Kango is the first so-called ‘travel review aggregator’, a site that gathers reviews from all kinds of review sites, and puts them together. That means 20 million opinions of more than 1000 review websites have been analyzed. Holiday makers can search by terms like ‘romantic’, or ‘sweet’, apart from objective criteria like price and location. The beta version for now only works in Hawaii and California (mb, Dutch). In 2007 (and 2008 and 2009) completeness is important: bring everything together for me. This is an example of that.
Social Network Facebook shows your friends what you bought in online shops connected to Facebook (mb, Dutch). This has led to all kinds of privacy discussions. Which makes sense: of course you don’t just want to show your friends everything you do. But sharing information with friends is the innovation here. In the future shops will recognize friends, and they will ask you if your purchases and your experiences there can be included in advice for your friends. That is a slightly different way of doing it, but much more pure. What does Facebook have to do with all purchases I make somewhere else?
Tripadvisor, the biggest travel review site in the world, has conducted research among its visitors and published it. Tripadvisor now contains more than 10 million reviews, and the research was conducted among 2500 travelers, to recover the trends for 2008. It was about Hotspots (with Jerba, Tunesia as No 1) and airports (with Schiphol, Amsterdam as No 1) (mb, Dutch). Market research is replaced by client research. Brands with access to consumers are very used to asking questions. This type of research then is relatively easy to conduct. In a next step we will get these types of reports more and more often from travel coaching brands, brands that really book the holiday for us, so that we are sure we have really been there.
Myngle offers a market place for language docents and students. People wanting to learn or docent a language register with Myngle. The student then looks for a docent who best covers his or her needs. At certain times the docent teaches small groups through Skype, in which for example you can learn a language from a native speaker. Students pay docents and judge the quality of the docents and lessons at the end of the course. Docents pay 18 percent commission per student. That covers lesson materials, a digital school board, the social network and a trade platform (em, Dutch).
If there is one branch suitable for worldwide personal service, it is the language course branch (after the virtual sex industry, sex at a distance, read: web cam girls of course). In fact this initiative facilitates mutual contact, people communicating with each other. It would make sense for social networks, potential social coaching brands, to offer similar services in the future, when they have tens or even hundreds of millions of users). By that time they will easily be able to tell what language somebody writes (and speaks!), and what interests this person. Mediating for language lessons will be a logical step then. For now, this is another extra step.
New Dutch travel portal Travelta aims for completeness. The site at the moment includes travel packages from about twenty tour operators. Arke and Oad are expected to join soon. Travelta expects to cover about eighty percent of the total online travel packages by this spring. From the first second onwards Travelta personalizes the site by giving these options: “I have been here”, and “I want to go here”. Besides visitors can interact with other visitors.
American company Neurosky has developed a technique to drive robots through bio signals: measurable signals from humans, like emotions, tension or relaxation. You can look at a certain object on a screen, and have it move by relaxing or flexing the eye muscles. A comparable principle makes it possible to make a real robot move. The company expects to see the first applications in video games by next year (fc, Dutch).
New Dutch insurance company Ditzo strips insurances. By cutting all redundancies, they create what they call themselves ‘fat free products’. Because Ditzo could start from scratch, it is not bothered by legacy systems or existing customers’ expectations. Existing companies are tied in because of the expectations of customers, who for example have always valued their relational magazine and the communication by letters, or have an image in the market that would be damaged by a ‘wild’, new approach. This however is the step forwards.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) has definitely started with broadcasting in High Definition (HDTV) format. Daily listings are already available. All brands, not just broadcasting companies, will start to entertain, inform of involve us in HD format. It's increasingly about images, and high definition sound to touch us more than ever. Right now we think HD is quite something, but later we'll have 3D and holographic projection. It'll start to be really lifelike when images start to respond to us. The text messages of today are nothing compared to that. Currently the BBC is at the front of the line.
