but promotions are frequently available, as are Amazon.com discounts.
- Free – Means the product is free.
- Freemium – There is a more capable version available or you can avail yourself of paid premium services.
- Shareware – The author would like you to donate money so he/she can survive. Make sure you do if you find the app useful.
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A large part of the blame lies with Apple itself. This innovative company provides a lackluster, but free, contact management tool, Contacts (formerly called Address Book), as part of all MacOS X operating systems.
The good news is that we’ve been testing Base ($15/mo.) from Chicago-based FutureSimple Inc. It’s an SaaS (Software as a Service) application and not a Mac app, but its interface is very well thought out. Base also offers IMAP e-mail integration plus versatile import mechanisms and intuitive reporting.
But Base’s best feature may well be a Chrome Extension, called the CRM Contact Clipper that lets you add any Facebook or LinkedIn member to your Base CRM list right away. Very convenient.
You still need a “front-end” to manage all your contacts though. for that task we still rely mostly on Cobook (free) because it adds an icon to the top menu bar to instantly access all your contacts.
Apple’s contacts manager is capable enough to keep most users happy, so few developers have accepted the challenge of building a truly useful Mac database manager. Yet as most power users know, Contacts is one of the weakest elements of Apple’s ecosystem…one that leaves a lot to be desired.
Things have gotten better with Mac OS X Mavericks, which further simplified the interface of Contacts, completely doing away with the faux leather look.
One irritation with Mavericks is the poor way merging duplicates works. The user has no interaction with what happens to duplicate records. Apple simply combines them and puts conflicting data in the Notes field.
That may be fine for casual users but it’s a major headache for those who track their contacts closely. It’s virtually impossible to peruse 2,600 contacts to see which ones were de-duped and what their Notes field says was the duplicate information.
Apple, here’s a simple solution: After de-duping, please create a Smart Group that contains the merged records, so changes can be reviewed easily.
Business Card Scanning
Ever since the slow demise of the CardScan, thanks to its purchase by DYMO (part of Newell Rubbermaid), we have been lamenting not having a solid Mac solution for scanning business cards. Yes, there’s such a thing as the NeatReceipts desktop scanner, but for $370, we’ll pass. And reviews suggest its software is not great either.
ScanBizCards will scan your cards and will get them mostly right, as our tests show. The app offers a host of features, including integration with Salesforce.com and Sugar CRM. The free, Lite version is limited to five scans weekly. The regular app costs $7 and has no limitations. A cloud backup service is also available for $10 per year.
In our ongoing quest to find a great Mac contact management and CRM solution, we have tried many tools, all listed below, to help you achieve the high quality contact management you deserve.
Cobook, created by Kaspars Dancis, is now available for free from the App Store and gets around a number of Contacts weaknesses. Cobook adds a “book” icon to the menu bar, which lets you instantly search, and add and modify entries without having to open Contacts.
Cobook also adds a number of desirable enhancements, like auto data recognition for placement in the correct field and social media integration, a major weakness of Apple’s Contacts.
Another promising solution is to use a new online tool by Streak that turns your Gmail account into a CRM solution. We tried using Google Apps and Gmail but gave up due to Google’s overly complex method of administering email. Still, tools like Streak could be of interest to you.
To best understand how you can build an effective Mac CRM system, you need to know the strengths of apps that can be used to manage each aspect of list creation and maintenance, so here goes…
Mac users need Contacts because Apple Mail and a large number of other programs seamlessly sync with it, allowing you to instantly call up names for easy emailing and also to store contact names on iCloud for syncing with an iPhone or iPad.
By right-clicking an email address in Apple Mail, you can quickly add a contact to Contacts. Apart from this nifty integration, Contacts is not suited for fast entry and keeping data clean. Unfortunately, whenever you use this handy feature, Contacts will label the newly added email address “Other,” which presents numerous challenges in sharing contacts with other applications.
Another irritation: While Contacts allows you to categorize contacts by group, and a single contact can belong to multiple groups, you have to hold down the Option key (in “groups view” in pre-Mountain Lion versions) to see what group(s) a contact belongs to. There is no view that displays all this data at once.
Note: FileMaker has discontinued our favorite light database tool, Bento, which can link directly to Mac Contacts and is able to display its contacts in a table view, allowing you to quickly edit multiple contacts and also search on multiple field parameters. Both features sadly lacking in Contacts.
Table views are much better for checking data integrity because you can quickly see where the missing gaps are, or which fields were entered incorrectly. You can still buy copies of Bento, although it obviously will no longer be updated.
Clean Text ($20)
Quite often when transferring files from databases to programs like Panorama Sheets or Direct Mail, you will discover that the file contains non-ASCII text characters, such as accents, em- or en-dashes, that some programs or services will choke on. I have discovered a new tool that allows one to quickly remove these: Clean Text. It works simply, although it has not yet been optimized for Retina displays, but perhaps it doesn’t need to.
As we mentioned before, Kaspars Dancis’ Cobook is a godsend for Mac users. Cobook simplifies rapid data entry and searches, rendering the use of Contacts almost unnecessary. Cobook simplifies address entry with smart fields that can detect what type of data you’re entering and automatically enter it into the right fields. This doesn’t always work, of course, but it’s a big plus. Another Cobook feature is the easy way it allows you to integrate social media contacts into Contacts.
However, you should be careful here. When starting to use Cobook and connecting to social media accounts, you may accidentally activate the program’s ability to import all your LinkedIn contacts. Result: Your Contacts file grows instantly.
