Monthly Archives: February 2010

AUG
A wonderful app called AUG just won the Greener Gadgets 2010 Design Competition (and it’s not even a gadget).

AUG, short for augmented living goods program, is a concept that encourages the localization of living goods (produce, meats and dairy).

Want to geo-locate the producer and see how far the product has come to get where you are standing? AUG it. Want to find out if a product is currently in season? AUG it.

What’s unique about AUG is how it simplifies the locavore lifestyle. In the grand scheme of things, however, AUG, like the Good Guide, fits into the responsibility revolution that is forcing the next evolution of business.

Post inspiration: Treehugger

#thetrendwatch

responsibility

A responsibility revolution is underway.

“We are entering a period of social change…we are recalibrating our sense of what it means to be a citizen, not just through voting or volunteering but also through commerce: by what we buy.” – TIME magazine

Here at The TrendWatch, we’ve been digging around, exploring what’s fueling this social change. In search for answers, we revisited the 1970’s when corporate social responsibility (CSR) began. Around this time, we stumbled upon the following cultural insight and basis for our theory:

“Never doubt that a few, thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

What’s driving today’s responsibility revolution is that a few committed citizens are using social technology to coordinate responsible consumer behavior. And what’s game changing is how their approach triggers responsible consumer & corporate behavior at the point of purchase where the battle of good vs bad is ultimately won.

Here are a few good trends, started by a few committed citizens, to watch:

Disrupting the incentives:
Carrot Mob is a method of activism that leverages consumer power to make the most socially-responsible business practices also the most profitable choices. Businesses compete with one another to see who can do the most good, and then a big mob of consumers buys products in order to reward whichever business made the strongest commitment to improve the world. It’s the opposite of a boycott.

Shifting the balance of information and power:
Developed by a professor at UC Berkeley, Good Guide sifts through the health, environmental, and social profiles of everyday products and the companies that manufacture them, distilling hundreds of pieces of data into a simple 10-point rating system accessible on goodguide.com and a bar-code-scanning iPhone app (note: Fast Company recognized Good Guide as one of the 50 most innovative companies).

Making it easy to buy good:
At first use, the Good Guide app is pretty cool, but we wondered if it would be practical for ‘bustling moms,’ the prized target of CPG brands? Would they whip out their iPhones and scan packages of cookie dough with a screaming baby in tow? Maybe some would, but most likely not enough for the tool to reach critical mass. So we were happy to discover that Good Guide is expanding its scope. In a smart move, they recently partnered with Alice.com, a startup designed to make sure bustling moms never run out of essential goods. What makes Alice unique is that she helps moms find the best price, applies available coupons automatically, offers free shipping and makes it easy to find and buy the ‘good goods’ thanks to the integration of the Good Guide rating system. The partnership between Alice and the Good Guide may only be the beginning. Imagine if companies like Amazon jump on board?

The bottom line is that as more consumers embrace social technology, it will only get easier to purchase ‘good’ consistently and so much harder for brands to produce bad. Could responsible consumer behavior (RCB) be the new CSR? Either way, the responsible revolution is forcing the next evolution of business.

#thetrendwatch

googlerussia
Google and Russian Railways have created a unique and lovely partnership. It’s now possible to travel the infamous Trans Siberian railroad from the comfort of Google Maps.

Embedded right into the map, you can watch YouTube videos from the perspective of the train. And while you’re cruising along you can choose the sound of the train, a classic Russian audiobook or local radio stations depending on your mood. Feeling a bit clausterphobic? Then hop off and let DJ Yelena Abitayeva be your virtual guide of storied spots along the way.

Fan or no fan of Trans Siberian travel, the multi-platform portal is pretty phenomenal and the possibilities for brands are seemingly endless. Take your favorite coffee brand, for example. Imagine visiting the fields where the coffee beans are sourced; imagine gaining an appreciation for the culture and people who put their heart and soul into your daily cup. While certainly not for every brand, Google could offer a unique way to put many compelling, location-based product stories on the map.

theymakeapps_header
It’s a fact that mobile is one of the big trends for technology and lifestyle for 2010 – specially due to the rise of applications via iPhone and the subsequent follow up done by competitors to engage their audiences on their mobile devices. The Mobile Phone is becoming less a phone and more an application desk that connects the users with the world around them. This means that the whole choice process for the purchase of the new mobile phone has new key variant – application viability and potential. True, every year there has been some buzz regarding the mobile technology and how it will impact society sooner or later. So it is natural that the demand for professional mobile developers is rising – and ad agencies all over are up for the run.

With this in mind, we have come to the attention of the launch an interesting platform – TheyMakeApps – in which you can find a portfolio of the best App makers you can find close to you (or not!).

theymakeapps_body

While being a simple idea, TheyMakeApps is quite ingenious. Most agencies have been up to their hairs in finding ways to answer to the client’s demands regarding mobile applications for their brands (and as part of our Big Bet for 2010, the demand is only sure to rise) so the agencies can have one of two solutions – either develop the know-how inside the company by hiring professional App Developers or by hiring App Developers per job. In any case, where do you find someone with such specific skills for something as important nowadays as mobile applications? TheyMakeApps solves the problem by providing a directory of App Developers by Geographic localization and even price range. You search for the App Maker of your liking, check his portfolio and contact him – all in the same website.

For now the big focus of TheyMakeApps is the IPhone – which is the granddaddy of Mobile Applications, thus has the biggest Programmer Base. But it’s looking for the opportunity to spread to other Platforms like the Blackberry, Android or Palm that, while a little more difficult to enter at this moment, are very relevant on the global mobile business. But one thing is for sure – this is another strong indicator on the strength of mobile applications today and how the App Making skill’s importance is growing. So if you are an App Maker or know someone who is, make sure you direct them to TheyMakeApps – I’m sure they’ll thank you.

And guess what, it doesn’t run on iPad but on a Android based tablet, an ICD Ultra.

The prototype was presented last week at TED and also at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, being built on cross-platform runtime Adobe AIR. Altough iPad isn’t really a full web experience by not supporting the Flash Player, the Adobe CS5 packager does allow to turn this experience into a iPad app. You can find out more about the future of digital publishing at Adobe’s blog.