Music service Napster from now on is also available at mobile phones through telecoms provider AT&T (mc, Dutch). More and more brands can be found at mobile phones these days. Music brands are usually the first, looking at the expected young users group. In the end brands will be accessible through every possible display, in dialogue. This is a small step in that direction.
Microsoft in its campaign The Ultimate Steal, aimed at students, has them make an avatar and record their own text. The character than speaks the text, and the lips move with the text. The talking avatar then can easily be moved to social network Facebook. Friends thus will see the character, and get the possibility to try and make one themselves (cz). Brands more and more will use pattern recognition technology to understand our texts, our speech and our facial expressions. In this case for a campaign, in the future brands will facilitate us communicating realtime with our friends. As ourselves, as a better version of ourself (just a little more beautiful, wearing slightly nicer clothes, and no glasses), or as somebody else. This is a small step in that direction.
Starting today, Coke Studio users will find themselves transferred to a whole new Coke-sponsored area in the There.com 3D virtual world. As part of its many prolonged branding efforts, Coca Cola has been operating a 2D virtual world environment via its MyCoke.com site. Called Coke Studios, the site lets customers create avatars, listen to and share music with others, or purchase virtual goods through the My Coke Rewards online reward program. (cz).
Brands build 3D worlds in which they invite their clients. Now as part of a separate 3D world, later everything will be connected, so that you don’t have a clue of in which 3D world you really are. Just like in the real, physical world. There is only one physical world, and within that are lots of little 3D worlds which trouble free connect to each other. When passing a border, for example the border of a yard, there usually is some kind of dividing line, which however is easy to pass (from several directions). Virtual brand worlds will develop just like that.
Live Search, live.com’s search engine, now can also rhyme. Live Search is the world’s first rhyming search engine. If you type ‘rhyme
’ in Live Search, in the first search result you get a whole series of possible rhyme words. The rhyming search engine is based on Dutch website Rijmgein (sc, Dutch). In the future, brands will assist us in choosing the right words. Poetry is part of that. This is a very early example in that direction.
Opel uses podcasts, audio files on demand, to train its sales people on the road (sb, Dutch). More and more often people will be connected to brands while driving. For fun, to be informed of the latest news, or for training for example. Increasing traffic jams contribute to this development. Now we still do this by clicking documents, in the future we will just call out: ‘Opel’. The brand agent then appears and we (as employees) can just ask the brand: ‘could you tell me a little more about selling cars to handicapped people?’. After that the interactive audio training automatically starts. And as consumer we will be able to ask: ‘Can I add central locking to my car?’ We are recognized, the brand knows what car we drive, and our sentence is correctly interpreted. Thus the dialogue forms itself. From day to day..
Transmissions is the new music initiative of social network site MySpace. Musicians can provide materials to be sold through Transmissions: especially live-concerts. The artist determines the sales price. The income is shared between MySpace and the musicians (em, Dutch).
The music business model slowly but surely totally turns around: artists in the near future will make money on their live concerts, and use their recorded music as promotion. At the same time, music coaching brands evolve: brands that can entertain you with music, wherever you are in the world. They can easily develop from social networks, as the relatively young users of these networks (coincidently) also have a more than moderate interest in music than other age groups. In the end social networks will return to their core activity: facilitating mutual contact, and music coaching brands will go their own separate ways. Their own brand name, and their own look-and-feel are good first steps.
Dutch beer brewery Heineken shows the routes of its drivers on the map through its website, as part of a game. Pictures the drivers make during their drives can be seen as well (em, Dutch). We more and more get used to having insight in companies’ processes. Now the occasion is a game, but more and more often consumers force organizations to work more transparent. This is something everybody still needs to get used to. But it is logical. After all, you do want to know that the painter you hired to paint your house, is really working on it. You pay for it after all. The same goes for big companies: they are at the consumer’s service, and the consumer in the end determines what happens, and how. Working transparent is part of that development.