The added contacts could be helpful for future business opportunities. That’s why tagging contacts is very important. Cobook simplifies that process. Unlike Contacts and Bento, Cobook actually displays group names, called “tags” by Cobook, in each record. You can easily add or remove tags to quickly organize contacts. And Cobook can do this for single or multiple contacts at once.
Direct Mail (free)
Once you have all your email addresses organized, you need some way to connect with them on a regular basis. You can download Direct Mail, a free app, to email your contact list. Direct Mail lets you import email templates created by other programs or designers and rapidly create ad-hoc lists or import existing lists for promotions.
When emailing, you have two options. If the number of emails you’re sending is less than 50 per month, Direct Mail is free.
To send more, you need to sign up for the company’s e3 Delivery Service built directly into Direct Mail, with monthly sliding scale charges, or you can buy 5,000 credits for $60. These pre-paid credits are a better deal for those who don’t email frequently.
eMail Extractor ($20)
eMail Extractor does something unique: It can extract emails from text files. In the “Doing CRM the Mac Way” process described later you will see how to use this utility to create highly targeted lists of prospects you have been too busy to add to your Contacts.
eMail Verifier ($30)
The problem with collecting contacts over a period of years is that people move and many email addresses become outdated, resulting in bounce rates as high as 20% on a typical promotion.
Email marketing services that charge by the number of emails you send love this of course. The more email addresses you have, the more they can charge you. eMail Verifier will test each email address in your list by pinging them without actually sending anything, and verify if they’re still valid or not.
Export Address Book ($3.99; App Store)
Export Address Book deals with a very annoying shortcoming of Contacts: it does not allow you to export email addresses by address group.
What if you wanted to let your suppliers know that you have a new head of accounts payable who will see to it that they never get paid? Export Address Book handles that task beautifully.
MailChimp (free for less than 2,000 email addresses)
MailChimp is one of the most popular emailing services in the business today and is headed up by the affable Ben Chestnut out of Atlanta. A former graphic designer for Cox Communications, Ben has turned MailChimp into one of the most full-featured email services in the business, as well as displaying a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that must be experienced.
Most importantly, MailChimp created one of the first APIs to allow third parties to connect directly to your email lists. This comes in handy when you use outside CRM services like Base to sync to it.
We have about 160,000 emails stored on our Mac. More than 90,000 are in Mac Mail and an additional 70,000 are stored in a separate MailSteward database. MailSteward allows you to archive your old Mac email inbox folders to a standalone database that can be searched quickly using multiple parameters.
In “Doing CRM the Mac Way” below, we’ll describe how to use MailSteward to resurrect old business development contacts for promotional mailings.
Numbers ($20; App Store; Free with new Mac)
You often need a spreadsheet to look at files that have been exported by other programs. Apple’s popular spreadsheet Numbers can handle this task. Numbers lets you look at exported data in a table to help you clean up your contact list.
One popular use of Numbers is to join two fields, when using with an event invitation site like Pingg, which lets you paste two fields (a combined first/last name field plus email address) together to add to your invite list. In Numbers you can combine First Name and Last Name fields using this simple trick:
- Start with a sheet that has first names in column A and last names in column B
- Create a new column C and paste in the formula C=A&” “&B.
- Replicate the formula down for as many contacts as you have.
- Copy joined column C to Column D, and select “Paste Values” from the Edit menu.
- Now you have a list of joined first and last names, and you can delete columns A, B and C.
Panorama Sheets ($50)
I’m glad to see that James Rea still runs one of the oldest Mac development companies, ProVUE, and continues to publish Panorama Sheets, an offshoot of the original Panorama.
What I like about Panorama is that you can handle big list manipulations very quickly, because Panorama does what few other programs do. For example, it can split database record fields or join them in the blink of an eye.
This is a boon for those of us who need to deal with
bonehead disorganized co-workers who store names in a spreadsheet using one field for both First and Last. Panorama lets you split those fields and do a lot more, with ease.
WhiteList (App Store; $6)
It may seem obvious but nothing else does what WhiteList does: Search though email inboxes and find people you emailed most to rank them by number of emails sent.
In the following section, “Doing CRM, the Mac Way,” we show how to use WhiteList to create a list of your most important business development contacts so you can personally reach out to them.
Doing CRM the Mac Way
We’re going to describe a process that every business executive faces. You have emailed hundreds of business prospects over the past few years, but you were too busy to add most of them to your Contacts each time you engaged.
Now your business development email folder is full of hundreds of emails of people you want to reach out to with an update about your firm or to send them “We just moved” emails. How do you do this?
The good news is that it can be done. The bad news, it takes many steps to get it right. Here’s the process flow, using tools mentioned above:
Store all your contacts in Mac Contacts, since everything, including your iPhone and iPad, depends on this contact list. You will want to add new contacts directly using that handy right click (or with Control key if you don’t have a trackpad or two-button mouse). Make sure you categorize your contact’s email correctly because most CRM programs will want to import your contact’s “work” email. Also make sure you add each contact to the right group so you can select custom lists.
Don’t know how to organize your Contacts by category? Here are a few basic categories or “groups,” as Apple calls them, to help you get organized:
- Promo – This is your core business promotion group. All people who are to receive your promotional emails should be on this list, save perhaps for your personal contacts and suppliers. You should definitely create this group and use whatever name you prefer.
- Personal – Put your family members, doctors, and other personal contacts here, so you can avoid sending them unwanted business promotions. Some may be interested (like that dentist who wants to invest in your business) so you can always add them to the Promo group too. Contacts lets you assign contacts to multiple groups, a powerful feature.
