Monthly Archives: January 2016

Is Public Super-Fast WiFi the Poison Apple?

LinkNYCWith crazy-high download speeds being provided as an alternative to mobile data while you traverse city blocks, it might seem like the connectivity gods have answered our prayers. Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal found that she could download a 2-hour film weighing 1GB in a mere 45 seconds while standing near one NYC’s WiFi booths – part of LinkNYC. Having such incredible speeds as pedestrians will do wonders beyond causing the increased annoyance of “pedi-pileups” while distracted walkers screech to a halt to respond to texts, emails and now, videos.

While LinkNYC/CityBridge is just the latest to join Google, Boingo and others to provide really fast municipal or public connectivity wherever you are, its business implications on the growing Internet of Things is huge. Rather than requiring data access for every device – like what’s in play now – we’ll be able to leave our devices on Wi-Fi only and still have full functionality for a fraction of the cost. For those who bought Family packages from T-Mobile or Verizon and used up half of the accounts on their multiple array of devices, this allows them and everyone else to take on more mobile products that require connectivity without having to worry. Certainly, this changes the economics for the consumer, the data seller and the product/app distributor…

What we will have to worry about – and what Stern does a solid job of laying out options to protect against – is the increased opportunity for hackers to access our information. Whether by faking-out our devices or purely taking advantage of our protective naivete on these networks, there will be hundreds/thousands of ways to gain access to our hard-won stuff (files, photos, messages, posts, passwords, fetishes – whatever we’ve deemed necessary to save on our devices) while we walk the streets.

But, knowing how much this connectivity can help us live our lives, we can gain a small bit of insight on how to protect ourselves from Stern. And, while it’s odd that we might have to pay to protect ourselves from free offerings, it will hopefully be worth it in the long run. Just be sure to have someone test the (big) apple before you take a bite.

Racist or Borderline Brilliant?

EquinoxLast night, while doing some insomnia-induced Facebook feed flipping, I came across a piece of Equinox Gym’s “Commit To Something” campaign as a sponsored ad. It showed up in my feed because 6 of my Friends “like” Equinox. My eyebrows were raised by seeing a bunch of white folks with somewhat unimpeachable looks being touted by two black, three asian and one hispanic friends of mine. Of course, they had no active part in the image presented with their names attached, but it struck me. To be fair, the “Commit To Something” campaign shows diversity, but it also leaves a lot of room to interpretation. Oddly, when I read about the thinking behind the campaign, provocation seemed to be the core driver when it needn’t be.

Perhaps subconsciously, Equinox and Weiden & Kennedy tapped into a conceit that has pervaded their perfect audience for centuries – exclusive and unattainable beauty as conveyed in the fashion industry for…ever. The high-end fashion industry parades clothes on catwalks around the world revealing clothing that can neither be afforded or worn by nearly all humans. Luckily for Equinox, their audience profile fills a larger percentage of the population, and Equinox extends their exclusive feel through this campaign. Additionally, it seems that they have smartly already primped the pipeline of content to consistently feed the campaign with videos, #committosomething social content and more.

So, while many may ask why a gym doesn’t show normal people sweating on treadmills, Equinox is strong in it’s brand awareness and holds fast to their place in the industry as the purveyors of high-end gym offerings for exclusive individuals. I don’t know that they need to provoke anyone in order to convey who they are, but at least they’re having fun with it.

Seeing The Future Sometimes Only Needs Looking Under The Hood

The-JetsonsSome (or most) news blurbs deserve (or require) more big-picture consideration than what is immediately prevalent on the surface. Coverage of GM’s investment of $500M in Lyft is just one example. While part of GM’s hoped-for returns is based on the opportunity for providing fleet cars for Lyft’s services, a more “sexy” consideration is the development of self-driving cars. If you look with broader goggles, the implications for both are much larger than what they seem.

First off, numerous car manufacturers are developing products specifically to serve the shift to car sharing. Just this past September, I met with a representative of Citroen in Paris who explained how they are looking at alternative ways to find revenues in this new economy without selling vehicles – and they are certainly not alone. If micro-payments can revolutionize politicking, investment and charity, why can’t the same be said for larger ticket items like automotive, housing or even luxury accouterments?

The self-driving cars offer an even more exciting opportunity that comes with its own set of numerous implications far beyond individuals transporting themselves without having to focus on driving. Over coffee with Jason DaPonte, Transport For London’s Director of Innovation, we had a great conversation about the future and how self-driving cars could absolutely affect people’s normal use of subways, buses and trains. In fact, there’s every possibility that those vehicles could become an integral part of a municipality’s services – or modes of transportation. If you thought controlling buses, trains and subways was a feat, imagine what it’ll be like when hundreds or thousands of automated cars are whizzing around a congested city like London!

With all this, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of time to pass before we figure things out. We will probably look back at the airport challenges of Uber and Lyft, or the growing legal parries with Airbnb’s lodging structure and chuckle about how quaint they were. Ultimately, with the growing shared economy and smarter use of technology to do the mundane, it requires a sense of how these pieces fit within the big picture to really grasp our future.

Who knows, maybe that kick-ass transportation of THE JETSONS is not so far-fetched anymore…