- Restaurants/Bars – You know visitors are going to ask you for personal restaurant recommendations, so keep this group separate from your personal contacts. This list also makes it easier to suggest a place for a business lunch.
- Suppliers – Keep your suppliers or vendors separate so you are able to send them emails no one else wants to read, like “No more 2% cash discount!”
The sky is the limit when it comes to organizing contacts. Some will prefer to split family from the personal group, so they can keep their GFs or BFs separate from their better halves. You get the picture. But don’t overdo it. Part of being well-organized is keeping things simple.
Edit and Update with Cobook
We encourage you to use Cobook to maintain your contact list and avoid having to use Contacts as much as possible, which saves you time.
Parse Mail Inboxes with White List
Use White List to ply through your “Business Development” or other relevant folders in Mac Mail and filter a list of people you emailed most. Set a cut off of two emails and consider everyone above that as a candidate for your promotional, or promo, list.
You do have a business development folder, right? If not, make one pronto and use it to store emails of people you want to do business with in the future.
Distill Email Addresses with MailSteward
In our system, we export Mail’s Bizdev folder and import that inbox database into MailSteward. MailSteward will then create a list of all email addresses found in your business development folder.
Use Bioinformatics to Compare Lists
You can compare the list of email addresses generated by MailSteward with the one you created with White List to find the people you corresponded with most. A great list comparison tool is Bioinformatics’ Compare Two Lists. This nifty tool will show you the difference between two lists, their intersection (what they have in common), etc.
Isn’t it amazing that all this functionality is not offered by a regular application? I would love to see a utility developed that would be able to do this based not only on a single field, but to compare complete Contacts databases, so you can find out what people are missing from a list.
Test Email Addresses with eMail Verifier
Once you’ve extracted email addresses from a MailSteward database or exported them from Contacts, you can test the validity of email addresses using eMail Verifier, and save only the ones found to be still correct.
Send Targeted Promotions with MailChimp
Export your final list to MailChimp, where you will add them to your “Promo” list. MailChimp also synchronizes with Nimble, the app described below, so use the “Promo” tag to identify the correct list to sync with.
Using a (SaaS) CRM Service: Base
One way to deal with promotion lists is to use online services that fundamentally mimic Salesforce.com. Why not Salesforce.com itself? Because, as most salespersons will tell you, Salesforce.com is difficult to use.
If you like what CRM services can do for you, we recommend you look into Base. Base debuted in 2011 and shines in one regard: It integrates your e-mail and lets you communicate directly with your prospects. Nimble currently supports direct messaging with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Starter version of Base costs $15. If you opt to pay $125/month you can get a few more features, notably an integrated telephone number.
Turning Your Gmail into a CRM System: Contactually
As we mentioned earlier, we tried using Streak with Google Gmail to create a CRM system, but we found the way Gmail works to be mystifying. Streak only made things worse.
A much better solution that works with both Gmail and IMAP email accounts is Contactually, which will help you follow up on mission-critical customers by letting you organize your contacts by “buckets.” Each morning — or at another interval setting specified by you — you will be reminded to follow up by contact.
You can also specify “Actions” by contact, which can provide greater granularity for tasks required for each business account.
Google Apps Contacts
Google offers Google Apps accounts for $50 per user per year. A Google Apps account lets you receive email at your own company email address (i.e. email@example.com) while also receiving the benefits of Google Calendar and Contacts.
But syncing Google Contacts also presents challenges. Didn’t we warn you that managing contacts on the Mac is unnecessarily complicated? We know that many readers use Gmail, so there is only one solution available now that Spanning Sync 3 sales have been discontinued:
- SyncMate – Another option is SyncMate, which is free. SyncMate can synchronize Google Accounts, and we’re currently testing this option versus Spanning Sync.
iPhone-only Contact Managers
There are three iOS apps that have recently surfaced:
- Brewster (free) – Brewster was created by Brewster Inc., and is a next-generation contact manager that integrates your social media contacts, including Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Twitter. The app displays the profile pictures of your contacts and allows you to “favorite” them, so they’re shown at the top. While we like Brewster for what it does, it remains of limited use because it lacks a desktop application.
- Smartr Contacts (free) – Smartr Contacts is made by Xobni Corp., bestknown for its Gmail application Smartr Inbox. Smartr also integrates social media profiles with your contact list. Like Brewster, Smartr lacks a desktop application, although Xobni clearly expects you to use Gmail as your main CRM interface.
- VIPorbit – From the co-inventor of Act!, Mike Muhney, comes VIPorbit Lite (free; $10 for the non-nag version), which lets you organize contacts by “Orbits.” The program, available for iPhone, iPad and Mac, also syncs with your Calendar so that you don’t have to leave the app to view your schedule.
As you can see there are numerous challenges in maintaining contacts and doing email promotion, i.e. CRM on the Mac. It is our sincere hope that a few smart Mac developers will read this story and be inspired to create a truly awesome solution. Meanwhile, please share this article on Facebook or retweet it if you found it helpful.
Like the previously recommended Sony BDP-S5100, the Sony BDP-S6200 features integrated Wi-Fi, supports 3D, and offers a good selection of online content, including Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The Sony BDP-S6200 is considered a top Blu-ray performer, featuring startup times that are “MUCH quicker,” according to one early buyer. In terms of video quality, the same reviewer notes he’s been “amazed every time.” Sounds like a clincher to us.
Like the previously recommended Sony BDP-S5100, the Sony BDP-S6200 features integrated Wi-Fi, supports 3D, and offers a good selection of online content, including Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix and YouTube, and built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The Sony BDP-S6200 is considered a top Blu-ray performer, featuring startup times that are “MUCH quicker,” according to one early buyer. In terms of video quality, the same reviewer notes he’s been “amazed every time.” Sounds like a clincher to us.
While the Nikon D3300 offers a minor performance increase over its predecessor, the D3200, it’s the package in toto that makes the D3300 our recommended DSLR. And we’re happy to report that the Nikon D3300 has not disappointed us.
While Ubercool readers know that we in the past have focused primarily on mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (MILC), after testing the Nikon D3300 we have come to the conclusion that this is one of the finest cameras we have ever had the pleasure of using.
There are many instances when you may need the full feature set of a DSLR, in particular in studio flash applications, and that’s where the D3300 with its compact dimensions and low price shines. By adding a Nikon AS-15 hot shoe adapter, the D3300 can fire any external flash system.
The Nikon D3300 offers these key features:
- Body – Nikon’s chief focus has been to reduce the size and weight of the D3300. The D3300’s new carbon-fiber body weighs just 655 g (1.4 lb.). When used with the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II retractable-barrel kit lens, the combination of camera and lens measures 124 mm wide (4.9 in.), 98 mm high (3.9 in.) and 126 mm (3 in.) deep. The reduction in size is modest, with a decrease of 0.1 inch (3mm) in width and 0.2 inches (5mm) in depth. The result is a camera that feels remarkably light.
- Lens – A brand-new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens features a retractable design that helps make body and lens 30% smaller and 25% lighter than that of the 3200. We were able to take some very nice photographs that showed this lens’ ability to capture great images of excellent color and sharpness.
- Performance – The Nikon D3300 offers the same 24.2-million pixels as 2012’s D3200 but Nikon removed the sensor’s optical low-pass filter (OLPF) and therefore captures sharper, more detailed images.
- Sensor – The Nikon D3300’s DX-format CMOS sensor is coupled to an EXPEED 4 image processor, which allows for improved ISO noise reduction and auto white balance, faster burst shooting and movie capture, plus improved battery life. The D3300 can now shoot still images at 5fps, up from 4fps and also offers for full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture at a 60fps rate, compared to the 3200’s 24 or 30fps. ISO now goes all the way to 25,600.
- User experience – Nikon has added a “Guide Mode,” which lets users capture images by simply following directions displayed on the LCD monitor. The Guide Mode works astonishingly well, greatly simplifying the use of the camera. The D3300 is also features special effects modes that can be applied to both still images and movies.
Unfortunately, the Nikon D3300 still forgoes in-camera Wi-Fi, a feature of the pricier Nikon D5300, in favor of an optional WU-1A wireless dongle ($60). But that’s just about the only downside we can find in this otherwise excellent camera.
After trying out the kit lens, the next challenge was finding another lens that might have a little more reach than the 18-55mm. That required a deep dive into Nikon’s treasure trove of optical wonders.
Our research uncovered an outstanding zoom, the 18-140MM F/3.5-5.6G DX, which received a DxO Mark score of 16, plus raves from visitors to Amazon.com, B&H Photo and Nikon. We have summarized our findings in a handy five-page PDF (3.8MB) that highlights the top 15 Nikon lenses for the Nikon D3300. We hope you find it useful.
CES has become U.S.’ default technology show where marketers from all walks of life preview new technology trends for the coming year. As USA Today put it “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the road to the future of cars passes straight through CES.”
- Connected Car – Of all the connected car technologies shown, Audi previewed a useful future feature, Intelligent Traffic Management, that was able to tap into the Las Vegas traffic control center, to display what the next traffic light on the road was about to do.
- Connected Home – Belkin introduced its LED Lighting Starter Set ($129), which At $129, the set comes with two LED Smart Bulbs and the WeMo Link. The package lets you schedule and dim the lights from anywhere using the WeMo app, which uses a Wi-Fi signal to control appliances with your smartphone. Belkin also showed a connected crockpot, that can be controlled from your mobile app, and that’s not a bunch of crock.
- Curved TVs – This could well turn out to be a fad but both LG and Samsung showed high-definition TVs featuring a curved screen. In some cases, the TV screen bends with the touch of a button, giving users the option to watch programs with a flat or curved display.
- 4K TVs – Many a vendor claimed that this would be the year that Ultra HD TVs, or 4K TVs, would take off. Read our report on the Sony Reference Standard.
- Wearables – LG unveiled Lifeband Touch ($180), a smartwatch that connects with Android and iOS devices and can show a variety of information on its OLED display, including time, calories lost, distance traveled and other physical activity data. The company’s other CES wearable was a pair of Heart Rate Monitor earphones that tracks heartbeats by measuring signals from the inner ear.
- 3D Printers – CES brought new low-cost printers from 3D Systems and MakerBot, the Cube 3 ($1,000) and Replicator Mini ($1,375), respectively. But the coolest 3D printer may well be the ChocaByte ($100), which prints in chocolate.
- Soundbars – CES brought a number of new soundbars, including the LG SoundPlate LAB540W ($TBD), which includes a built-in Blu-ray player, WiFi, HDMI and a wireless subwoofer, effectively making it a 4.1-channel setup with 320 watts output. A cheaper version, the SoundPlate LAP340 ($400), without Blu-ray player is already available in the U.S.
- Virtual Reality – At its second CES, Oculus showed a new version of its Oculus Rift featuring a new AMOLED screen with low persistence, and positional tracking, which allows users to lean and move within the game environment by simply moving their head. But what generated the most excitement was a new prototype — known as “Crystal Cove.”
The Sony XBR-X950B offers deep blacks and vivid colors, boosted by what Sony calls X-tended Dynamic Range technology, which it says leads to “unprecedented brightness” and a “truly brilliant picture quality.” We definitely saw the higher peak white and deeper blacks Sony claims its technology delivers. That red dress in the picture above literally jumped off the screen.
Available this Spring, the 85-inch XBR-85X950B and 65-inch XBR-65X950B 4K Ultra HD TVs feature full-array local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting, Triluminous quantum-dot illumination technology, HDMI 2.0 with 2160p/60 capabilities, with decoding via the HEVC codec. The Sony XBR-X950B series also offers active 3D technology, Wi-Fi, screen mirroring with NFC OneTouch, and comes equipped with MHL 3.0.
Pricing was not announced but is sure to seriously tax your wallet but then again, what price glory?
Thankfully the woman was fine, but as she was retrieved front the water, she kept a firm grip on her smartphone throughout the entire ordeal.
The fact is social media is addicting, which is largely responsible for the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) syndrome. A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive for MyLife found that 56% of Americans are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social networks.
MyLife’s study also reports that 51% of people visit social networks more frequently than they did just two years ago. And 27% of study participants check out social sites as soon as they wake up.
Although 52% of respondents indicate that they have considered taking a “vacation” from one or more social networks in the past year, only 24% say they will likely follow through. FOMO clearly is force to be reckoned with.
Considered by many a well-timed publicity stunt, Bezos’ take on the future of delivery reverberates with the sheer potential of drones, also called UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
Consider this remarkable incident. After Twitter user @Jenk1907 posted a video on Vimeo showing an aerial view of Istanbul’s Taksim square, many were shocked by its abrupt ending: The ARDrone helicopter was shot down by Turkish police.
@Jenk1907’s video, posted above, is testament to the growing surveillance power of UAVs, especially considering that his ARDrone was essentially a camera-equipped toy.
While the word “drone” conjures up visions of Reapers and Predators used by the U.S. military its more consumer friendly connotation refers to small quadcopters equipped with cameras or imaging sensors flown by hobbyist largely for fun:
- ARDrone – When Paris, France-based Parrot showed the first incarnation of the ARDrone at CES in 2010, it created a huge buzz. Here was a quadcopter that could be flown with an iPhone and featured two integrated video cameras to boot. The product went on sale at Brookstone for $300 on September 3, 2010.
- 3D Robotics – Underscoring the growing popularity of drones, a startup founded by former Wired Editor Chris Anderson was able to raise a $30 million Series B round for its Iris UAV. The Iris features an innovative Pixhawk autopilot system and offers a GoPro-compatible camera mount, making the Iris an ideal platform for professional aerial imaging applications.
But for either Amazon.com or 3D Robotics to succeed with drones will require the assistance of the FAA, which is working on a small UAS (unmanned aircraft system) rule, covering any craft under 55 pounds. Currently, the FAA is expected to release a draft any day now.
As USA Today concluded, Give [programmable quadcopters] a decade and you’ll see them everywhere.
Today, FedEx is a $46 billion behemoth, propelled by the forces of the Time Compression Ubertrend. Both FedEx and UPS were caught off-guard this holiday season because they didn’t fully grasps the fundamental forces driving Time Compression.
These market forces result in ever-later deliveries as consumers increasingly wait longer to complete their shopping. Consider the “just in time” philosophy now firmly established in society.
As far back as December 22, 2004, a holiday shopper exclaimed to KNTV, NBC’s San Jose, Calif. television station, that “Shopping three days before Christmas is not late, it’s early!”
That same year, then CEO of Toys R Us, John Eyler, noted that “Christmas shopping has come later every year for the past 20 years. Pretty soon we’ll have a two-day shopping window.”
A scant 10 years later and the two-day shopping window is here. And neither FedEx nor UPS were adequately prepared for the fast shift to online shopping. U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% this holiday season, signaling relatively weak sales, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.
But Americans stampeded online to buy holiday gifts, increasing pressure on shipping companies. Online shopping gained 10% this year to $43 billion, says comScore.
UPS expected to handle 132 million packages this holiday season, an 8% increase in volume. But proving the effects of Time Compression on holiday shopping, IBM Digital Analytics reported that online sales in the last weekend before Christmas jumped by 37% from the year before.
This means that UPS’ actual volume was somewhere near 134 million, suggesting that about 2 million packages were not staffed for, and probably delivered late.
According to IMS Research wearable technology sales are expected to grow from 96 million devices in 2012 to 210 million devices by 2018, creating a $30 billion market.
ABI Research is even more optimistic, predicting a 2018 market of as many as 485 million wearable devices. Core market segments driving all this wearables growth include healthcare, fitness, infotainment, industrial and military.
Major wearable tech categories for consumers include:
- Activity trackers – Of all wearable technology devices, 61% are fitness related. Arguably the best-known brand in this emerging segment is Fitbit, whose Fitbit Classic was launched in September 2008. That device, a clip-on, has been largely subsumed by the popularity of bracelet-type trackers, like Fitbit Force, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand.
- Augmented reality – No product category has done more to propel wearables than Google Glass, a product that even at its lofty developer price of $1,500 has garnered a huge amount of publicity. The technical description for Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Early applications include fitness, real estate, shopping and healthcare.
- E-wear – Smart clothing, or e-wear, as we like to call it, is exemplified by Sensoria’s Smart Fitness Socks, which is actually a clip-on that is connected to a pair of socks. As more advanced sciences begin to offer the opportunity to interweave technologies within fabrics, expect this segment to take off.
- Smartwatches – This wearables segment was trailblazed by the Pebble Smartwatch, a project that was auspiciously supported by a $10.3 million Kickstarter project. Pebble’s limelight will not last long now that the Samsung Gear smartwatch has launched, while Apple is also rumored to be entering the marketing soon. One out of five of U.S. consumers, or 20%, are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in buying some type of smartwatch, reports Harris Interactive.
Of all wearable technology devices, smartwatches from Apple and Google are expected to push the innovation envelope the most. A watch that includes social media updates? We’ll take one!
The emergence of a Latino majority will have a major impact on American politics, business and society.
- Market size – Today, Hispanics make up 17% of the U.S. population and are the nation’s largest minority group at 53 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2013). Due to their relative youth (PDF) and fast-growing population, by 2050 there will be 133 million Hispanics, equal to 30% of the U.S. population.
- Marketing – Initiatives targeting the Hispanic community will become the norm as Latino spending power increases. And with a median age of 29 versus 41 for non-Hispanic whites, Latinos are a highly desirable target for companies interested in reaching young adults.
- Politics – More than twice as many Hispanics either identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party as identify with the GOP or lean Republican (57% vs. 24%).
The fate of the Republican Party will unfold as the Latino community becomes the majority and comes of age amidst a changing American landscape.
High unemployment and the cost of college are two explanations for this growing trend, but far from the only reasons for the uptick of young adults living with their parents.
- Market size – 21.6 million millennials lived at home with their parents in 2012, up from 18.5 million since 2007.
- Demographics – Younger millennials, ages 18 to 24, are much more likely than older ones (ages 25 to 31) to be living with their parents, 56% compared to 16%. But since the onset of the 2007-2009 recession, both age groups have seen a rise in this living arrangement. And men are more likely than women to be living with their parents, 40% versus 32%.
- Employment – Unemployment clearly affects this living arrangement. Unemployed millennials were much more likely than employed ones to be living with their parents, 45% versus 29%. In 2012, 63% of 18- to 31-year-olds had jobs, down from the 70% of their same-aged counterparts who had jobs in 2007.
- Marriage – Marriage is another contributing factor. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of married 18-31 year olds dropped by 5%, from 30% to 25%. While 47% of those living with their parents are unmarried, only 3% are married. Men are 8% more likely to be living at home than women and overall, 78% of Millennials are happy about living at home.
Michael Rosenfeld, a social demographer at Stanford University and author of The Age of Independence, analyzed Census data back to 1880 and notes that, from a historical perspective, the Boomerang trend is overblown.
Rosenfeld’s research suggests that about 41% of singles ages 20-29 in 2005 were living apart from their parents, compared to 11% in 1950 and 19% in 1880.
Rosenfeld’s book preceded the 2006 movie Failure to Launch, which told the story of a thirtysomething slacker who suspected his parents of setting him up with his dream girl so he would finally leave their home (story image).
Based on the current trend of young adults moving home after college, it’s probably smart for mom and dad to think twice before turning their kid’s bedroom into an exercise room.
And who was the poster child of the “selfie?” Repeat after me: Anthony Weiner. This U.S. politician created quite a stir when he was caught sending inappropriate selfies to women in 2011.
Self-portraits are the latest manifestation of a growing culture of narcissism, which got a big shot in the arm from the front-facing camera included in Apple’s iPhone 4. The ability to use the main screen to compose a selfie makes the smartphone the ideal tool for those looking to take a picture of themselves.
Oxford Dictionaries editors report that the use of the word selfie has jumped 17,000% since the same time last year.
That the trend is only accelerating is evident by the fact that even the President of the U.S. has been captured in an official selfie.
Digital cameras are increasingly addressing the trend with LCD screens that be swiveled 180 degrees, like our recommended Sony NEX-5T. Now stop saying that we’re being selfie-ish.
But the glass is, unfortunately, still largely empty considering that only 11% of American adults either use online dating sites or mobile dating apps, leaving 89% of the adult U.S. population out of the equation.
Yet the trend continues to grow. New dating sites continue to spring up. Just take a look at the newest cadre of dating sites: Hinge, How About We, Grouper, The Dating Ring and Tinder, which is a mobile only app.
Tinder, is a perfect example of a fast-moving trend in online dating: socially aware mobile apps. The premise is simple. After launching the app and logging in with Facebook, you can browse profiles of other men or women.
No wonder, Tinder has captured the attention of millions of singles.
Each potential match is presented as a card and you can swipe right if someone interests you and left if not. Once both parties express interest, a match is made and a private chat connects the two.
The app is one of the top 25 U.S. social networking apps, generating 1.5 million daily matches with more than 50% of its users logging in multiple times daily.
But online dating doesn’t stop at mobile. If you thought the cyber dating world was just for the mainstream, you’re in for a surprise. From Mullet Passions to Gluten Free Singles, you’ll find a wide range of online matching services that cater to groups you never even knew existed.
The primary online dating trends are:
- Market size – The U.S. online dating market is estimated to be a $2.1 billion business.
- Market penetration – 11% of internet users, representing 9% of all adults, say that they have personally used an online dating site such as Match.com, eHarmony, or OK Cupid.
- Mobile use – 7% of cellphone users, or 3% of U.S. adults, say they’ve used a dating app on their mobile phone. Flurry reports that the gap between desktop and mobile daters is shrinking quickly. In just one year, mobile app usage soared, going from 3.7 minutes in June 2010 to 8.4 minutes in June 2011, overtaking time spent on online dating websites.
- Demographics – Online daters tend to skew slightly younger, 22% of 25-34 year olds vs. 17% of 35-44 year olds use online dating.
We’ve only got one question: Just how many online daters have gone on a date with someone who ended up looking nothing like their profile picture?
For more information, download the Pew Online Dating & Relationships report (PDF).
Sony’s best pocket camera packs plenty of technology into one small, portable product:
- Sensor – The DSC-RX100 II boasts a 20.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor backed by a BIONZ Image Processor which offers high sensitivity and low noise by using a back illumination technology. It also offers beautifully defocused backgrounds, with optical zoom capabilities of up to 3.6x.
- LCD display – The DSC-RX100 II features a 3.0-inch 1.2-million-pixel LCD screen that displays your images clearly, even in direct sunlight.
- Optics – A 3.6x optical Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 10.4-37.1mm f/1.8-4.9 lens provides a flexible 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 28-100mm.
- Wireless – You can connect the DSC-RX100 II to your Android smartphone or tablet using the PlayMemories Mobile app, either via wireless or NFC connectivity.
- Interface – The multi-interface shoe lets you attach accessories, including a viewfinder and a remote control.
Accolades usually reserved for SLR cameras have been showered on the DSC-RX100 II. You don’t need to turn a control ring to know why.
That enlightenment might include reviewing “A Woman’s Nation” — a recent report authored by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, whose first paragraph is telling:
“Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress decided to closely examine the consequences of what we thought was a major tipping point in our nation’s social and economic history: the emergence of working women as primary breadwinners for millions of families at the same time that their presence on America’s payrolls grew to comprise fully half the nation’s workforce.”
This whirlwind of change is being propelled by the growing power of women, which traces its roots to the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848, but which got a big shot in the arm when Lucy Stone became the first woman to keep her own name after marriage in 1855 (see Timeline at end of story).
That the role of women has changed materially since the days so well-portrayed in such movies as Revolutionary Road is crystal clear. Yet, as The Shriver report duly notes, “What today’s 8-to-19-year-olds are taking in about the role of men and women in the workplace and society through the lens of various media…could affect the life and career choices of our next generation.”
Those career choices are multiplying daily. In India, the navy has now stationed its first female airborne tacticians, a move that places women squarely in combat roles. In the U.S., Kayla Kelly wants to be among the first women to serve on a U.S. Navy submarine.
The rising clout of the female gender is being propelled by an Ubertrend we’ve dubbed the “Woman’s Acceptance’s Factor” — a play on “WAF” — a 90s online phenomenon that’s a subtrend of this female uprising. The Woman’s Acceptance Factor is reshaping society in a number of ways:
- Education — For the first time, American women passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees, part of a trend that is helping redefine who goes off to work and who stays home with the kids. At colleges nationwide, women are walking off with a disproportionate share of honors degrees. That’s due to the fact that women now make up 58% of those enrolled in two- and four-year colleges and are, overall, the majority in graduate schools and professional schools too. Moreover, in two national studies, college men reported they studied less and socialized more than their female classmates. As a result, women now receive 52% of all high school diplomas, 62% of associate’s degrees, 57% of bachelor’s degrees and 50% of doctoral degrees and professional degrees.
- Workforce — Women, for the first time, make up half (49.9% as of July 2009) of all workers on U.S. payrolls, reports The Shriver Report. This is a major shift from just over a generation ago. In 1969, women made up only a third of the workforce (35.3%), based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
- Breadwinners — Only one in five families with children (21%) is made up of a traditional male breadwinner and female homemaker, compared to 45% in 1975, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. In 1975, four in 10 mothers with a child under age 6 (40%) worked outside the home, but by 2008, that share had risen to two-thirds (64%), according to an analysis by the Minnesota Population Center. A study, released in 2006, suggests that a full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work.
- Work equality — While the typical full-time woman worker brings home 77 cents on the dollar compared to male colleagues, the gender gap has narrowed – it was 59 cents on the dollar in the early 70s. Yet according a 2008 census by Catalyst, only 16% of Fortune 500 officers and 15% of directors were women. Unfortunately, the rising power of women has also fostered a negative side effect. Fully 40% of workplace bullies are now women, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. And while male bullies intimidate men and women equally, women choose other women as targets more than 70% of the time. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the ascendance of the likes of Kathryn Bigelow have ruffled a lot of male feathers.
- Home life — Nearly all U.S. women, or 94%, are satisfied with their lives and ability to balance multiple roles and responsibilities, but only half of married/partnered women, or 51%, are satisfied with their sex lives, while 49% are satisfied with the division of labor at home, according to a Meredith/NBC Universal survey.
- Politics — When they are all sworn into office in January 2013, New Hampshire became the first state in the U.S. history to send an all-female delegation to Washington.
- Purchase influence — Boston Consulting Group estimates that women control $4.3 trillion of the $5.9 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, or 73% of household spending. In his book “Re-imagine!” Tom Peters suggests that U.S. women also control about $1.5 trillion more in business outlays. And that influence extends substantially outside of traditional “housekeeping” items, judging from the number of “WAF” online discussion threads. WAF was popularized by the Home Theater Spot, which provided men with a discussion forum for obtaining advice on how to obtain their better half’s approval before, or heaven forbid after, acquiring new gear. Humorously entitled “The Wife Acceptance Factor — Not in my house,” these online discussions provide an unusually intimate glimpse into the changing consumer landscape. The WAF phenomenon cogently illustrates just how much decision-making power women have gained at home.
- Women only — From beaches in the South of France (top image) to hotels to travel organizations, women-only services are popping up worldwide.
The Woman’s Acceptance’s Factor is spreading globally. NPR reports that in many Asian countries husbands hand their earnings to women who give them a small allowance. The phenomenon even has its own saying: “A woman is a slave before marriage, but a general after.”
Yet the world of TV commercials, and Hollywood movies to a lesser extent, continue to subjugate women as “housekeepers.” Never mind that the new president of Chile is Michelle Bachelet, or that Oprah is media’s most powerful figure, or that female high-school teachers are zeroing in on their young, male targets with a zeal characteristic of men. And what about the parallel “cougar” trend?
The media frenzy accompanying the cougar phenomenon, which is a role reversal of sorts that has older women chasing younger men, has significantly reshaped the opinions of the sexuality of older women in society. Why there’s even a Cougar Convention planned for the fourth quarter of 2010 in Las Vegas.
From the look of things, the Woman’s Acceptance Factor is truly shattering the glass ceiling. Now if only Madison Avenue would revisit this shifting landscape and begin casting men in home-keeping roles, we could all enjoy more pleasurable pursuits.
Woman’s Acceptance Factor Trend Gallery
Below are more phenomena that emanate from the WAF Ubertrend.
Woman’s Acceptance Factor Time Line
|1848||First women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, NY.|
|1855||Lucy Stone is first woman to keep her own name after marriage.|
|1878||Susan B. Anthony amendment to grant women the vote is introduced in Congress.|
|1900||5.3 million U.S. working women.|
|1915||40,000 march in New York City suffrage parade, the largest ever in that city.|
|1917||Jeannette Rankin of Montana is first woman elected to U.S. Congress.|
|1920||19th Amendment is ratified, guaranteeing American women citizens right to vote.|
|1941||7 million women take jobs during war, including 2 million “Rosie the Riveters.”|
|1950||18.4 million U.S. working women.|
|1955||Daughters of Bilitis, first lesbian organization, founded in San Francisco.|
|1960||FDA approves birth control pills.|
|1967||Chicago Women’s Liberation Group organizes — first to use term “liberation.”|
|1969||California becomes first state to adopt “no fault” divorce law.|
|1970||Equal Rights Amendment is reintroduced into Congress.|
|1971||Ms. magazine first appears as an insert in New York magazine.|
|1973||Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs.|
|1973||In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court establishes a woman’s right to abortion.|
|1974||Ella Grasso is first governor elected without husband’s incumbency benefit.|
|1981||Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.|
|1985||Wilma Mankiller becomes first woman chief of Cherokee Nation.|
|1990||Darlene Iskra is first woman to take command of a U.S. Navy ship.|
|2001||66 million U.S. working women.|
|2003||The first 3 Minute Dating cruise sets sail from Port Canaveral, FL.|
|2005||Women-owned businesses are fastest-growing segment of small business sector.|
|2006||Michelle Bachelet elected president of Chile.|
|2007||11-year-old girl leads police on a car chase at speeds of up to 100 mph.|
|2008||Hillary Clinton collects 18 million votes in U.S. presidential race.|
|2009||A young woman killed, called Neda, becomes the face of Iran’s revolution.|
|2009||Number of working women reaches 71 million, or 49.9% of total employed.|
|2010||Kathryn Bigelow becomes first woman to win Oscar for best director in Academy Award’s 82-year history.||2011||American women pass men in obtaining advanced college degrees.||2013||Women make up 20% of Senate and 18% of the House, records for Washington.|
|Source: January 22, 2013 Social Revolution|
Zenith’s ultrasonic technology has been replaced by infrared or radio frequency-controlled remotes that boast color touch-sensitive screens, internet connectivity, system automation and built-in TV guides, turning the humble clicker into an access point for the digital home entertainment center.
Another catalyst was Alliance Manufacturing’s garage door opener. In May 1954, the company decided to produce Genie — the world’s first mass-produced, radio-controlled residential garage door opener.
These wireless pioneers laid the foundation for the Unwired Ubertrend, a whirlwind that has gone far beyond serving couch potatoes. Unwired has created a culture that treasures such values as connectedness, freedom, convenience, convergence and most importantly, control (see Control Freak).
Here are the subtrends that Unwired propels:
- Mobile phones – The mobile phone has become Unwired’s biggest exponent, with some 5.3 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide. And now that 83% of Americans already own a cellphone and 35% own a smartphone, it’s the smartphone’s turn to revolutionize America’s mobile lifestyle.
- CrackBerry – For many users, mobile e-mail has the same addictive quality as crack cocaine. In fact, the ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone, now in use by 70 million corporate and consumer users worldwide, has become colloquially known as the “CrackBerry.”
- iOS triumvirate – In June 2007, Apple joined the fray with the iPhone, which inundated the mobile phone market like a veritable tsunami. A staggering 145 million iPhones have been sold as of October 2011, plus 65 million iPod Touches and 40 million iPads. Together these three mobile devices constitute a 250-million-unit iOS platform for which 500,000 apps have been created, 140,000 available just for the iPad.
- Mobile internet – The popularity of smartphones suggests that the mobile internet could one day be larger than the computer-accessed internet. When Mary Meeker was still at Morgan Stanley she predicted that within five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”
- Tablets – That forecast seems very reasonable now that the Apple iPad is becoming the wireless channel for such lean-backward media as magazines, newspapers and television. Analyst firm Ticonderoga Securities predicts that Apple will ship 45 million iPads in 2011.
Now that’s a wireless world that would have made Zenith proud.